Robert Ghiz

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The Honourable
Robert Ghiz
MLA BA
Robert Ghiz.jpg
31st Premier of Prince Edward Island
Incumbent
Assumed office
June 12, 2007
Monarch Elizabeth II
Lieutenant Governor Barbara A. Hagerman
H. Frank Lewis
Preceded by Pat Binns
MLA for Charlottetown-Brighton
Incumbent
Assumed office
June 12, 2007
Preceded by New District
Personal details
Born Robert Watson Joseph Ghiz
(1974-01-21) January 21, 1974 (age 40)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island[1]
Nationality Canadian
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Kate Ellis (m. 2006)
Relations Joe Ghiz (father)
Children Julia Elizabeth, Emma Christena and Jack
Residence Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Alma mater Bishop's University
Occupation Political adviser, banker
Profession Politician
Cabinet Minister Responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs (2007-)
Minister Responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs (2007-)
Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs (2007-)
Religion Anglican

Robert Watson Joseph Ghiz, MLA (born January 21, 1974) is a Canadian politician who has been the 31st Premier of Prince Edward Island[1] since 2007. He is the son of former Premier Joe Ghiz, and at age 40, he is the youngest, and longest serving, of the current Canadian premiers.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Ghiz was born and raised in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the son of Rose Ellen (née McGowan) and Joe Ghiz. He served in the Canadian Forces Primary Reserves, while attending high school in the early 1990s. He attended Bishop's University where he earned a Bachelor's degree in political science; his father spoke at Ghiz's graduation.

Ghiz moved to Ottawa following his father's death from cancer, where he worked as a political aide for Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps before joining the Bank of Nova Scotia in 1998. In 2001 Ghiz joined the office of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien where he served as Atlantic Canada advisor before leaving to run for leader of the Prince Edward Island Liberal Party in 2003.[1]

Politics[edit]

In 2003, Ghiz narrowly defeated former provincial Health Minister Alan Buchanan for the leadership of the party and went on to win a seat in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island in the 2003 provincial election.[3] The MLA for Charlottetown-Rochford Square (now Charlottetown-Brighton) served as Leader of the Official Opposition in the provincial legislature from 2003-2007.

Ghiz faced a controversy during the lead-up to the 2007 provincial election when he intervened in the nominating procedure in a rural electoral district northeast of Charlottetown. Ghiz refused to sign his party's nominating papers for the winning candidate who had made a controversial speech endorsing patronage.[4]

Ghiz led his party to power in the general election held on May 28, 2007, defeating Pat Binns after 11 years of Progressive Conservative government. Ghiz won 23 of the 27 seats, reversing the standings in the legislature at the time of dissolution. Ghiz and his 11-member cabinet were sworn in on June 12, 2007. A 24th member was elected in October in a by-election held after the resignation of Pat Binns.[1]

Ghiz's election resulted in the second time in the history of Prince Edward Island that a father-son team both became premier; the other pair (also Liberal) being Thane Campbell (1936–1943) and Alexander B. Campbell (1966–1978).[5]

On October 3, 2011 the Ghiz Liberals were re-elected to a 2nd term, winning 22 of 27 seats. The PEI Progressive Conservative party under the leadership of Olive Crane won the remaining 5 seats.

Controversial appointments[edit]

In 2007, Ghiz appointed his longtime personal friend, Brooke MacMillan, as a deputy minister in the PEI government. MacMillan later became embroiled in a major controversy after it was revealed that he accessed millions of dollars through a citizenship program, known as the Provincial Nominee Program. When the scandal was revealed to the public, MacMillan was ordered by Ghiz to return some monies.[6]It is not known if MacMillan ever returned the funds and Ghiz did not refer the matter to the RCMP. As a result of these revelations the Government of Canada announced its intentions to cancel the program. Federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney expressed serious suspicions over the Ghiz government's handling of the program, noting that PEI was nominating more immigrants for citizenship than the entire province of Ontario.[7] Kenney later announced an investigation into the Ghiz government's handling of the program and said "It appears that some provinces, including P.E.I., have been raking in huge fees for both government coffers and financial 'arrangers', while paying little or no attention to the needs of the immigrants themselves or of the local economy."[8]

The ongoing federal investigation forced Brooke MacMillan to leave his patronage appointment as a deputy minister. Ghiz later appointed MacMillan as Chief Executive Officer of the PEI Liquor Control Commission. In 2014 MacMillan was again embroiled in controversy after it was revealed that he had billed taxpayers for nearly $30,000 in questionable expenses.[9]

On the evening of the 2011 provincial election Ghiz announced on live television that despite the electorate's decision to remove Allan Campbell from office, Ghiz would find a high-level position for the defeated cabinet minister. Campbell was later appointed Chief of Staff in the Premier's Office.[10]

After an unsuccessful attempt to unseat an incumbent Tory MLA in District 2, Danny Walker was appointed as a special advisor to Premier Ghiz in the 'Eastern Premier's Office,' which is not an actual body.[11]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ron MacKinley (interim)
PEI Liberal Leader
2003–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Jeff Lantz, Progressive Conservative
MLA for Charlottetown-Rochford Square
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Riding abolished
Preceded by
Riding created
MLA for Charlottetown-Brighton
2007–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Ron MacKinley (interim)
Leader of the Opposition
2003-2007
Succeeded by
Pat Binns
Preceded by
Pat Binns
Premier of Prince Edward Island
2007–present
Incumbent