Ex-Tory leader hired by Lib­er­als

Olive Crane ap­pointed to work for MacLauch­lan gov­ern­ment

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERESA WRIGHT

For­mer leader of P.E.I.’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party, Olive Crane, who pub­licly sup­ported Lib­eral Premier Wade MacLauch­lan in the re­cent elec­tion cam­paign, has been handed a gov­ern­ment job.

Crane was hired on July 13 for a one-year con­tract as a labour mar­ket spe­cial­ist in the Depart­ment of Work­force and Ad­vanced Learn­ing, re­port­ing to the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of labour mar­ket in­for­ma­tion.

Depart­ment Min­is­ter Richard Brown says the de­ci­sion to hire her was made by Sandy Mac­Don­ald, who was deputy min­is­ter of the depart­ment un­til his de­par­ture was an­nounced last week, just two days af­ter Crane was hired, on July 15. The salary range for her po­si­tion is ap­prox­i­mately $68,000 to $85,000.

The po­si­tion was not ad­ver­tised, but Brown de­nies this was a pa­tron­age ap­point­ment or that the job was given to her in ex­change for work she did cam­paign­ing for MacLauch­lan dur­ing the re­cent elec­tion.

“The premier and I haven’t dis­cussed this ap­point­ment, I can as­sure you of that, but the premier’s of­fice was in­formed of the ap­point­ment,” Brown said.

He ex­plained his depart­ment has been tasked to come up with a num­ber of strate­gies, in­clud­ing a pop­u­la­tion strat­egy, an Is­land am­bas­sadors pro­gram and to as­sist with a poverty re­duc­tion strat­egy.

“The depart­ment felt we didn’t have enough labour in­for­ma­tion out there, es­pe­cially in ru­ral P.E.I., so they con­tracted Olive (Crane) to go out and to re­view the labour mar­ket sit­u­a­tions in ru­ral P.E.I. and to meet with both com­pa­nies and with in­di­vid­u­als to see how we can bet­ter match up com­pa­nies with un­em­ployed peo­ple in ru­ral P.E.I.”

Crane parted ways with the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party in Jan­uary when she an­nounced she would not re­of­fer in the May pro­vin­cial elec­tion, us­ing the op­por­tu­nity to in­stead pub­licly en­dorse Lib­eral leader Wade MacLauch­lan for premier.

This came af­ter years of con­flict with the party she once led, in­clud­ing be­ing kicked out of the PC cau­cus af­ter she re­signed as leader. Crane ac­tively cam­paigned against the PC party dur­ing the re­cent elec­tion, at­tend­ing a num­ber of Lib­eral ral­lies, and even re­port­edly worked be­hind the scenes for the Lib­eral can­di­date in Morell-Mer­maid, which she for­merly rep­re­sented as a Con­ser­va­tive and later as an in­de­pen­dent MLA. Brown says he un­der­stands there may be a per­cep­tion she has been given a soft land­ing as a re­ward for her sup­port for her for­mer po­lit­i­cal ri­vals in a close elec­tion cam­paign.

“A lot of peo­ple are go­ing to say that, but when you look at her re­sume and you look at her abil­ity to talk to peo­ple, peo­ple are com­fort­able and re­laxed with Olive,” Brown said.

“We’re go­ing to get a lot more re­sponses and open­ness, I think, with Olive go­ing out into ru­ral P.E.I. and talk­ing to ru­ral Is­lan­ders and un­em­ployed Is­lan­ders to see what are their needs and what are their bar­ri­ers to en­ter the work­force. We need good in­for­ma­tion and I think she has a solid re­sume in this area.”

Crane was ap­proached for com­ment but did not re­spond by press time. The PC party de­clined to com­ment.

Olive Crane is shown in this file photo.

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