Ed Broadbent: A candidate in '68
As leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent was a democratic socialist who loved to smoke cigars and drive fast cars. Broadbent led his party through contentious constitutional debates and weathered a western revolt before capturing the party's biggest seat count ever in 1988. After 14 years and four elections he resigned the leadership and became a human rights advocate, and in 2004 he made a political comeback to sit in Parliament once more.
. At his nomination speech, Broadbent addressed a crowd composed largely of autoworkers about one of his favourite topics: John Stuart Mill's ideas about liberty. "He acted like an academic and used a lot of 50-cent words," Taylor later told Maclean's magazine. The audience was not impressed, but Broadbent won the nomination anyway.
. Many of Broadbent's friends, colleagues and family didn't think his going into politics was a good idea. He was up against strong competition and the rough-and-tumble of politics didn't suit his professorial demeanour.
. Broadbent hedged his bets by asking his employer, York University, for a leave of absence. If the political bid failed he wanted to be able to return to teaching.
. The federal election of June 1968 took place as Trudeaumania swept the nation. Liberal candidates across the country were hoping that Pierre Trudeau's popularity would influence voters in all ridings. (See the CBC Archives topic on Trudeaumania.)
. Broadbent campaigned heavily, aided by family, friends and NDP volunteers. His speeches were wordy and scholarly - "he sounded like he was talking backwards," said a friend - but he was much more successful talking with voters one-on-one.
. Election night was a nail-biter for all three candidates in the riding. The Globe and Mail reported the next day that Broadbent had defeated the Tory candidate, Mike Starr, by 113 votes, and Liberal Des Newman was a very close third. In a recount, Broadbent's margin narrowed to just 15 votes. He was named the MP for Oshawa-Whitby on July 13, 1968.
. Apparently, Trudeaumania had convinced enough voters to choose Liberal Newman over PC Starr that Broadbent was able to surge up the middle.
. In that election, the NDP won 22 seats (adding another in a by-election soon after) and 17.4 per cent of the popular vote.
. Broadbent set up an apartment in Ottawa but went back to Oshawa every weekend to meet constituents.
. Sitting beside Broadbent in Parliament were three veteran MPs from the CCF days: leader Tommy Douglas, David Lewis and Stanley Knowles, who became Broadbent's parliamentary mentor. (See the CBC Archives topic on Tommy Douglas and the NDP.)
. In 1969 Ed Broadbent helped draft Towards an Independent Socialist Canada, a document known as the Waffle Manifesto. The document and its nickname came from the Waffle, a faction within the NDP that called for a more radical stance for the party.
. Nobody is sure where the name "Waffle" came from, but it has been attributed to a member (one source says Broadbent) who said: "If we are going to waffle, I'd rather waffle to the left than waffle to the right."
. Broadbent later cut ties to the Waffle, believing the group's goals and methods were having a negative polarizing effect on the party.
. In 1970 Broadbent declared himself a candidate in the 1971 leadership convention to replace longtime leader Tommy Douglas.
. His competition consisted of John Harney, former secretary of the Ontario NDP; Frank Howard, an MP from British Columbia; Waffler James Laxer; and CCF veteran David Lewis.
. Broadbent finished fourth in the race. Lewis won.
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: June 15, 1968
Guest(s): Ed Broadbent, Des Newman, Mike Starr
Reporter: Bill Casey
Last updated: March 20, 2012
Page consulted on March 25, 2013
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