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David Lewis was a political leader, labour lawyer, and university professor.
David was born in Svisloch, Poland on June 23, 1909. He was the son of Rose (nee Lazarovitch) and Moishe Losz, a prominent labour leader in Poland and Canada.
David immigrated to Montreal with his family in 1921. He attended Baron Byng High School where he befriended Irving Layton, A.M. Klein, and his future wife, Sophie Carson.
He attended McGill University from 1927-1931. While at McGill, he helped found the Montreal branch of the Young People’s Socialist League, and founded a campus magazine, The McGilliad.
In 1932, David was awarded a Rhodes scholarship and attended Oxford University. At Oxford, he was active with the Oxford Union and developed a reputation as a leader and a talented speaker.
Following his return to Canada, he practiced law in Ottawa. In 1935, he became the national secretary for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. With the CCF, he helped draft the Winnipeg Declaration of 1956.
In 1943, he co-authored Make This Your Canada with F.R Scott.
In 1950, David resigned as national secretary and moved to Toronto to practice law in partnership with Ted Joliffe. Through his support of Tommy Douglas, David played a role in the founding of the New Democratic Party in July 1961. He was elected as Member of Parliament for York South in 1962. He lost his seat in the 1963 general election but returned to the House of Commons in the 1965. He was re-elected in 1968 and became the federal leader of the party in 1971.
David lost his seat in 1974 and resigned as leader. In his post-political life, he became a professor at the Institute of Canadian Studies at Carleton University.
David was named as a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1977. His memoirs, The Good Fight: Political Memoirs 1909-1958 (Toronto: MacMillan) were published in 1981. He died on May 23, 1981.
David is the father of Stephen Lewis, the diplomat and former leader of the Ontario NDP, Michael Lewis, Janet Solberg and Nina Libeskind.
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