Dennis O'Keefe (politician)

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Dennis O'Keefe
Mayor Dennis O'Keefe crop.jpg
14th Mayor of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
June 9, 2008 – October 10, 2017
Preceded by Shannie Duff (Acting)
Succeeded by Danny Breen
Acting Mayor of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
March 3, 2008 – April 22, 2008
Preceded by Andy Wells
Succeeded by Shannie Duff (Acting)
Deputy Mayor of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
2005 – March 3, 2008
Preceded by Gerry Colbert
Succeeded by Ron Ellsworth
Councillor At Large for St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
Personal details
Born April 1944
St. John's, Newfoundland
Spouse(s) Grace O'Keefe

Dennis "Doc" O'Keefe served as the 14th mayor of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.


O'Keefe was born and raised in St. John's, and completed his early education at St. Bonaventure's College. He went on to study at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in history, and a Bachelor of Education in 1967. in 1978, following post-graduate studies at MUN he received a master's degree (history). He went on to work as an educator for 30 years and taught at Brother Rice High School, St. Patrick's Hall and Beaconsfield High School, all in St. John's. He is a consumer activist having established the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices and Consumer Power.[1]


O'Keefe was elected to municipal politics in 1997 as a councillor at large and was re-elected to the position in the 2001 municipal election. In 2005 he was elected deputy mayor of the city and held that position till the resignation of mayor Andy Wells in 2008.[2]


Following Wells' resignation O'Keefe served as acting mayor from March to April 2008, before resigning to run in a June by-election to replace Wells. His only opponent for the position of mayor was Marie White, also a former deputy mayor. Both he and White campaigned on similar platforms during the by-election, which focused on environmental, financial management and planning issues. While White wanted to lobby the provincial government to amalgamate neighbouring communities with the city, O'Keefe did not want to push the issue and emphasized stronger ties with neighbouring municipalities. Referring to amalgamation of the region he stated that "It will occur when people of the communities want to amalgamate for their common benefit, and it will occur sooner than people might expect".[3] On the June 3, by-election O'Keefe debated White, winning 58 per cent of the popular vote.[2][4]

O'Keefe was challenged by his deputy mayor Ron Ellsworth and local reggae singer and organic farmer Mark Wilson in the 2009 municipal election.[5][6] O'Keefe was re-elected mayor that September, winning 57 per cent of the popular vote against his two challengers.[7]

O'Keefe has been a longtime member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador but has been critical of the federal Conservative government of Stephen Harper. After no Conservative candidates were elected in the 2008 federal election from Newfoundland and Labrador, O'Keefe requested that Harper appoint an un-elected Senator from the province into his cabinet. However, Nova Scotia Member of Parliament Peter McKay became Newfoundland and Labrador's de facto minister in the federal cabinet.[8] Several months later O'Keefe called for the provinces MPs to vote against Harper's minority government's 2009 budget, which provincial politicians said attacked Newfoundland and Labrador.[9] in 2012, O'Keefe criticized the federal budget for the public service jobs that were cut in the city and later said he was looking forward to the day that Harper would not be prime minister.[10] His comments were attacked by Labrador Conservative MP Peter Penashue, who said that O'Keefe was fear mongering and that his comments were reckless.[11]

O'Keefe underwent heart surgery in April 2011, to clear three blockages in a single artery. O'Keefe had collapsed following a routine stress test, and was revived by CPR and a defibrillator, days earlier. His surgery was successful and he returned to work later that spring.[12][13]

O'Keefe was re-elected in the 2013 municipal election, defeating Sheilagh O'Leary and Geoff Chaulk.[14] In August 2017, O'Keefe announced he would not run for re-election in the 2017 election.[15] He was succeeded by Danny Breen.[16]

Electoral history[edit]

2013 Mayoral[edit]

Candidate [17] Vote %
Dennis O'Keefe (X) 20,047 56.68
Sheilagh O'Leary 14,735 41.66
Geoff Chaulk 589 1.67

2009 Mayoral[edit]

Candidate Vote %
Dennis O'Keefe (X) 20,944 57.44
Ron Ellsworth 13,427 36.73
Mark Wilson 2,130 5.83

2008 Mayoral By-election[edit]

Candidate Vote %
Dennis O'Keefe 19,602 58.14
Marie White 14,109 41.85

2005 Deputy Mayoral[edit]

Candidate Vote %
Dennis O'Keefe (X) 25,689 73.6
Fred Winsor 9,223 26.4


  1. ^ "Mayor Dennis O'Keefe". CIty of St. John's. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Good ears got me St. John's mayor's chair: O'Keefe". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 June 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mayor's race ramped up". The Telegram. 24 May 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "O'Keefe wins mayor's race in St. John's byelection". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "O'Keefe, Ellsworth already jockeying for St. John's mayoralty". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Ellsworth to challenge O'Keefe for St. John's mayoralty". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "The polls close". The Telegram. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "St. John's mayor says PM must appoint Newfoundlander to cabinet". Canadian Press. 20 October 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "4 of 6 Liberal MPs from N.L. vow to vote against federal budget". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "St. John's mayor hoping for end of Harper reign". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Penashue slams O'Keefe for remarks about Harper". Canadian Broadcasting corporation. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "O'Keefe to undergo heart surgery Wednesday". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "O'Keefe recuperating after 'successful' surgery". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 April 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  14. ^ "In 'Doc' we trust". The Telegram. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Dennis O'Keefe won't seek re-election as St. John's mayor". CBC News. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017. 
  16. ^ "Breen takes mayor's seat in St. John's, new faces voted in as councillors". CBC News. 26 September 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017. 
  17. ^

External links[edit]