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The race is officially under way for the leadership of Prince Edward Island's Liberal party.

Former cabinet minister Alan Buchanan launched his bid Wednesday night, backed by some 250 people at the Belfast recreation centre.

Mr. Buchanan served as minister of health, then as attorney general.

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He resigned in 1996, and has worked as director of government relations for Aliant Telecom.

Mr. Buchanan says the most important issues to islanders are health and education, as well as a concern to balance the interests of the environment and agriculture.

He admits it will be a tough challenge to rebuild the opposition Liberals, who only have one seat in the legislature.

A second leadership candidate, Robert Ghiz, is expected to announce his candidacy Thursday. He is the 28-year-old son of former premier Joe Ghiz.

The Liberal leadership convention will be held April 5.

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