New Brunswick New Democratic Party

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New Brunswick New Democratic Party

Nouveau Parti démocratique du Nouveau-Brunswick
Active provincial party
LeaderMackenzie Thomason
PresidentCyprien Okana
SpokespersonNathan Davis
Executive DirectorWilliam Blanchette
Founded1933 as the New Brunswick branch of the CCF, succeeded by the New Brunswick NDP in 1962
Headquarters924 Prospect Street
Suite 2
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3B 2T9
Youth wingNew Brunswick Young New Democrats
IdeologySocial democracy
Democratic socialism
Political positionCentre-left
National affiliationNew Democratic Party
ColoursOrange and White
Seats in Legislature
0 / 49

The New Brunswick New Democratic Party (French: Nouveau Parti démocratique du Nouveau-Brunswick) is a social-democratic provincial political party in New Brunswick, Canada linked with the federal New Democratic Party (NDP).


Origins and early history[edit]

The New Brunswick NDP traces its roots to the Fredericton Socialist League, which was founded in 1902. Prominent leaders included the poet and publisher Martin Butler and educator Henry Harvey Stuart, who formed a Fredericton local of the new Socialist Party of Canada in 1905. The SPC had branches in several parts of the province prior to the First World War. Stuart was later a supporter of independent labour candidates, who had two successful candidates in Northumberland County in the 1920 provincial election. Another nine Farmer candidates were also elected that year. A strong believer in building alliances among the province's social movements, Stuart was later an influential figure in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation to the time of his death in 1952.[1]

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a social-democratic and democratic socialist federal political party, was organized at Calgary in 1932. A detailed platform, known as the Regina Manifesto, was adopted the following year. In New Brunswick, supporters of the new party convinced the New Brunswick Federation of Labour to sponsor a founding convention for the New Brunswick Section of the CCF. This took place at Moncton in June 1933, with party leader J.S. Woodsworth in attendance. Harry Girvan of Coal Creek was elected president.[2]

The New Brunswick CCF was slow to become established on the provincial political scene. It ran only one candidate in the 1939 election, Joseph C. Arrowsmith in the riding of Saint John City, winning 712 votes. The fortunes of the New Brunswick CCF rose in tandem with growing expectations for postwar social reform and the rising fortunes of the national CCF, including the election of the CCF in Saskatchewan in 1944. Under the leadership of J. A. Mugridge, a trade unionist and the chief electrician at the Saint John Drydock and Shipbuilding Company, the CCF won 11.7 percent of the vote in New Brunswick's 1944 provincial election. The best results were in Edmundston, Saint John, and Moncton, which had large numbers of union members. In that election, the CCF described itself as "the People's Party", running on a twelve-point program that included public ownership and full development of all natural resources including electricity, oil and gas and other public utilities.[3]

The 1944 election proved to be an electoral high-point for the CCF in New Brunswick. A combination of anti-CCF propaganda, the increasing adoption of somewhat progressive policies by the New Brunswick Liberals and Conservatives, and a general trend of post-war decline for the CCF nationally all contributed to weaken the New Brunswick CCF in the 1948 provincial election. This time under Arrowsmith's leadership, they received half the votes they had won in 1944 and again won no seats. In the 1952 provincial election, the CCF ran only 12 candidates and received only 1.3% of the vote and no seats. The CCF ran no candidates in the 1956 and 1960 provincial elections.

The NDP to 1988[edit]

The New Brunswick CCF retired from the scene to give way to the New Democratic Party (NDP), which was founded in 1961 as a Canadian social- democratic party with strong ties to organized labour, especially the Canadian Labour Congress, which was instrumental in founding the new party. At the provincial level, the New Brunswick NDP was organized in December 1962. Prospects were not good during the 1960s, however, as the province's new Liberal premier, Louis J. Robichaud, was a left-of-centre populist politician who won three successive provincial elections and introduced significant social reforms. The New Brunswick NDP did not run candidates in the 1963 provincial election and ran only three candidates in the 1967 provincial election.

In 1971, a party convention narrowly endorsed a manifesto proposed by the New Brunswick Waffle, a local group loosely related to the minority wing of the federal NDP known as The Waffle, which was known for advocating stronger socialist and nationalist policies. The federal NDP responded to the New Brunswick upset by temporarily dissolving the provincial NDP until non-Waffle leadership was re-established with the reinstatement of J. Albert Richardson. The Waffle episode had the effect of promoting greater labour involvement in the party, for fear that the party would fall under the sway of more radical supporters without it.[4]

During the late 1970s, under the leadership of John LaBossiere, the party increasingly adopted policy positions that reflected feminist and environmentalist concerns, including opposition to aerial spruce budworm spraying and the construction of the Point Lepreau nuclear plant. These initiatives attracted new supporters while also weakening relations with some labour supporters. The party also saw its membership grow and its organizational abilities improve during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Along with promoting traditional social-democratic NDP policies, the party also attacked government patronage and poor fiscal management.

Relations with organized labour and the women's movement improved further after George Little became party leader in 1980. During Little's time as leader, in the 1982 New Brunswick election the party won its first-ever seat in Tantramar, with the election of Robert Hall to the legislature. A second seat was won in a 1984 by-election in East Saint John, but Peter Trites left to join the Liberals before the next election.[5] The New Brunswick NDP ran a full slate of candidates for the first time in the 1987 campaign. The period saw increasing popular support (surpassing 10% for the first time) and rising membership totals, numbering over 1,000 by the mid-1980s. However, the party failed to win any seats in 1987, due to the tidal wave of support for Frank McKenna and the Liberals, who won more than 60% of the vote and took 100% of the seats in the legislature. Little stepped down from the leadership in 1988. Robert Hall served as interim leader until a leadership conference was held.[6]

Elizabeth Weir, 1988–2005[edit]

In June 1988, Elizabeth Weir, the party's former provincial secretary, was elected as the party's new leader. After the one-sided 1987 election, Premier McKenna allowed leaders of the unrepresented parties to ask questions in the legislature and in the public accounts committee. Weir took full advantage of the opportunity, using her training as a lawyer and her speaking skills to needle the government. Her media presence and political stature increased significantly, and she was sometimes referred to by cabinet ministers as the unofficial Leader of the Opposition.[7] In the 1991 provincial election, Weir won a seat in Saint John South, making her the first provincial NDP leader to be elected to the legislature. She was re-elected in the new constituency of Saint John Harbour in the 1995 provincial election, running against a star Liberal candidate. Weir won re-election twice more after this.

During her time in the legislature, Weir proved a strong critic of McKenna's neo-liberal policies, successfully attacking public-private partnerships such as a plan to have a youth detention centre built and operated by an American corporation. She was also an ally of organized labour in resisting legislated wage freezes that were directed at public sector employees. She promoted the expansion of union rights through legislation to prohibit the use of replacement workers in strikes. At the request of organized labour, Weir introduced the Workers Mourning Day Act, enacted in 2000, which established April 28 as an annual day of recognition for workers killed or injured in the workplace.[8] In other areas, she addressed issues such as women's rights, pay equity, environmental protection, poverty and the rights of social assistance recipients. During her last term, she was successful in gaining the support of an all-party committee for public automobile insurance.[9]

Despite Weir's personal popularity and her ability to attract strong candidates, she was not able to add extra seats to the party caucus. This was especially disappointing in light of the election of Yvon Godin as a federal NDP Member of Parliament in Acadie-Bathurst in 1997; he ultimately served five terms in Parliament. In 2004, Weir announced her plan to step down as leader and also resigned her seat after a new leader was chosen the following year.

Challenges, 2005–2017[edit]

The period immediately following Weir's departure was a difficult one for the party. Allison Brewer was elected as party leader in September 2005, but faced challenges due to her inability to speak French and her lack of experience in electoral politics. In the 2006 provincial election the NDP failed to run a full slate and saw their popular vote collapse. Brewer resigned soon after the election. Pat Hanratty stood in as interim leader.

He was replaced by Roger Duguay in 2007. Duguay's tenure as leader was dominated by a shakeup in the party's internal operations. Much of the old executive of the party was replaced in 2009 and a new team of modernizers began to gain prominence within the party. During the 2010 provincial election the party platform combined traditional progressive social policy, education and health spending with a greater emphasis on the need for fiscal prudence and balanced budgets and cutting wasteful government spending, including opposition to corporate welfare. The party more than doubled its share of the vote, returning to the levels achieved under Little and Weir, but no candidate, including Duguay, won a seat. He resigned as leader in November 2010.

Following Duguay's resignation, Jesse Travis was named interim leader, and a leadership race was scheduled for 2011. When one of the two candidates, Pierre Cyr, was disqualified and withdrew, the party's former campaign director Dominic Cardy was acclaimed as party leader. In a leadership review at the 2012 party convention, Cardy was endorsed by 82% of the voting members.[10] He then continued the process of changing the party's policies and organization, in line with the Third Way model associated with former British prime minister Tony Blair, whom Cardy admired.[11]

Logo of the NBNDP from 2015 to 2018.

By 2014, however, Cardy's political strategy was attracting criticism, especially on issues of policies on resource development in forestry, oil pipelines and shale gas. Concerns increased when Cardy recruited several prominent former Conservative and Liberal politicians as candidates for the 2014 election.[12] These factors contributed to the defection of some NDP supporters, including former leader Allison Brewer, to the Green Party of New Brunswick, who were successful in electing David Coon in Fredericton South. The NDP received 13% of the vote in the September 22, 2014 provincial election, a record high in votes. Although Cardy came within 500 votes of winning in his constituency, the party failed to win any seats.

Cardy announced plans to resign at the next party convention, but this was suspended to enable him to run in an unexpected byelection in Saint John East in November 2014, though without success. The party executive subsequently encouraged him to continue as leader. Criticism of Cardy's policies and leadership style increased, with concerns expressed by veteran leaders such as federal NDP MP Yvon Godin and Daniel Légère, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, New Brunswick.[13] Complaining of party infighting, Cardy resigned both as leader and as a party member on January 1, 2017.[14] Later that month, he announced that he was joining the Progressive Conservatives under party leader Blaine Higgs as a member of his staff.[15]

Jennifer McKenzie, 2017–2019[edit]

On August 10, 2017, Jennifer McKenzie of St. Martins, a rural community east of Saint John, was confirmed as the new leader of the party.[16] Before returning to New Brunswick, she served as chair of the public school board in Ottawa, Ontario. In the 2015 federal election, she ran as a candidate in Fundy-Royal, finishing in third place with 17.5% of the votes. An electrical engineer and tech entrepreneur by background, McKenzie ran for the NDP leadership on a pledge to bring the party back to its traditions of advancing social, environmental and economic justice. Outgoing interim leader Rosaire L'Italien described the change as a "rebirth" of the party and welcomed previously alienated party members to return.[17] "I am a socialist and I believe in the power of people working together," McKenzie stated at a press conference, "I hope to take this party into the future based on the solid principles on which the New Democrats are founded."[18] Among the party's planks for the 2018 election were plans to reduce university tuition and to eliminate community college tuition fees,[19] plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour,[20] and plans to roll out a universal daycare and after school program run by school districts.[21] Under McKenzie's leadership, the party registered between 5% and 13% support in the polls.[22] More than half the party's candidates in 2018 were women, making the NDP the only political party to achieve this level. On election night, however, the NDP was eclipsed on the left by the Green Party, whose supporters included many former NDP voters. The party received 5% of the vote and was reduced to fifth place, behind the Greens and the People's Alliance of New Brunswick, who each elected three members. McKenzie placed third in Saint John Harbour, with 14.7% of the vote, slightly ahead of the Green candidate.[23] At a party meeting on February 24, 2019, delegates voted narrowly in favour of holding a leadership convention. The following day, McKenzie stated she did not intend to run in the contest and announced her resignation.[24]

Renewal, 2019–2020[edit]

In March 2019, party representatives chose 21-year-old Mackenzie Thomason, a candidate in New Maryland-Sunbury in the last election, as interim leader.[25] A leadership convention was planned for August 2019 but was cancelled due to a lack of acceptable candidates.[26] Prospects for renewal continued to be discouraging when it was announced, in a joint statement on September 3, that fourteen candidates who ran for the NDP in the 2018 provincial election were joining the Greens.[27] Within days, however, five of those candidates denied they were leaving the NDP and said they believed they were supporting a merger of the two parties.[28] Green Party leader David Coon apologized for failing to confirm the decision with each of the fourteen candidates before welcoming them into his party as a group. He also said here had been no formal discussion of a merger of the two parties.[29] A news story later revealed that one of the candidates who led the move to leave the NDP had failed to qualify for the party leadership contest.[30] In November, the party announced plans for a new leadership race, with the decision set for June 14, 2020.[31] In April 2020, however, party president Cyprien Okana announced a decision to postpone the convention due to the emergency conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.[32] Thomason led the party in a snap provincial election held on September 14, 2020.[33] There were 33 candidates, many of them youthful, but none were elected and the party’s vote dropped below two per cent.[34]


New Brunswick CCF[edit]

New Brunswick NDP[edit]

Election results[edit]

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Place Position
1944 J. A. Mugridge 11.7
0 / 48
Steady 0 Increase 3rd No seats
1948 Joseph C. Arrowsmith 6.0
0 / 52
Steady 0 Steady 3rd No seats
1952 Claude P. Milton 1.3
0 / 52
Steady 0 Steady 3rd No seats
Did not contest
1967 Jack Currie 0.1
0 / 58
Steady 0 Increase 3rd No seats
1970 J. Albert Richardson 2.8
0 / 58
Steady 0 Increase 3rd No seats
1974 9,092 2.9
0 / 58
Steady 0 Steady 3rd No seats
1978 John LaBossiere 6.5
0 / 58
Steady 0 Steady 3rd No seats
1982 George Little 10.2
1 / 58
Increase 1 Steady 3rd Third Party
1987 43,033 10.6
0 / 58
Decrease 1 Steady 3rd No seats
1991 Elizabeth Weir 44,384 10.8
1 / 58
Increase 1 Decrease 4th Fourth Party
1995 37,579 9.7
1 / 55
Steady 0 Increase 3rd Third Party
1999 34,526 8.8
1 / 55
Steady 0 Steady 3rd Third Party
2003 36,989 9.7
1 / 55
Steady 0 Steady 3rd Third Party
2006 Allison Brewer 19,212 5.1
0 / 55
Decrease 1 Steady 3rd No seats
2010 Roger Duguay 38,686 10.4
0 / 55
Steady 0 Steady 3rd No seats
2014 Dominic Cardy 48,257 13.0
0 / 49
Steady 0 Decrease 4th No seats
2018 Jennifer McKenzie 19,039 5.0
0 / 49
Steady 0 Decrease 5th No seats
2020 Mackenzie Thomason 6,207 1.65
0 / 49
Steady 0 Steady 5th No seats

NDP members of the NB Legislative Assembly[edit]

There are currently no New Democrats in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. In the past, three separate individuals have been elected as New Democrats and they are as follows:

The NDP's predecessor, the CCF never won a seat in the New Brunswick legislature. In the 1920 general election nine United Farmers and two Farmer-Labour MLAs were elected.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chapman, James K. (Spring 1976). "Henry Harvey Stuart (1873-1952): New Brunswick Reformer". Acadiensis. V (2): 79–104.
  2. ^ Frank, David (2013). Provincial Solidarities: A History of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press. pp. 51–54. ISBN 978-1-927356-23-4.
  3. ^ Lewey, Laurel (2012). "A Near Golden Age: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in New Brunswick, 1940-1949". Journal of New Brunswick Studies. 3.
  4. ^ Webber, Patrick (2009). "'For a Socialist New Brunswick': The New Brunswick Waffle, 1967-1972". Acadiensis. 38 (1): 75–103.
  5. ^ Richard Wilbur, "New Brunswick," in Leo Heaps, ed., Our Canada (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company, 1991), pp. 156-158.
  6. ^ Stewart Hyson, "A One Party Legislature: Where's 'Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition' in the Loyalist Province?", Canadian Parliamentary Review, vol. 11, no. 2 (Summer 1988) .[1]
  7. ^ Wilbur, "New Brunswick," p. 159.
  8. ^ Frank, Provincial Solidarities, pp. 190-202, 216-217.
  9. ^ Jacques Poitras, "Leader on the Left," The New Brunswick Reader, 8 October 2005, pp. 10-14.
  10. ^ Murat, Phillippe (15 April 2012). "Dominic Cardy obtient la confiance des partisans du NPD". Acadie Nouvelle (in French). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  11. ^ Poitras, Jacques (18 June 2014). "Dominic Cardy questioned over moderate CBC strategy". CBC News. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  12. ^ Michael Tutton, "New Brunswick NDP leader proud Liberals, Conservatives among his prize candidates," Canadian Press, 14 September 2014.
  13. ^ Jacques Poitras, "Yvon Godin criticizes Dominic Cardy’ campaign tactics," CBC News, 7 January 2015.
  14. ^ Shane Ross, "NDP leader Dominic Cardy resigns amid party ‘infighting’." CBC News, 1 January 2017.
  15. ^ Jacques Poitras, "Former NDP leader Dominic Cardy joins PCs," CBC News, 27 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Jennifer McKenzie confirmed as NDP's new leader". CBC. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  17. ^ "NDP hopes to reclaim members with Jennifer McKenzie as new leader". CBC News. 10 August 2017.
  18. ^ Chilibeck, John (10 August 2017). "'I am a socialist' declares new NDP leader". Telegraph-Journal. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Plan To Eliminate Community College Tuition Fees, Reduce University Tuition". NBNDP. 10 April 2018.
  20. ^ "The NDP's Plan to address youth outmigration". NBNDP. 25 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Family Focused Before & After School Care". NBNDP. 6 June 2018.
  22. ^ "NB Liberals continue to enjoy comfortable lead as election nears" (PDF). Corporate Research Associates. 5 June 2018.
  23. ^ "NDP leader loses in Saint John Harbour as party is shut out across province". CBC News. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Jennifer McKenzie steps down as NDP leader after party vote". CBC News. 25 February 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  25. ^ “21-year-old Frederictonian now interim NB NDP leader,” Telegraph-Journal (Saint John), March 26, 2019, p. A3.
  26. ^ "No takers for NDP leadership," Daily Gleaner (Fredericton), July 26, 2019, p. A1.
  27. ^ “14 candidats néo-démocrates rejoignent les rangs des verts du N.-B.,” Acadie Nouvelle (Moncton), 4 septembre 2019, p. 7.
  28. ^ “Défection vers le Parti vert: des candidats nient avoir quitté le NPD," Acadie Nouvelle (Moncton), 6 septembre 2019, p. 8.
  29. ^ "David Coon clears up the confusion over NDP defectors, CBC Information Morning – Fredericton, September 6, 2019". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  30. ^ Poitras, Jacques (11 September 2019). "Organizer of NDP exodus was suspended by law society, disqualified from party leadership". CBC News. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  31. ^ "New Brunswick NDP to choose new leader in June". CBC News. 23 November 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  32. ^ "NDP Delay Leadership Convention Due to COVID-19". Country 94. 12 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  33. ^ "NDP needs to solidify position as party of left, says interim party leader". CBC News. 10 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  34. ^ "New Brunswick Votes 2020". CBC News. 14 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.

External links[edit]