Dear Friends,

The whole country is watching as we prepare to select a new leader at this pivotal point in our history. To millions of progressive-minded Canadians, the NDP now represents the real alternative for change, thanks to the hard work of the late Jack Layton.

When I re-entered politics last year, I did so because I didn’t like the way things were going in Ottawa. I didn’t like the divisive nature of our politics and I felt compelled to do whatever I could to make a positive difference.

On October 30th, I entered this leadership race for the same reason. As former leader of the Nova Scotia NDP and leader of the Official Opposition, I knew that my real leadership experience would be a great asset to our party during this important time. I also knew how tough it would be.

Over the last few weeks, I have travelled across the country and met with many hundreds of New Democrats. I have listened to their aspiration and their concerns, and it became clear to me that my vision for Canada is shared by many. It is a vision where we engage with party members and Canadians like never before; where people come before politics; where barriers to inclusion are eliminated. While many agreed that our next leader needs real experience and a strong vision, many also spoke about the need for the next leader to speak fluent French, right from day one.

I’ve determined that, for the majority of party members, this is a non-negotiable qualification.

Although I am working hard on my French — and will continue to do so — I will not meet this threshold by March 24th.

As I said when I started this campaign, it is my desire to do what I think is best for my constituents, for the New Democratic Party and for Canada. That has always guided my decisions. It is under the same guiding principles that today I am ending my campaign to become the next leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada.

Let me say that I am profoundly grateful for — and humbled by — the support I have received from New Democrats across Canada. I appreciate the support of great political leaders within our party like Darrell Dexter and Howard Hampton, and that of the many organizers, volunteers and donors who have given of themselves because they saw something in me that they wanted the rest of the country to see too.

I wish all remaining candidates the best of luck. As I’ve learned more about each of them during the past weeks, I’ve become even more confident in our future. I look forward to working with our next leader, whoever that may be, and with the rest of our outstanding caucus to continue the hard work ahead. We must strive to unite and to grow our party. We must continue to show Canadians we deserve to be the Official Opposition and that we take the responsibility seriously. And we must include and engage all Canadians.

To my fellow New Democrats from across Canada, thank you. You have shown me so much respect and I am truly grateful. Whoever we choose to be our next leader, that person will need our support and trust.

To my fellow Canadians, I say pay attention. Pay attention to what’s happening in Ottawa. Your voice matters, your vote matters and most of all, you matter.

To my supporters, volunteers and donors — you can count on me to strive every day to be worthy of your support. I can never thank you enough for all that have already done, let alone for the work that still lies ahead.

And finally to my wife Paula I say, I love you, now more than ever if that’s possible. You have put your life on hold while we worked together throughout this process. Paula and our daughter Jessie remind me what’s really important in life, and I especially look forward to spending the holidays remembering that with them.

I also look forward to the New Year and a return to the House of Commons.

I am excited to continue to support Nycole Turmel and our entire caucus as we do the important work of holding this government to account as the Official Opposition.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday.


Robert Chisholm