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Prince Edward Island Progressive Conservative Party
The PEI Progressive Conservative Party is one of two major political parties on Prince Edward Island. It and its rival, the Liberals have alternated in power since responsible government was granted in 1851 and are the only two parties represented in the provincial legislature.
The policies of the Liberals and Conservatives are very similar. The major differences are in their allegiances to federal parties and in personalities. Historically, the Tories originated as the Conservative Party changing their name in 1942 to reflect the development of the federal Progressive Conservative party.
The original PEI Conservative Party opposed responsible government and was supportive of the elites who owned large landed estates on the island while the Liberals were more sympathetic to tenant farmers. When the land questioned was settled as part of the terms of joining Canadian confederation in 1873 (money was provided to buy out the land owners, break up the estates and turn them over to residents) there was little left to distinguish the two parties.
Generally, however, the Conservatives have leaned slightly to the right and are more sympathetic to business while the Liberals slightly to the left. Traditionally, the Tories have done better among Protestant voters while Liberals have had more support from Catholics - accordingly, the Conservatives have tended to do slightly better in the easternmost region of the island which is more Protestant while the Liberals have tended to do better on the western end where there are more Catholics. However, politics on the island has never been sectarian and both parties have always had voters and members from both populations. Indeed, it has been the custom until recently for a Liberal incumbent of one denomination to be opposed by a Tory challenger of the same denomination and vice versa and this had tended to minimise religious sectarianism within the parties.
- James M. Lee 1981-1987
- Leone Bagnall 1987-1988
- Melbourne Gass 1988-1990
- Pat Mella 1990-1996
- Pat Binns 1996-present
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