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P.E.I. NDP nominates party leader Joe Byrne as first candidate

Joe Byrne, party leader of the P.E.I., at a nomination meeting on Thursday night. Byrne will be the party’s candidate in Charlottetown-Victoria Park.
Joe Byrne, party leader of the P.E.I., at a nomination meeting on Thursday night. Byrne will be the party’s candidate in Charlottetown-Victoria Park. - Stu Neatby

A nomination meeting held on Thursday for P.E.I. NDP Leader Joe Byrne offered a glimpse into how the party will identify itself in the next election.

Byrne was acclaimed as the party’s candidate for Charlottetown-Victoria Park at Thursday night’s meeting at the Murphy’s Community Centre. The nomination meeting drew a crowd of 75 people, roughly 20 of whom were party members living in Charlottetown-Victoria Park.

In a speech, Byrne led party members in a call and response that appears destined to be a mantra during the coming election campaign: “For the many, not the few.”

Byrne spoke of a need to reduce economic insecurity and criticized the Liberal government of Wade MacLauchlan for not investing enough in building affordable housing.

"I want to lead a government that addresses income inequality,” Byrne said in a speech.

“And we start by raising the minimum wage. Fifteen dollars an hour to start. But we have to change the dialogue on this. We have to talk about a liveable wage."

"Huge numbers of people are saying ‘I don't need to vote the way I thought my father voted and my grandmother voted.’ People are looking at shifting that."
P.E.I. NDP Leader Joe Byrne

Byrne was nominated by Kandace Hagen, a UPEI student and reproductive rights activist. Hagen said she chose to support Byrne because she felt she trusted him.

"It's not so much the NDP Party that brought me. It was Joe. It was Joe as an individual, Joe as a politician, what I think Joe can do if he is elected," Hagen said.

"Joe is an individual that is conscious of the individual power that he holds as someone who occupies a white body, a male body. He's someone that, if he is elected, will be able to use that power to raise up minority groups, disenfranchised populations.”

The party is facing a challenging election. A poll released by MQO research showed that, between May and July of this year, support for the P.E.I. NDP dropped three percentage points.

The Green party, meanwhile, may have benefited the most from this drop. Its public support climbed seven percentage points during the same time period.

Byrne said he was not fazed by the poll results. Voting patterns are changing on the Island, he said, and over a third of the electorate remains undecided.

“The biggest message in the polls is the volatility,” Byrne said.

"Huge numbers of people are saying ‘I don't need to vote the way I thought my father voted and my grandmother voted.’ People are looking at shifting that."


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