Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair, speaking to his fellow NDPers during Provincial leadership conference in Charlottetown. Conway Photo.
Newly elected provincial NDP leader James Rodd vowed to form government in Prince Edward Island and used guest speaker Thomas Mulcair, who is the first NDP MP to ever be elected in Quebec as a prominent example that it is possible.
Before was offically announced as the leader for Island New Democrats at the NDP leadership conference on April 4, Mulcair delivered a message of hope to his fellow NDPers.
His speech began with an offer of hope to his fellow New Democrats in attendance at the conference.
“Stephen Harper for all of his gloom and doom may have won the federal election but the NDP had its best showing ever and we should never forget that.”
The Quebec MP’s message of hope for a New Democrat to be elected in P.E.I. was the perfect lead in for the newly elected provincial leader James Rodd’s acceptance speech, where he offered the same sentiment.
Mulcair said the growth of the NDP in Quebec has to do with the idealogies of the Conservatives and Liberals.
“The Conservatives are more Conservative than ever. They have become a group of idealogues who act without thinking out their next step.”
“The Liberals don’t believe in anything. Ignatieff is more or a less a Conservative but has changed his opinions when he was running for the Liberal leadership.”
Mulcair ran down a list of items Ignatieff had changed his mind about over the course of his leadership.
“Ignatieff called for the need of imperial law, during his time at Harvard. He called for Canada to get involved in the war in Iraq in 2003.”
“He may be trying to show his Liberalism but this is the same man who voted for a budget that cut the equal pay for women in this country and the protection of Navaho water is also gone now because of that budget. Liberals signing the Kyoto accord is more like a PR stunt.”
Mulcair didn’t spare Ignatieff’s feelings as he made a rather sharp observation at the expense of the Liberal party about their sense of entitlement.
“Liberal’s feel all they have to do is show up for an election and they would at least walk out with second place. They only look out for number one and not the Canadian people.”
Mulcair said he knows the people of Quebec are not happy with the way both Liberals and Conservatives have been running the government.
“In Quebec, people were beginning to realize there was another option out there and it will happen here in P.E.I. as well.”
This is the time for NDPers to provide Canadians with hope and perhaps it is time to speak of the party’s vision for Canada, he said.
“The NDP is the federal party with the best record for having a balanced budget and a will to act on people’s behalf during what could be the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
He said with Harper being the real deal for the Conservatives and The Liberals voting with him, it is a great opportunity for the New Democratic Party.
“It is you who helps us push forward. The rise in the amount of people who vote NDP is real. Make people realize it, just like we did in Quebec.”
After Mulcair’s speech, Rodd shook his hand and presented him with a lovely painting of a P.E.I. sunset. Party members then voted on who would fill each of the leadership positions in the party.
Rodd was elected as the provincial party leader after running unopposed. After he was officially elected as leader, shared Mulcair’s message of hope for the NDP.
He began by congratulated the executive branch of the party, which he called fresh because there are five women members.
“I am really looking forward to working with the executive, as we continue to push the policies of our party forward that we have started here today.”
He asked how the party could invest in its people, and its communities and make them viable, strong and self reliant?
“It is not going to be easy because our previous governments, the Liberal and Conservative governments have negelected the rural community, which was once a source of wealth and an economic generator for our entire economy but that source of wealth is gone.”
He said the source of wealth in the area is gone because the infrastructure is gone and the services aren’t there anymore.
“The wages haven’t been keeping up so you have young people and middle-aged people and people of all ages leaving the rural communities to urban areas and if not, they are leaving the Island entirely.”
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to welcome back the wisdom and the energy and the wealth that these Islanders have garnered while leaving P.E.I. and then bring them back to advise us to rekindle our economy with their help.”
Rodd began to focus on the energy usage in the province. He said the province uses approximately $700 million on petroleum products in a year.
“It is a staggering amount of dollars to be spending by Islanders on transportation, heating feul and other things. So energy is going to be something that this party is ahead on. We are going to present policies that will create energy that is to the net benefit of Islanders and would be a change to what we are currently experiencing.”
He asked his fellow party members what can they as a party look forward to the months and years ahead.
“What I am seeing here is that we have a lot of work to do. But I always have considered myself a team player and I entend to keep it that way. The work that we do both within the party and with Islanders, is to incorporate team work with mutual respect, with equality, with sharing, with caring, and balance.”
“That is what will distinguish us from other political parties in the end and that is what I belevie will give us an advantage.”
The party will have to make an extra effort to reach out to Islanders and to invite them and encourage them to join with the NDP to improve our democracy and our government, he said.
“But there is a great deal of cynicism created by both the Liberal and Conservative parites, which draws a lot of people, particulary young people away from voting or to participate in public affiars. This undermines our democracy.”
He said they must let the people know that they are not like the other parties before offering his message of hope:
Rodd then took off his jacket.
“I’m going to roll up my sleeves, how many of you out there are willing to roll up your sleeves? We have a lot of work to do. We want to engage people and bring in the kind of policies to give people the alternative to vote for and the only way to do it is to do some hard work right here and now.”
New provincial NDP leader, James Rodd rolls up his sleeves to help Islanders as he asks the NDP to do so to. Conway Photo.
“Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, we will form government on Prince Edward Island. There are many out there who will tell you that it won’t happen and that Islanders will not vote in a New Democratic government but I will remind them that is what they said about Saskatchewan before Tommy Douglas proved them wrong, that’s what they said in Manitoba, in British Columbia, in the Yukon, in Ontario, and Quebec. It is also what there cousins in Nova Scotia are saying where we have Darell Dexter as a government in waiting.”