PEI

Despite election losses, Joe Byrne to stay on as NDP leader

Joe Byrne may have finished fourth for the NDP in both the provincial and federal elections this year, but he said that has not discouraged him from continuing to be a “progressive, inclusive voice” for Islanders.

NDP will be only party without an elected MLA when legislature resumes Tuesday

Joe Byrne says the NDP has to continue to get its message out to Islanders, (Laura Meader/CBC)

Joe Byrne may have finished fourth for the NDP in both the provincial and federal elections this year, but he said that has not discouraged him from continuing to be a "progressive, inclusive voice" for Islanders.

About 40 members of the provincial New Democratic Party voted Saturday at their annual general meeting to keep Byrne as their leader.

"It's nice to have the confidence of the membership, nice to know that people are supporting me as leader," he said Sunday.

Byrne, 57, has been involved in politics since he was a teenager.

He ran for the first time in 2011 as the federal NDP candidate in Charlottetown, finishing third behind the Liberals and Conservatives. He finished second in the 2015 federal election, and then won the provincial party leadership in 2018.

In April's provincial election, he finished fourth in Charlottetown-Victoria Park, which was won by the Green Party's Karla Bernard. 

Joe Byrne celebrates with family after becoming leader of the provincial NDP in 2018. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

He ran again in Charlottetown in October's federal election, finishing fourth behind the Liberals, Conservatives and Greens.

When the P.E.I. legislature resumes Tuesday under the minority Conservative government, the NDP will be the only party without an MLA. 

One should not get involved in politics if you can't deal with some frustrations.— Joe Byrne

But Byrne will still be there, sitting outside the rail, finding ways to be heard. 

"It's always been a challenge. It's not a not a new challenge for us," he said.

"We continue to be that progressive, inclusive voice that says that there's enough in this province to include everybody. There's no reason for the housing crisis that we have, the number of people that are working and poor or living in poverty. We can do better and that's what our message is to Islanders."

Parties adopting ideas

Byrne said it is encouraging, but also a bit frustrating, that other parties are adopting NDP positions, such as an increase in minimum wage, public investment in housing and a medical faculty on P.E.I.

But he said that's also the nature of politics.

"One should not get involved in politics if you can't deal with some frustrations," he said.

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