James McLeod/The Telegram
New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael received a vote of confidence for her party Saturday afternoon with 75 per cent of party delegates voting to keep her as leader.
Michael's leadership was called into question by members of her caucus last October amid a messy, public caucus revolt.
In a speech delivered to delegates a few hours before voting, Michael took some responsibility for the bitter infighting, which ultimately resulted in two MHAs leaving the party and joining the Liberals.
“Did we make mistakes? Yes. Maybe the most serious was underestimating how hard the path to government really is, and the different dynamics that get put in play as stakes become higher,” Michael told delegates. “Did I make mistakes? Yes. Maybe the most serious was not to hear concerns in the caucus and the party on how to move forward. I missed the trees for the forest.”
This year's convention is smaller than the last one, held in 2012. Two years ago, 165 people showed up the NDP gathering; on Saturday afternoon, 125 people in the room at the Holiday Inn cast ballots.
In the morning, before the leadership vote, members voted to add a leadership review for every NDP convention in the future.
After lunch, New Democrats voted on the question, “Vote no if you don't want a leadership convention, vote yes if you do want a leadership convention.”
The voting process was marked by more than 30 minutes of confusion, with many questions from New Democrats about how to fill out the ballot, and what the consequences would be depending on how they voted.
At least one delegate was under the impression that if Michael was dumped as leader, the party would revert to a leadership selection convention later the same afternoon.
After the vote, Michael told reporters that she feels that 75 per cent is a solid endorsement, and it should put the whole unpleasant episode behind her.
Michael said she believes it's a clear message from the party rank and file that they want to move forward, and she's interested in preparing for the next general election.
Michael said her goal is to have an NDP candidate in each of the province's 48 districts next year for the general election.