Lorraine Michael, a former Roman Catholic nun, left the church in 1993 in protest over how it dealt with people who were sexually abused by clergy members. ((CBC))

Both opposition parties in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature have new leaders, with the NDP electing a former nun and high-school principal and the Liberals quietly naming a lawyer to their top job.

Lorraine Michael of St. John's, who is best known as a social activist and feminist, was chosen on Sunday to take the helm of the province's NDP.

Michael easily defeatedwriterNina Patey with a107-5 vote count in the contest to replace outgoing leader Jack Harris, who hadled the provincial NDP since 1992.

"Folks, I know we can make it work, and I know we can get an NDP government in Newfoundland and Labrador," Michael told delegates at a St. John's meeting hall.

Michael left the Roman Catholic Church in 1993 in a protest over how it dealt with victims of sexual abuse by clergy members.

Liberals name lawyer as leader

In another development, Gerry Reid has taken over the leadership of Newfoundland and Labrador's Liberal party, itsexecutive announced Monday.

Reid has been serving as interim leader since the resignation earlier this month of Jim Bennett, who quit his post after weeks of turmoil within the provincial caucus over his leadership style.

The party's statement indicates there will not be a race for the leadership. The decision must be ratified by delegates at a two-day convention that starts June 9 in Gander.

"After many discussions with Liberals across the province, the sentiment is that Gerry Reid is the right person to lead the party," party president Tom Lush said in a statement.

Bennett, a west-coast lawyer with no political experience, had been acclaimed as party leader this winter when no other candidate stepped forward to challenge him.

Both parties are up against a Progressive Conservative government that shows strong support in public opinion polls under the leadership of Premier Danny Williams.