Robert Mitchell is in unchartered territory – and he is excited by the challenge.
Mitchell was one of only six Liberals given MLA status in the provincial election April 23 that saw the Grits reduced from governing to third-party status.
“We’re a third party, so this is a different role for us,’’ he says.
Mitchell is dramatically shifting gears in public office, moving from his pre-election role as health minister to, as of Wednesday night, interim leader of the Liberal Party of P.E.I.
A minority Progressive Conservative government facing two other parties, including the upstart Greens as Official Opposition, is “completely new for all of us,’’ he adds.
Mitchell is agreeable to Premier Dennis King’s call for a collaborative approach to getting things done.
“We need to co-operate on the floor of the legislature…I intend to do that. I intend to work with government,’’ he says, adding he plans to challenge government if he feels a policy is not in the best interest of Islanders.
A quick look at Robert Mitchell, the interim leader of the Liberal Party of P.E.I.
- Was a long-time employee with Maritime Electric. He was also a partner in a local stone business and had worked in the real estate industry.
- Has been active in his church’s catechism program and has volunteered with various teams in both the Sherwood-Parkdale Minor Baseball and Hockey associations.
- Lives with his wife, Bonnie, in Charlottetown. They have four children – Ryan, Jordan, Megan and Brandon – and two granddaughters, Callie and Elliotte.
Mitchell, who was first elected in 2007, is eager to help the party connect with grass roots and to determine why the party has fallen out of favour with Island voters. His sense is Islanders just wanted a change.
“My goal is about initially rebuilding, using my experience for stability – to begin the rebuild process,’’ he says.
“My time now is to rebuild the party, rebuild the Liberal brand.’’
Mitchell says the provincial executive of his party will take some time to reflect on when to hold a leadership convention.
Interim leaders can run for leadership of the Liberal Party of P.E.I. While not ruling out throwing his hat in the ring, Mitchell is taking no more than a wait-and-see approach for now.
Mitchell, the MLA for Charlottetown-Winsloe, was appointed minister of communities, land and environment in 2015. In January of 2018, he was appointed minister of health and wellness.