Lorraine Michael

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Lorraine Michael

Lorraine Michael NL NDP.jpg
Member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly
for St. John's East-Quidi Vidi
Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi (2006-2015)
Assumed office
November 1, 2006
Preceded byJack Harris
Leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party
In office
September 28, 2017 – April 8, 2018
Preceded byEarle McCurdy
Succeeded byGerry Rogers
Leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party
In office
May 28, 2006 – March 7, 2015[1]
Preceded byJack Harris
Succeeded byEarle McCurdy
Personal details
Born (1943-03-27) March 27, 1943 (age 75)
Political partyNew Democratic Party
ResidenceSt. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
OccupationRoman Catholic Nun, Teacher, School Administrator, Social Activist

Lorraine Michael MHA (born March 27, 1943) is a social-democratic Canadian politician from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. From May 2006 until March 2015, Michael had been the leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party (NDP). She is a former nun, teacher, and social activist. On November 1, 2006, she was elected Member of the House of Assembly (MHA) for the district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, and re-elected the following year in the provincial election, and again in 2011. On January 6, 2015, Michael announced her resignation of leader of the NDP following a leadership election which took place on March 7, 2015. Michael successfully contested the 2015 provincial election in the district of St. John's East-Quidi Vidi.[2] Following the resignation of her successor as NDP leader, Earle McCurdy, Michael served as interim leader of the NDP from 2017 until 2018.

Background and personal life[edit]

Michael was born on March 27, 1943, to a Lebanese-Newfoundland family in St. John's, Newfoundland. Michael was a nun until she left the Roman Catholic Church in 1993 over conflicts with the local Archdiocese, including the Archdiocese’s handling of an alleged sexual assault case. She has completed degrees at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Toronto. She started her career as a high school teacher on Bell Island, and was a junior high school principal and teacher in Baie Verte, the Codroy Valley, on the Burin Peninsula, and in St. John's.[3]

Michael has been a social activist and a feminist activist in Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as internationally. After leaving the teaching profession, she became Director of the Office of Social Action in St. John's where she worked on a number of coalitions for social justice, both regionally and nationally. In later years, while working with the Toronto-based Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice (ECEJ), she spoke on the subject of economic globalization in Mexico, Chile, and Zimbabwe. She has also worked with the Women and Work Committee of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and served for a period as the organization's Interim Executive Director.[4]

Prior to her election as NDP leader, she was Executive Director of the Women in Resource Development Committee, consulting with industry, labour, government, and educators to achieve employment equity in natural resource development sectors in Newfoundland and Labrador. This work was an extension of her earlier work in Labrador as the Innu Nation nominee on the Voisey's Bay environmental assessment panel from 1997 to 1999.[4][5]

In 2016, Michael announced that she had been treated for breast cancer earlier in the year.[6]

Michael is a member of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.

Provincial politics[edit]

Leadership (2006-2015)[edit]

On March 28, 2006, Michael announced she was seeking the leadership of the New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, following the resignation of leader Jack Harris.[7] At the leadership convention on May 28, 2006, Michael defeated writer Nina Patey with a 107-5 vote count.[8]

On November 1, 2006 she was elected in a by-election in the district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi defeating Progressive Conservative candidate Jerome Kennedy. Her campaign also received support from federal NDP leader, Jack Layton who visited the district to campaign for Michael.[9][10]

In March 2007, New Democrat Randy Collins resigned as MHA for Labrador West after being named in the province's constituency allowance scandal. Michael was unsuccessful in holding the district for the NDP, losing to Progressive Conservative candidate Jim Baker. The party faced several mishaps during the campaign, notably the decision of their presumed candidate, Karen Oldford, to run for the Liberals and the decision by the president of the United Steelworkers union local at Wabush Mines to endorse the Labrador Party instead of the NDP.[11]

2007 provincial election[edit]

In the 2007 Newfoundland and Labrador general election the party ran candidates in 36 of the 48 electoral districts. Due to a lack of funds, Michael spent most of her time campaigning in the St. John's Metropolitan Area. She did make campaign stops in Burin-Placentia West, central Newfoundland and Western Labrador.[12] Michael defeated her Progressive Conservative opponent Maria Afonso by a 17% margin but the party was unable to make any other gains throughout the province.[12]

2011 provincial election[edit]

In the 2011 general election the Progressive Conservatives won their third straight majority government. The New Democrats placed second in the popular vote and won a record number of five seats. Despite this they finished third behind the Liberal Party in seats and the Liberals remained the Official Opposition.[13]

Efforts as leader[edit]

In March 2010, she called on government to immediately put a permanent air ambulance in western Labrador following a fatal incident in which a 56-year-old man died while waiting for an air ambulance to arrive.[14] In May 2010, she called for the House of Assembly to urge government to increase funding to help problem gamblers and establish a new plan for reduction leading to elimination of VLTs.[15] She has also supported a ban on bottled water in government offices.[16] In July 2010, she criticized the Williams Government's for carelessness after a mistake from the Department of Education resulted in approximately 6,500 high school students from across the province receiving the wrong marks, or no marks on their transcripts.[17]

Public opinion[edit]

During the majority of time as leader, Michael and her party's support remained under 10 percent in the polls. Under her leadership the party's popularity was consistent with where they had been in public opinion over the past 20 years. After the 2011 federal election in which the New Democratic Party overtook the Liberals as the Official Opposition, support for Michael and the provincial NDP surged in a Corporate Research Associates (CRA) poll. On June 7, 2011, a poll showed that the party's support since March 2011, had risen from eight percent to 20 percent. This placed them in a statistical tie with the Liberal Party who were at 22 percent. Both parties however trailed the Progressive Conservatives (PC) who had the support of 57 percent. Michael's own popularity spiked, since the previous poll by CRA her popularity had risen from five percent to 14 percent. This placed her just behind Liberal leader Yvonne Jones who was at 16 percent, Premier Kathy Dunderdale had the support of 51 percent.[18][19][20] By August 2011, Michael and her New Democratic Party had over taken the Liberal Party to place second behind the Progressive Conservatives. A CRA poll conducted throughout August showed that NDP support rose to 24%, while the Liberals remained at 20% and the PC Party fell slightly to 54%. While 50% thought Dunderdale was the best choice for premier, 17% of thought Michael was the best choice compared to 16% for new Liberal leader Kevin Aylward.[21][22]

Caucus revolt and 2015-[edit]

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.[23]

The letter led to a public fight within the NDP, particularly among the caucus. Both Gerry Rogers and George Murphy said they regretted sending the letter and supported Michael, while 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.[24][25][26] In May 2014 a party convention reaffirmed her leadership with the support of 75% of delegates. Michael announced on January 6, 2015, that she is stepping down as party leader after the party performed poorly in four by-elections, but will not be stepping down as an MHA.[2] She was succeeded by Earle McCurdy following a leadership election on March 7, 2015.[27] Michael successfully contested the 2015 provincial election in the district of St. John's East-Quidi Vidi. She subsequently served as NDP House Leader in the following parliamentary sessions as Earle McCurdy did not win his seat.

Following the resignation of her successor as NDP leader, Earle McCurdy, Michael was appointed interim leader of the NDP in 2017.[28] She served as interim leader until the election of MHA Gerry Rogers as leader in April 2018.

Electoral history[edit]

Newfoundland and Labrador general election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Lorraine Michael 3038
Liberal Paul Antle 2365
Progressive Conservative Joshua Collier 478
Total valid votes
Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi - Newfoundland and Labrador general election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes % ±
     NDP Lorraine Michael 3,239 65.28%
Progressive Conservative John Noseworthy 1,550 31.24%
     Liberal Drew Brown 173 3.49%
Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi - Newfoundland and Labrador general election, 2007
Party Candidate Votes % ±
     New Democrat Lorraine Michael 3062 56.8 +1.6
  Progressive Conservative Maria Afonso 2135 39.6 -5.2
     Liberal Maura Beam 196 3.6 +3.6


Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, By-election - November 1, 2006 On the resignation of Jack Harris, May, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±
     New Democrat Lorraine Michael 1968 55.2 +6.7
  Progressive Conservative Jerome Kennedy 1595 44.8 +1.0


  1. ^ Michael was the Permanent Leader of the NDP during this time
  2. ^ a b "Lorraine Michael Quits As N.L. NDP Leader". Huffington Post. Canadian Press. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/lorraine-michael-ndp-breast-cancer-1.3892301
  7. ^ Beswick, Aaron (29 May 2006). "Activist stepping up for NDP leadership race". The Telegram. p. A4.
  8. ^ "Michael waltzes to victory in NDP leadership". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 May 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Michael holds Signal Hill for NDP". CBC News. November 1, 2006.
  10. ^ "Personalities top politics in Signal Hill byelection". CBC News. October 31, 2006.
  11. ^ "NDP support leaking to Labrador Party: union official". CBC News. February 23, 2007.
  12. ^ a b "NDP Leader Michael alone again". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
  13. ^ "Dunderdale leads N.L. Tories to majority". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  14. ^ Air ambulance needed in western Labrador: NDP
  15. ^ "Amended NDP bill on VLTs passes". New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. 2011-06-21. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  16. ^ "Question Period May 4". New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  17. ^ Wrong grades in N.L. get flunked by NDP
  18. ^ "Support for the Progressive Conservative Party Remains High" (PDF). Corporate Research Associates. 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  19. ^ "PCs, Dunderdale Still Dominate: Poll". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  20. ^ "Tories drop, NDP surge in new poll". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  21. ^ "PCs LEAD BY A WIDE MARGIN GOING INTO ELECTION" (PDF). Corporate Research Associates. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  22. ^ "PC support holds as NDP makes gains: poll". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  23. ^ "N.L. NDP Leader Lorraine Michael facing caucus revolt". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  24. ^ "Mixed messages from NDP caucus, executive". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  25. ^ Bailey, Sue (29 October 2013). "Newfoundland NDP Leader pledges to stay on after leadership feud". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  26. ^ "Another N.L. NDP executive member resigns". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  27. ^ "Lorraine Michael stepping down as NDP leader". CBC News. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  28. ^ Lorraine Michael named interim NDP leader
  29. ^ Newfoundland & Labrador Vote 2007. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 22, 2009.

External links[edit]