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Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party


Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party

Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party
Active provincial party
Leader Earle McCurdy
President Kathleen Connors[1]
Founded 1961
Headquarters St. John's, NL
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
National affiliation New Democratic Party
Colours Orange, White and Blue
Seats in House of Assembly
3 / 48
Official website
Politics of Newfoundland and Labrador
Political parties

The Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party (NL NDP) is a social democratic political party in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is a provincial section of the federal New Democratic Party. It was formed in 1961 as the successor to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Newfoundland Democratic Party. The party first contested the 1962 provincial election.

Lorraine Michael was elected leader of the NL NDP at the party's leadership election on May 28, 2006. She led the party during the 2007 and 2011 general elections, each time improving the party's share of vote from the previous election. In the 2011 election a record five NDP MHAs were elected under her leadership.[2] Michael was succeeded by former Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union president, Earle McCurdy on March 7, 2015.


  • History 1
    • Founding 1.1
    • 1962-1984 1.2
    • Peter Fenwick years 1.3
    • Jack Harris years 1.4
    • Lorraine Michael 1.5
    • Earle McCurdy 1.6
  • Party policies 2
  • Representation in the House of Assembly 3
    • Electoral performance 3.1
    • 47th General Assembly - Currently elected members 3.2
    • Historical representation 3.3
  • Relationship with the federal party 4
  • Leaders 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8



The NL NDP is the successor party to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). The Newfoundland CCF was founded in 1955 when Sam Drover, a member of the Newfoundland House of Assembly for White Bay (Trinity North) who left the provincial Liberal Party to sit as a member of the CCF. Drover became leader of the new provincial party, which fielded ten candidates, mostly in rural districts, in the 1956 provincial election. The CCF party failed to win any seats: Drover lost his own riding, winning 237 votes to the Liberal candidate's 1,437.[3]

The CCF did not run candidates in the 1959 election, but supported the Newfoundland Democratic Party. This party had been organised by the Newfoundland Federation of Labour with the support of the Canadian Labour Congress, to protest the Liberal government's decertification of the International Woodworkers of America in the course of a logging strike. The Newfoundland Democratic Party ran eighteen candidates, none of whom was elected. The party was led by Ed Finn, Jr. and Calvin Normore. In 1961, the federal New Democratic Party was founded in with the merger of the federal CCF and the Canadian Labour Congress. The Newfoundland Democratic Party followed suit becoming the Newfoundland New Democratic Party with Finn leading the NL NDP into the 1962 provincial election and Normore doing so in 1966.[3]


Since the 1962 general election, the party has run candidates in all of Newfoundland and Labrador's general elections. From 1962 to 1984 the party was led by seven different leaders and contested seven provincial elections. The party won an average of 3.3% of the vote in those elections and were unable to elect a candidate to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly.

Peter Fenwick years

Peter Fenwick succeeded Fonse Faour as party leader in 1981. In a 1984 by-election, Fenwick won the Labrador riding of Menihek becoming the first New Democrat to be elected in the province. In the 1985 general election the party won 14 per cent of the popular vote, nearly quadrupling their share of the vote they received three years earlier. Even with their successful results Fenwick was the only NL NDP candidate elected.[4][5] In 1986, Gene Long won the party's second seat in a by-election in the riding of St. John's East (since renamed Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi). Also that year Fenwick was arrested, along with union representatives, for participating in a strike by the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees (NAPE). Fenwick retired from politics in 1989 and did not run in that year's election. Cle Newhook replaced Fenwick as party leader and the NL NDP was once again left without representation after the 1989 election when both ridings they had held were won by Progressive Conservatives.

Jack Harris years

St. John's lawyer and former Member of Parliament Jack Harris won back the riding of St. John's East in a 1990 by-election after Progressive Conservative MHA Shannie Duff resigned to run for Mayor. Harris took nearly 50% of the vote in the by-election beating the Liberal candidate by 740 votes. In 1992, Harris succeed Newhook as party leader and led the party into the 1993 general election. For the first and only time in the party's history they ran a full slate of candidates throughout the province, while they won almost 10,000 more votes than the previous election and increased their share of the popular vote from 3.4% to 7.4% Harris remained the only New Democrat elected. The 1996 general election resulted in a landslide majority government for the Liberal Party, the New Democrats received only 4.45% of the vote and nominated candidates in only 20 of the provinces 48 ridings. Though the party suffered their worst electoral result in 14 years Harris was easily re-elected in the new riding of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

Lorraine Michael

Lorraine Michael won the leadership of the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP in 2006. After succeeding Harris as leader she was elected in his former district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi several months later. In the 2007 provincial election Michael was the only New Democrat elected, though she increased her party's share of the popular vote. Between 2007 and 2011 polling for the NL NDP remained below 10 per cent in public opinion polls behind the Liberal Party and governing Progressive Conservatives. However, after the federal New Democrat's success in the 2011 federal election, where they formed the official opposition, support for Michael's New Democrats saw a surge in support. In a Corporate Research Associates (CRA) poll conducted just weeks after the federal election in May 2011, the NL NDP support rose to 20 per cent. For the first time in its history the party was statistically tied for second place with the Liberal Party, who were at 22 per cent. The New Democrats' gains came at the expense of the governing Progressive Conservatives who fell to 57 per cent.[6] The NL NDP surpassed the Liberals in polling in September 2011, and won just under 25 per cent of the popular vote, and five seats, in the October 11, 2011, general election. The Progressive Conservatives won their third straight majority government and while the New Democrats placed second in the popular vote, they finished third behind the Liberal Party in seats.[7]

On October 21, 2013, it was revealed that Michael had received a letter from her caucus over the previous weekend calling for a leadership election to be held in 2014. The caucus felt that without renewal in the party they would have trouble attracting quality candidates and public support in the 2015 election. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Michael said she was shocked by the letter and felt betrayed by her caucus. Michael said she planned to sit down with her caucus before making a decision on what to do.[8]

The letter led to a public fight within the NDP, particularly among the caucus. Both Dale Kirby and Chris Mitchelmore stood behind what they had written in the letter. Following the caucus meeting Michael agreed to having a vote on her leadership at the next annual general meeting of the party. Both Kirby and Mitchelmore later announced they were leaving the caucus to sit as Independent MHAs, and both men joined the Liberal Party in February 2014. The dispute over Michael's leadership also led to members of the provincial executive to resign.[9][10][11] In May 2014 a party convention reaffirmed her leadership with the support of 75% of delegates. Michael announced on January 6, 2015, that she would step down as leader after the party performed poorly in four recent by-elections. While she was resigning as leader Michael also stated that she planned to seek re-election as an MHA.[12] Her term as leader ended when her successor was chosen in a leadership election held on March 7, 2015.[13]

Earle McCurdy

Three candidates sought to succeed Michael as leader: former Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union leader Earle McCurdy, former Labrador City town councillor Mike Goosney and former NDP official Chris Bruce[14][15]

McCurdy won the election with 68 percent of the vote on March 7, 2015.

Party policies

The New Democratic Party in Newfoundland and Labrador has long been a party that has advocated social democratic policies that support working people and families and the labour movement. On September 20, 2007, the party released its policy platform for the 2007 general election. The platform's main points were:

  • A review of the province's health care system;
  • A universal pharmacare program;
  • Safe, healthy, and clean neighbourhood schools;
  • A home care and home support program for seniors;
  • A better energy plan than the one created by the Williams government;
  • Increased funding for women's centres and initiatives;
  • A province-wide 911 system;
  • Anti-Scab legislation; and
  • Free tuition for public post-secondary education.

Representation in the House of Assembly

Electoral performance

Results of elections for the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly:

Year of election # of seats won # of votes % of popular vote
0 / 42
7,479 3.6%
0 / 42
2,725 1.8%
0 / 42
4,075 1.8%
0 / 42
410 0.2%
0 / 51
9,653 4.35%
0 / 52
18,507 7.8%
0 / 52
9,371 3.7%
1 / 52
39,954 14.4%
0 / 52
12,929 4.4%
1 / 52
22,399 7.4%
1 / 48
12,706 4.45%
2 / 48
21,962 8.23%
2 / 48
19,048 6.86%
1 / 48
19,028 8.49%
5 / 48
54,713 24.6%

47th General Assembly - Currently elected members

Historical representation

The New Democratic Party won its first seat in the House of Assembly in 1984 when leader Peter Fenwick was elected in a by-election for the district of Labrador West. The party has been represented in the provincial legislature continually since 1990. Former leader and St. John's East Member of Parliament Jack Harris was elected to represent the district in the 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2003 provincial elections. Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi has been represented in the House of Assembly by party leader Lorraine Michael since 2006.

  • Sam Drover, MHA for White Bay, 1955-1956 CCF (Drover crossed the floor from the Liberals),
  • Peter Fenwick, MHA for Menihek (Labrador West), 1984–1985, 1985–1989
  • Gene Long, MHA for St. John's East, 1986–1989
  • Jack Harris, MHA for St. John's East, 1990 (by-election)-1995, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi 1995-2006
  • Randy Collins MHA for Labrador West, 1999–2007
  • Lorraine Michael, MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, 2006–present
  • Dale Kirby, MHA for St. John's North, 2011-2013
  • Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for The Straits-White Bay North, 2011-2013
  • Gerry Rogers, MHA for St. John's Centre, 2011–present

Relationship with the federal party

The NL NDP is affiliated with the federal New Democratic Party. Two of the three New Democratic Party Members of Parliament ever elected to the Canadian House of Commons from Newfoundland and Labrador went on to lead the provincial party:


  • Sam Drover, 1955–1956. Although not elected as leader of the party, Samuel Drover effectively led the NL NDP's predecessor party, the CCF, in the 1956 provincial election. In 1955, Drover had crossed the floor from the Liberal Party to sit in the opposition as a CCF MHA.
  • Ed Finn, Jr., 1959–1963. Ed Finn became co-leader of the Newfoundland Democratic Party upon its inception in 1959, and assumed the leadership of the CCF and the New Democratic Party. Finn narrowly lost his bid for a seat in the House of Assembly in the 1962 provincial election when he ran for the NL NDP in Humber West. He left Newfoundland and Labrador in 1963 to pursue a career as a labour researcher, writer, and journalist.
  • Calvin George Normore, 1963—1966, led the party during the 1966 provincial election. Head of the Corner Brook Labor Council and vice-president of the Newfoundland Federation of Labour, he had been co-leader of the Newfoundland Democratic Party in 1959.
  • Esau Thoms, 1966–1970. A founding member of the Newfoundland Democratic Party in the late 1950s and one of the province's foremost labour organizers, Esau Thoms had contested two federal elections for the CCF. From 1966 to 1970, the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party was without a formal leader, relying instead upon local committees throughout the province, but Thoms was essentially de facto leader. He was a consistently outspoken voice for social democracy and social justice until his death in 1979.
  • John Connors, 1970–1974. John Connors took the reins of the party in 1970 at a difficult time, as the electorate became sharply divided over whether to continue supporting the Liberal Party. Connors was a candidate for the NL NDP in the 1968 federal election, and was one of only three NL NDP candidates in the 1972 provincial campaign. He later pursued a career at the Marine Institute.
  • Gerry Panting, 1974–1977. Gerald Panting led the party from 1974 to 1977. Panting was a distinguished historian and founder of the Maritime History Group at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He ran for the NL NDP provincially five times, coming in a strong second in the 1975 general election. A dedicated party builder, Panting remained active within the NL NDP until his death in 1998.
  • John Green, 1977–1980. John Greene led the NL NDP from 1977 to 1980 and played a significant role in building the party. He came close to winning a seat in the House of Assembly, giving a strong showing in the televised leaders debate. Due to his leadership the NL NDP became a recognized provincial party. This helped set the stage for the party's later electoral success. Greene later became an author and remained active in various human rights organizations.
  • Fonse Faour, 1980–1981. Fonse Faour served a one-year term a leader from 1980 to 1981 after serving as the party's first Member of Parliament from Newfoundland and Labrador in the House of Commons. He was elected as an MP in 1978 and 1979, and was defeated in the 1980 general election. Faour later worked in senior positions with the provincial public service and served as Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Public Service Commission. In 2003, Faour was appointed to the trial division of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.
  • Peter Fenwick, 1981–1989. Leader from 1981 to 1989, in 1984 Fenwick set a landmark in provincial history by becoming the first New Democrat to be elected to the House of Assembly, sitting as the member for the former Labrador district of Menihek. He was re-elected in 1985. An outspoken leader, he was jailed in 1986 along with union representatives who participated in a strike by the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees.
  • Cle Newhook 1989–1992. Cle Newhook served as party leader from 1989 to 1992 after working full-time as the party's provincial secretary from 1986 to 1988. As a candidate in several elections, and through work as leader and provincial secretary, he played a major role in the party's development throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Newhook now works as a consultant in St. John's.
  • Jack Harris, 1992–2006. First elected as Member of Parliament for St. John's East in 1987, he was elected to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in the 1990 provincial election and was acclaimed leader of the NL NDP in 1992. He was re-elected to the Legislature in the 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2003 elections. In October 2008, Harris was a second time elected Member of Parliament for the riding of St. John's East receiving 74.1% of the vote—the fifth-highest winning percentage in Canada.
  • Lorraine Michael, 2006–2015. Upon winning the NL NDP leadership election in May 2006, Michael later won the by-election for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi in November of that year. She was re-elected in her riding in the 2007 general election, and in the 2011 election a record five NDP MHAs were elected by the voters.[2]
  • Earle McCurdy, 2015—present. McCurdy won the leadership in 2015. He had been president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union from 1993 to 2014.[16]

See also


  1. ^ "Convention 2012 a success". New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  2. ^ a b "NDP celebrates historic gains". Canadian Broadcasting corporation. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "About Us". Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "Peckford Hangs to Power". The Windsor Star. 3 April 1985. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Whelan, Dermot F. (22 October 1985). "Fortieth General Election, 1985 - Chief Electoral Officer" (PDF). Elections Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tories drop, NDP surge in new poll". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  7. ^ "Dunderdale leads N.L. Tories to majority". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "N.L. NDP Leader Lorraine Michael facing caucus revolt". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Mixed messages from NDP caucus, executive". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Bailey, Sue (29 October 2013). "Newfoundland NDP Leader pledges to stay on after leadership feud". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Another N.L. NDP executive member resigns". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Lorraine Michael Quits As N.L. NDP Leader". Huffington Post. Canadian Press. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Lorraine Michael stepping down as NDP leader". CBC News. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  14. ^ "NDP leadership tracker: An early look at some possible contenders". CBC News. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  15. ^ "NDP leadership speculation begins". The Telegram. January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Earle McCurdy Named Leader of the NDP". VOCM News. March 7, 2015. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 

External links

  • Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party
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