Joe Byrne to run for leadership of NDP on P.E.I.

Joe Byrne announced Thursday morning that he is running to lead the New Democratic Party on P.E.I.

Leadership convention to be held April 7

Joe Byrne ran for the federal NDP in 2011 and 2015. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Joe Byrne is hoping to become the new leader of the New Democratic Party on P.E.I.

At an announcement in downtown Charlottetown, Byrne said he is "ready to give alternatives to Islanders."

Byrne is the first person to publicly declare their candidacy since Mike Redmond's resignation last month. Party president Leah-Jane Hayward said a committee is screening other potential candidates.

The leadership convention will be held April 7.

Byrne is best known politically as a federal candidate for the NDP.

He placed second in the Charlottetown riding in 2015, behind Liberal Sean Casey, but his share of the vote — 23 per cent — fell slightly when compared to his 2011 run.

Byrne said in 2012 he was approached to lead the provincial party, but said at that time he preferred to focus on federal politics.

Trailing Green Party

If Byrne is successful in his bid, he has a big challenge ahead of him.

Despite more than tripling its share of the vote in the 2015 provincial election, and marginally outpolling the Green Party, P.E.I.'s NDP finds itself in 2018 as the province's fourth party.

The difference is that Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker won his district in 2015 and entered the legislature. Hannah Bell followed that up with a byelection win in November, giving the Green Party a two-member caucus.

Polls from Corporate Research Associates have shown the Green Party with the support of as many as 25 per cent of Islanders, while the NDP have been polling around 10 per cent.

With files from Tom Steepe