Lorraine Michael not worried about defections to Liberals

Newfoundland and Labrador NDP Leader Lorraine Michael is playing down concerns that party supporters may migrate to the Liberal camp in the wake of the move of two renegade MHAs.
Lorraine Michael is not worried about a mass exodus of rank-and-file New Democrats. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador NDP Leader Lorraine Michael is playing down concerns that party supporters may migrate to the Liberal camp in the wake of the move of two renegade MHAs.

"I'm well aware of the fact that there are one or two people who have left the party, but I mean it when I say one or two people," Michael told CBC's Radio Noon on Wednesday.

Michael was responding to how several former candidates showed up at the news conference St. John's North MHA Dale Kirby held Tuesday to announce he was joining the Liberal caucus.

Geoff Gallant, who quit his post as vice-president of the provincial NDP, said the party needs to appeal to those who may be attracted to the Liberals. (CBC)
Kirby and fellow MHA Christopher Mitchelmore quit the NDP caucus in late October after Michael said she was betrayed when the rest of her caucus wrote a letter asking for a leadership convention.

Geoff Gallant, who resigned as the NDP's vice-president last fall, said Tuesday he was still a member of the NDP, but admitted that he was listening to what other parties had to say.

Christopher Pickard, who like Gallant ran for the NDP in the 2011 election, also said his future with the NDP is uncertain, and noted that he had not even been contacted about possibly running again in St. John's West.

Speaking with CBC on Wednesday, Michael noted that NDP organizers in St. John's West were "really committed" and already working on  the next election campaign.

Kirby and Mitchelmore have in the past accused Michael of being inflexible and difficult to deal with. The party's infighting led to a swift fall in the last public opinion poll with the NDP trailing both the Liberals and the Tories.

"I'm not happy," Michael said.

"But I've accepted the reality of where we are, and we are going to be working hard to rebuild our voice with the people in the province and to rebuild who we are, and hopefully to return the confidence of the people in the province."

Leadership review in May 

Michael is preparing for a leadership review, which will be held May 16-18 at the Holiday Inn in St. John's.

Mitchelmore, who represents the Northern Peninsula district of The Straits-White Bay North, said he decided not to wait while the NDP sorted out its leadership issues. 

"I've decided that I'm moving forward from this process," he said in an interview. 

"I think the timing is right to move forward in the house of assembly, sitting with the Liberal party, sharing their viewpoint and being able to be very effective for my constituents." 


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