SUMMERVILLE, P.E.I.- The leader of P.E.I.’s NDP is resigning from politics.
Mike Redmond, who was elected as the party’s leader in 2012, confirmed to The Guardian on Wednesday afternoon that he is stepping down from the party effective immediately.
Redmond said while the decision to leave politics was a difficult one, after five years of leading the party he felt it was time to move on.
“I think it’s time the party had a new voice to continue the party in the right direction… it’s a good time to move on, it’s a good time to have a leadership campaign and hopefully the party will keep moving forward,” said Redmond, adding that he had previously committed to running in two elections for the party.
The decision comes shortly after the District 11 byelection, which saw Redmond finish fourth. He previously ran in the 2015 election and helped campaign for the party in that year’s federal election.
While he will be exiting public life, Redmond said he wants to continue his advocacy for social justice, particularly around the issue of poverty.
“Certainly my focus has been advocating for people and in particular on issues of poverty, that certainly hasn’t changed on P.E.I., if anything the numbers (of those living in poverty) have gotten worse,” said Redmond, adding that he became aware of how severe the issue was in P.E.I. during his time as NDP leader.
While his resignation is effective immediately, Redmond said he has a number of items he’ll have to tie up before the end of the year.
He said he’ll continue to be an activist on social justice issues through his work with the Montague Economic Development Corporation as well as through his non-profit group, Sperenza.
He’s also in the process of finishing his masters from the University of Royal Roads with a thesis focusing on “the invisible poverty” in P.E.I., those who may appear to be doing well from the outside but are actually struggling to make ends meet.
“I think there is a tremendous amount of people living below the poverty line that are just existing, and that’s something that’s not being addressed by government,” he said.
Redmond said his retirement from politics will also mean time to spend with his wife and their blended family of six children. The family also operates a traditional free-range farm in Summerville.
While Redmond said he has no regrets from his time in politics, he said he was disappointed the political patronage and corruption in the Provincial Nominee Program and e-gaming have not been “effectively dealt with.”
However, he said he has been proud of the party’s stances and growth in recent years.
“And how hard (members) worked to be the voice of social justice and a voice for the voiceless. I would not change a thing about our message,” said Redmond. “I leave the party in a good state, there’s a very good executive there now with strong regional representation and I’ll always wish them the best.”
The Guardian has reached out to the provincial NDP executive and is awaiting a response.