Candidates busy with summer campaign ahead of Progressive Conservative Party leadership vote in October
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.
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.
PC Party leadership candidate Brad Trivers listens to a video conference during an education forum he held in Charlottetown on July 24.