PC win in District 10 hands King government slim majority

·3 min read

P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservative government will now have a slim majority when the fall sitting of the legislature begins.

This comes after PC candidate Zack Bell won the District 10 byelection 619 votes ahead of the second-place finisher — with nearly 50 per cent of the vote.

"Just joy, elation," said Bell of his win. "A huge thank you to all of the residents of District 10 for giving me your support."

Bell said he is looking forward to working with the premier and that he likes how he does things "a little different on P.E.I."

"I do think that Islanders kind of feel the same and that he is doing a good job and making sure that Islanders are kept at the front of most decisions."

The results of tonight didn't mean anything from the perspective of changing how we operate. — Premier Dennis King

Bell was followed by Green candidate Chris van Ouwerkerk with 783 votes, then Liberal Zac Murphy with 636 votes and NDP candidate Lynne Thiele with 37 votes.

Elections P.E.I. says voter turnout was 66.88 per cent, with 45 per cent of eligible voters voting through advanced polls and mail-in ballots.

All results are unofficial until verified by Elections P.E.I.

Majority for King

The Progressive Conservatives now hold 14 of the 27 seats in the legislature — enough for a slim majority government.

Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada
Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada

King's government was elected in the 2019 general election with 12 of the 27 seats. The party later picked up a seat when Natalie Jameson won the District 9 election, which was deferred until July because of a candidate's death during the campaign.

The premier has previously said a majority government will not change the collaborative approach that's become part of his "personal brand."

"I'm humbled by the result," the premier told CBC News after Bell's win.

"The results of tonight didn't mean anything from the perspective of changing how we operate. I think it will just be one more great member in the legislature who happens to be replacing a great member of the legislature. So for me, it's business as usual."

Wayne Thibodeau/CBC
Wayne Thibodeau/CBC

The leaders of the opposition parties said they would wait and see how the PC majority might affect how the house operates.

"In days past, they had no choice but to listen to the other voices in the room. They had to take into account what our opinions were and also what our votes may be on any particular issue," said Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

"Now they have a choice as to whether they do that.... There's no need for them to change, and I hope they choose not to."

"Well, we have to take him for his word," said interim Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant.

"I don't have a crystal ball to be able to tell you, but we'll wait and see."

The fall sitting of the legislature begins Nov. 12.

Liberal vacates seat

The seat in District 10 was left empty by Liberal Robert Mitchell, who announced his retirement in September.

Wayne Thibodeau/CBC
Wayne Thibodeau/CBC

The byelection was then called on Oct. 6, launching 27 days of campaigning in the midst of a global pandemic.

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office had recommended against in-person campaigning, but the Liberals and Greens both submitted operational plans to the CPHO and ended up going door-to-door.

Both the NDP and Progressive Conservative camps decided to forego face-to-face meetings — instead opting to connect virtually or by phone.

While campaigning, Bell said he spoke with many district residents who emphasized issues important to them, like mental health and addictions, the pandemic and education.

"The West Royalty school expansion and the Sherwood school are two things that many residents in both areas of, you know, Sherwood and Winsloe, were making sure that were top of mind," Bell said.

"I want to get to work as quickly as I can."

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