What a good year PEI’s New Democrats have had.
• Things got moving with the fresh leadership of President Leah-Jane Hayward and regular meetings of an active Provincial Council
• The excitement built through a healthy Leadership contest with three good candidates — Margaret Andrade, Susan McVittie and Joe Byrne — with well-attended debates in each region. A spirited Leadership Convention in early April chose Joe Byrne as Leader.
• That Leadership Convention was paired with the party’s productive Annual General Meeting, which included a visit by federal Leader Jagmeet Singh.
• The provincial Leader position became a part-time paid one, and that has allowed Joe to work continually at growing the party’s profile, but also in the background at building essentials.
• Joe was also able to put in daily duty at the Legislature to monitor goings-on during the fall sitting.
• A major policy on Harassment was developed and officially adopted.
• An NDP petition was presented during the spring sitting of the Legislature, with signatures from across the Island in support of keeping home-care programs as a public service — a reaction to the Liberals’ awarding a contract to Island EMS, a private subsidiary of the Medavie corporation.
• The party President and Leader met in June with the Minister of Health to discuss such concerns.
• Our party committees got down to constructive work:
– The Policy Committee has been re-examining the resolutions passed at conventions over the years, noting gaps, and laying the groundwork for new policies, with attention to links with platform themes for the coming election.
– An Election Readiness Committee has already been meeting for months to develop the platform and logistics (office, financial, printing etc.) for the campaign.
– The Fund-raising Committee has been undertaking several tactics to provide the party with needed resources. — for example, a major revenue-yielding dinner in June.
– The Women’s Committee is working on a video to promote women running for office.
– The Communications committee has a practical quarterly action plan to raise the party’s profile via such channels as the web, Instagram, Linkedin.
• We have a bold new — and very orange! — website (ndppei.ca), with news and thought-provoking postings every week or so, plus ‘Joe’s View’, a blog of reflections by the Leader.
• There’s also an active Facebook page, with lots of features and pictures.
• We’ve seen a host of media releases, Op-eds and Letters to the Editor by Joe as Leader and several other New Democrats — on such subjects as Housing, Immigration, the Minimum Wage and Income Security.
• There have been a number of potlucks and similar social get-togethers.
• Another successful Hilda Ramsay Dinner was held, sponsored by the Women’s Committee. The guest speaker was Kathleen Monk, the NDP strategist who is a regular CBC TV political panelist. The proceeds are devoted to helping women candidates.
• The party already has a half a dozen credible candidates nominated in preparation for the coming election, and others are in the wings.
• Dr. Herb Dickieson has been leading candidate recruitment efforts, and he has also been named specialist/spokesperson for Rural Affairs, including Agriculture and Fishing.
• Leah-Jane Hayward, besides being President, was appointed as Deputy Leader.
• An innovative experiment in non-partisan collaboration happened just before Christmas: a live Facebook discussion of the Housing crisis between Joe as NDP Leader and Dennis King, one of the candidates in the current race for Leadership of the Progressive Conservative party.
• Typical of New Democrat activists, many, many members have been involved, whether as representatives of the party or on their own, in many community organizations and events, in forums on issues, and in promoting Proportional Representation.