David Lewis (Canadian politician)

David Lewis CC QC (born David Losz; June 23, or October 1909 – May 23, 1981) was a Canadian labour lawyer and social democratic politician. He was national secretary of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) from 1936 to 1950, and one of the key architects of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1961. In 1962, he was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP), in the House of Commons of Canada, for the York South electoral district. While an MP, he was elected the NDP's national leader and served from 1971 until 1975. After his defeat in the 1974 federal election, he stepped down as leader and retired from politics. He spent his last years as a university professor at Carleton University, and as a travel correspondent for the Toronto Star. In retirement, he was named to the Order of Canada for his political service. After suffering from cancer for a long time, he died in Ottawa in 1981.

David Lewis

Lewis in 1944
Leader of the New Democratic Party
In office
April 24, 1971  July 7, 1975
Preceded byTommy Douglas
Succeeded byEd Broadbent
Member of Parliament
for York South
In office
November 8, 1965  July 8, 1974
Preceded byMarvin Gelber
Succeeded byUrsula Appolloni
In office
June 18, 1962  April 8, 1963
Preceded byWilliam G. Beech
Succeeded byMarvin Gelber
National President
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
In office
1958–1961
Preceded byM. J. Coldwell
Succeeded byoffice abolished
National Chairman
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
In office
1954–1958
Preceded byPercy Wright
Succeeded byOffice abolished
National Secretary
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
In office
1936–1950
Preceded byM. J. Coldwell
Succeeded byLorne Ingle
Personal details
Born
David Losz

June 23 or October 1909
Svisloch, Russian Empire
DiedMay 23, 1981(1981-05-23) (aged 71)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyCCF
New Democratic Party
Other political
affiliations
Labour
Spouse(s)Sophie Carson
Children
ParentsMoishe Lewis
Rose Lazarovitch
Alma materMcGill University
Lincoln College, Oxford
OccupationLawyer

Lewis's politics were heavily influenced by the Jewish Labour Bund, which contributed to his support of parliamentary democracy. He was an avowed anti-communist, and while a Rhodes Scholar prevented communist domination of the Oxford University Labour Club. In Canada, he played a major role in removing communist influence from the labour movement.

In the CCF, he took the role of disciplinarian and dealt with internal organizational problems. He helped draft the Winnipeg Declaration, which moderated the CCF's economic policies to include acceptance of capitalism, albeit subject to stringent government regulation. As the United Steelworkers of America (USW)'s legal counsel in Canada, he helped them take over the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers (Mine-Mill). His involvement with the USW also led to a central role in the creation of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1956.

The Lewis family has been active in socialist politics since the turn of the twentieth century, starting with David Lewis's father's involvement in the Bund in Russia, continuing with David, and followed by his eldest son, Stephen Lewis, who led the Ontario NDP from 1970 until 1978. When David was elected the NDP's national leader in 1971, he and Stephen became one of the first father-and-son-teams to simultaneously head Canadian political parties.