Provincial NDP focused on building ridings

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Mike Redmond, leader of the P.E.I. NDP, speaks during the party’s annual policy convention at the Charlottetown Hotel Saturday.

While a provincial election could still be two years away, Islanders can expect to start hearing knocks on their doors from members of the provincial New Democratic Party.

 

NDP leader Mike Redmond rallied members during the party’s annual policy convention at the Charlottetown Hotel Saturday.

With the theme of “changing democracy,” the convention was held in the looming shadow of an upcoming provincial election scheduled for either the fall of 2015 or spring of 2016.

Redmond said the provincial NDP has made strides in the past year with growth and noted the party has retired its previous election debt and moved “into the black” for the first time.

However, the year hasn’t been without difficulties.

While the latest CRA poll released in March showed the NDP still had a strong second-place hold in P.E.I., the party saw support drop to 22, down from 26 per cent in November 2013.

“To acknowledge successes without challenges would be missing the point in the building of a political party,” Redmond said during his leader’s report. “But let us be perfectly clear, if the NDP P.E.I. is to offer all Islanders a true alternative, then work is now just commencing and each and every member in this room must assume a role.”

Redmond said the party must have four “strong federal ridings and 27 functioning districts” in order to form a future government.

He stressed an importance on knocking on doors, canvassing, raising funds and recruiting candidates. Members at the convention were also encouraged to sign up to the party’s sub-committees.

“Our vehicle to create P.E.I.’s first ever social democratic government is through our districts, engaging all those communities that have been left out of the conversation,” said Redmond. “Our districts and the leaders within are our vehicles for social action and social change.”

The day also saw the election of a new executive, which included; president Michelle Blanchard, first vice president Everett Baker, third vice president Eleanor Sibbert and secretary Peter Meggs.

Blanchard said taking on the role of president was both an honour and humbling.

“I’ve met some truly, truly remarkable amazing compassionate people since I joined the party two years ago,” said Blanchard. “The party is growing… we’re thankful for every new member there is renewed energy. We’re all here because we believe in the party and we believe in the values of the NDP.”

Like Redmond, Blanchard also put a focus on moving forward.

“Because the election is coming and we’re not ready yet. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Resolutions passed included reaffirming the party’s positions on continuing a deep-well moratorium and the immediate banning of all cosmetic pesticides.

Another policy resolution included a motion supporting a province-wide public transit system provided through “expenditure of government funds supported by a progressive taxation system rather than a surtax on gasoline price.”

Another resolution advocated the implementation of programs, including financial incentives, to small, diversified and organic farmers.

Lorraine Michael, leader of the NDP in Newfoundland and Labrador and MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, was guest speaker at the event. Michael also participated in a panel discussion on “democracy and inclusion.”

Organizations: NDP P.E.I., Charlottetown Hotel

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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