UPDATE: Mitchelmore, Kirby leave NDP caucus

James McLeod
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The NDP caucus is down to three members in the House of Assembly, as Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore said they could no longer work under the leadership of Lorraine Michael.

In back-to-back announcements, first Kirby told the media in St. John’s, and then Mitchelmore made an announcement in his district in St. Anthony.

Kirby said that he still believes in the aims and principles of the NDP, and he’s not leaving the party — he just can’t work with Michael.

“My beliefs have not changed,” he said. “My commitment to raising issues in the HOuse of Assembly on behalf of my constituents has not changed, and my commitment to doing the hard work that’s necessary to build a better Newfoundland and Labrador has not changed.”

Speculation about Kirby sitting as an independent MHA has been rampant for more than a week, after the four NDP MHAs sent a letter to Michael questioning her ability to recruit candidates, and calling for her to step aside and call a leadership convention.

Kirby has been the most outspoken critic of NDP leader Lorraine Michael, saying her leadership style is suffocating and it’s hurting the party.

The letter, sent on Oct. 20 was signed by Kirby, Gerry Rogers, George Murphy and Christopher Mitchelmore.

Almost immediately after it broke in the media, Rogers and Murphy backtracked, saying that they regretted sending the letter and expressing confidence in Michael’s leadership.

Kirby stuck to his guns, and Mitchelmore said he stood by what was said in the letter.

After a week of bitter, public infighting, the NDP caucus met over the weekend, and Michael announced that she’s calling for a leadership review to be held in 2014.

Kirby said the way Michael responded to the caucus letter was a major problem

“I think a bad situation became worse,” Kirby said. “It’s untenable for me to remain in the NDP caucus.”

Mitchelmore, for his part, released a statement on his website saying that the caucus asked for a leadership convention, and that’s what the party still needs. He said the leadership review that Michael has proposed is not enough.

“ This should have been seen as an opportunity to test current Leadership, engage in the party building process, establish policy and develop messaging under a rigid timeline in preparation for Election 2015,” Mitchelmore wrote. “Although, I am leaving the NDP Caucus, my approach to dealing with issues at the local, provincial or national level has not changed – I will continue to work tirelessly for a better District and a better Newfoundland & Labrador. I still believe we need a fairer society, one that is inclusive and brings the values of everyday people to the forefront in a multi-party system.”

Moments after the Kirby and Mitchelmore announcements, Michael emerged to speak to reporters.

She was visibly shaken, but wished the two of them well.

“We are standing now with a caucus of three, and I do believe that we, as a caucus of three, will move forward together,” Michael said.

Michael said she was “blindsided” by the leadership crisis, and said she wasn’t aware that there was any widespread brewing discontent within party ranks.

She said she believes she’s handled the situation as well as she could have.

“I still have no regrets for anything that I’ve done over the last nine days,” Michael said. “When I was faced by the media with the fact that the media knew a letter had come to me, and the media were going public, obviously I had to respond to the media.”

The House of Assembly opens Monday at 1:30 p.m.





Organizations: NDP, Leadership Convention

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Recent comments

  • Tina
    October 31, 2013 - 23:39

    This is foolish. I thought they were sensible. They shouldn't have left the caucus but now that they have they should resign. The damage done to the party's brand is now worse, and more serious than any benefit they might have gained from some new leader.

  • Dianne
    October 30, 2013 - 03:21

    More waste of taxpayers dollar, If those two character sit as independent, then they shouldn't be pay five cents. Just hit the road, and don't look back.

  • tim
    October 29, 2013 - 18:30

    what a joke these two are. Take your ball and go sit in the corner. I hope their forgotten constituents boot them out in 2015.

  • Bert
    October 29, 2013 - 16:34

    Five little Ducks went out to play and only three came back...

  • mafia @ work
    October 29, 2013 - 16:09

    just corruption @ work folks, these politicians put themselves first ahead of those who elected them. its doesn' matter what colour they wear anymore, they are corrupt to the bone. little wonder why so many of us are turned off.

  • Pauline
    October 29, 2013 - 16:06

    Go and join the liberal, ye are made for each other..

  • Disgusted
    October 29, 2013 - 15:30

    Callers to Open Line shows today are confirming my opinion that both Kirby and Mitchelmore should have resigned, not continue to collect a paycheque from the taxpayers. Residents of both Districts are saying they voted for these politicians in 2011 because they were running for the NDP. Many of us feel betrayed. One week ago today Kirby was an Open Line guest when he was asked the question: "Why didn't you take your concerns to Ms. Michael in person? Why didn't you speak to her?" His answer: "I don't know. I can't answer that question." I was so shocked by this ridiculous answer that the next day I used the internet to listen to this part of the show again - convinced no one in public life could exhibit such poor judgement and intentions. The replay confirmed that I did hear Kirby say he had no explanation for not speaking to the Party Leader in person. This confirms that not only does Kirby lack personal integrity but he cannot explain his own behaviour. Party members want these two seats vacated and a by-election called. Ryan Cleary today stated that he wants to replace Lorraine Michael. Thankfully he will never be given that opportunity. Next year Party members will give Michael a resounding thumbs up when asked the question: "Should there be a Leadership review?" Cleary is not suitable to stand in the shadow of Lorraine Michael. This past week has taught me not to trust everyone who runs for public office under the NDP banner. At least 3 such men have questionable motives. Their ambition is to feather their own nest, not work to benefit those who elect them.

  • Voter!!!
    October 29, 2013 - 14:39

    Well now, I was certainly surprised and very disappointed in the manner the MHA's handled the situation in calling for a leadership convention. I believe Ms. Michael certainly deserved more respect with a face to face discussion not an e-mail. As for Mr.Kirby, not much odds about him. He certainly doesn't come across like the brightest one among you and he was very quick to forget that it was your leadership that got the majority of NDP MHA's to sit inthe house. Keep up the good job Ms. Michael there are back biter's in every walk of society.

  • Shelly Noseworthy
    October 29, 2013 - 14:26

    Honestly, I am suprised this did not happen last year or the year before. Ms. Micheal is the old guard. My way or the highway. Dale has worked hard for the people in his riding.

  • Herb Morrison
    October 29, 2013 - 14:08

    Let me see if I 've got this right. If Mr. Mitchelmore and Mr. Kirby can't get everyone else to play the game according to their rules, they are are going to take their bat and their balls (if they do indeed have balls) and they are leaving the team. Who needs 'em. Both these people should, as another poster suggested, resign their seats and run in an election or by election, as independents.

  • Jim Clarke
    October 29, 2013 - 14:04

    Hopefully these two politicians don't hurt themselves as they jump ship and try to grab hold of Liberal coattails.. This is very embarrasing and must remember come next election. You don't jump ship when going is tough as Kennedy did. This is self serving moves and voters must remember that.

  • Bucyk9
    October 29, 2013 - 13:56

    All the years it took for the NDP to build credibilty , taken away in a moment . Too bad .

  • Stephen
    October 29, 2013 - 12:35

    @ Ron "Their constituents elected them as NDP's, not just for their person". How the heck do you know that. Idiot. I don't vote for the party, I vote for the person. I voted for Jack Harris my whole life as I respect him, but I have never voted for the NDP since he left. These me do not approve of the leadership so it is their right to leave the  caucus. "Two cowards as far as i'm concerned"... the real cowards are the two jokers, Gerry Rogers and George Murphy. Don't have the guts to stick to what they signed. Murphy, what a joke.... almost crying on the radio, "I didn't understand what I was signing, I didn't read the fine print.". Yet he thinks we should trust him as a MHA, if he cant understand a simple letter that he signed. What a laugh he gave me.

  • Charlie
    October 29, 2013 - 12:13

    Jack Harris was a "lone wolf" for the most part, they deemed themselves fortunate to even get a leader, their recent success has come mainly with timely events and the inepitude of other parties. They were not elected as 'In dependents'. The only honourable position is to resign despite their noble platitudes

  • Sammie
    October 29, 2013 - 11:51

    Yeah right. Loraine wants to "move forward"....this is her attempt to cover up what has happened, and she wishes there was some way to get everyone to forget. Well it is too late for the ndp as they really showed the calibre of members they have. I wouldn't let them tie my shoe, as they would need to first have an inquiry into shoe laces. the ndp is just a pathetic party, and they should all resign in shame.

  • Jonny
    October 29, 2013 - 11:40

    I don't understand what the issue is with Kirby and Mitchelmore. Now that they have got what they lobbied for, a NDP leadership race, they remove themselves from the NDP. This has the appearance of a larger contrived scheme to leave the NDP and hitch a ride with another party.... and it seems to be failing miserably.

  • Jim Clarke
    October 29, 2013 - 11:24

    Hopefully these two politicians don't hurt themselves as they jump ship and try to grab hold of Liberal coattails.. This is very embarrasing and must remember come next election. You don't jump ship when going is tough as Kennedy did. This is self serving moves and voters must remember that.

  • Duggan
    October 29, 2013 - 10:52

    Gerry Rogers said last week the NDP would come out of the weekend discussions stronger and united. What happened, Gerry?

  • Ron
    October 29, 2013 - 10:52

    It's quite clear what these two gentleman should now do: resign their seats. Their constituents elected them as NDP's, not just for their person. If they feel they can get re-elected as independents, good for them. The electorate will make the final decision. Our tax dollars should certainly not fund their salaries because they chose to take the sooky route. Two cowards as far as i'm concerned. The best thing that could happen to the NDP party today was for these two to leave! Lorraine, you're doing a great job, and will do much better with these two traitors out of the party. They'll be history after the next general election if they chose to stay on thinking they have their constituents support.

    • To Ron
      October 29, 2013 - 11:42

      So Ron, you speak for their constituents do you? I fully support these individuals in their choice to sit as an independent, when you speak of cowards Rogers and Murphy come to my mind. Also I have no ties to the NDP party and never will.

    • Cathy
      October 29, 2013 - 16:06

      I totally agree with Ron. I'd like to see a by-election called in the Districts now held by Kirby and Mitchelmore. Callers to open line shows this pm are saying they feel betrayed after voting for these two - because they represented the NDP. Ryan Cleary declared today that he wants to lead the provincial NDP. He is not fit to stand in Lorraine Michael's shadow. Cleary has always been out for himself only. He doesn't have one selfless bone in his body. Thankfully he won't be given the opportunity to lead the provincial party because next year the members will give Lorraine Michael a resounding "thumbs up".