The Canadian Press CP
CHARLOTTETOWN - A Liberal candidate who won his seat in the Prince Edward Island legislature by a coin toss says he felt a little tense as he watched the currency rolling across the floor and bounce off the leg of a chair.
When it landed, it was "tails" that was facing up and Alan McIsaac was the winner of the riding of Vernon River-Stratford, just southeast of Charlottetown.
"To tell you the truth, I put it in the Lord's hands and whatever happens, happens," he said, describing how he prepared himself in the moments before the toss of the centennial coin by the province's chief electoral officer.
McIsaac, the Liberal incumbent, had originally won the May 4 election by just two votes as his party returned to power for a third straight majority under new premier Wade MacLauchlan.
The coin toss occurred on Tuesday after a judicial recount found a tie in the number of votes for McIsaac and Progressive Conservative Mary Ellen McInnis.
An additional ballot for McInnis had originally been counted in favour of McIsaac, and after the correction each had 1,173 votes.
McIsaac said with the similarity between the two names it didn't surprise him there had been one error.
But in the end it was the spelling of his last name that saved his seat.
Under the rules of the Island's Elections Act, the candidate whose name was closest to the beginning of the alphabet is assigned "heads" and the candidate with name closest to the end of the alphabet is given "tails."
"It was the fourth letter of our names that decided the alphabetical order," said the former dairy farmer, who also served as minister of education and minister of transportation in previous governments.
McIsaac also said the lesson to be taken from the result is that people should never assume their vote doesn't count.
"Is a coin toss a good way to decide? I don't know. The best way is to have the people decide, and that's why it's so important people get out and vote," he said.
McIsaac said that he hadn't been thinking about the recount for the past two weeks, as he had been visiting family after a brother-in-law died in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.
"We were trying to give some support to my wife's sister and her family and didn't pay a lot of attention to the recount. It put everything in perspective, I'll tell you," he said.
Jeff Himelman, a spokesman for the Progressive Conservative Party, said McInnis was unavailable for comment.
— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.
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