© Guardian photo
Sharon Labchuk at the lookout over Strathgartney Provincial Park. (file photo)
P.E.I. Green party Leader Sharon Labchuk announced today she is stepping down.
After leading the party in Prince Edward Island for the last seven years, she said she felt it was time to move on.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been seven years. Parties have to change leaders once in awhile and it‚Äôs time that the Green party had a new leader,‚ÄĚ Labchuk said in an interview this morning.
‚ÄúI think I‚Äôve done a fair bit of work getting the party established and now it‚Äôs time for other people to take over.‚ÄĚ
Labchuk established the Green party of P.E.I. in 2005. Under her leadership the party placed third, behind the Progressive Conservatives, in both the 2007 and 2011 elections, and increased the party‚Äôs support last year‚Äôs election despite a drop in voter turnout.
She said she is happy to see how the party has grown and views its rising support among Island voters as a highlight of her time as leader.
But she said she is most proud of the number of women candidates the party fielded in the last two elections.
‚ÄúWe had over 50 per cent women, and it‚Äôs always been a goal of mine to encourage more women to be candidates and to be involved in politics, so I was pleased we could attract that many women.‚ÄĚ
"It was the massive fish kills, the cancer-causing potato pesticides in our air, and the relentless contamination of our drinking water with chemical fertilizer that compelled me to start a political party. . ." Sharon Labchuk
Labchuk said she will not be leaving politics entirely as she still works with Elizabeth May as the national director of organizing for the federal Green party. She will also continue to work with the local party in an advisory role.
‚ÄúBut I‚Äôm looking forward to getting back to environmental activism with Earth Action. I have unfinished business with the industrial agriculture and pesticide industries,‚ÄĚ Labchuk said.
‚ÄúIt was the massive fish kills, the cancer-causing potato pesticides in our air, and the relentless contamination of our drinking water with chemical fertilizer that compelled me to start a political party that has advocated for a 100 per cent organic province from day one. The situation remains serious.‚ÄĚ
A leadership convention will be held later this year. Labchuk said at least one individual has already indicated interest in running for the leadership.
An interim leader has been identified and will be announced soon.