Kirby, Mitchelmore abandon NDP caucus

James
James McLeod
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Party in turmoil

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.

Kirby said he is 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.”

It was only a week ago when Murphy said on live radio that he wasn’t sure he could still continue doing his job in the face of the caucus tumult, but on Tuesday, Michael said they can still be an effective voice for their constituents.

“Mr. Murphy is a member of my caucus and Mr. Murphy and myself and Ms. Rogers are all ready to be in the House on Monday,” she said.

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

Organizations: NDP Caucus

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Strickland
    October 30, 2013 - 11:31

    The NDP Executive Committee has stated that it will meet in the future to determine what percentage of confidence Lorraine Michael will have to achieve in order to avoid a leadership convention. However, it is that same Committee (less 1 member, Mr. Kirby's wife who quit) that released a public statement that it fully supports Ms. Michael's leadership. By doing this endorsement of the current party leadership, how can this Committee objectively choose the necessary number for Ms. Michael to keep the leadership?? There are serious questions here about process and transparency, It is as if the Committee is in on the effort to keep her as leader which is not democratic in the least.

  • Christopher Chafe
    October 30, 2013 - 11:16

    Ahmmm so from all the comments here it is apparent that Kirby had everyone held at gunpoint and forced them to sign that email. Somehow I don't think so!

  • Herb Morrison
    October 30, 2013 - 10:28

    I agree with the individual, who suggested that if both Mitchelmore and Kirby want to sit in the House of assembly as independents, they should be willing to resign their seats and run in a by-elections as independents. It would be interesting to see if either of these persons would have the intestinal fortitude or the integrity to do so.

  • Max Vere-Holloway
    October 30, 2013 - 10:04

    The NDP are being set up by the Opposition Parties abeited by Kirby and Mitchelmore THE PCs are not being re-elected, and the Liberals now see the NDP as the main threat to them resuming power. I hope the Electorate can see through this and don't live to regret their vote in the next provincial election. We have experienced both the PCs and the Liberals, who have been more interested in feathering their own nest, than really doing something for the people of our Island. I feel the time has come to give the NDP the mandate to govern. They can't do any worse , and may indeed do something to benefit the people of the Island. I'm not familiar with Mitchelmore, but don't expect Kirby to sit as an independent very long , before crossing the House to join the Liberals, before the next Provincial Election.

    • Derrick W
      October 30, 2013 - 12:58

      With these two individuals abandoning ship and their party leader, just imagine what they would do to their constituents. They both will most certainly heading towards the Liberal Party in the hopes of getting re-elected but this will backfire as people wont forget this one. Can wait for the election in 2015. I'd personally campaign against them and I'm not even in their districts !!!!

  • Max Vere-Holloway
    October 30, 2013 - 10:01

    The NDP are being set up by the Opposition Parties abeited by Kirby and Mitchelmore THE PCs are not being re-elected, and the Liberals now see the NDP as the main threat to them resuming power. I hope the Electorate can see through this and don't live to regret their vote in the next provincial election. We have experienced both the PCs and the Liberals, who have been more interested in feathering their own nest, than really doing something for the people of our Island. I feel the time has come to give the NDP the mandate to govern. They can't do any worse , and may indeed do something to benefit the people of the Island. I'm not familiar with Mitchelmore, but don't expect Kirby to sit as an independent very long , before crossing the House to join the Liberals, before the next Provincial Election.

  • Douglas
    October 30, 2013 - 09:05

    The NDP has lost my vote. Never have I seen such a scandal!! NEVER!! Henceforth, I shall cast my ballot for the upstanding, honest, and open Liberals... or Conservatives.

  • DEBBIE
    October 30, 2013 - 08:54

    This is a great report. "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." So she did not see this coming. There are those among us who thing this was overdue. Talented and energetic people have left the party due to her lack of leadership.

  • Greg
    October 30, 2013 - 08:48

    Kirby and Mitchelmore are the only ones who stuck to their position on this matter. Crybaby Murphy and Gerry Rogers look terrible in this. Lorraine Michael provided the letter to the media. A dreadful situation for New democrats but very revealing about the character of those who were elected.

  • Terry
    October 30, 2013 - 08:43

    I am flabbergasted how this situation has undermined the NDP as a political party. Mr's. Kirby and Mitchelmore your preconceived challenge reeks of underhanded foul play to ruin the NDP's credibility, where were either of you when the NDP had no provincial representation, it was through the hard work and responsible actions of Ms Michael and Ms Nancy Rich and their support team that put the NDP in the position they are now in government. It appears to me that you could not get nominated for any other party and are using the NDP as a stepping stone to further your own agendas,. I doubt you will be reelected if you choose to run as independents as true NDP supporters will never forgive you for your poor timing as it now has become a national media event, leaking it to the media before Ms Michael had the opportunity to address the issue was a cutthroat move and cowardly.

    • Dolf
      October 30, 2013 - 15:25

      Wrong Terry. The culprits in this whole debacle are Murphy and Rogers. I figured both were credible until both showed their ignorance by openly telling us they didn't know what they were signing. Huh? As for Ms. Michael, I think this is one time she did'nt get over the scoulding of the Mother Superior.

  • karen
    October 30, 2013 - 07:36

    After the underhanded way that these people chose to conduct themselves with this issue only leaves the public more aware of the fact that they are not capable of representing the people. They shouldn't even be allowed to sit as an independent.

    • Bewildered
      October 30, 2013 - 08:39

      I have to say Karen I agree with 100%. Just my opinion of course; The cowardly way (for lack of a better term & this is the way it appears) in the way this was handled, it also appears they have other political agendas at hand rather then looking out for the people that voted them in there position in the first place! One of those agendas appears to be to try & destroy the inroads of the Party that helped & supported them to get them where they are so far in the political game. I also think that these people should have talked with there constituents prior to trying to sabotage there Party I for one hope People see this & also remember it when the next election comes around.

    • Bewildered
      October 30, 2013 - 08:39

      I have to say Karen I agree with 100%. Just my opinion of course; The cowardly way (for lack of a better term & this is the way it appears) in the way this was handled, it also appears they have other political agendas at hand rather then looking out for the people that voted them in there position in the first place! One of those agendas appears to be to try & destroy the inroads of the Party that helped & supported them to get them where they are so far in the political game. I also think that these people should have talked with there constituents prior to trying to sabotage there Party I for one hope People see this & also remember it when the next election comes around.

    • DEBBIE
      October 30, 2013 - 08:55

      This is a great report. "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." So she did not see this coming. There are those among us who thing this was overdue. Talented and energetic people have left the party due to her lack of leadership.

  • Dennis P
    October 30, 2013 - 06:54

    Mutiny is mutiny, no matter how you try to justify it. even if you're leaving a sinking ship. Kirby will very soon be a has-been, or an almost-been. The NDP has peaked and has nowhere to go but down anyway. Too bad for Murphy, he seems to be the genuine article. Now....if we could get a few duds from the PC party to leave in a sook..... Really, how bad are the pickings when Steve Kent gets a junior ministry? Poor Kathy and Lorraine, they don't really have all-star teams, do they!?! Then you've got the Grits in their fight for leadership of a rebounding party. One candidate claims to be the business leader with a heart, and she cut out paid breaks at her minimum wage businesses a few years ago...a heart??? Hmmm. Another candidate also claims to know the business side of things, sort of like the despot that preceded Dunderdale, who just blew away money like it was water. A couple of the others are going to be low vote-getters anyway, but that Dwight guy seems to be on the "Ball". A gentleman who seems sincere and confident without being cocky..... This diatribe did start with the NDP, didn't it? Okay, Kirby, go home.....