Liberals hang on to power with slimmer majority

Liberal Premier Robert Ghiz secured his second majority government in Prince Edward Island, albeit a slightly reduced one, following an election that saw bribery accusations rock an otherwise quiet campaign.

CHARLOTTETOWN — Liberal Premier Robert Ghiz secured his second majority government in Prince Edward Island, albeit a slightly reduced one, following an election that saw bribery accusations rock an otherwise quiet campaign.

Ghiz, who stressed fiscal prudence in difficult economic times, defeated Opposition Conservative Leader Olive Crane.

His victory builds upon a family dynasty in Island politics that began with his father Joe, who served two terms as the province’s premier from 1986 to 1993.

“I’m sure he’s looking down tonight and is extremely proud,” said Ghiz, who at 37 is Canada’s youngest premier.

His party won 22 of the province’s 27 seats — down from the 24 the Liberals held at dissolution.

But even in victory, Ghiz sounded a bitter note. He lashed out at the Conservatives for running what he said was a unnecessarily divisive campaign.

“It was an extremely negative campaign where a lot of false accusations were made,” he said, shortly after winning his riding of Charlottetown-Brighton.

“I chose to take the high road. I’m proud of the high road and I’m glad we won the election.”

Ghiz lost two cabinet ministers, one of whom found himself fending off questions about a now-defunct immigration program intended to boost immigration.

The controversy about the province’s immigration nominee program erupted just over a week into the campaign, when a former government employee alleged that senior provincial officials accepted cash bribes in order to expedite applications from China. The RCMP are considering whether to launch an investigation.

Allan Campbell, the cabinet minister who oversaw the immigration program, lost his seat in Souris-Elmira to Tory challenger Colin LaVie.

Campbell became entangled in the controversy after the Liberal party released two emails to the media that the government employee sent to him.

In one of the emails, Svetlana Tenetko said she would go to federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenny and the Globe and Mail if she did not get another job with the government after her contract was not renewed.

Tenetko has filed a complaint over the release of those emails with the province’s privacy commissioner, who is now investigating.

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