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EDITORIAL: Gerry Rogers led with compassion

NDP leader Gerry Rogers met with Cooze and the Stop the Eagleridge Gold Mine group to hear their concerns. Now, the NDP party is calling on government to “stop irrevocable damage to valuable protected area.” — file photo
NDP Leader Gerry Rogers — SaltWire Network file photo

This might not be the place for educated guesses.

But here’s one anyway.

There might just be a one-word reason for the departure of Gerry Rogers from the leadership of the provincial New Democratic Party.

And that word might well be “burnout.”

By the time the expected fall election rolls around, Rogers will have spent eight years in provincial politics.

It’s been eight years that might well have been dispiriting; in the House of Assembly, eight years in opposition means eight years of being heckled and shouted down by smug government MHAs whose credentials can be as thin as a trip to the House on their party leader’s coattails.

Most people will tell you, Rogers cared deeply for people and their often-desperate straits.

In the winner-takes-all governments that have traditionally been elected here, it’s far easier to fight for change on the government side of the House, where at least the doors aren’t closed in your face, where your party has resources.

But Rogers has worked hard and landed successes, like her work to launch the all-party committee on mental health. She was known as a hard worker, as an available MHA, as a politician willing to go out into the community and see first hand the types of conditions that her constituents were faced with on a daily basis. The poverty, the desperation, the inability some have trying to fight through the bureaucratic rigmarole that puts rules ahead of needs; Rogers was and is all too familiar with all of that.

Journalists who have interviewed her know that, once on a topic, her personal involvement burns bright. And she knows it: she has always been quick to admit when she finds things discouraging or exhausting, when the frustration of trying to get things done simply overwhelms.

And you’d have to think that, for a politician as empathic as Rogers, the experience had to be taking an internal toll.

There aren’t a lot of obvious other explanations: in political terms, Rogers only just took over as leader of the NDP, in April 2018, and traditionally would be deep in the process of shaping the party for the next provincial campaign. At this point, so fresh to the job, you would be expecting her to be putting her own stamp on the role.

Instead, she’s looking down the road and admitting that, even if she wins a seat, she isn’t ready for another four years.

Most people will tell you, Rogers cared deeply for people and their often-desperate straits.

Not every politician does — at least, not to the same deep, personal degree.

But we could use a whole lot more like her, regardless of political stripe, in the House of Assembly. Let’s hope that the example of her successes encourages others to step up and fill some very big — and extremely compassionate — shoes.

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