District 10 byelection candidates debate P.E.I.'s handling of pandemic

·2 min read
District 10 byelection candidates debate P.E.I.'s handling of pandemic
District 10 byelection candidates debate P.E.I.'s handling of pandemic

The four candidates for the provincial byelection in District 10 Charlottetown-Winsloe discussed issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and government collaboration during a roundtable hosted by CBC P.E.I. Tuesday night.

With less than two weeks to go before the Nov. 2 byelection, the candidates were polite but assertive as they made their cases for why they should be the district's next MLA.

The candidates are, alphabetically by last name:

  • Zack Bell, Progressive Conservative Party.

  • Zac Murphy, Liberal Party.

  • Lynne Thiele, NDP.

  • Chris van Ouwerkerk, Green Party.

You can watch the full discussion below.

Bell said he is a family man with young children and wants to continue helping in the community.

Murphy, a 29-year-old who is the youngest of the candidates, said he has a unique perspective because he grew up in the community and understands the issues.

Thiele said the government has left too many things undone and she wants to "stir things up" and see more action.

van Ouwerkerk said his legal background gives him the ability to put a "keen and discernable eye" on government and Green Party legislation.

Handling the pandemic

Bell praised the PCs and Premier Dennis King for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the other candidates said there were areas for improvement. They generally agreed Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison has done her job well.

Murphy was critical of the government's communication to Islanders. He said the government should be telling struggling tourism operators what to expect next season.

van Ouwerkerk said the government's decision to close liquor stores for a few weeks near the beginning of the pandemic "showed how little they are in touch with the addiction issue on this Island."

Thiele said the key to weathering the pandemic is to support each other and build community. She said many people like herself who travel south in the winter will be spending their money on P.E.I. instead, and she hopes that will help local businesses.

Win would give PCs majority

The PCs currently hold a minority government, with 13 seats. The Greens under Peter Bevan-Baker have eight and the Liberals five, as they continue the process to choose a new leader.

The P.E.I. New Democrats have no seats in the legislature, and leader Joe Byrne stepped down this summer.

A win for the PCs would give the party 14 seats in the 27-seat legislature, a slim majority. Bell said a PC government would continue with a collaborative approach if they form a majority, but the three other candidates expressed some skepticism.

Residents of the district who are Canadian citizens, at least 18 years of age, and residents of P.E.I. since at least April 6 can vote. Advance polls will be open this Saturday, Oct. 24, as well as Monday, Oct. 26, and Friday, Oct. 30.

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