Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador is a centre-right political party in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

It originated as the Responsible Government League, which campaigned against Newfoundland joining Canadian confederation. The League lost the 1949 referendum, and Newfoundland became Canada's tenth province. Following the defeat, the League aligned itself with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and adopted its name. Responsible Government Leader Peter Cashin was recruited to lead the party into the 1951 general election winning five seats before quitting in 1953.

The Tories remained in the political wilderness for over two decades after Confederation. Its support was confined to Roman Catholic communities on the Avalon peninsula outside of St. John's, which had been anti-Confederation strongholds in 1940. The party was unable to win more than seven seats in the province's House of Assembly until the 1970s.

By 1969, Liberal Premier Joey Smallwood had grown autocratic in power and intolerant of opposition within his party. John Crosbie and a number of young Liberals defected to the Tories and revitalised the party, making it a credible force for the first time.

In 1971, the party won one more seat than the Liberals in elections to the House of Assembly, but Smallwood refused to resign. New elections were held in 1972, and the Tories finally defeated Smallwood and formed a government under Frank Moores.

The Tories supported democratic reforms and reorganised the government to give cabinet ministers greater responsibility over their departments. The Moores government continued Smallwood's megaprojects, while pressuring the federal government to give the province more control over its natural resources.

The fight over resources, particularly offshore oil, became a major part of the Tory platform in the latter half of the twentieth century, and was continued by Brian Peckford when he succeeded Moores in 1979.

During the Constitutional negotiations of the 1980s, the Tories supported a decentralised federation, while the Liberals were in favour of a strong central government. The Tories lost power in 1989 but continued to argue for decentralization in opposition, voting in favour of a package of proposed constitutional amendments called the Meech Lake Accord, while the Liberals of Clyde Wells opposed it.

While the Conservatives have always been more supportive of the business community and free enterprise, they have avoided the neo-conservative policies of Tory parties elsewhere in Canada and have tended to be Red Tories. This is a result of Newfoundland's widespread poverty and economic problems, particularly in light of the failure of the fishing industry, factors which make hard right fiscal policies unsaleable to voters.

In 2003, the Tories returned to power under Danny Williams.

See also:


For information on the 19th century Conservative Party see: Conservative Party of Newfoundland

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