After a very careful and very difficult decision-making process, yesterday I announced that I will not be seeking re-election. So in light of that, I will also step down as Leader of the New Democrats in order to give an opportunity for the next Leader to step forward and guide us into our next chapter and into the election. I will continue as Leader until the next Leader is chosen, and continue as the MHA for St. John’s Centre until the next general election.
Many of you are people who I have had the pleasure of working with, who together have dared to dream of a more just society for all people of Newfoundland and Labrador, of a prosperous Newfoundland and Labrador. What a thrill it has been working with you all! And I thank you for your support.
10 months ago after our former Leader Earle McCurdy, who was an absolute dream to work with, stepped down, I agreed to run for leadership knowing how important it was to have a Leader who had a seat in the House.
However at this point in my life, although I have loved the work and particularly working with the good people of St. John’s Centre, after 8 years, I know I simply cannot commit to another 4 years as an MHA.
And I am aware this puts the party in a difficult position with a general election looming, and I truly, truly regret that, but we have a strong executive and membership who have been organizing and who will rise to the challenge on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
And how lucky have I been to have the privilege and honour to serve and work with the good people of St. John’s Centre. I have learned much from them.
And what an honour to work with the numerous community groups who do life-saving and life-altering work in St. John’s Centre. These are folks who work with dedication and commitment, with passion and compassion, with courage!
And the numerous businesses in the district, small independent enterprises serving our community, and larger businesses who employ our people and help keep our economy going.
It was never in my plan to be a politician. That word doesn’t easily roll off my tongue. But when I did decide to run, it was because I was concerned about the future of our Newfoundland and Labrador. I wanted to do my part, to be part of the solution.
And I believe there is a different way of doing politics, one where we work together in collaboration for the benefit of the people of our province. We are 520,000 people in a time of huge challenges, but they are not insurmountable if we work together.
And we have to find better ways of making decisions in our province because successive governments have made really bad decisions, such as Muskrat Falls. How could the Conservative government totally ignore and demonize those who had questions, like Dave Vardy and Ron Penney, like the Indigenous governments, like the Land Protectors, like academics? And the bad decisions by the Liberals who imposed a levy and cut the Adult Dental Program where our seniors can’t afford teeth yet the Liberals give $92 million to two of the largest cannabis companies in the world! Or the selling of public land owned by the people for a pittance when we need affordable housing.
And how lucky was I to be able to run as a New Democrat. The NDP is the party that embodies the values of fairness, justice, and equality that I believe are so important to a vital and thriving society.
We are the party that puts people at the very centre of every decision, and that is what politicians and what governments must do. And I want to thank you, the New Democratic community for all the support and for placing your confidence in me over the years. I have also learned a lot from you.
I thank my caucus colleague Lorraine Michael and all our caucus staff who work so hard on our behalf with commitment and vision so that we can serve the people of our province.
To get elected takes a whole crew of people who have vision and courage to believe it can be done. Boy, did we ever work hard, we worked so very hard and we had fun! Thank you so very, very much.
As Leader, I had the honour of reaching out to people all around Newfoundland and Labrador, to hear about their challenges, to hear their proposed solutions. This past summer, I was lucky to travel much of the island visiting communities and meeting with folks, seeing the incredible work they are doing to strengthen and empower their people. It filled me with hope for our future.
I am proud of the work I have been able to do as an MHA, including calling for the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions which resulted in a complete overhaul of our mental health system province-wide, but there is still much work to do there.
I pushed for the reinstatement of the Family Violence Intervention Court, called for amendments to our Human Rights Act to include the rights of trans people. Together with the NDP, I called for improved labour legislation, prison reform, increase in minimum wage, improvements in the status of women, and more.
And challenging, consistently challenging governments on Muskrat Falls, and proposing the need for economic diversification to keep our people working, and the need for a $15 minimum wage. Because our people want to stay and make NL their home and they want to work and are smart and hard workers. They want to build our province and raise their families here.
And we must fully support our post-secondary education system because it is our young people who will lead us in a modernized Newfoundland and Labrador. And to make this more possible, we must have affordable childcare.
All this was possible only by working closely with activists and with civil society around Newfoundland and Labrador. People who fiercely love our province and courageously work for change.
And as a woman and the first elected OUT politician of the LGBTQ2S community in our province, I know how important it is to have the diversity of our population sitting at the tables where decisions are made. We must make sure of that.
I look forward to once again joining civil society and continuing to do my work there, because there is still so much to do. And I believe there may even be another film or two left in me as well.
To my friends and colleagues, thank you, to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, thank you for the honour of serving you.
We have a tough road ahead of us, but working together, we will find out what we must do to ensure no one is left behind and what we must do to build a better future for everyone. Because we can. We all know we CAN. And we all know we MUST!
And Peg Norman, my amazing, loving spouse Peg Norman, thank you…thank you for your support and your love.
So my friends, we have a lot of work and organizing ahead of us, we have a great Executive and EPC ready to lead us. I am rolling up my sleeves and will continue to work for our party as we face the election with great candidates and a renewed vision for our province.
Gerry Rogers Leader, NL NDP