Michael Cassidy (Canadian politician)

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Michael Cassidy
Cassidy speaks at a federal NDP rally in 2006
Leader of the Ontario NDP
In office
Preceded byStephen Lewis
Succeeded byBob Rae
Member of Parliament (MP)
In office
Preceded byJohn Leslie Evans
Succeeded byMac Harb
ConstituencyOttawa Centre
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded byHarold MacKenzie
Succeeded byEvelyn Gigantes
ConstituencyOttawa Centre
Alderman on Ottawa City Council
In office
January 1, 1970 – September 1, 1972
Preceded byMary Harrison and Lionel O'Connor
Succeeded byJoe Cassey
ConstituencyWellington Ward
Personal details
Michael Morris Cassidy

(1937-05-10) May 10, 1937 (age 85)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Political partyOntario NDP
Federal NDP
OccupationRadio and television broadcaster

Michael Morris Cassidy (born May 10, 1937) is a Canadian politician. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1971 to 1984, and in the House of Commons of Canada from 1984 to 1988. Cassidy was the leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario from 1978 to 1982.


Cassidy was born in Victoria, British Columbia, the son of Beatrice Pearce and Harry Cassidy, who was a founding member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, a one time candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party and dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Toronto.[1][2] After graduating from the University of Toronto Schools, he attended the University of Trinity College in the University of Toronto, and the London School of Economics.[3] Cassidy worked as a journalist before entering political life, and was bureau chief of the Financial Times in Ottawa for a period.


Cassidy was elected as an Ottawa alderman in January 1970. The following year, he was elected to the Ontario legislature for Ottawa Centre in the 1971 provincial election. Cassidy defeated Progressive Conservative candidate Garry Guzzo, who later served in the legislature from 1995 to 2003, by 182 votes. He did not immediately resign from his council seat, and held both positions until the provincial government banned concurrent tenure in 1972. Cassidy was re-elected with an increased majority in the 1975 election, in which the NDP under Stephen Lewis reduced the Conservatives to a minority government and became the official opposition in the legislature.

The NDP fell back to third place, behind the Liberal Party, in the 1977 provincial election, and Lewis resigned as leader the following year. Cassidy entered the contest to succeed him and defeated Ian Deans and Michael Breaugh in February 1978. He had a difficult job following Lewis, who was a charismatic and dynamic figure. Cassidy, by comparison, had a rather dry personality. He was also the most left-wing of the three leadership candidates, and was not fully trusted by the party establishment. Cassidy's policy advisor in the leadership campaign was James Laxer, a former leader of The Waffle NDP faction which had separated from the party in 1974. Some members of the NDP caucus considered his election as a serious mistake, and encouraged him to resign before contesting an election. Cassidy ignored this advice, and remained as leader.

The NDP fared poorly in the 1981 election, falling from 33 seats to 21. Their decline allowed the Progressive Conservatives to regain a majority government, while the Liberals neither gained nor lost seats. Cassidy faced a difficult re-election in Ottawa Centre, and defeated Progressive Conservative candidate David Small by only 599 votes. He stepped down as leader after the campaign, and was replaced in 1982 by Bob Rae. Donald C. MacDonald, another former NDP leader, would later describe Cassidy's leadership as "an unhappy interlude for both him and the party". (MacDonald, The Happy Warrior, p. 186.)

Cassidy then resigned as Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) in 1984 to enter national politics. He campaigned for the federal New Democratic Party in the 1984 election, and defeated Progressive Conservative candidate Dan Chilcott by 54 votes to win the Ottawa Centre riding. He was defeated in the 1988 election, losing to Liberal Mac Harb by 762 votes.

Cassidy was appointed to the board of directors of Ontario Hydro in the early 1990s, during Bob Rae's tenure as premier. He was fired without notice on January 10, 1996 by the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris, but was reinstated by a court order on January 19. Cassidy opposed the Harris government's plan to restructure and partially privatize the crown corporation, and remained a director until 1997.

Electoral record[edit]

1988 Canadian federal election: Ottawa Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Mac Harb 18,096 36.46 +6.84
New Democratic Mike Cassidy 17,334 34.92 +0.55
Progressive Conservative Bob Plamondon 13,142 26.48 −7.78
Green John W. Dodson 300 0.60 +0.05
Rhinoceros Leapin Liz Johnson 292 0.59 −0.15
Independent John Turmel 152 0.31  
Independent Michael K.B. Hahn 115 0.23  
Libertarian Rudolph Shally 111 0.22  
Independent Hardial Bains 66 0.13  
Commonwealth of Canada Istvan Kovach 30 0.06  
Total valid votes 49,638 100.00
"History of Federal Ridings — General Elections — OTTAWA CENTRE, Ontario (1966- )". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
1984 Canadian federal election: Ottawa Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Mike Cassidy 17,844 34.37 +18.41
Progressive Conservative Dan Chilcott 17,790 34.26 −2.15
Liberal John Evans 15,380 29.62 −16.28
Rhinoceros Barry J. Heidt 382 0.74 −0.02
Green Gordon Scott McLeod 285 0.55  
Communist Marvin Glass 93 0.18 −0.07
Independent Ray Joseph Cormier 71 0.14  
Independent Rodger L. James 45 0.09  
Independent Marc Gauvin 29 0.06  
Total valid votes 51,919 100.00  
1981 Ontario general election: Ottawa Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Michael Cassidy 9,316 36.77 −4.79
Progressive Conservative David Small 8,717 34.41 +2.25
Liberal Karl Feige 6,926 27.34 +2.47
Independent John Turmel 376 1.48  
Total valid votes 25,335 100.0   −0.91
1977 Ontario general election: Ottawa Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Michael Cassidy 10,626 41.56 +2.64
Progressive Conservative Brian Cameron 8,223 32.16 −0.62
Liberal Ian Kimmerly 6,358 24.87 −2.52
Communist Marvin Glass 360 1.41 +0.5
Total valid votes 25,567 100.0   −6.64
1975 Ontario general election: Ottawa Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Michael Cassidy 10,658 38.92 +3.46
Progressive Conservative Gale Kerwin 8,978 32.78 −1.88
Liberal Gerald Kirby 7,500 27.39 −2.49
Communist Marvin Glass 250 0.91  
Total valid votes 27,386 100.0   +20.26
1971 Ontario general election: Ottawa Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Michael Cassidy 8,075 35.46 +17.59
Progressive Conservative Garry Guzzo 7,893 34.66 −4.4
Liberal Rudy Capogreco 6,804 29.88 −13.19
Total valid votes 22,772 100.0   +27.57

Later life[edit]

In 2005, Cassidy has become involved in a battle to protect Tay River and the surrounding area from exploitation by multinational developers. He published an essay on the controversy in October 2005.[4] Cassidy has also operated the Ottawa-based Ginger Group Consultants firm, providing lobbying, strategic planning and public relations work for labour organizations and related groups.

He was elected to Council in the Township of Lanark Highlands in 2003 but was defeated in 2006.[5]


  1. ^ Francis J. Turner, ed. (7 September 2005). Encyclopedia of Canadian social work. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 0-88920-436-5. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  2. ^ "The Canadian Parliamentary Guide". 1986.
  3. ^ Zena Cherry, "'Suspects' remembered," Globe and Mail, Nov. 10, 1980, P15.
  4. ^ Straight Goods - Canada's independent on-line source of news you can use Archived 2005-08-11 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2006-12-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]