As fate would have it, I will be voting provincially for the first time since 2007 since my many moves resulted in missing Ontario/NB elections. This is the first time I'll be voting in PEI in fact... and it's different.
In fairness, it should be noted that PEI is unlike any other place I've been before and that must contribute to the differences, but I may ramble about that in another post.
Platforms just aren't a thing.
Alas - different. For starters - where in the blue hell are the real party platforms? Here's a copy of the 2011 Federal Liberal platform. Page 94 of that document is pretty neat, because it costs everything out. You'll notice the same of The Federal Conservative platform where page 65 includes costing, and The Federal Green platform where it's included on pages 11 and 12.
Let's look at the PEI versions of these:
The Liberal Party
The PC Party
The Green Party*
We've got a series of press releases where the Liberal staff is too lazy to even remove the "Media Backgrounder" bit, a bunch of links to different documents (none of which include costing) from the PC's, and a Green Party document that does include a handful of estimates which are almost all handouts or projected savings (save for the carbon tax).
I'm sure there's a union member somewhere yelling at his screen that I'm not including the NDP. Rest assured, I checked both the Federal and Provincial platforms and both show equal (dis)interest in showing that their math can work.
In my pursuit of being an informed citizen while casting my ballot I'm left with no information as to how any of these parties intend to balance the budget**. In lieu of this information, should I assume none of them intend to? In fairness, the PEI financial situation isn't atrocious - ranking 5 of 10 provinces in debt per capita and 6 of 10 in debt to GDP ratio, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a party who wants to form government to provide their fiscal plan instead of a mishmash of promises.
Abortion is a thing
While we're on the topic of "different" this still seems to be an issue worth discussing in PEI (and NB in their election). Yes, PEI is one of the few places in the north eastern portion of this continent where access to abortion is a topic of debate. To be clear, when I say debate, I mean the parties with a chance of winning vow to maintain the status quo and those with no chance of winning say they'd make them available here year round. While abortions aren't implicitly illegal on PEI - you'll be hard pressed to find one that's been performed here.
I should note that Wade's language does seem to try to head-fake left a little on this issue. If you watch the video*** he's asked about the status quo being the government's minimum duty and he states, "That's a starting point and the question of access to medical services is always on our minds...we've got various services where we're looking to make improvements." My instinct tells me this may be the usual bit of electioneering where you campaign left and govern right. The question that would clarify this is, "Can you say, unequivocally that the status quo will remain for abortions on Island if you are elected premier?" If it's truly his intention to maintain the status quo it's an easy yes, perhaps with a mild caveat, but if you get another rambling answer like the video above then it becomes clear that change may be on the horizon.
PEI's Power Couple No One Talks About
Also different, there seems to be an unseemly amount of political power inside of one PEI household. The two biggest news gathering organizations on the Island are The Guardian and CBC News. The man questioning the premier in the video above is a CBC reporter named Kerry Campbell, and he's married to The Guardian's chief political reporter Teresa Wright. I'm not suggesting anything untoward has gone on yet, but I'm sure the political class also knows that it's best not to mess with a power couple like that. For example, you won't see anyone from the Liberals trying to call out Mr.Campbell on his "Well sure we know your policy and platform but what do you REALLY think!?" question. I imagine getting on the bad side of that household would be a near death-sentence for a political career on the island.
The Number of Female Candidates
Another issue I've been hearing more about is the lack of female candidates. This is something the aforementioned Kerry Campbell wrote about and was discussed on a panel during Compass as well and noted often when Linda Clements took over the PC nomination in district 15. At some point, can we stop blaming party leaders for their lack of female candidates and start blaming parties or just the populace as a whole? Of course women should be more involved in the process, however that does not mean reinventing the wheel. Simply put - if we demand that leaders not insist on male candidates as nominees, then we should also demand that they not insist on females either.
I've now gone and made the cardinal sin of talking about gender issues on the internet, so I'll find a ditch somewhere to hide in until the election is over.
*Kudos to the Green Party for actually tossing it all in one document that's somewhat easy to read.
**In addition to the impression that the PEI Liberal party thinks the only people who care about policy are media members.
***Which is your only option, since the reporter was apparently too lazy to transcribe it.