New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador

New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
Leader Lorraine Michael
President Dale Kirby[1]
Founded 1962
Headquarters St. John's, NL
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Socialist International
Official colours Orange, White and Blue
Seats in House of Assembly
5 / 48
Official website
Politics of Newfoundland and Labrador
Political parties

The Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party (NDP) is a social-democratic provincial political party in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The party is the successor to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Newfoundland Democratic Party.[2] The party first contested the 1962 Newfoundland general election, capturing 3.6% of the vote.[3]

In the 2007 provincial election, the NDP elected one member to the provincial legislature forming the third largest party.[4] The party's leader is Lorraine Michael, who was elected in the St. John's district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.[5] In the 2011 general election, the party saw its highest support in history, placing second in the popular vote and raising its seat count from one to five in the House of Assembly.




The 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.

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 NDP into the 1962 provincial election.


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 New Democratic Party received their highest share of the popular vote to date. The party took over 14% of the popular vote, nearly quadrupling their share of the vote they received just 3 years earlier. Even with their successful results Fenwick was the only NDP candidate elected. 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 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, who took over from Harris, saw a rise in poll numbers after the 2011 federal election that saw the NDP form the Official Opposition. Provincially the NDP rose to 20% in a May 2011 Corporate Research Associate (CRA) poll, statistically tying them with Liberal Party who were at 22%. The New Democrats gains came at the expense of the governing Progressive Conservatives who fell to 57%.[6]

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 the 20th 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

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-present
  • Chris Mitchelmore, MHA for The Straits-White Bay North, 2011-present
  • George Murphy, MHA for St. John's East, 2011-present
  • Gerry Rogers, MHA for St. John's Centre, 2011-present

Relationship with the federal party

The Newfoundland and Labrador NDP is affiliated with the federal New Democratic Party. Two of the three NDP 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 formally elected as leader of the party, Samuel Drover effectively led the 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 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 NDP in Humber West. He Left Newfoundland and Labrador in 1963 to pursue a career as a labour researcher, writer, and journalist, which he continues today in retirement.
  • Esau Thoms, 1963–1970. A founding member of the Newfoundland Democratic Party in the late 1950s and one of the province's foremost labour organizers, Esau Thoms had previously contested two federal elections for the CCF. From 1963 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 NDP in the 1968 federal election, and was one of only three 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 NDP provincially five times, coming in a strong second in the 1975 general election. A dedicated party builder, Panting remained active within the NDP until his death in 1998.
  • John Green, 1977–1980. John Greene led the 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 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 subsequently 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, Harris assumed the leadership of the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP in 1992. He was elected to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in the 1990 provincial election and became leader of the provincial 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–present. Upon winning the NDP leadership election in May 2006, Michael later won the by-election for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi in November of that year. She was subsequently re-elected in her riding to the legislature in the 2007 general election. As leader, Michael has seen the highest level of support ever for the NDP in public opinion polls leading into the 2011 general election.

See also


External links

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