Joe Byrne chosen as new NDP leader on P.E.I.

Joe Byrne was chosen among three candidates vying for the provincial NDP leadership at the party's leadership convention Saturday.

Byrne receives more than half the votes in three-way race

Joe Byrne accepted his new position as leader of the P.E.I. NDP alongside his wife and daughter. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Joe Byrne is the new leader of the NDP on Prince Edward Island.

Byrne was chosen from among three candidates vying for the position at the party's leadership convention at Murphy's Community Centre in Charlottetown.

Byrne received 123 of the 215 votes that were cast.

"It's really wonderful to know that New Democrats across P.E.I. voted and selected me as the leader," Byrne said. "It's a privilege and I'm really, really happy. I'm ready to take this on."

Margaret Andrade and Susan MacVittie were the other candidates running for leader. Former leader Mike Redmond stepped down in December.

'It's a privilege and I'm really, really happy. I'm ready to take this on,' says Byrne. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Byrne is perhaps best known to Islanders as a two-time federal NDP candidate. He placed second in the Charlottetown riding in 2015, behind Liberal Sean Casey.

'We have the will'

Byrne said his first priority as party leader will be to engage with people across the island to ensure the needs and interests of every Islander are represented in the party.

Byrne thanked his running mates Margaret Andrade and Susan MacVittie during his acceptance speech. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"I want to start working with Islanders so I'll be making plans to make sure that I can be back out to visit people in West Prince and East Prince up to northern Kings County and across Summerside and Charlottetown and Queens County," Byrne said.

"Islanders have the answers to how we should govern ourselves … Islanders understand that diversity is important so I want to be able to listen to that diversity and make sure that we represent that in the party," he added.

Provincial NDP delegates register to vote for a new leader Saturday at Murphy's Community Centre in Charlottetown. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Byrne said he believes Islanders are ready for change and as party leader he wants to give people an alternative with the NDP.

"I think people will say, this is a party that can govern, this is a party that should be there, this is a voice that needs to be heard." 

"I know that with the group that's in the party," Byrne said, "we have the capacity, we have the ideas and we have the will."

But according to a recent poll, the party is far from having the votes necessary to govern. The P.E.I. NDP has dipped to last place among the four major political parties on the Island.

Federal NDP leader address

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Charlottetown to address the convention. Earlier Saturday, he visited the Charlottetown Farmers Market and greeted the public at Timothy's Café.

Newly elected P.E.I. NDP Leader Joe Byrne is congratulated by federal party leader Jagmeet Singh at the provincial leadership convention in Charlottetown Saturday. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Singh said after meeting with Islanders, he's hearing concerns around issues such as access to health care and high-speed Internet. He's also having lots of discussions about proportional representation. 

He said the best way to build support for the NDP provincially is by listening to the province's concerns and doing everything he can to address them at a federal level.

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