It was a great year for NDP leader Lorraine Michael — so good, in fact, that she’s already excited about 2012 and beyond.
During a year-end interview with The Telegram, Michael said she’s already making plans and laying the groundwork to run again in the next provincial election in 2015.
Michael is 68, and will be 72 by the next election, but she emphatically says she’s looking forward to it.
“Why would I back down when we’ve reached this point that we’re at?” she said. “This point can go higher.”
A year ago, 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, Michael started to increase her hopes.
“In my own thinking, that was a turning point,” she said, but quickly added at that 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.”
Michael said that aside from the party’s strategic efforts, this year’s breakthrough was simply the fact that 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,” she said.
Heading into 2012, the party will have more MHAs and more prominence in the House of Assembly to push their issues.
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,” she said. “We continue to hear story upon story upon story about that.”
Probably the hardest part of the year for Michael and the NDP was the death of federal leader Jack Layton. But at the same time, Michael downplayed the significance of 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,” she said. “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.”
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