New Liberal leader says she’s focused on rebuilding the party in Prince Edward Island

Sharon Cameron says she is focused on rebuilding the PEI Liberal Party.

Cameron was officially crowned leader on Saturday at the party’s annual meeting and leadership convention at East Wiltshire School in Cornwall. She was the only candidate to run for the job.

“My focus right now, … is to focus on the districts, on our districts, on our party, I have to focus on that,” Cameron told reporters after the convention.

« I think our party is going to come up with a clearly articulated vision. »

About 150 people attended the undisputed convention.

« I think 150 is 150 more than I would have had five months ago, » she said.

Liberal MP Robert Henderson, left, congratulates newly elected Liberal Leader Sharon Cameron. In the background is former Liberal MP Richard Brown. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Cameron is a former provincial deputy minister and former CEO of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Cameron said she realizes she has a lot of work to do.

The Liberals are currently the third party in the PEI Legislative Assembly, with four MLAs. The Liberals had been leaderless since Wade MacLauchlan resigned in 2019. Sonny Gallant led the party on an interim basis.

Officials also confirmed at the annual meeting that the party still had more than $100,000 in debt since the last election.

« There’s a plan in place to pay that back, » she said.

« To write them off now would be very naive »

The party has a tough road ahead, but has a solid base and history on its side, according to UPEI political science professor Don Desserud.

« Writing them out now would be very naïve, » Desserud said.

« The Liberals have a new leader who doesn’t have a home seat. That’s a downside but it’s also a plus. The plus is that she can spend her time building the party, finding candidates and trying to get some of that money back. »

Former Liberal MP Jordan Brown stands with a sign of Sharon Cameron alongside former interim leader Sonny Gallant, who was honored at the convention for his years at the helm of the party. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Cameron still hasn’t decided where she will run in the next election.

She currently lives in Cornwall-Meadowbank, the district now owned by Finance Minister Mark McLane.

During his remarks on Saturday, Cameron wasted no time in targeting Prime Minister Dennis King and his Conservative party.

« Health care is floundering »

« We are in the midst of rapid change, difficult change, as a party we have an obligation to think deeply and effectively because there is a lot at stake, » she said.

“Health care is floundering, there is no plan. No vision. No discussion. Our population is growing rapidly, what are we doing to keep up? Again, no plan, no vision. interest rates, labor shortages, business closures Will people have to choose between food and heat? Medicine and rent? What is the plan? What is the vision? »

Cameron greets supporters at the party’s annual general meeting on Saturday. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Cameron said the province faces real threats, « which cannot be solved by messy and unworthy gift cards, gimmicks and paperwork at the Confederation Court Mall. »

Ron MacKinley, who has spent nearly 30 years as a liberal Liberal MP, said the party can win the next election if « everybody pulls together ».

He also had some advice for the new chef.

« The main thing is to go out and meet people, that’s what they have to do, » said MacKinley, who retired from politics in 2015.

« Viable and strong party »

At the annual meeting, Katie Morello, partner of Cox and Palmer, was elected as the party’s new president. Morello said it was the perfect time to be part of the party, as it begins the process of rebuilding district by district.

« So get Sharon [Cameron] everyone, making sure they have candidates in place, money in the bank and ready to go. »

Former Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan, wearing the red cap, listens to Sharon Cameron’s speech from the back of the room. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Cameron said she plans to meet with her caucus and team on Monday and will be in the PEI Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

But she said she plans to leave the job of the legislature, which is currently sitting, to the party’s four elected MPs.

« My job right now is to work with the association and the districts and create the conditions for a viable and strong party, so that’s what I’m going to focus on right now. »


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