P.E.I.'s NDP leader says party needs to change focus

Teresa Wright
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NDP Leader Mike Redmond speaks to reporters after speech

P.E.I. NDP Leader Mike Redmond says the party needs time to regroup after two disappointing elections in 2015, but some party members are quietly expressing concerns about the way the party is being managed.

The NDP garnered 11 per cent of the popular vote in the provincial election last spring, but failed to land a seat in the provincial legislature.

The four NDP candidates in the federal election in October were also unsuccessful.

The provincial party has since taken a nosedive in the polls. Only nine per cent of decided voters expressed support for the party in the most recent CRA poll in November compared to its historic polling high of 32 per cent in August 2013.

Redmond, as leader, has also seen a big drop in support, polling at just seven per cent in November.

Redmond admits the party has suffered some blows over the last year, but says the membership just needs time to rest and rebuild.

“We need to reinvigorate ourselves, but that takes time, and something we need to remember is a lot of people did a lot of work this year,” Redmond said.

“I want to make sure that those people who invested so much time and energy get the appropriate rest so they can recharge their batteries and come back refreshed.”

But some members are quietly sharing concerns about some of the messaging coming from the party leadership.

Members who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity said some recent news releases issued from Redmond did not necessarily reflect the views of the party as a whole.

Redmond penned an opinion piece in December calling for an end to the annual CBC turkey drive, saying focus should instead be shifted to exposing the reality of poverty in P.E.I.

This proved an unpopular move among several NDP members, including one candidate who ran in the provincial election who took to social media to express his objections openly.

Some members have also expressed concerns with the way the party’s annual convention was managed.

Held on Dec. 5 in Montague, it was not advertised as stipulated in the party’s constitution. The constitution dictates at least 45 days' notice of the date and place of an annual convention must be issued to each provincial riding association and an ad must be placed in the local media “for the purpose of notifying any member or prospective member of the party of the forthcoming annual convention.”

Only about 30 members attended the AGM.

Redmond says he did not personally organize the event, but notes the convention is usually held in April and had to be pushed back due to the provincial election. He says emails and Facebook messages were sent to party members alerting them to the event.

The December convention saw three new officers elected to the party executive, including Nathan Bushey, who was elected president of the NDP.

Bushey, who ran as a candidate in the provincial election, says becoming party president was a surprise for him that day. He was nominated from the floor.

“I just want to help out in the best way that I can,” Bushey said.

“What I would like to see as a vision for the party are more solution-based ideas, because there are a lot of things that can be corrected on P.E.I. and to just point out a problem without a solution is not always helpful.”

The P.E.I. NDP’s constitution does not have a provision for an automatic annual leadership review, as is the case for the federal party.

It does say a leadership review can be held if two-thirds of the delegates at an annual convention agree to hold one, but Bushey says there was no call for a review of Redmond’s leadership at the convention in December.

Redmond says the party will hold another convention in April, and if members want a leadership review at that time, he would gladly accept this.

“I will be here as long as the party wants me to be here, if the party doesn’t want me to be here, that’s their prerogative,” Redmond said.

“For me and my family, we are on a month-to-month basis with the party and we’re up for a review every time we speak. I always encourage and invite debate with each and every party member.”

He defended his opinion piece about the turkey drive, explaining he has a small committee of party members that helps him formulate and vet his news releases.

Organizations: NDP, CBC

Geographic location: P.E.I., Montague

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  • WaitASecond
    January 29, 2016 - 14:00

    Wait. So, Nathan Bushey who is a relative of Mike Redmond? And then Redmond elected his partner and mother of his children to chair every single committee possible...? Good luck NDP-ers getting rid of him, he's already stacked the deck with his family... Redmond has got to go.

  • Matt Arsenault
    January 29, 2016 - 13:45

    Can you say superiority complex? Redmond thinks he's the messiah. Very condescending to anyone that disagrees and is currently running the party like his own little dictatorship. Is he really going to make the party vote him out in a leadership review. Do the right thing Mike.

  • jill
    January 29, 2016 - 11:14

    Simply put, he has some real bad advisors that have been directing him in the wrong direction since before the election.

  • Ed
    January 29, 2016 - 09:35

    Mikey boy......... you had all the potential in the last election and 4 years building up to it. I really thought in 2013 that we would have 4 parties in the house and an independent. Along with Peter Bevan-Baker's popularity in his riding at the time, Olive Crane possibly being re-elected as an Independent MLA, I anticipated you would win in Victoria park and the NDP movement would continue in the Charlottetown area, and it almost did when Reilly nearly upset Kathleen Casey. I thought the last election would go 16 Liberal, 6 PC, 3 NDP, 1 Green and 1 Independent. You made that statement for WHATEVER REASON that you felt you should only run in the riding you live. Which for most people can be true, but along with that I have no idea why you would even move to Montague considering your involvement in so many Charlottetown initiatives, businesses, sports teams etc. I really felt you could beat Richard Brown. Along with that, your move has lead to people questioning the purpose/mandate/value of your new business, your opinions have disengaged with Islanders, and respect has hit lows. I know so many people in Montague that couldn't believe when they heard you were going to be on the ballot because they all couldn't make sense of why you would run out there. Not because they didn't think you were a good candidate, but because they know you are not from the area and well aware nobody else did or would support you. You had the first chance in 20 years to run a race of quality for your party since Herb Dickenson took the O'Leary seat in 1996. You blew an amazing opportunity and the next election is a little over 3 years away. Please step aside now while the party has plenty of time. We need to move forward.

  • Jim Daigle
    January 29, 2016 - 08:18

    Seems like the NDP, both federally and provincially, don't know when to call a spade a spade and change leadership. Its all over Redmond, give some one else a crack at leadership. You obviously don't have what it takes to make the progress necessary to represent this province

  • It's time
    January 29, 2016 - 08:09

    Time for a new leader. Redmond should have gotten the message already.