No coro­na­tion

Can­di­dates busy with sum­mer cam­paign ahead of Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party lead­er­ship vote in Oc­to­ber

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RYAN ROSS Ryan.Ross@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/ryan­r­ross

James Ayl­ward has been through it all be­fore.

The Strat­ford-Kin­lock MLA ran un­suc­cess­fully for the PC Party’s lead­er­ship in 2015 and is tak­ing another shot at the job.

This time around, Ayl­ward said he’s us­ing a sim­i­lar strat­egy of en­gag­ing with Is­lan­ders.

“En­gag­ing in great con­ver­sa­tions but, more im­por­tantly, lis­ten­ing to what they have to say.”

Ayl­ward and his neigh­bour in the leg­is­la­ture, Rus­tico-Emer­ald MLA Brad Trivers, are the only two peo­ple run­ning so far in the PC Party lead­er­ship race.

Summerside busi­ness­man Alan Mull­holand was the first per­son to an­nounce his in­ten­tion to run, but he dropped out in June.

No one else has stepped for­ward since nom­i­na­tions opened on April 3.

Party mem­bers will vote in ad­vance and learn who their new leader is on Oct. 20 as the Tories forgo a lead­er­ship con­ven­tion.

Ayl­ward said the cam­paign­ing has been go­ing well.

“It’s a busy time,” he said. An im­por­tant part of any lead­er­ship run is sign­ing up new party mem­bers, and that’s some­thing Ayl­ward said he has been do­ing a lot of since kick­ing off his cam­paign in June.

“Barely a day goes by that I’m not get­ting two or three or more new mem­bers sign­ing up,” he said.

With only two can­di­dates so far, Ayl­ward said the PC Party needed a lead­er­ship race to build ex­cite­ment and re-in­vig­o­rate the mem­ber­ship.

The last thing the PC Party needed was a coro­na­tion, he said.

“Cer­tainly two is a lot bet­ter than one.”

To en­ter the race, both can­di­dates had to pay a $10,000 fee, which Ayl­ward said came from do­na­tions.

Trivers said do­na­tions cov­ered most of the fee and he wrote a cheque for the rest.

For Trivers, he said the lead­er­ship race is a lot dif­fer­ent than cam­paign­ing in a gen­eral elec­tion and he needs to get out and talk to peo­ple across the Is­land.

“Re­ally, the fo­cus has to be on mem­bers and reach­ing out to mem­bers,” he said.

Like Ayl­ward, Trivers said get­ting those new mem­ber­ships is go­ing well, but he is also reach­ing out to peo­ple with ex­pired mem­ber­ships.

“They’re ready to come back to the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party,” he said.

Dur­ing the last lead­er­ship cam­paign, for­mer Charlottetown city coun­cil­lor Rob Lantz won leav­ing the party with an un­elected leader who then failed to win a seat dur­ing the elec­tion.

So far the only can­di­dates are sit­ting MLAs, and Trivers sees both as hav­ing strong chances of win­ning their seats.

“It’s a cou­ple of re­ally good op­tions for mem­bers,” he said.

Trivers, whose cam­paign slo­gan is “back to ba­sics,” said he wants to make the Is­land bet­ter.

“That’s what be­ing a Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive is all about,” he said.

RYAN ROSS/THE GUARDIAN

PC Party lead­er­ship can­di­date James Ayl­ward takes a break from work­ing the phones at the makeshift of­fice in his kitchen in Strat­ford on July 24.

RYAN ROSS/THE GUARDIAN

PC Party lead­er­ship can­di­date Brad Trivers lis­tens to a video con­fer­ence dur­ing an ed­u­ca­tion fo­rum he held in Charlottetown on July 24.

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