Our History, Our Present, Our Future
On January 3rd, 2012, Dwight Ball became the 16th Leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition to his role as Interim Leader of the Party, he also served as Leader of the Official Opposition.
On November 17th, 2013, Dwight Ball was elected the Leader of the Liberal Party. The 2013 Liberal Leadership election was the first of its kind in our Province. The Liberal Party left the backroom politics of delegated conventions in the past and opened the doors for average citizens, not just the well connected, to choose our next leader. Over 23,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians did just that and they chose Dwight Ball as their Leader and future Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Early Years
Confederate Association The foundation of the modern Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador was laid in the formation in 1948 of the Newfoundland Confederate Association. The Confederate president was F. Gordon Bradley, but the general secretary, campaign organizer and all -around sparkplug was Joseph R. Smallwood. Their purpose: to carry on the campaign for union with Canada, which bore many of the hallmarks of political electioneering. More than 100 Newfoundlanders from all parts of Newfoundland and Labrador were invited by Smallwood to become vice-presidents; Gregory J. Power was named assistant campaign manager and Charles F. Garland financial secretary treasurer and chairman of a war veterans’ advisory committee. Two other advisory committee chairs were appointed – Fred Kirby for teachers and Harold Horwood for labour.
Confederation The association was formed at a meeting March 26, 1948, in the ballroom of the Newfoundland Hotel in St. John’s. A few weeks later, on April 6, it began publication of its newspaper “The Confederate” to promote the cause. The Confederate side would go on to win the referendum and Newfoundland became Canada’s tenth province. On January 5, 1949, the association held a celebration dinner at the Newfoundland Hotel when Bradley and Smallwood were presented with engraved silver cups to commemorate the referendum victory.
Founding Convention 1949 – Early 70’s With the referendum won, the Terms of Union negotiated, and the provincial government appointed, a revived Liberal Party held a founding convention April 28-30, 1949, to prepare for the provincial election of May 27. In the first election in the new province the Liberals won 22 seats, the Progressive Conservatives, formed from the ashes of the Responsible Government League, took 5 seats, and Independent 1 seat. The Liberal Party would remain in power in Newfoundland until the early 1970s. In the Liberal’s 22 years of government, Newfoundland experienced some of the greatest social changes in its entire history emerging as an educated modern province with a growing economy.
Regaining in 1989 through to 2003 In 1989, the Liberal Party regained power and prepared for the 1990s, a decade that would be a Liberal decade. With a new decade came new problems and challenges. In 1992, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador would face the greatest economic disaster since confederation when the northern cod fishery was closed due to stock depletion. Designed to last two years to allow stocks to rejuvenate, the fishery has never recovered to its former glory. The consequences of the fishery collapse were more than simple economics. The province’s cultural and social existence has been massively altered by this event.
Despite the disaster of the fishery, the province did see a strong economic surge in the 1990s that is still occurring. Under the leadership of Clyde Wells and later, Brian Tobin, major developments have been signed that saw oil being drilled of our shores. The education system was restructured and the tourism industry flourished under successful “Celebrations” banners such as the 500th anniversary celebration of John Cabot’s voyage to Newfoundland in 1497.
Liberal Premier Roger Grimes continued the trend of strong leadership and made his mark as one of this province’s best leaders. Voisey’s Bay was completed with great success and advocates were put in place to protect our youth, as well as all of our citizens. Labour negotiations reached a new level of success with contracts signed representing thousands of public workers.
From November 2007 to January 2012, Yvonne Jones, served as credible and effective voice for the people of the province. In August 2011, she relinquished the role of Leader of the Liberal Party due to health circumstances. Together with the opposition caucus of Kelvin Parsons, Roland Butler and Marshall Dean, Yvonne played a very important role in the democratic process of the province for a number of years, holding government accountable and articulating alternative policies and programs that would improve health care, the fisheries and rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
On August 14, 2011, the Liberal Party Executive selected Kevin Aylward to lead the Party into an election held on October 11, 2011. Notwithstanding many challenges including a short time-frame, Kevin fought a spirited and well-organized campaign with a strong policy platform. The Liberal Caucus increased by two seats and is still the Official Opposition. Joining Yvonne Jones, new caucus members are Dwight Ball, Jim Bennett, Randy Edmunds, Eddie Joyce and Andrew Parsons.
On December 15th, 2011, the Liberal Party announced that the MHA for the District of Humber Valley, Dwight Ball, would take the interim leadership reigns of the Liberal Party as well as the Official Opposition effective January 3, 2012. Mr. Ball brings a strong business and community volunteer background, compassion, as well as decisiveness and is committed to ensuring our Party emerges as a viable government alternative for Election 2015. “I believe that team building is what we need right now, We need to reach out to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to listen to their hopes and to their dreams,” said Ball.
The Liberal Party in Newfoundland and Labrador has been the dominant political party since confederation in 1949 and is responsible for many of the major social transformations that have occurred in this province in the last half century. With leadership as its trademark and placing people first, the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to shape and influence this province through the strong morals and principles of Liberalism.
Election 2015 is once again our chance to move our province forward on a stronger and more sustainable foundation. We are positioning ourselves for a renewing and rebuilding process in the months ahead. It’s a journey and a movement that began back in 1949 and one that continues today – making Newfoundland and Labrador better for all.top