© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Federal Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair, right, talks to the media with provincial NDP leader Mike Redmond Thursday about abolishing the senate.
With just over a year of leading the provincial New Democratic Party under his belt, Mike Redmond is impressing his federal cohort with how he’s grown the party’s support in Prince Edward Island.
Redmond was alongside federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair during a visit to P.E.I. on Saturday which included a speech at the Federation of Labour’s annual convention in Summerside and a tour of the Christmas Expo at the Charlottetown Civic Centre.
It was Mulcair’s third P.E.I. visit in the past 13 months, including the leadership convention last fall that saw Redmond elected provincial leader.
Mulcair said the level of support Redmond has been able to get for the party since then has been a result of hard work.
“(The numbers) are really impressive and we intend to build on that,” said Mulcair during an interview with The Guardian. “We know NDP values are Islanders’ values.”
The latest Corporate Research Associates poll released in September showed the NDP surge ahead of the Progressive Conservative party in P.E.I. and closing in on the governing Liberals.
The NDP jumped ahead 11 points through the quarter with support from 32 per cent of decided voters in the province.
That is the highest level of support the provincial NDP has ever seen on P.E.I. and placed the party just 10 points behind the Liberals.
Redmond responded to Mulcair’s praise by saying the federal leader’s frequent trips to P.E.I. in the past year shows the party’s commitment to the province.
“Not only to the Island but to Atlantic Canada and all Canadians,” Redmond said. “We’re very pleased to have Tom here, he speaks on issues that are important to Islanders and we’re thrilled. It really speaks to how the NDP is working for people.”
Topics brought up to Mulcair throughout the day by the public were largely focused on the Senate, changes to Employment Insurance and the incoming comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union.
“They all see the same thing. A Conservative government that’s lost touch and that’s not taking care of the big issues of importance to people on the Island,” he said. “That’s where the NDP comes in with a positive, optimistic vision for what we can accomplish together.
“That’s what we’re bringing to a 2015 election federally and that’s what Mike is bringing here provincially.”
Mulcair said the party intends on returning to P.E.I. to discussing those issues.
“Listening carefully and especially saying there is an alternative,... it’s the NDP,” he said. “People know us, they know Mike Redmond and they know we can be counted on to provide good competent public administration.
“The only powerful interest that’s ever going to be followed by the NDP is the public interest.”
Joe Byrne, a federal executive member with the NDP echoed Mulcair’s sentiment of the party’s work to show Islanders an alternative from the two traditional parties.
Byrne said there has been a positive response to the NDP on P.E.I., shown at Saturday’s expo by the excitement over Mulcair’s visit.
“People are excited to see Tom, they’re excited to see Mike but it’s not just the excitement of the personality,” Byrne said. “It’s the excitement for potentially fundamental change in this country that’s going to put people first, not corporations.”