Interim NDP leader wants job full-time:Leader to be decided during April 4th convention at UPEI

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James Rodd Speaking at the Pro-Coalition Rally in Charlottetown Dec.4, 2008. 

 

    One of his reasons his running for the provincial leadership of the NDP is the closure of schools in the rural communities because they have been and still are the economic generator to the economy of P.E.I. says Island New Democrat interim leader James Rodd.

      On Saturday, April 4, Island New Democrats will hold their leadership conference at MacDougall Hall in UPEI, where they will announce the new provincial leader for the party. Rodd is running and at press time he was unopposed.

      Another reason for seeking the leadership is the state of rural communities in the province.

       “The rural communites have been detracted by the government over the years and there was a time when the rural communities could handle an economic downturn. They had wealth. Both from infrastructure and services to areas of agriculture, the fisheries and forestry. But those days are over.”

         Rodd feels governments by and large have not listened to the rural communities and have put policies in place which undermine the underpinnings of the rural community.

        “For me, Island schools and rural schools closing are the tip of the iceberg. We have lost a lot of farmers over the past couple of years and that is nothing new. The loss of farmers has been accelerating since the mid-90s.”

          Rodd said the fisheries are in dire straits and forestry in the province is pretty much non-existant with only a couple of lumber mills on the Island. One of the major mills just shut down in Georgetown, he noted.

         “It is not uncommon for rural citizens to leave for the urban areas or worse, leave the Island entirely to find work. You can’t blame Islanders for doing it but it undermines the Island’s economy.”

         Rodd said the question reagarding what the New Democrats can offer Island voters was an easy one to answer.

         “Island New Democrat policies have been developed by grassroots Islanders for Islanders. We can offer common sense approaches to government.”

          He pointed out the Liberal and Conservative parties have been in power for about 200 years and the province is still facing a lot of problems.

           “There is a lack of jobs. High tuition rates for students, health and education are being barraged every day and Island producers are under a lot of stress.”

         The tactics of both parties handling the economy is not working and it is a matter of vision more than anything else, he said.

        “Island New Democrats can offer a vision of where the Island needs to be by 2020, which we call the 20/20 vision. It is a vision that can strengthen and enhance the rural community and bring it back to some level of  stability so Islanders can make a decent living if they choose to live in the rural community. Educate their families and so on.”

         The New Democrats view the rural community as a piece of cloth which is made up of interwoven strands of threads.

          “One strand alone is just a strand of thread but when they are together, they are interwoven and strong.”

           Rodd compares his vision for the future with the vision of current P.E.I. Premier, Robert Ghiz.

          “Premier Ghiz has indicated the future is in areospace, info-technology, and bio-science is the way of the future. What does that say to the Island producers?”

         The New Democrats feel this kind of future caters to the free market, which always seems to sink to the lowest common denominator and will always look for what is cheaper, brushing quality off to the side.

          “It is something we can’t win if we adopt these principles but if we adopt new ones then we can give young people the chance to do what they want on Prince Edward Island because I believe that we can be the doorstep to the world. The technology is there, we just need a clearer vision on how to get there.”

           The current market has most jobs going off Island. If those jobs are here, the money generated will stay in those communities, Rodd said.

          “We can offer a different vision. Things can be better for Islanders.”

           Rodd says he isn’t a newcomer to the party and has been active and has held many different positions within the party since the late 90s.

           “I have held positions in the executive, I have been president, vice president, I have been party organizer and I’ve been the interim leader for 19 months.”

            He believes he has what it takes to be the leader of the Prince Edward Island New Democrats.

            “I believe the attributes I have will hold well for the party and for the province as a whole.”

             Two other important aspects covered in the New Democrats’ 20/20 vision are the problems with provincial building codes and political patronage.

    The interim leader said Charlottetown and Summerside are the only two areas in the province utilizing the standard Canadian building code.

    “In the hinterland of P.E.I. (the wild wild west you could say), it is up to the contractors to determine the code.”

    Rodd says this is important to remember because of the expected growth in the amount of senior citizens living in Canada is expected to grow by 20 per cent in the next five years, buildings in these rural areas need upgrades.

    “Under what we call a ‘universial building code,’ we would be adapting homes for elderly citizens.”

     “It is also important to consider the amount of elderly spouses who have to live in separate nursing homes because of the quality of their home. Building houses good enough to live in as long as humanly possible. Because it is shown that elderly residents do better when they are living in their own home, in their own town where their friends and family members are accessible to them.”

      “The ‘universal building code’ would be used in urban areas as well.”

       Political patronage has also been a problem here on Prince Edward Island which needs to be brought to an end, said Rodd.

        “I have had many people say to me, ‘I would like to help you but I can’t have anything NDP on my lawn.’ They say this because they are afraid of losing their jobs. There seems to be an unwritten law that it is OK be a Liberal or a Conservative but it is not OK to be a New Democrat on Prince Edward Island.”

         “Both the Liberals and Conservatives have this group sense of entitlement whenever they are in power. The government jobs will go to Liberal supporters when the Liberals are in power and the same goes for Conservatives. There are examples from across the country that it does not need to be this way.” 

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