About the NL NDP
The Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party (NDP) is a social democratic political party in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
It is currently led by Earle McCurdy, elected March 7, 2015.
The NDP currently holds three seats in the provincial legislature and is the third largest party.
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 Liberals 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 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 in the 1959 election, but supported the Newfoundland Democratic Party. This party, led by Ed Finn, Jr. and Calvin Normore, had been organized by the Newfoundland Federation of Labour with the support of the Canadian Labour Congress, to protest the Smallwood government’s de-certification of the International Woodworkers of America in the course of a logging strike. The Newfoundland Democratic Party ran 18 candidates, none of whom was elected.
In 1961, the federal New Democratic Party of Canada 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.
The New Democratic Party won its first seat in the House of Assembly in 1984 when leader Peter Fenwickwas 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.
The Newfoundland and Labrador NDP is affiliated with the Federal New Democratic Party.
The Federal NDP has had three members elected to the Canadian House of Commons from Newfoundland and Labrador:
- Fonse Faour, who won a by-election in 1978 in the federal riding of Humber—St. George’s—St. Barbe, and was re-elected the following year in the 1979 federal election in the renamed riding of Humber—Port au Port—St. Barbe. Faour was defeated in the subsequent 1980 federal election.
- Jack Harris, won a 1987 by-election in the riding of St. John’s East, but was defeated the following year in the 1988 federal election. Harris was re-elected to represent St. John’s East in the 2008 federal election and the 2011 Federal Election.
- Ryan Cleary ran in the 2008 Federal Election in the riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl losing by a very slim margin of just 949 votes. He ran again in 2011 and was elected to the House of Commons, unseating incumbant Siobhan Coady by a margin of 7,662 votes or roughly 20 per cent.
- Lorraine Michael, 2006-2015. Lorraine has been an active member of the NDP since the 1970s when she was a master’s degree student at the University of Toronto. She was elected Leader of the NL NDP on May 28, 2006 and elected as MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi on November 1, 2006. She was re-elected on October 9, 2007 and again on October 11, 2011.
- 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.
- 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 1980’s and early 1990’s. Newhook now works as a consultant in St. John’s.
- 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.
- 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.
- John Greene, 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.
- 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 Connors, 1970-1974. John Connors took the reigns 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.
- Esau Thoms 1963-1970. A founding member of the Newfoundland Democratic Party in the late 1950’s 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.
- 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.
- 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.