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New Democratic Party

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is a federal and provincial party in Canada. The furthest left of Canada's mainstream parties, it has had more electoral success provincially than federally. It is noted for its socialist roots and its connection with organized labour; a significant proportion of its membership consists in associate members who belong to the party by their membership in affiliated trade unions. The federal leader of the NDP is Jack Layton.

The NDP was created in 1961 as a merger between the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), headed at the time by Tommy Douglas, and the Canadian Labour Congress[?]. This heritage is still reflected in the party's leadership conventions as labour votes are scaled to 25% of the total number of ballots cast.

Under the leadership of David Lewis, the NDP formed a coalition government with Trudeau's Liberals from 1972 to 1974. Together they succeeded in passing many left-wing initiatives into law, including pension indexing and the creation of a nationalized oil and gas company, Petro-Canada[?].

The NDP also had an important role in the Joe Clark minority government of 1979-1980, often voting with the Conservatives, until they voted with the other opposition parties on a non-confidence motion over a proposed budget.

In terms of number of seats, the NDP reached its apogee with 44 MPs under Ed Broadbent in the election of 1988, however the Conservatives had a solid majority. Broadbent stepped down after 15 years as federal leader of the NDP in 1989.

Under the leadership of Audrey McLaughlin, the first woman to be leader of a national political party in Parliament, and Alexa McDonough[?], the party underwent a decline. It briefly lost official party status due to a lack of MPs in Parliament after the 1993 election, gaining only 9 seats (12 are required by Canadian Law). This status was regained in the 1997 general election, when 19 New Democrats were elected.

The party embarked in a renewal process starting in 2000. A very active general convention in Winnipeg in November 2001 made significant alterations to certain party structures and reaffirmed its commitment to the left. This bore fruit in the May 2002 by-elections when Brian Masse won a formerly safe Liberal seat in the riding of Windsor West in Windsor, Ontario.

Alexa McDonough announced her resignation as party leader for family reasons in June 2002, and was succeeded by Jack Layton, a former Toronto city councillor. He was elected at the party's convention in Toronto on January 25, 2003, defeating his nearest rival, longtime MP Bill Blaikie[?], on the first ballot with 53.5% of the vote. Because Layton currently does not have a seat in the House of Commons, he has appointed Blaikie to full that role on the floor of the House for the immediate future. In addition, a younger French Canadian candidate, Pierre Ducasse[?], gave such a stirring speech at the convention that it is hoped that he could be critical in gaining votes in Quebec where the party is typically weak. The Party is currently on 17% in the opinion polls (an increase of 9% since the last election), and is very optimistic about its future.

Current Members of Parliament

As of February 2003, the NDP holds 14 seats in the House of Commons:

Bill Blaikie[?], parliamentary leader
Winnipeg-Transcona (MB)

Joe Comartin[?]
Windsor-St. Clair (ON)

Libby Davies[?]
Vancouver East (BC)

Bev Desjarlais[?]
Churchill (MB)

Yvon Godin[?]
Acadie-Bathurst (NB)

Wendy Lill[?]
Dartmouth (NS)

Pat Martin[?]
Winnipeg-Centre (MB)

Brian Masse[?]
Windsor West (ON)

Alexa McDonough[?]
Halifax (NS)

Lorne Nystrom[?]
Regina-Qu'Appelle (SK)

Dick Proctor[?]
Palliser (SK)

Svend Robinson
Burnaby-Douglas (BC)

Peter Stoffer[?]
Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore (NS)

Judy Wascylycia-Leis[?]
Winnipeg North Centre (MB)


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