The entire Newfoundland and Labrador NDP caucus says Lorraine Michael’s position as leader should be put to the test in a party vote next year, CBC News has learned.
"We believe that a leadership convention in 2014 is critical if there is to be party renewal and growth in support for the New Democratic Party in Newfoundland and Labrador," the caucus wrote in a letter emailed to Michael this weekend.
"We collectively make this request out of genuine concern for our party's ability to attract quality candidates and build on our level of public support in advance of the 2015 election …
We hope you are receptive to our request."
The entire NDP caucus — Dale Kirby, George Murphy, Gerry Rogers and Christopher Mitchelmore — signed the message.
Michael feels 'betrayed'
Michael told CBC News Monday she feels “betrayed” by the letter.
“I was really quite shocked because there had never been a discussion of this nature with me before I went on holiday,” Michael said.
Within hours of returning to the province this weekend, Michael received the letter.
She says her chief of staff and the provincial NDP president were also shocked.
'It blindsided all of us, really.' - NDP Leader Lorraine Michael
“It blindsided all of us, really,” Michael said.
The matter must be resolved “fairly quickly,” she says.
Michael plans to meet with her fellow MHAs as soon as possible.
“I’m going to sit with them and talk and see if that’s what they really mean. I know what’s in the letter. I want to say, ‘OK, is that what you want? You want me gone?’ Well, there’s only one way for that to happen — it’s either for me to resign or for the party to go ahead and put petitions out and kick me out …
“If they say they want me gone, and they’re not ready to sit down and talk about issues, then I’ll have to consider what that means.”
Michael won leadership in 2006
Michael – a former teacher, Roman Catholic nun and social advocate – won the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP’s top job in 2006. She replaced long-time leader Jack Harris after his retirement from provincial politics.
She won a byelection in Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi that year, defeating Tory star candidate Jerome Kennedy.
Michael was re-elected in the 2007 general election, and served the next four years as the only New Democrat in the legislature.
The NDP surged to five seats in 2011, establishing a strong beachhead in the metro St. John’s area and narrowly missing out of Official Opposition status. The New Democrats took 25 per cent of the overall popular vote – six points higher than the Liberals.
Months later, in the summer of 2012, the NDP made history by leapfrogging the Tories into first place in a province-wide public opinion poll. An Environics Research Group survey put their level of support at 38 per cent.
But that surge has since stalled. The Liberals have pulled into first place in recent polling with NDP numbers remaining strong, but flat.