‘I plan to be a critic that is not nasty but provides constructive criticism’
TRURO – Emotional goodbyes, a rally of support for the survivors and reflection on the cause of a “blood bath” that rocked the foundation of the NDP.
NDP MLA Lenore Zann reacts to learning NDP Premier Darrell Dexter had lost his seat in the Legislature.
That’s how Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River, described Tuesday’s last formal cabinet and caucus meeting after her party’s historic defeat in the recent provincial election.
“We had our final meeting of the larger caucus with the re-elected and the defeated with Darrell (Dexter),” said Zann. “Of course it was a somber meeting. The mood was quiet. There was definitely sadness.”
She said while it was obviously difficult to say ‘farewell’ to colleagues she has worked closely with for more than four years, it is now time to “regroup, rejuvenate and rebuild” the party.
Joining her on that journey will be fellow NDPers Frank Corbett, Cape Breton Centre; Denise Peterson-Rafuse, Chester-St. Margaret’s; Maureen MacDonald, Halifax-Needham; Sterling Belliveau, Queens-Shelburne; David Wilson, Sackville-Cobequid; and Gordie Gosse, Sydney-Whitney Pier.
“There was a great rally of support around the remaining group of seven who basically survived the blood bath,” said Zann.
While the ballot count shows the NDP is now the third party it was second in the popular vote, a fact Zann said “gives us a lot of confidence.”
Zann also set a personal record for her riding, being the first MLA to be re-elected for a second term that was not a Progressive Conservative.
“This new role I’m about to play gives me a lot more freedom and a lot more power,” she said. She added that as a former backbencher her powers in caucus were limited but during her last term she worked hard for her constituents providing them with many services and supports.
“I will very easily continue to do that because I get along with everybody,” she said.
On Wednesday evening she had an opportunity to congratulate Premier-elect Stephen McNeil on winning his seat, a greeting that was reciprocated by the province’s new Liberal leader.
“I also told Mr. McNeil that I plan to be a critic that is not nasty but provides constructive criticism,” said Zann. She is looking forward to a “positive tone” in the house and said she will be on her feet talking a lot more and asking a lot more questions.
“I feel excited, rejuvenated and I don’t know if I could have gone through another four years of the toxicity in the house. We were bashed day after day.”
She said things were said during the last months that were very “unparlimentarian.”
“That’s not what we are paid for and I certainly would not want school children to come in and see that.”
NDP leader Dexter said he will take some time for “personal reflection” following his defeat by Liberal Tony Ince, Cole harbour-Portland Valley. Zann said they all loved Dexter, were saddened by the loss of his seat and she expects the leader will “be stepping down at some point.”
She wouldn’t say whether she is setting her sights on entering the leadership race when the position is vacated but that a provincial council meeting is needed to reflect on where the party lost its way, what went wrong, how the party will refocus and how they move forward.
“I believe there were certain groups within the party who were grassroots of the party and a number of those felt they were not being heard,” she said.
“Those people need to know they are being heard now and we will be looking closely to what they are saying now. A lot of them felt ignored and disenfranchised.”
Zann said “out of great challenges come opportunities” and she is committed to the people in her riding.
“It’s a very interesting time right now and it’s a very exciting time for me because it breaks open a whole new future,” “My priority as MLA of Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River is focusing on our needs first.”