P.E.I. Green Party leader resigns

Sharon Labchuk, leader of the P.E.I. Green Party, announced Thursday she is resigning her leadership of the party.
Sharon Labchuk was the first leader of the P.E.I. Green Party. (CBC)

Sharon Labchuk, leader of the P.E.I. Green Party, announced Thursday she is resigning her leadership of the party.

Labchuk led the party for seven years. She was the first Green leader in the province, fronting the party for two elections: in 2007 and 2011.

The party placed third - ahead of the NDP - in both elections, but did not make a large impact on the electorate, earning less than five per cent of the popular vote. It did see growth between the two elections however, and attracted more candidates. It had 18 running in the 27 districts in 2007, and 22 in 2011.

"I was quite happy to be the leader of a party and speak on all manners of issues that are important to Islanders, but after seven years my time has come with the party. It's time for a new leader," she said.

"We have very unique policies, we are not simply shades of grey that all of the other parties are. So we've introduced these ideas and I hope Islanders will continue to look at the Green Party and see how different we are."

Labchuk will not be leaving politics entirely, staying on in the role of director of organizing for the federal Green Party.

Labchuk will also remain busy with environmental activism. She intends to throw more of her energy into the group Earth Action, of which she was a co-founder.

She said while the party has taken a stand against genetically modified organisms and pesticides, not enough has changed on those fronts.

"That's why I feel compelled to move back to into the activist world and try to make an impact there," she told the CBC.

Liberal MP Wayne Easter ran against Labchuk in Malpeque and said her departure is significant.

"It's a loss to the Green Party, from their point of view because she did attract attention and in political parties you have to find ways of profiling your issue," Easter said.

"Whether she's within the Green Party or a citizen, she's going to be the type that speaks out there, tries to profile her argument on the issues, and I expect she will continue to do that."

Both Premier Robert Ghiz and Opposition leader Olive Crane put out statements Thursday wishing Labchuk well.

Ghiz said he and the Green Party leader often disagreed on policy, but he always admired her devotion to public issues, including the environment.

The Green Party will appoint an interim leader in advance of a new leadership convention.