NDP communications director to resign after Burnaby South byelection

The director of communications for the NDP is quitting her job once the crucial Burnaby South byelection test for the party is over.

Kerry Pither says she's leaving to spend more time with her family

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh jogs up to a home while door-knocking for his byelection campaign, in Burnaby, B.C., on Jan. 12. Federal byelections will be held on Feb. 25 in three vacant ridings - Burnaby South, the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe and Montreal's Outremont. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The director of communications for the NDP is quitting her job once the crucial Burnaby South byelection test for the party is over. 

Kerry Pither, who came into the role early last year, told CBC News she's stepping down March 1 to spend more time with her family. 

She cautioned not to take her departure as a sign the party is floundering ahead of October's federal election. 

"We agreed when I came on that I could only stay for a few months," she said Saturday. 

Pither's family lives in the U.S., and she explained the travel and long hours of an election campaign were too difficult to manage with family obligations.

"My family comes first."

She said she intentionally picked a quitting day after the Feb. 25 byelection in Burnaby South, where leader Jagmeet Singh is currently vying for a seat. 

She says she's spent her time getting the team ready to dive into the October election campaign, and she has "no qualms" about leaving the party in its current state. 

Pither reiterated several times that it was a "tremendous honour" to work with Singh, and she's committed to helping secure a federal win in whatever way she can — from a distance.

No replacement communications director will be appointed, and her duties will be absorbed by communications staff Melanie Richer and Jonathan Gauvin, Pither said.

A struggling NDP

The shift comes at a time when the NDP is struggling — both in the polls and the financial department. 

The New Democrats continued to trail their rivals in fundraising, raising just $1,974,257 from 18,637 contributors. That's the party's lowest fourth quarter result since 2011.

It puts the total for the NDP at $5.1 million for the year — better than 2017, but still below its fundraising numbers from 2011 to 2016. Heading into the 2015 election, when the NDP was still the Official Opposition, the party had raised $9.5 million.

On top of that, several senior members of the federal NDP caucus told CBC News they warned Singh back in June that he won't be able to hang on as party leader if he loses in Burnaby South.

A significant chunk of the incumbent caucus have announced they won't run in October, and the party's support in Quebec has dropped considerably as well. 

Despite these troubles, Singh has vowed he will lead the NDP into the 2019 federal election.