Elections P.E.I. is calling Progressive Conservative candidate Mark McLane the unofficial winner of the District 16 Cornwall-Meadowbank byelection.
Four candidates were in the running in the district:
Larry Hale, NDP - 83 (3.4 per cent).
Jane MacIsaac, Liberal - 815 (33.2 per cent).
Todd MacLean, Green - 574 (23.4 per cent).
Mark McLane, Progressive Conservative - 982 (40 per cent).
Of the 4,431 eligible voters, 55.25 per cent cast their ballots this time around, with McLane collecting 40 per cent of the vote.
The polling station at Cornwall's APM Centre was open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, as voters got their last chance to cast a ballot.
The byelection was called because Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald decided to run in this year's federal election.
Cornwall-Meadowbank has been Liberal since the district was created in 1996, and the area was entirely Liberal for a decade before that. The party is in a rebuilding mode, having been reduced from government to third-party status in 2019.
"There's a saying that good things come to those who wait. I think 36 years is more than enough time to wait for this," McLane said in his victory speech.
"These experts they keep telling us we can't do it. Every time they tell us we can't do it and we just put our head down and we keep doing it, and we're doing it the right way," Premier Dennis King said.
"This is a vote for Mark McLane, this is a vote for our government but this is also a vote for a different style of politics, for positivity, for working together, for collaborating and by going high when others go low — and they tried hard to go low."
The result means the Tories will hold 15 of the 27 seats in the legislature. The Green Party currently has eight, and the Liberals the remaining four.
McLane said he'll be speaking with the other candidates to discuss what they've all heard from district residents.
"Sustainable growth, I call it that. That we grow in the right way, you know, in a logical fashion because there's a lot of growth coming our way. So that would be an issue. Obviously, education and health care always come up," McLane said.
"We're going to listen to our residents and bring those to the table and then we'll move from there."
On health care, which was one of the top issues in the minds of voters leading to the election, he said that the PC government is well positioned to move nimbly and make gradual improvements to the system.
"The health care issue is not going to solve itself, you know, with a couple decisions," he said. "This government is really positioned well to, you know, make small steps to improve the status of health care in P.E.I."
UPEI political science Prof. Don Desserud said the victory is a huge change of fortunes for the PC Party in the district.
"They had just over 18 per cent of the vote in the general election in 2019 and now they're up to 40 per cent. So that's a big deal," he said.
Desserud added that the results are a major disappointment for the Liberals, who he said needed to gain some momentum ahead of their leadership contest.
"They can explain this away. They don't have a leader yet, they're still rebuilding. But this is a riding that has been Liberal since it was created, and Liberal you know, even before that," he said.
It is also a disappointment for the Official Opposition, whose candidate ended up placing third. The Green Party had finished second in the district in the 2019 general election.
"This is the party that wants the public to believe that they're the government-in-waiting and this is a setback," Desserud said. "Finishing third is not the result they wanted."