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