Chomp­ing at the bit

Buoyed by the party’s gains, NDP leader Lor­raine Michael vows she’ll run again in four years

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMES MCLEOD

It was a great year for NDP leader Lor­raine Michael – so good, in fact, she’s al­ready ex­cited about 2012 and be­yond.

Dur­ing a year-end in­ter­view with The Tele­gram, Ms. Michael said she’s al­ready mak­ing plans and lay­ing the ground­work to run again in the next provin­cial elec­tion in 2015.

Ms. Michael is 68, and will be 72 by the next elec­tion, but she em­phat­i­cally said she’s look­ing for­ward to it.

“Why would I back down when we’ve reached this point that we’re at? This point can go higher.”

A year ago, Ms. Michael said she was ex­pect­ing modest suc­cesses in 2011.

With the gen­eral elec­tion on the hori­zon, she said she was hop­ing for “a cou­ple more” NDP mem­bers in the House of Assem­bly. The turn­ing point for her, though, was the fed­eral elec­tion.

When the NDP swept through the coun­try, cap­tur­ing more than 100 seats and earn­ing of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion sta­tus fed­er­ally, she started to in­crease her hopes.

“In my own think­ing, that was a turn­ing point.”

Ms. Michael quickly added it was the re­sult of a lot of ground­work.

“I think, for me per­son­ally, and for the party provin­cially, it was a cul­mi­na­tion of four years of care­ful plan­ning.

“We be­gan plan­ning for the elec­tion right af­ter the gen­eral elec­tion of 2007 and we put a clear plan in place of what we were go­ing to do with re­gards to build­ing the party through new district as­so­ci­a­tions, through mem­ber­ship, through fundrais­ing.”

Ms. Michael said aside from the party’s strate­gic ef­forts, this year’s break­through was sim­ply the fact the NDP was talk­ing about is­sues that seemed to res­onate with vot­ers.

“That was part of why we did so well in the gen­eral elec­tion, that we were speak­ing about the is­sues that peo­ple were talk­ing to us about.”

Head­ing into 2012, the party will have more MHAS and more promi­nence in the House of Assem­bly to push their is­sues.

Ms. Michael said her top con­cerns right now are mak­ing sure there’s a more eq­ui­table shar­ing of wealth in the prov­ince, and mak­ing sure the health care sys­tem works bet­ter.

“Our health care sys­tem is not work­ing for the peo­ple who need to use it, and it’s not work­ing for the peo­ple who work in it. We con­tinue to hear story upon story upon story about that.”

Prob­a­bly the hard­est part of the year for Ms. Michael and the NDP was the death of fed­eral leader Jack Lay­ton. But at the same time, she down­played the sig­nif­i­cance of Mr. Lay­ton’s death.

“I think what’s im­por­tant now is not what Jack did him­self, but what we’re go­ing to do based on what Jack built.

“Jack took the val­ues and prin­ci­ples of our party and pushed them for­ward and stood on them. And that’s what we have to con­tinue do­ing.”

NDP leader Lor­raine Michael

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