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New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia

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New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia New Democratic Party
Leader Darrell Dexter
President David Wallbridge
Founded 1932 as Nova Scotia CCF, renamed Nova Scotia NDP in 1961
Headquarters 1660 Hollis Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 1V7
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Socialist International
Colours Orange and Blue
Template:Infobox Canadian political party/province Template:Infobox political party/seats

The Nova Scotia New Democratic Party is a social-democratic provincial party in Nova Scotia, Canada. It is aligned with the federal New Democratic Party (NDP). Originally founded as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932, it became the New Democratic Party in 1961. It became the governing party of Nova Scotia following the 2009 Nova Scotia Election. They made history by becoming the first New Democratic Party in Atlantic Canada to form a government.[1] Much of the party's success prior to the 2009 election was based in the urban areas of the provincial capital, the Halifax Regional Municipality, however the party's support has grown to the rest of Nova Scotia.

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation 1933-1961

Since shortly after confederation, Nova Scotia has had a two-party system in which power alternated between the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and Progressive Conservatives. In the 1920 provincial election the left had a breakthrough with the United Farmers winning six seats and the Independent Labour Party winning 5. The two forces joined together to form an 11 member official opposition under Daniel G. Mackenzie, but the group was undermined by the Liberals (who tarnished the image of the opposition MLAs by offering them payments) and the United Farmers/Labour grouping was wiped out in 1925.

Though the CCF/NDP has a long history in Nova Scotia, it was unable to break the two-party system and win more than a handful of seats (if any) in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly until the 1990s.

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation was formed in 1932 and ran its first candidates in the 1933 Nova Scotia election but failed to win any electoral representation. The party did not contest the 1937 general election.

In the 1939 Cape Breton Centre by-election Douglas MacDonald won the CCF's first seat in the legislature.

In 1941, the future Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) president Donald MacDonald was elected from the Cape Breton South constituency. He was joined by Douglas Neil Brodie, who was elected in Cape Breton East constituency, bringing the CCF up to a total of three MLAs. Donald MacDonald was the party's leader in the Assembly until 1945.[2] He lost a close campaign in the 1945 election, but the party still retained two seats on Cape Breton Island.[3] MacDonald then transitioned into working full-time with the Canadian Congress of Labour, a predecessor of the CLC.[2] A lot of the early organization of the CCF in Nova Scotia was done by Maritime Organizer Fred Young.[4] Young would go on to continue his work in Ontario and eventually sit as an MPP in the Ontario legislature, however, his early work laid the groundwork for any future advancements the party would make during this period.[5] This was evident in 1945 when the two CCF members elected from Cape Breton.[6]

Russell Cunningham was the only CCF leader to serve as Leader of the Opposition after the 1945 provincial election in which Premier Angus L. Macdonald's Liberal Party swept 28 of the 30 seats and the Tories were wiped out. CCFers Cunningham and fellow Cape Bretoner Michael James MacDonald were the only opposition MLAs elected. Cunningham and MacDonald were re-elected in 1949 but were reduced to third party status behind the Robert Stanfield-led Progressive Conservatives.

MacDonald led the CCF from 1953 to 1963 and was the party's sole MLA in that period despite the fact that he led the CCF to an 8.9% popular vote in 1960.

The New Party

Following the creation of the federal and provincial New Democratic Party (NDP), MacDonald stepped down as leader and the locus of authority in the party moved to Halifax under the leadership of Professor James H. Aitchison. MacDonald lost his seat in the 1963 provincial election and the NDP would not win another until Jeremy Akerman became party leader and won the riding of Cape Breton East in the 1970 election. NDP representation in the House of Assembly grew slowly in throughout the 1970s, but never rose above four seats. The CCF had only been able to win seats on Cape Breton Island and the NDP did not win seats outside of Cape Breton until 1981. With the election of the 26-year-old Akerman as party leader in 1968, and his subsequent election to the legislature two years later, the party regained and developed its strong base in industrial Cape Breton, ultimately winning four seats in the election of 1978. However, the party failed to win any seats on the mainland, and this exacerbated tensions between the Akerman-dominated Cape Breton wing of the party and the university-based party establishment in Halifax.[7] Following increasingly bloody internal battles Akerman resigned and the NDP lost all four Cape Breton seats in the following election.[7]

Alexa McDonough

In 1980, Haligonian Alexa McDonough became leader of the Nova Scotia NDP,[8] the first female leader of a major recognized party in Canada. While she was the only NDP member of the legislature elected in 1981,[9] and had at most a caucus of three Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), she raised the party's profile and become a well known advocate for the poor and disadvantaged. In a reversal of earlier times it was under McDonough's leadership that either the CCF or the NDP was able to win seats on the mainland for the first time. At the same time the NDP lost all its Cape Breton seats in the 1981 election[9] and was unable to regain any of them under McDonough's leadership. She resigned as Nova Scotia NDP leader in 1994 and went on to be elected leader of the federal NDP in 1995.

Chisholm years: Breakthrough

Under Robert Chisholm's leadership, in 1998 the party vaulted from third place to ahead of the Progressive Conservatives, and won 19 seats in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, the same number of seats as won by the Liberals. The Liberals formed a minority government with the support of 14 Progressive Conservatives (Tories), the latter who had also improved their standings. The prospect of an NDP government seemed imminent.

However, the party was unable to improve on its standings in the 1999 election. But with 11 seats in the legislature with 29.9% of the vote, it edged out the Liberals and were able to retain "Official Opposition" status when the Tories formed a majority government under John Hamm. Chisholm's unexpected resignation immediately following the election led to a period of internal party strife, with new leader Helen MacDonald, a former Cape Breton MLA, resigning after barely a year.

Darrell Dexter

The 2003 election resulted in a Tory minority government while the NDP maintained Official Opposition status under new leader Darrell Dexter. In the election, the NDP won 15 seats and 31% of the vote, coming slightly behind the Liberals in the popular vote but winning three more seats than the Liberals' 12. In the 2006 election, the NDP managed to capitalise on its position as the Official Opposition to squeeze the Liberal vote, and the party increased its number of seats from 15 to 20, an all time high, and won 34.63% of the vote. Unlike in 2003, in 2006 the NDP came in a clear second, far ahead of the Liberals.

On June 9, 2009, Dexter led the NDP to victory, winning a majority government, and was sworn in as Premier of Nova Scotia on June 19, 2009. With his party's victory, it marks the first time in Canadian provincial politics that an NDP government had been formed in a province east of Ontario.

Current elected members

Name Riding Year elected
Frank Corbett Cape Breton Centre 1998
Sterling Belliveau Queens-Shelburne 2006
Gordie Gosse Sydney-Whitney Pier 2003
Maureen MacDonald Halifax Needham 1998
Denise Peterson-Rafuse Chester-St. Margaret's 2009
Dave Wilson Sackville-Cobequid 2003
Lenore Zann Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River 2009

Party leaders

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation

New Democratic Party

Provincial secretaries

  • Lloyd Shaw (-1949)
  • Dr. L. P. Rutherford (1949–1950)
  • Florence E. Welton (1950–1961)
  • John McKinnon (1961–1963)
  • Nancy Doull (1963–1965)
  • Rae Gilman (1965–1969)
  • Peggy Prowse (1969–1971)
  • Gordon Flowers (1971–1974)
  • Karen Vance (1974–1977)
  • Bev Ivan (1978)
  • Serena Renner (1979–1981)
  • Mary Morrison (1982)
  • Brian MacNaulty (1983)
  • Rod Dickinson (1984–1986)
  • Gayle Cromwell (1986–1987)
  • Dennis Theman (1987–1990)
  • Sandra Houston (1990–1992)
  • Ross Fisher (1992–1996)
  • Ron Cavalucci (1996–1997)
  • Bruce Cox (1997–1999)
  • Joe Fraser (1999–2001)
  • Matthew Hebb (2001 - June 2005)
  • Karen Haslam (October 2005 - March 2006)
  • Ed Wark (2006–2010)
  • Joanne Lamey (acting, 2010)
  • Mike MacSween (2010 - 2012)
  • Jill Marzetti (2012- )

Election results 1933–2013

Election # of candidates nominated # of seats won # of total votes  % of popular vote
1933 3 0 2,336 0.7%
1937 0 0 0 0%
1941 6 3 18,583 7.0%
1945 20 2 39,637 13.6%
1949 21 2 32,869 9.6%
1953 16 2 23,700 6.8%
1956 11 1 9,932 3.0%
1960 34 1 31,036 8.9%
1963 20 0 14,076 4.1%
1967 24 0 17,873 5.2%
1970 23 2 25,259 6.6%
1974 46 3 55,902 13.0%
1978 52 4 63,979 14.4%
1981 52 1 76,289 18.1%
1984 52 3 65,876 15.9%
1988 52 2 74,038 15.7%
1993 52 3 86,743 17.7%
1998 52 19 155,361 34.4%
1999 52 11 129,474 29.7%
2003 52 15 126,479 30.9%
2006 52 20 140,128 34.6%
2009 52 31 186,556 45.2%
2013 51 7 112,389 26.9%
  • Election results between 1933 and 1963 represent the party during its time as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. Since 1963, the party has been called the New Democratic Party.


  • To 1984: Politics of Nova Scotia: Vol. Two 1896-1988 by J. Murray Beck. Four Post Publications: Tantallon, Nova Scotia, 1988.
  • After 1984: Elections Nova Scotia

Youth wing

The youth wing of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party is the Nova Scotia Young New Democrats (NSYND). Founded in the early 1960s, it was not incorporated with a full constitution - aligned with that of the party proper - until 1969.

The youth wing was partially responsible for the election of Jeremy Akerman, as leader, at the 1968 Leadership Convention.

In 1994 the NSYND was renamed "The Nova Scotia NDP Youth Wing". At this time the youth wing was quite moderate, encouraging the main party to focus on government and embrace mainstream values such as fiscal responsibility, "one member one vote" and banning corporate and union donations. They also successfully lobbied the party to include more youth members in the party structure. Members and alumni of the youth wing were instrumental in forming NDProgress in 2000.

In a controversial move in 2001 the youth wing was renamed the “New Party Youth Movement” (NPYM). The name change was made to advocate a renewal of the NDP similar the one in 1961 when the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) became the NDP. The “New Party” name was taken from the “New Party” groups formed before the creation of the NDP. The NPYM made a positive impact at the 2001 NSNDP convention pushing the party to adopt a “one member one vote” style of electing its leader, successfully distributed home-made buttons to satire an organized attempt to shame members of the NDP caucus who did not support former leader Helen MacDonald and gaining over 2/3 support from convention delegates for their name change.

The youth wing was reconstituted in 2004 under its current name, the Nova Scotia Young New Democrats (NSYND) and has remained ideologically in step with that of the party proper.

References and notes

See also

External links

  • Nova Scotia NDP
  • Nova Scotia NDP Caucus
  • Nova Scotia Young New Democrats
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