Tuesday, February 11, 2014


The recent spate of defections from the ND and PC Parties has created some degree of angst regarding the practice of crossing the floor.

I thought it might be informative to search through the history books to determine how prevalent the practice has been in Newfoundland and Labrador in the post-confederation era.

Initially, I was able to find twenty one men who defected from the party under which banner they were elected. With the assistance of the  Legislative Library at the House of Assembly, the list grew to 26!

At least three people who were to become , or had served ,as Premier crossed the floor of the legislature. They are Clyde K. Wells, Joey Smallwood and Tom Rideout. All three defected from the Liberal Party.

The first MHA to cross the floor post -1949 was Edward Russell. He was elected as a Liberal in the May 27, 1949 General Election in Bonavista South. He resigned from Premier Smallwood's Cabinet on on March 24, 1951. He chose to sit as an Independent and did not seek re-election.

Twenty-five others would follow suit defecting or getting the boot. Here are their  names:

1951 – Russell, Edward
1954 – Forsey, Philip
1956 – Drover, Samuel
1959 – Duffy, Augustus M.

1959 – Higgins, James D.

1968 – Crosbie, John C.

1968 – Wells, Clyde K.

1968 – Burgess, Thomas w.

1970 – Abbott, Beaton J.

1970 – Myrden, Gerald

1970 – Earle, H.R.V

1970 – Hickman, T. Alex

1972 – Shea, Hugh – 
1975 – Smallwood, Joseph 

1980 – Rideout, Thomas
1984 – Barry, Leo

1985 – Hodder Jim
1985 – Warren, Garfield
1988 – Callan, Wilson

1991 – Langdon, Oliver
1996 – Woodford, Rick

2001 – Wiseman, Ross

2013 – Osborne, Tom
2014 Lane, Paul
2014 – Kirby, Dale
2014 - Mitchelmore, C 

 * Compiled by the Legislative Library February 2014)

Some of those included in this list of individuals who crossed the floor may meet with some debate. I have included individuals that left the caucus to which they were originally elected to serve as independents or joined another caucus.

I have not included MHA's like Liberal Larry Short who failed to secure the party nomination for re-election and sat as an independent.

I'll post some more details on the which parties had the largest numbers of defectors, which party has gained the most members through defections and explore why Fabian Manning and Walter Carter did not make my list.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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