ALBERTON -- An 18-year veteran of P.E.I. provincial politics, Robert Morrissey, has confirmed he has submitted his papers seeking to be a candidate for the Egmont Liberal nomination.
The party’s Egmont nomination meeting is scheduled for November 22 at Hernewood Intermediate School in Woodstock.
Ironically, that’s the very venue where the Seacow Pond resident won the party’s nomination in November, 2007. He withdrew his nomination nine months later.
Much has changed since then, Morrissey said during a weekend interview.
“The big thing is, back in 2008, we had not seen how (Conservatives leader Stephen) Harper would govern the country and, now, after watching him govern the country, I fundamentally disagree with his vision of Canada,” Morrissey commented. “That’s significantly different.”
Morrissey, who will turn 60 just days before the nomination meeting, declared that the social side of federal spending has been eroded under the Harper government. “That impact is magnified in a rural riding like Egmont,” he stressed.
Morrissey admitted he had become disillusioned with the federal Liberals’ direction in 2008, but said he now finds the party much more focused under Justin Trudeau.
“Their agenda will be clearer coming into this election and candidates will have input into an election platform and that’s what excites me about this, the opportunity to lobby for and to promote issues that I strongly believe in.”
The November 22 nomination meeting, which already has two candidates green-lighted to seek the Liberal ticket in Egmont, leads into a federal election next year.
“I truly want to see Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party become the Government of Canada,” Morrissey said, “because I just feel the Liberal Party will offer a fairer agenda on social programming, and we depend on that.”
Morrissey was first elected to the P.E.I. Legislature in 1982 to represent the riding of First Prince. He was named Minister of Transportation and Public Works four years later. In 1989 he because Minister of Industry and subsequently took on additional responsibilities as minister responsible for the redevelopment of CFB Summerside. In 1993 he was named Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. He served in opposition from 1996 to 2000 in the new single-member riding of Tignish-Deblois. Since 2000 he has worked as a private consultant specializing in corporate and government relations. He has also represented clients in the procurement of P.E.I. seafood.
Something else has changed since 2008, Morrissey said. “Some of my harshest critics when I withdrew in 2008 have also been my strongest lobbyists and supporters to seek the nomination.”
Ever since the 2008 federal election, Morrissey said, he has been asked continually to re-enter the race. He said that movement really picked up steam in January and February of this year.
He related a discussion he held with a supporter on the need to turf the Conservative government. ‘You can do something about it,’ he recalls the supporter saying. ‘You can run.’ He subsequently sought support of party members before submitting his application.
“To remove Harper, it’s one seat at a time,” Morrissey reflected.