David Lewis

Russian-born Canadian Labour Lawyer and Social Democratic Politician
Born Jun 23, 1909

David Lewis, CC was a Russian-born 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 Canadian House of Commons, for the York South electoral district.… Read More

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David Losz was born in Russia sometime after Svisloch's first snowfall in October 1909 to Moishe Losz and his wife Rose (née Lazarovitch). … Read More


1920 11 Years Old When the Russian Civil War and the Polish-Soviet War were at their fiercest, in the summer of 1920, Poland invaded, and the Red Russian Bolshevik army counter-attacked. … Read More
1921 12 Years Old 1 More Event
Unsafe under either regime and with his family's future prospects bleak, Moishe left for Canada in May 1921, to work in his brother-in-law's Montreal clothing factory. … Read More
1924 15 Years Old Lewis entered Baron Byng High School in September 1924. … Read More


1930 21 Years Old In his third year, Lewis founded The McGilliad campus magazine. It published many of his anti-communist views, though the December 1930 issue included an article he wrote expressing his approval of the Russian Revolution and calling for a greater understanding of the Soviet Union; throughout his career, he would attack communism, but would always have a sympathy for the 1917 revolutionaries. … Read More
1932 23 Years Old When David Lewis entered Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1932, he immediately took a leadership role in the university's socialist-labour circles. … Read More
Besides his political involvement, Lewis was active with the Oxford Union, probably the most prestigious and important debating club in the English-speaking world. His first debate, in January 1933, was on the resolution "That the British Empire is a menace to International good will"; Lewis was one of the participants for the "Aye" side. … Read More
1934 25 Years Old 1 More Event
The Oxford newspaper Isis noted Lewis' leadership ability at this early stage in his career. In its February 7, 1934, issue, while Lewis was president, they wrote of the club: "The energy of these University Socialists is almost unbelievable. … Read More
He was president during the Hilary term, from the beginning of January until the end of April 1935. … Read More
1938 29 Years Old In August 1938, Lewis quit his job at the Ottawa law firm of Smart and Biggar to work full-time as the CCF National Secretary. … Read More


1940 31 Years Old Lewis first ran for the CCF in the 1940 federal election in York West. … Read More
1943 34 Years Old Despite his poor showing in his first election, the party asked Lewis to run in the 1943 by-election in the Montreal, Quebec, federal riding of Cartier, made vacant by the death of Peter Bercovitch. … Read More
1944 35 Years Old …  The LPP focused in on CCF-held seats, deliberately splitting the vote, and declared a "Liberal–Labour" coalition on May 29, 1944. … Read More
1948 39 Years Old …  Lewis and Jolliffe made the case to expel him from the Ontario CCF caucus at a Toronto special meeting of the CCF executive and the legislative caucus on April 13, 1948. … Read More


1950 41 Years Old 1 More Event
Lewis resigned as national secretary in 1950 and moved to Toronto to practise law in partnership with Ted Jolliffe. … Read More
1951 42 Years Old He bought his first house, in the Bathurst Street – St. Clair Avenue West area of Toronto, during this period. After his father Moishe died in 1951, his mother Rose moved into the 95 Burnside Drive Lewis home from Montreal. … Read More
1956 47 Years Old 1 More Event
The lead-up to the August 1956 CCF convention had Lewis working full-time in his labour practice, including work on the merger of the Canadian Congress of Labour and the Trades and Labour Congress to form the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), and putting in long hours organizing the committee that wrote the Declaration.
1958 49 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1958, Lewis worked closely with the CLC's president, Claude Jodoin, and the CLC's executive vice-president Stanley Knowles to merge the labour and social democratic movements into a new party. … Read More


1960 - 1961 2 More Events
…  In 1962, he was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP), in the Canadian House of Commons, for the York South electoral district.
1963 54 Years Old 1 More Event
Lewis' first term as MP was a short one, as Diefenbaker's minority government was defeated in the April 8, 1963, general election. … Read More
1965 56 Years Old With Diefenbaker in opposition (and unlikely to resurrect the coalition in Quebec that gave him his majority in 1958) and Social Credit a diminished force, Lewis returned to the House of Commons in the 1965 general election.
1968 59 Years Old 1 More Event
He was re-elected in the 1968 election, and became the NDP leader in the House of Commons after Douglas lost his seat. … Read More


1969 - 1970 2 More Events
1971 62 Years Old 1 More Event
While an MP, he was elected the NDP's national leader, and served from 1971 until 1975. … Read More
He did not purge the Waffle from the NDP, but left it to his son Stephen to do in June 1972, when the party's Ontario wing resolved to disband the Waffle or kick its members out of the party if they did not comply with the disbanding order.
1975 - 1978 2 More Events
1981 72 Years Old 1 More Event
He died shortly thereafter, on May 23, 1981, in Ottawa. … Read More
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