NDP to test Michael's leadership at May convention
Constituents split on Kirby, Mitchelmore resignations from caucus
Newfoundland and Labrador's NDP will hold a convention next May that will focus on a review of Lorraine Michael's leadership.
The party executive made the decision late Tuesday night following an emergency meeting, party president Kathleen Connors said.
Michael agreed to a leadership review on Saturday, following a caucus meeting that was organized to mend a rift that ripped open when four members signed a letter asking for a leadership convention, not a review.
But the leadership review was not enough to satisfy MHAs Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore, who both resigned from the caucus on Tuesday over longstanding problems with Michael's leadership.
Both said they are retaining their NDP memberships, even though they will be sitting as Independents.
Constituents of the districts that Kirby and Mitchelmore represent — St. John's North and The Straits-White Bay North, respectively — are adjusting to the news that their representatives are no longer in the NDP caucus.
William Bartlett, who lives in Mitchelmore's district, said if Mitchelmore remains on the opposition side it doesn't matter where he sits in the legislature.
"If you have a cow with no milk and he moves to another farm, the cow still don't have any milk," Bartlett told CBC News.
But St. Anthony resident and political watcher Jeremy Rumbolt said he was not shocked that Mitchelmore left the caucus, taking away the caucus' only seat outside of St. John's.
If you have a cow with no milk and he moves to another farm, the cow still don't have any milk.- William Bartlett
"After what's gone on with the NDP in the last week, nothing's really surprised me," he said.
In St. John's North, constituent Derek Roberts was displeased to see Kirby leave the caucus.
"When we voted for Mr. Kirby, we voted for him because we're strong believers in the NDP," he said.
"Without the authorization of all his constituents that voted for him and put him in that area, I don't appreciate it too much for that reason."
Constituent Louise Marshall, though, expressed sympathies for Kirby's position.
"I feel it's what he had to do. I don't think he had a choice, after saying that the party needed a review [of] leadership," she said.
Doug Penney, who volunteered with Kirby during his 2011 election campaign, said Kirby's heart is still in the right place.
"He made a commitment to the constituents of St. John's North and even with this announcement, I was gladdened to hear that he still said he would represent his constituents," Penney said.
"I don't see this affecting his ability to do his job as an MHA."
Meanwhile, Michael is refusing to say how much of a percentage she thinks she would need to stay as leader when a review is held.
The provincial NDP also plans to change its constitution to allow for an automatic leadership review every two years.