P.E.I. PC leadership race: Alan Mulholland first to declare

Alan Mulholland of Summerside, P.E.I., is the first to declare his intention to run for the leadership of P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservative party, just one week after nominations opened.

The new leader will be chosen on the evening of Friday, October 20 — the day nominations close. 

"I've always had a keen interest from a very early age, but I've never gotten involved in politics," said Mulholland.

The 53-year-old retired businessman came to P.E.I. eight years ago. His family emigrated to Canada from Ireland when he was six years old. He and his wife of 19 years, Glenda, a respiratory therapist, have no children. They just moved to Summerside from Ellerslie, P.E.I.

'Share the same values'

"We share the same values," Mulholland said of his attraction to the PC party. "Values of living within your means, accountability in government. I reached out to the party when I moved here and I just got involved."

Mulholland was on the PC executive council, but stepped down to run for the leadership.  

About a year ago, Mulholland said, some senior party members asked him if he would be interested in running for the leadership.

"I was a little bit taken aback by that, so I took a few months to talk to folks, to reach out to folks and ask them their opinions," he said, noting his Liberal friends were surprised Mulholland didn't choose P.E.I.'s Liberal party "because of my social values." He heard the same thing from his Green party friends, who thought he'd get involved with them because he cares about the environment.

Fiscal conservatism 

"It's really that balance — being able to have strong social, progressive values, living sustainably, and balancing that with fiscal conservatism — that I stand for," Mulholland said. 

Mulholland attended the Royal Military College of Canada and served as a naval officer for nine years before switching careers to become a builder. His time at the college made him into the confident leader he is today, he said.

He and his wife have built what they call a self-sufficient homestead, making cheese and butter from their own cow, raising beef and poultry, fruit and vegetables, cutting their own wood and building their own buildings.

Mulholland's name is not well known, so he said he plans over the next six months to meet Islanders and listen to their input. 

"That's probably the biggest challenge I have," he said. 

His priority as leader?

"Islanders want their children to have the same opportunities for a better life that their parents gave them," he said. 

"If we can just stay focused on strengthening our communities, growing our economy and protecting our environment, we'll get there." 

Mulholland also believes strongly in growing PC party membership. "The party that stands still will not stand the test of time," he said. 

The last permanent leader of the PC Party was Rob Lantz, who failed to win his seat in the 2015 election. Lantz tried to lead the party from outside the legislature, but then resigned from the position in October 2015. Jamie Fox has since been the party's interim leader.

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