David Lewis



University of Toronto's Woodsworth College
David Lewis Memorial Prize in Canadian Politics

David Lewis' life as a barrister and Parliamentarian made a lasting contribution to Canadian Politics particularly through his work with the CCF and later the NDP. In his memory, this scholarship was established by the Ontario Woodsworth Memorial Foundation and is currently being funded by the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation. It is awarded to the Woodsworth College student who achieves the highest standing in a 100 level Canadian Politics course.

Web site: http://www.wdw.utoronto.ca/

David Lewis

David Lewis succeeded Tommy Douglas as leader of the New Democratic Party in 1971.

As a child, Lewis lived through the German invasion of Russia in the First World War and through the Russian Revolution. In 1921 his family moved to Montreal.

Lewis attended McGill and won a Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford where he established contacts with members of the British Labour Party.

Returning to Canada, Lewis practised law in Ottawa and in 1936 became National Secretary for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. During these years he also became a key CCF theorist. Efforts to gain election to Parliament in 1940, 1943, 1945 and 1949 were unsuccessful.

In the 1950s, Lewis practised labour law, held a variety of executive positions in the CCF. He consistently worked to rid the labour movement of communist infiltration and to forge a link between the Canadian social democratic and the labour movements. Through his efforts, the primarily western farm-based CCF was transformed into the more urban and successful New Democratic Party.

Lewis ran for Parliament in York South in 1962, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1972 and 1974, losing only in 1963 and 1974. He quickly became one of Parliament's most skilled debaters and served in a variety of the Party's executive posts culminating in his election as leader at the 1971 NDP Convention.

Campaigning against "corporate welfare bums", Lewis achieved his greatest political prominence in 1972 when New Democrats held the balance of power during the Liberal minority government of 1972-1974. Parliament introduced a national affordable housing strategy, a new Elections Expenses Act, pension indexing and created Petro-Canada and the Foreign Investment Review Agency, because of NDP support.

Following his defeat in the 1974 federal election, Lewis stepped down as leader but remained active in the Party until his death in 1981.