Binns, Patrick George

 Patrick George Binns, premier of PEI from 1996 to 2007 (b at Weyburn, Sask 8 Oct 1948). Pat Binns received his early education in Saskatchewan, before proceeding to the University of Alberta for a Bachelor of Arts degree (1969) in economics and political science and a Master of Arts (1971) in community development. Following graduation, he briefly took up a position as a development officer in the LESSER SLAVE LAKE region in northern Alberta. In 1972, he moved to Prince Edward Island to assume a government position with the Rural Development Council, where he co-ordinated the establishment and administration of Regional Service Centres in eastern PEI.

From 1978 to 1983, he served as member of the Provincial Legislative Assembly for 4th Kings district, and as minister of municipal affairs, labour and environment (1979) and community affairs (1980) under Premier John Angus MACLEAN, and as minister of fisheries (1982-83) and industry (1983) under Premier James LEE. He then entered federal politics, winning the eastern seat of Cardigan in the Conservative MULRONEY sweep of 1984. He served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of fisheries and oceans.

Defeated in 1988, Pat Binns subsequently devoted himself to several different projects in the private sector. He took up farming in King's County and also became president of Island Bean Ltd, a firm specializing in the processing and marketing of edible beans, peas and special products. He also served as senior consultant with Pat Binns & Associates, providing project and small business advice in the agriculture, fishery, tourism and manufacturing sectors.

Pat Binns won the leadership of the PEI Conservative Party in a convention on 5 May 1996. In the general election of 27 November 1996, he was elected MLA for District 5 (Murray River-Gaspereaux) and assumed the premiership, leading a team of 18 Conservative MLAs in a 27-member Assembly.

A conservative in the tradition of Angus MACLEAN, Binns was strongly committed to the preservation and enhancement of rural Island community life. He resolved to keep all small rural schools in the province open. In addition to building upon the primary industries of agriculture and the fishery, his government supported SMALL BUSINESS enterprises as well as new knowledge-based industries. In rejecting a loan request from the Irving empire for expansion of a box plant in Borden-Carleton, the Binns government demonstrated its preference for small-business enterprises. In the 2003 provincial election, Binns's Conservative Party defeated the Liberals under Robert GHIZ to maintain their status as the official government of PEI.

In the years leading up to the 2007 election, Binns's government continued to build on their policy of good governance, in contrast to Ghiz's Liberals, who focused on change. Ultimately, the Liberal policies of increased funding to health care and post-secondary education, and reduction of both gas costs and property taxes, appealed to many Islanders. On 28 May 2007, Binns's Conservatives were defeated by the Liberals, ending the party's 11-year stint as the government in PEI. Binns was succeeded by Robert GHIZ as premier of PEI, and is currently the Canadian ambassador to Ireland.