Less than a year after taking her party’s reins, Newfoundland and Labrador’s NDP leader has announced plans to step down just months before a provincial election.
After eight years as an elected official, Gerry Rogers will not re-offer, saying she could not commit to four more years in the House of Assembly.
Rogers thanked her supporters on Tuesday with a speech calling for better decision-making and greater diversity in government.
“When I did decide to run, it was because I was concerned about the future of our province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I wanted to do my part, to be part of the solution,” Rogers said.
“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.”
She criticized her opponents’ past decisions – like the sanctioning and management of the overbudget Muskrat Falls project – and urged politicians to listen to citizens’ concerns.
Her departure leaves the party with limited time to find a new leader ahead of a provincial election expected in October.
Rogers was first elected to the provincial House of Assembly in 2011, and won the NDP leadership last April.
She said she ran for the leadership last year because she felt it important the party had a leader with a seat in the House of Assembly.
She currently holds one of the party’s two seats. A December Corporate Research Associates poll suggested the NDP was in third place province-wide, with a large portion of voters still undecided.
Rogers will stay on as representative for her St. John’s Centre district until the general election.
Rogers said she regrets leaving the party in a difficult position with an election looming, but said she trusts the party’s membership to rise to the challenge in coming months.
Before entering politics, Rogers was an activist and filmmaker. Her 2000 film “My Left Breast” documented her battle with breast cancer, and was well-received at festivals around the world.
Rogers is also the first openly gay leader of a political party in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I know how important it is to have the diversity of our population sitting at the table where decisions are made,” Rogers said.
“We are (530,000) people in a time of huge challenges, but they are not insurmountable if we work together.”