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1988 · members Canada members · 1997
Canadian federal election, 1993
295 seats in the 35th Canadian Parliament
October 25, 1993 (1993-10-25)
First party Second party Third party
Chretien crop Sept 9 2002.jpg Bouchard4.jpg PrestonManning.jpg
Leader Jean Chrétien Lucien Bouchard Preston Manning
Party Liberal Bloc Québécois Reform
Leader since 1990 1991 1987
Leader's seat Saint-Maurice Lac-Saint-Jean Calgary Southwest
Last election 83 seats, 31.92% New Party 0 seats, 2.09%
Seats won 177 54 52
Seat change +94 +54 +52
Popular vote 5,647,952 1,846,024 2,559,245
Percentage 41.24% 13.52% 18.69%
Swing +9.32% +13.52% +16.59%
Fourth party Fifth party
Audrey McLaughlin.jpg Kim Campbell bw.jpg
Leader Audrey McLaughlin Kim Campbell
Party New Democrat PC
Leader since 1989 1993
Leader's seat Yukon Vancouver Centre (Lost in re-election to Hedy Fry)
Last election 43 seats, 20.38% 169 seats, 43.02%
Seats won 9 2
Seat change −34 −167
Popular vote 939,575 2,186,422
Percentage 6.88% 16.04%
Swing −13.50% −26.97%
Canada 1993 Federal Election.svg

The Canadian federal election of 1993 (officially, the 35th general election) was held on October 25 of that year to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons of the 35th Parliament of Canada. Fourteen parties competed for the 295 seats in the House at that time. It was one of the most eventful elections in Canada's history, with more than half of the electorate switching parties from the 1988 election. The Liberals, led by Jean Chrétien, won a strong majority in the House and formed the next government of Canada.

The election was called by the new Progressive Conservative Party leader, Prime Minister Kim Campbell, near the end of her party's five-year mandate. When she assumed office, the party was deeply unpopular, and was further weakened by the emergence of new parties that were competing for its core supporters. Campbell's initial efforts helped the party recover somewhat in pre-election polls before the writs were issued. However, this momentum did not last, and the Progressive Conservatives suffered the most lopsided defeat for a governing party at the federal level, losing more than half their vote from 1988 and all but two of their 151 seats. Though they recovered slightly in the 1997 election, the Progressive Conservatives lost seats in 2000 and would never be a major force in Canadian politics again. In 2003, the Progressive Conservative Party disappeared entirely when it merged with the larger Canadian Alliance party to create the new Conservative Party of Canada.

Two new parties emerged in this election, largely from the supporters of the Progressive Conservatives. The sovereigntist Bloc Québécois won almost half the votes in Quebec and became the Official Opposition, while the Western-based Reform Party won nearly as many seats.

The traditional third party, the NDP, collapsed to nine seats only one election after having its best performance ever. It remains the NDP's worst result in a federal election since its formation and the only election where the party polled less than one million votes.

Voter turn-out was 70.9 percent, adjusted from initial tallies of 69.6% to account for deceased electors.

Contents

Background

The Liberal Party had dominated Canadian politics for much of the 20th century. The party had been in office for all but 22 years between 1896 and 1984. The Conservatives only formed government five times in this period.

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The Mulroney era

In 1984, however, Brian Mulroney led the Progressive Conservatives to the biggest majority government in Canadian history, winning a majority of the seats in every province. The Liberals were decimated, losing 95 seats in the worst defeat for a governing party at the federal level at the time. Especially important was the Conservative breakthrough in Quebec, a province where they had been almost unelectable for much of the century. Between 1896 and 1984, the Conservatives had only managed to win the majority of seats in that province once, in the election landslide of 1958. After winning only one seat in the province (out of 75) in 1980, the Tories won 58 seats in 1984, virtually wiping out the Liberals outside of Montreal.

Mulroney's government was based on a "grand coalition" of socially conservative populists from the West, fiscal conservatives from Atlantic Canada and Ontario, and Quebec nationalists. This coalition helped him win reelection in 1988, with a considerably smaller mandate. That election was almost wholly focused on the proposed Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Over the next five years, the popularity of Mulroney and his party collapsed. The late 1980s recession badly harmed the Canadian economy, as unemployment increased dramatically and the federal budget deficit grew. When the Conservatives had come to office in 1984, the federal deficit was at an unprecedented $34.5 billion. Despite pledges to reduce it, the deficit had grown to over $40 billion by 1993. The federal debt had also grown to $500 billion.[1] In an attempt to restore the fiscal balance, Mulroney had brought in the highly unpopular Goods and Services Tax.[2]

Quebec constitutional status

Mulroney had also promised to change the constitutional status quo in favour of increasing provincial autonomy. This was one of the most important reasons for his party's support in Quebec. He attempted to amend the constitution twice, but both reform proposals failed. The Meech Lake Accord failed when the provincial legislatures of Newfoundland and Manitoba adjourned without bringing the issue to a vote. The Charlottetown Accord was defeated by the Canadian people in a 1992 referendum. In the case of the Charlottetown Accord, the majority of Canada's population voted against an agreement endorsed by every First Minister and most other political groups. This stinging rebuke against the "political class" in Canada was a preview of things to come, as the upcoming election would be held on October 25, 1993, a year less a day after the Charlottetown referendum.

Mulroney out, Campbell in

These factors combined to make Mulroney the least popular leader since opinion polling began in the 1940s.[3] The Progressive Conservative Party's popularity reached a low of just over 15% in 1991.[4] With polls showing him facing almost certain defeat in the next election, in February 1993, Mulroney announced his retirement from politics. While several senior members of cabinet had passed over contesting the leadership, Minister of Justice Kim Campbell quickly emerged as the leading candidate to replace Mulroney as party leader and prime minister. Despite a vigorous challenge from Environment Minister Jean Charest, Campbell emerged victorious from the June convention and became Canada's first female prime minister.

Campbell enjoyed a brief period of high popularity upon being sworn in, becoming the eponym of "Campbellmania," just as Pierre Trudeau had been the subject of late-1960s Trudeaumania.[5] Campbell did extensive campaigning during the summer, touring the nation and attending barbecues and other events.

Opposition parties

The other traditional parties were also not faring well. While John Turner and the Liberal leadership supported Meech, there was significant internal disagreement, with Trudeau returning from retirement to speak out against it. After the Liberals' disappointing showing in the 1988 election, Turner stayed on for a couple years before resigning. The party had selected veteran politician Jean Chrétien over Paul Martin as their leader in 1990, but the leadership contest had proved to be divisive and Chrétien was unpopular, especially in his native Quebec after declaring his opposition to the Meech Lake Accord, being rocked by caucus defects. The federal Liberals were disorganized, near bankruptcy, and dropped in the polls from 50 to 32 per cent, so Chrétien appointed Jean Pelletier as chief of staff to reinvigorate his leadership and reorganize his office. [6] As the ruling Conservatives suffered the most backlash from the unsuccessful constitutional amendments, the Liberals rapidly picked up support, and surged to a wide lead in opinion polling.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) had won a record 43 seats in 1988 under Ed Broadbent, who retired the next year. In the following few years, their support continued to grow, at one point leading in the opinion polls. This helped the NDP win a series of victories at the provincial level. In 1990, in a surprise victory, Bob Rae led the party to office in Ontario–the first that party formed the government east of Manitoba, until their election in Nova Scotia in 2009. That same year, the NDP won a by-election in Quebec to take its first-ever seat in the province. The next year, under the leadership of Mike Harcourt, the New Democrats were elected in British Columbia. Within a few years, however, both these provincial governments became deeply unpopular, and support for the federal NDP also began to fall. In a deviation from their traditional position as staunch federalists, the NDP chose to align itself with the Liberals and Conservatives on the "yes" side of the 1992 Charlottetown Accord. As well, new leader Audrey McLaughlin made efforts to expand its support into Quebec instead of focusing on Western alienation, having defeated Dave Barrett who had campaigned for the opposite policies. These positions gained the NDP little headway in Quebec and it hurt the party's standing as the traditional voice of Western protest, and supporters moved towards the upstart Reform Party of Canada, despite sharp differences in ideology.

New parties

The greatest difference from 1988 was the rise of two new parties that cut into the Progressive Conservatives' support and caused Mulroney's "grand coalition" to implode.

After the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, Lucien Bouchard led a group of Progressive Conservative and Liberal MPs to form the Bloc Québécois. This party quickly gained the support of Quebec sovereigntists and access to the networks of the provincial Parti Québécois. Gilles Duceppe won a 1990 by-election, and throughout the period leading up to the election, the Bloc polled as the most popular party in Quebec.

The Reform Party of Canada was a Western-based populist party led by Preston Manning, the son of former Alberta Premier Ernest Manning. It originally campaigned under the slogan "the West wants in". Reform had nominated candidates in the 1988 election, but had failed to win any seats, and garnered only 2.5 percent of the popular vote. Many Western voters had never forgiven the Liberals for the National Energy Program in the 1970s, and Mulroney's attempt to pacify Quebec caused them to rethink their support for the Tories. The NDP (and its predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) had been the traditional Western protest party for most of the last 40 years, but since the 1990s they attempted to make inroads in Quebec and joined the Conservatives and Liberals in supporting the Charlottetown Accord. Reform's unabashed populism and opposition to the Accord struck a responsive chord in many NDP voters, in spite of the stark ideological differences. In early 1989, Deborah Grey won a by-election in an Edmonton-area riding to become the first Reform MP in parliament. This came as a considerable shock to the Tories, who had dominated Alberta's federal politics for a quarter-century, and as Grey had finished a distant fourth in the general election held few months earlier. As Conservative support collapsed over the next four years, Reform party support increased.

Campaign

Polls During the Campaign
Polling firm Date PC Lib NDP BQ Ref
Angus Reid September 11 35 37 8 8 10
Comquest Research September 14 36 33 8 10 11
Angus Reid September 20 35 35 6 11 11
Gallup September 25 30 37 8 10 13
Environics September 26 31 36 7 11 13
Leger & Leger September 26 28 34 7 12 15
Ekos September 30 25 39 6 12 17
Compass Research October 2 26 38 8 12 14
Angus Reid October 8 22 37 8 12 18
Comquest Research October 16 22 40 7 13 16
Leger & Leger October 19 21 39 6 14 17
Angus Reid[7] October 22 18 43 7 14 18
Gallup[7] October 22 16 44 7 12 19
Results October 25 16 41 7 14 19

Pre-campaign

An election had to be called in the fall of 1993, since Parliament's term would expire some time in September. Mulroney had taken two actions that would come back to haunt the Conservative campaign. Just before he left office, he staged a very lavish international farewell tour without transacting any official business. He also waited until the last year of his mandate to decide on resignation, leaving only two-and-a-half months left in the Tories' five-year term. By the end of the summer, Campbell's personal popularity was far ahead of that of Chrétien.[8] Support for the Progressive Conservative Party had also increased after Campbell won the leadership, and they were only a few points behind the Liberals, while Reform had been reduced to single digits.

With this in mind, Campbell asked Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn to dissolve parliament on September 8, only a few weeks before Parliament was due to expire. In accordance with Canadian constitutional practice, Hnatshyn granted the request, beginning the seven-week campaign.

At the ceremony at Rideau Hall, Campbell made the first of a series of remarks that would dog the Conservative campaign. When she was running for the party leadership, Campbell's frank honesty was seen as an important asset and a sharp contrast from Mulroney's highly polished style. However, during the campaign, Campbell repeatedly made statements that caused problems for the party. At the Rideau Hall event, she told reporters that it was unlikely that the deficit or unemployment would be much reduced before the "end of the century". Later in the campaign, she would famously state that 47 days were not enough to discuss the overhaul in social policy that she thought Canada needed. Unfortunately for Campbell, a reporter shortened the quote to "an election is no time to discuss serious issues."

Liberal

Liberal Party logo during the election

The Liberals had long prepared for the campaign. They had amassed a substantial campaign war chest, almost as large as that of the Tories. On September 19, the Liberals released their entire platform, which the media quickly named the Red Book. This document gave a detailed account of exactly what a Liberal government would do in power. Several years of effort had gone into the creation of the document, which was unprecedented for a Canadian party.[9] Several days later, the Conservatives released the hastily assembled A Taxpayer's Agenda, but the Liberals had captured the reputation of being the party with ideas. The Liberals were also consistently well organized and on message, in contrast to the Conservative campaign, which the Globe and Mail on September 25 stated was "shaping up to be the most incompetent campaign in modern political history."[10]

Bloc Québécois

Logo of the Bloc Québécois during the election.

The Bloc Québécois benefited from a surge in support for Quebec nationalism after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord in 1990 which resulted in a number of Liberal and Progressive Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) organizing to form the Bloc. The Bloc's leader Lucien Bouchard campaigned on promising that the Bloc would represent Quebec's interests at the federal level, by running candidates exclusively in Quebec while endorsing and supporting Quebec sovereignty (political independence from Canada). The Bloc won the second-largest number of seats (54), which allowed it to become the Official Opposition. This was the first and so far only time that a party committed to the political secession of a region of Canada has become the Official Opposition of Canada.

Reform

Logo of the Reform Party during the election.

The Reform Party developed an extensive grassroots network in much of the West and Ontario. Reform's appeal to populist policies such as calling for a democratically-elected and regionally equal Senate as well as supporting the use of more plebiscites and referenda in the political process was very popular in Western Canada. Reform's appeal for smaller government, lower taxes, support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, opposition to the Goods and Services Tax, and social conservative policies won over many conservatives in the West and Ontario.

Small "c" conservatives in the West and Ontario who traditionally supported of the Progressive Conservativeswere were drawn to Reform for several reasons. These conservative voters were disenchanted with the PCs for imposing the Goods and Services Tax, and the PC government's failure to reduce Canada's growing deficit and national debt. There was also the PC government's failure to deliver a democratically-elected Senate as it had promised (while appointing unelected Senators in 1990), the PC party's socially progressive policies, and due to the PC government's overarching focus and failed attempts to officially bring Quebec into the Constitution while being seen by some as ignoring the concerns of other regions, especially the west.

Reform had little money and few resources, so their limited funds led them to fly economy class, stay in cheap hotels, and rely on pre-packaged lunches, all which helped endear them to money conscious fiscal conservatives.[11] The campaign was managed by seasoned professional Rick Anderson. Some Reformers had been annoyed that the moderate former Liberal and Ottawa insider had been made campaign manager, but he quickly proved highly able.[12]

Reform found itself embroiled in controversy when Toronto-area candidate John Beck made a series of anti-immigrant remarks in an interview with Excalibur, the York University student paper. York students confronted Manning with the remarks, who immediately denounced them. Within an hour, Beck was forced to withdraw his candidacy.[13]

New Democrat

The New Democratic Party suffered badly in the election. With the rising unpopularity of the Ontario NDP government of Bob Rae, many traditional NDP voters were disenchanted and voted for the Liberal Party. In Western Canada, the NDP vote was attracted to the right-wing populist Reform party as a protest vote, and some went to the Liberals as well.

Progressive Conservative

Progressive Conservative Party logo during the election.

The PC campaign was headed by chair John Tory and chief strategist Allan Gregg, both experienced Mulroney loyalists. It was the best-funded campaign, but it quickly ran into organizational problems. The party failed to get literature distributed to the local campaigns, forcing all of the PC candidates to print their own material, and preventing the party from putting forth a unified message.[14] The Conservative campaign had been focused on three issues: job creation, deficit reduction, and improving quality of life. However, the party had little credibility on the first two, as over their time in office both unemployment and the deficit had increased dramatically. The party was also reluctant to propose new social programs, as in Quebec they had to appeal to nationalists who opposed federal government intervention, and in the West had to appeal to Reform supporters who opposed government intervention in general.

In addition, what remained of the initial euphoria over Campbell quickly wore off as the campaign progressed. Her style was initially seen as frank and honest, but as her numbers dropped she was seen as condescending and pretentious. The Tories also continued to be dogged by the long shadow of the now-widely detested Mulroney.

Leaders debates

Over the course of the campaign, Conservative support steadily bled away to the other parties. The leaders debates were held October 3 and 4, and were generally regarded as inconclusive, with no party gaining a boost from them. The most memorable moment involved Lucien Bouchard continuously questioning Campbell about the real deficit in the 1993 budget, and Campbell dodging the question. The French debates were held on the first night. Manning, who did not speak French, read prepared opening and closing remarks, but did not participate in the debate itself.

Chrétien ad

By October, the Progressive Conservatives were considerably behind the Liberals in the polls, and it was obvious that they would not be reelected. The consensus was that the Liberals were on their way to at least a minority government, and would probably win a majority without dramatic measures. The PCs retained one advantage, as Campbell was still far more personally popular than Chrétien. Polling found that a considerable number of potential Liberal voters held negative opinions about Chrétien.

Believing they had no other way to keep the Liberals from winning a majority, Gregg and Tory decided to launch a series of commercials attacking Chrétien. While the ad's creators had meant for the line "I would be very embarrassed if he became Prime Minister of Canada" to refer to Chrétien's policies and ethics, the intercutting with images of his face and its facial deformity were interpreted by many as an attack on Chrétien's appearance. The ad quickly received widespread attention as the Liberal war room under Roméo LeBlanc immediately contacted media outlets. This generated a severe backlash from all sides of the spectrum, including some PC candidates, and Campbell ordered that the ads be pulled.[15]

Chrétien turned the situation to his advantage, comparing his opponents to the children who teased him when he was a boy. "When I was a kid people were laughing at me. But I accepted that because God gave me other qualities and I'm grateful." Chrétien's approval ratings shot up, nullifying the only advantage the Conservatives still had over him.[15] The Tories also pointed out that Chrétien himself had used his half-paralyzed face in the campaign, with Liberal signs in Quebec that translated as "Strange looking face, but reflect on what's inside." Furthermore, most newspapers and magazines had used similar photos that highlighted Chrétien's facial deformity.[15]

Aside from raising Chrétien's personal popularity, nullifying one of his last shortcomings compared to Campbell, it is unclear what effect the ad had on the election. Prior to the controversy, the Campbell's Progressive Conservatives were already beset by many problems; notably the recession, the unpopular GST, and their support bases moving to the newly formed Reform Party and Bloc Québécois. Nonetheless, the negative backlash over the television spot made the Tories' defeat certain as their support plummeted into the teens, all but assuring that the Liberals would win a majority government.

Issues

The most important issue of the 1993 election was the economy.[16] The nation was mired in the Early 1990s recession, and unemployment was especially high. The federal deficit was also extremely high, and both the Reform and Progressive Conservatives focused on cutting it as the path to economic health. Reform proposed deep cuts to federal programs in order to do this, while the Progressive Conservatives were less specific. The Liberals also promised cuts, focusing on the unpopular and expensive plan to buy new military helicopters to replace the aging Sea Kings. They also promised new programs such as a limited public works programme and a national child care program. The Reform Party called for a "Zero in Three" plan that would reduce the deficit to zero in three years. The Liberals had a far more modest plan to reduce the deficit to 3% of GDP by the end of their first term. All opposition parties pledged to repeal the Goods and Services Tax. Once elected, however, the Liberals reneged on this pledge to much outcry, stating the Conservatives had understated the size of the deficit. Instead the GST remained. In some provinces it was Harmonized with the Provincial sales tax, while in other provinces the GST and the Provincial Sales Tax remained separate.

The 1988 election had been almost wholly focused on the issue of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, and similarly, the 1993 election was preceded by the agreement on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Liberals opposed NAFTA and promised to try and renegotiate the FTA, but this was not a central campaign theme. The NDP did focus on opposition to NAFTA, but the Canadian people mostly felt that the free trade debate was over. When in office, the Liberals signed on to NAFTA with little opposition. Similarly, while constitutional issues had dominated the national debate for several years, two failed reform proposals led most to support giving the issue a rest. Chrétien promised not to reopen the constitution, and that under the Liberals any change would be incremental in nature. In Quebec the election was seen as a prelude to the next Quebec election and the referendum on secession that was sure to follow.

The Reform Party advanced proposals in a number of areas that challenged the status quo. It proposed extensive reform to Canada's parliamentary system, including more free votes, recall elections, and change to the Senate. The party also advocated a reduction in immigration levels and a retreat from official bilingualism.[4]

Finances

The election was held under the Election Expenses Act of 1974. This forced parties to disclose most donations, but put few limits on who could donate and how much could be given. Individual donations up to $1,150 were given a tax credit, encouraging such pledges. The Conservatives had the largest budget, spending $10.4 million on their national campaign; the Liberals spent $9.9 million, while the NDP spent $7.4 million. The Bloc and Reform spent far less, both spending less than $2 million on their national campaigns.[17] Actual election spending is far larger than these numbers indicate: each candidate raised substantial amounts of money independently of the national campaign. In this era there were also large expenses, such as polling and fundraising costs, that did not need to be disclosed.

The different parties drew their funding from different sources. In the year of the election, two traditional parties, the Liberals and Conservatives, each received about 60% of their funding from corporations and the rest from individuals. For the NDP half of the funding came from individuals, and a third came from trade unions. The Reform Party relied almost wholly on individual donations, with only some 12% coming from corporations. The Bloc relied almost solely on individual donations, as its party charter barred donations from corporations. The NDP had by far the most donors, with over 65,000, but the average donation was only $80. By contrast the 45,000 Conservative donors gave more than $200 on average.[18]

The Liberals quickly recouped their election expenses once they were in government. The Liberals held a substantial advantage in funding for the next two elections as they enjoyed the majority of corporate campaign contributions after the collapse of the Progressive Conservatives. Until 2003 when Jean Chrétien passed Bill C-24, which banned business donations and provided a subsidy to each party based on their popular vote, the Liberals did not see the need to develop a system of extensive grassroots fundraising like the other parties.

The Bloc and Reform had spent little during the campaign, and also received more support once their prominent position in parliament was made clear. One of the Reform Party's successful developments was its extensive grassroots fundraising network, which is still used by its latest incarnation (in a merger with the Progressive Conservatives), the Conservative Party of Canada.

The NDP and Conservatives had more problems after the vote. The NDP found itself deeply in debt, but recouped some of it by selling their Ottawa headquarters to the Ukrainian Embassy. The Conservatives, despite cutting back on spending late in the campaign, were some $7.5 million in debt by the end of the election, and it took years to clear this burden. The heavy debt load would hamper the party's ability to campaign in subsequent elections, and this would lead to its eventual merger with Reform's successor, the Canadian Alliance.

Minor parties

Fourteen registered political parties contested the election, a Canadian record. Jackson and Jackson argue that the proliferation of minor parties was an outgrowth of the single-issue political movements that had come to prominence in Canada in the 1980s.[19] For instance, the environmentalist, anti-abortion, and anti-free trade movements all had closely associated parties. Each candidate required a $1000 deposit, an increase from $200 in the last election. If the candidate did not win 15% of the vote, which none of the minor parties did, these deposits would be forfeit. Parties that nominated 50 candidates qualified as official parties and, most importantly, received government subsidies for advertising.[20] The smaller parties were not invited to the main leaders debate, something Mel Hurtig of the National Party complained vehemently about. There was a debate between the leaders of seven of the minor parties on October 5, which was broadcast on CBC Newsworld. The National Party and the Natural Law Party did not attend.

Few of these parties had any hope of winning a seat. One exception was the National Party. Founded by Mel Hurtig, a prominent nationalist, it campaigned on a strongly nationalist platform focusing on opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The party ran 171 candidates, and for a time polling indicated it could potentially have an impact. However, the party failed to make a significant impression and disbanded after the election. Another prominent minor party was the Natural Law Party. Linked to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, it advocated yogic flying as the solution to most of Canada's ills. It ran 231 candidates, more than some of the major parties. Its campaign was also accompanied by several million dollars of advertising, and it was successful in attracting media attention. Some accused its efforts of actually being government-subsidized marketing for yogic flying centres.[21] Other minor parties included the Libertarian Party of Canada, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada and the Christian Heritage Party, which was mainly dedicated to opposing abortion. The election saw three minor parties focused on radical reform to the monetary system: the Canada Party, the Abolitionist Party, and the Party for the Commonwealth of Canada, which was formed by supporters of U.S. fringe politician Lyndon LaRouche.[20]

This election was also the last time that the Social Credit Party attempted to run candidates in an election. The part had been in headlong decline since losing its last Member of Parliament in 1980, and was now led by fundamentalist Christian preacher Ken Campbell. Campbell briefly changed the party's name to the "Christian Freedom Party" in an attempt to appeal to social conservatives. However, the party failed to nominate at least 50 candidates and was deregistered by Elections Canada.

Results

The distribution of seats in the House of Commons after the 1988 election. The blue is Progressive Conservative, the red Liberal, and the orange NDP
The shape of the House of Commons after the 1993 election. The two new parties are represented with Reform in Green and the Bloc in cyan

Progressive Conservatives

The election was an unmitigated disaster for Canada's governing party. Their popular vote plunged from 43% to 16%, and they lost all but two of their 151 seats when parliament was dissolved—far surpassing the Liberals' 95-seat loss in 1984. It was the worst defeat, both in absolute terms and in terms of percentage of seats lost, for a governing party at the federal level in Canada. It is one of the few occasions that a governing party in any country has gone from a strong majority to being almost wiped off the electoral map.

The key reason for the demise of the Tories' was because Mulroney's "grand coalition" imploded in spectacular fashion. Their support in the West, with few exceptions, migrated to Reform; while their support in Quebec was split between the Liberals and the Bloc. Their support in Atlantic Canada and Ontario largely migrated to the Liberals. The party did win over 2 million votes, almost as many as Reform and far ahead of the Bloc or NDP. However, this support was spread out across the country, and was not concentrated in enough areas to translate into seats. For example, they were shut out of Ontario for the first time in party history. Mulroney's former riding, Charlevoix in eastern Quebec, fell to Bloc candidate Gérard Asselin in a landslide; the Tory candidate only received 6,800 votes and almost lost his deposit.[22] In addition, 147 PC candidates failed to win 15% of the vote and thus lost their deposits and failed to qualify for funding from Elections Canada. The party as a whole was left deeply in debt. Without official party status, the Progressive Conservatives lost access to funding and had a considerably reduced role in the Commons.

Campbell was defeated in her Vancouver riding by rookie Liberal Hedy Fry — only the third time in Canadian history that a sitting prime minister lost an election and was unseated at the same time (it previously happened to Arthur Meighen twice, in 1921 and 1926). All of the other members of the Cabinet lost their seats except for Charest, who won re-election in Sherbrooke, Quebec; it is also noteworthy that many prominent ministers such as Michael Wilson, Don Mazankowski, Joe Clark, and John Crosbie did not seek re-election. The only other Conservative to win was Elsie Wayne, the popular mayor of Saint John, New Brunswick. Gilles Bernier, who had served two terms as a Conservative from Beauce, Quebec; was also re-elected, but was forced to run as an independent after Campbell barred him from running under the PC banner due to fraud charges.

Liberals

The Liberals swept Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; only Wayne's win in New Brunswick denied them a clean sweep of Atlantic Canada. They won all but one seat in Ontario; only a 123-vote loss to Reform's Ed Harper in Simcoe Centre denied the Liberals the first clean sweep of Canada's most populous province by a single party. Ontario replaced Quebec (see below) as the main bastion of Liberal support as they were re-elected in 1997, 2000, 2004. Though the party lost power in 2006, they still won the most seats in Ontario. It was not until the 2008 election in which the Liberals finished second in Ontario, but they still held their stronghold of Toronto. In both Ontario and Atlantic Canada, they gained support from many fiscally conservative, but socially liberal, voters who were fed up with the Tories but found Reform too extreme for comfort.

In the West, the Liberals dominated Manitoba, winning all but two seats. They also won seats in Saskatchewan for the first time since 1974, and in Alberta for the first time in an election since 1968 (Anne McLellan in Edmonton Northwest, John Loney in Edmonton North and Judy Bethel in Edmonton East). The Liberals also held onto the seat in Alberta that they had when the writ was dropped, which they picked up in 1990 when David Kilgour crossed the floor from the Conservatives.

However, the Liberals were unable to regain their traditional dominant position in Quebec, though they were led by a Quebecer and despite the demise of Mulroney's Conservatives. This was in part due to the staunchly federalist Chrétien's opposition to the Meech Lake Accord, which was revealed when leadership rival Paul Martin pressed him on the issue back in 1990. Chrétien's reputation in his home province never recovered, especially when the Bloc Québécois rallied on the issue. While the Liberals dominated the Montreal area (home to almost 75% of the province's Anglophones), they only won four seats outside of it. One of them belonged to Chrétien, who won in Saint-Maurice, a strongly nationalist riding that he had previously represented from 1963 to 1986 (he had represented Beauséjour, New Brunswick as Opposition Leader from 1990-93).

The Liberals also did not do as well as hoped in British Columbia, winning almost no seats outside of Vancouver. Even with these disappointments, the Liberals won 177 seats — the third-best performance in party history, and their best performance since their record of 190 seats in 1949. This gave them an overwhelming majority in the Commons; no other party crossed the 60-seat mark. The Liberals were also the only party to win seats in every province.

Bloc Québécois

The Bloc won 54 seats, winning half the vote in Quebec and nearly sweeping the francophone ridings there. In many cases, they pushed Tory cabinet ministers from the province into third place. This was the best showing by a third party since the 1921 election when the Progressive Party won 60 seats. The Bloc's results were considered very impressive since the party had only been formed only three years before, and because there were lingering questions about its viability.

Despite only running candidates in Quebec, their strong showing in that province and the fragmentation of the national vote made them the Official Opposition as the second-largest party in the Commons. As the Official Opposition, they enjoyed considerable privilleges over other parties; for instance Quebec issues on national unity dominated Question Period.

Reform

Reform had a major breakthrough, inheriting nearly all of the Tories' support in the West. The party won all but four seats in Alberta and dominated British Columbia as well. Reform also won four seats in Saskatchewan and one seat in Manitoba. It probably would have won many more seats in Saskatchewan and Manitoba had it not been for a strong tide of Liberal support.

While Reform was expected to win over PC support, it also won around a quarter of voters who selected the NDP in the previous federal election. They did this by raising the problem of Western alienation and rallying against the disliked Charlottetown Accord, two issues that the NDP made unpopular stands on. In one stroke, Reform replaced the PCs as the major right-wing party in Canada (despite being virtually nonexistent east of Manitoba) and replaced the NDP as the voice of Western discontent.

However, Reform's agenda was seen as too extreme for the liking of most of the country east of Manitoba. Reform had built up a large base of support in rural central Ontario—the backbone of past provincial Tory governments. However, this support did not translate into actual seats; massive vote splitting with the Tories allowed the Liberals to sneak up the middle and win in this largely socially conservative area. They did manage to win Simcoe Centre—their only victory east of Manitoba, ever—but even this win came by a wafer-thin 123-vote margin over the Liberals. They were also shut out of Atlantic Canada and did not run candidates in Quebec. It is not likely they would have won any seats in Quebec in any case due to Manning's inability to speak French. Nonetheless, the election was a tremendous success for a party that only won 2.1 percent of the national vote in the previous election.

Reform's heavy concentration of Western support netted it 52 seats. However, the Bloc's concentration of support in Quebec was slightly larger, leaving Reform three seats short of making Manning Leader of the Opposition. Though the Bloc was the Official Opposition, the Reform was considered to be main opposition to the Liberals on all other issues that were not specific to Quebec. Also notable was in 1995 when Bloc leader Lucien Bouchard's position as Opposition Leader granted him a meeting with visiting US President Bill Clinton, Manning was also given a meeting with Clinton in order to diffuse Bouchard's separatist leverage.[23]

New Democrats

The NDP won the fewest votes of any major party, and only nine seats — three short of the requirement for official party status. This was a substantial drop from its record performance in 1988. Those members who were elected were in heavily divided ridings mostly in the party's traditional Western heartland. On average, winning NDP MPs only got 35.1% of the vote.[24] Ultimately, the NDP only retained 34.99% of the votes it received in the 1988 election, even less than the 38.58% of the vote that the Progressive Conservatives retained.

The NDP lost support in several directions. One was because of unpopular NDP provincial governments led by Bob Rae in Ontario and Mike Harcourt in British Columbia, which reflected badly on their federal counterparts. In 1988, the peak of federal NDP support was a major asset to the success of their provincial affiliates; however they ended up became a huge liability because of recessions, social policies, and scandals. Not coincidentally, the federal NDP was routed in both these provinces; they lost all 10 of their Ontario MPs and all but two of their British Columbia MPs—more than half of the party's caucus in the Commons. Defeated Ontario MP Steven Langdon had called upon Rae to resign, having spent the 1993 election campaign disassociating himself from the provincial NDP's measures. The Ontario NDP would be reduced to third place in 1995, while the British Columbia NDP rebounded long enough to survive until it was almost wiped out in 2001.

The NDP was also indirectly hampered by the nationwide collapse of the Conservative vote. Even though it was obvious by October that Chrétien would be the next prime minister, the memory of vote splitting in 1988 (a major factor in the Conservative win that year) still resonated with many NDP supporters. This, along with the widespread antipathy toward Mulroney caused many NDP supporters to vote Liberal to ensure the Conservatives would be defeated. Of those who voted NDP in 1988, 27% switched to the Liberals.

Almost as many NDP voters switched to Reform. Despite sharp differences in ideology, Reform's populism struck a chord with many NDP voters. Twenty-four percent of those who voted NDP in 1988 switched to Reform. While Dave Barrett argued that the party should be concerned with Western alienation rather than focusing its attention on Quebec, his platform was not adopted since he was not elected leader at the 1989 convention. The NDP also supported the Charlottetown Accord, which Barrett referred to as a mistake since it was unpopular in Western Canada. Many NDP supporters went over to Reform, which raised the issue of Western alienation and was strongly opposed the Accord.

The NDP had never been a force in Quebec, but they had been supported by those who would not vote for either the Liberals or Progressive Conservatives. Audrey McLaughlin, who defeated Barrett for the leadership, made efforts to make inroads in Quebec but this proved fruitless and likely contributed to Western discontent. These voters largely moved to the Bloc, with 14% of NDP voters supporting the Bloc in 1993. The NDP lost their only seat in the province, which it had gained in a 1990 by-election, as Phil Edmonston opted not to see re-election because he disagreed with the party's support for the Charlottetown Accord.[25]

Legacy

The Globe and Mail headline after the election.

The 1993 election led to a major upheaval in Canadian politics. Since Confederation in 1867, Canada had been a two-party system, with the Liberals and Conservatives alternating in government. Since the 1920s there had generally also been one or more third parties in the House of Commons. None of these parties came close to winning power, and of those parties, the CCF was the only one that achieved any long-term success. The CCF became the NDP in 1961, by which time it had clearly established itself as the nation's third major party. It eventually gained enough strength to wield the balance of power in the Liberal minority governments of the 1960s and 1970s. With the NDP only ten seats behind the Liberals after the 1984 election, there was considerable talk that the Liberals would follow their UK counterparts into oblivion, but they reestablished themselves as the main opposition party by 1988.

The 1993 election fundamentally changed the balance of power among the parties. Ontario and Quebec, combined, are guaranteed a majority of seats in the Commons under both Constitution Acts. Due to this factor and their large majority of the Canadian population, it is nearly impossible to form even a minority government without considerable support in one or both provinces. The Liberals were the only party with a strong base in both provinces, thus making them the only party that could possibly form a government. The Liberals dominated Canadian politics for the next decade, retaining almost all of its Ontario ridings while also making steady gains in Quebec. They would not be seriously challenged until 2004, with the sponsorship scandal and party infighting reducing them to a minority government. However, their strong support in Ontario was credited with allowing them to remain the largest party in the House of Commons. The Liberals retained the majority of the province's ridings, despite being defeated in 2006, finally relinquishing their lead in 2008.

As no party other than the Liberals had a realistic chance of forming government after 1993, some commentators felt that Canada had moved to a dominant-party system. The opposition was divided between four parties, and for the first time ever, the party that was the Official Opposition did not have a majority of the opposition seats. A further irony can be seen in that "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition" consisted of a separatist party, so many considered the Reform Party the main opposition on issues that did not pertain to Quebec and national unity. Some political scientists felt that the new five-party parliament was an example of a multi-party system. The five parties were reduced to four when the PC Party and Reform merged. From 2004-2006, a Liberal minority government faced three opposition parties, the new Conservatives, NDP, and Bloc. In 2006, the Conservatives took the government and relegated the Liberals to official opposition, while the NDP and Bloc retained a significant opposition presence, which was retained after the 2008 election.

The Progressive Conservatives never regained their former standing in Canadian politics. In December 1993, Kim Campbell resigned as Conservative leader and was replaced by Charest, the only surviving member of the previous Cabinet. Under Charest, they rebounded to 20 seats in 1997. Despite the brief comeback of Joe Clark as leader in 1998, they were largely reduced to 12 seats mostly in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec, winning only two seats outside this region in the next two elections.

The Reform Party became the Official Opposition in the 1997 election. Although Reform was now the major voice of the right in Canada, it was still seen as too extreme for the liking of most Ontarians and thus had little chance of dislodging the Liberals. It was also hampered in Quebec because Manning could not speak French. In 2000, the party evolved into the Canadian Alliance, but even then won only two seats outside its Western heartland (both in Ontario).

In 2003, the Canadian Alliance under Stephen Harper and the Progressive Conservatives under Peter MacKay agreed to merge, creating the Conservative Party of Canada. The new party, led by Harper, was able to reduce the Liberals to a minority government in 2004 by capitalizing on the sponsorship scandal, though it was not able to reach the combined totals of the Tories and Alliance in 2000. However, it formed its first government, a minority, in early 2006 with Harper as prime minister, just over two years after the merger. Key to its victory was being able to make inroads into the eastern part of Canada as well as distancing itself from its Reform legacy with a more moderate agenda, winning a significant number of seats in Ontario and making a breakthrough in Quebec. In the 2008 election, the Conservatives won the majority of seats in Ontario for the first time since 1988.

The NDP also recovered somewhat, regaining official party status in 1997. However, it would take another decade for the party to reach the same level of support it enjoyed in the 1980s. As in 1993, vote splitting with the Liberals had hurt the NDP in the 2000 and 2004 elections. While they propped up the Liberal minority government after the 2004 election, the NDP moved to distance itself from the Liberals, including uniting with the other opposition parties to bring down the Liberals and force the 2006 election, where the NDP were able to make substantial gains in the House of Commons.

The Bloc Québécois failed to propel the sovereigntist side to victory in the 1995 Quebec referendum and also lost Official Opposition status in the 1997 election and dropped more seats in 2000. However, it remained a significant presence in the House of Commons, bolstered in recent years by the sponsorship scandal. The party nearly tied its 1993 vote total in 2004, but lost support to a resurgent Conservative Party in 2006.

National results

This election, like all previous Canadian elections, was conducted under a single-member plurality (or first past the post) system in which the country was carved into 295 electoral districts, or ridings, with each one electing one representative to the House of Commons. Those eligible to vote cast their ballot for a candidate in their electoral district and the candidate with the most votes in that district became that riding's Member of Parliament. The party that elects the most candidates forms the government by appointing its party leader as Prime Minister and its Members of Parliament to the Cabinet of Canada.

For a complete list of MPs elected in the 1993 election, see 35th Canadian parliament.

177
54
52
9
2
1
L
B
R
N
P
O
Party Party leader # of
candidates
Seats Popular vote
1988 Dissolution Elected % Change # % Change
     Liberal Jean Chrétien 295 83 79 177 +113.3% 5,647,952 41.24% +9.32%
     Bloc Québécois Lucien Bouchard 75 * 8 54 * 1,846,024 13.52% *
     Reform Preston Manning 207 - 1 52   2,559,245 18.69% +16.59%
     New Democratic Party Audrey McLaughlin 294 43 43 9 -79.1% 939,575 6.88% -13.50%
     Progressive Conservative Kim Campbell 295 169 151 2 -98.8% 2,186,422 16.04% -26.97%
     Independent 129 - 3 1   60,434 0.73% +0.56%
     National Mel Hurtig 170 * - - * 187,251 1.38% *
     Natural Law Neil Paterson 231 * - - * 84,743 0.63% *
     Green Chris Lea 79 - - - - 32,979 0.24% -0.12%
     Christian Heritage Heather Stilwell 59 - - - - 30,358 0.22% -0.55%
     Libertarian Hilliard Cox 52 - - - - 14,630 0.11% -0.14%
     Abolitionist John C. Turmel 80 * - - * 9,141 0.07% *
     Canada Party Joseph Thauberger 56 * - - * 7,506 0.06% *
     Commonwealth Gilles Gervais 59 - - - - 7,316 0.06% -
     Marxist-Leninist Hardial Bains 51 - - - - 5,136 0.04% +0.04%
     No affiliation 23 - - - - 48,959 0.09% −0.10%
     Vacant 4  
Total 2,155 295 295 295 - 13,667,671 100%  
Notes: *Party did not nominate candidates in the previous; "% change" refers to change from previous election.
Sources: http://www.elections.ca History of Federal Ridings since 1867

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL NT YK Total
     Liberal Seats: 6 4 5 12 98 19 9 11 4 7 2 - 177
Popular vote: 28.1 25.1 32.1 45.0 52.9 33.0 56.0 52.0 60.1 67.3 73.0 23.2 41.3
     Bloc Québécois Seats:           54             54
Vote:           49.3             13.5
     Reform Seats: 24 22 4 1 1   - - - - - - 52
Vote: 36.4 52.3 27.2 22.4 20.1   8.5 13.3 1.0 1.0 6.1 13.1 18.7
     New Democratic Party Seats: 2 - 5 1 - - - - - - - 1 9
Vote: 15.5 4.1 26.6 16.7 6.0 1.5 4.9 6.8 5.2 3.5 6.0 43.4 6.9
     Progressive Conservative Seats: - - - - - 1 1 - - - - - 2
Vote: 13.5 14.6 11.3 11.9 17.6 13.5 27.9 23.5 32.0 26.7 12.7 17.7 16.0
     Other Seats: - - - - - 1 - -         1
Vote: 0.3 0.4 1.0 0.1 0.8 1.1 1.3 2.1         0.8
Total seats 32 26 14 14 99 75 10 11 4 7 2 1 295
Parties that won no seats:
     National Vote: 4.1 2.4 1.0 3.1 1.2 0.1 0.3 1.1 0.5 0.5   2.1 1.4
     Natural Law Vote: 0.6 0.6 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.8 0.5 0.9 0.2 0.8 0.9   0.6
     Green Vote: 0.7 0.3     0.3 0.1   0.1 0.3   1.4   0.2
     Christian Heritage Vote: 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3   0.3 0.3 0.7 0.2   0.4 0.2
     Libertarian Vote: 0.3       0.2 0.1             0.1
     Abolitionist Vote:         0.1 0.2             0.1
     Canada Party Vote: 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.3     0.3           0.1
     Commonwealth Vote:           0.2             0.1
     Marxist-Leninist Vote:         0.1               0.0

Ten closest ridings

1. Edmonton Northwest, AB: Anne McLellan (LIB) def Richard Kayler (REF) by 12 votes
2. Bourassa, QC: Osvaldo Nunez (BQ) def Denis Coderre (LIB) by 67 votes
3. Edmonton North, AB: John Loney (LIB) def Ron Mix (REF) by 83 votes
4. Simcoe Centre, ON: Ed Harper (REF) def Janice Laking (LIB) by 123 votes
5. Edmonton East, AB: Judy Bethel (LIB) def Linda Robertson (REF) by 203 votes
6. Winnipeg Transcona, MB: Bill Blaikie (NDP) def Art Miki (LIB) by 219 votes
7. Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK: Allan Kerpan (REF) def Rod Laporte (NDP) by 310 votes
8. Edmonton—Strathcona, AB: Hugh Hanrahan (REF) def Chris Peirce (LIB) by 418 votes
9. La Prairie, QC: Richard Bélisle (BQ) def Jacques Saada (LIB) by 476 votes
10. Souris—Moose Mountain, SK: Bernie Collins (LIB) def Doug Heimlick (REF) by 499 votes
10. Verdun—Saint-Paul, QC: Raymond Lavigne (LIB) def Kim Beaudoin (BQ) by 499 votes

See also

Articles on parties' candidates in this election:

Notes

  1. ^ Bliss 312.
  2. ^ 80% of Canadians disapproved of the GST in a June 1993 poll. Woolstencroft 32.
  3. ^ Bliss 308.
  4. ^ a b Brooks 194.
  5. ^ Peter C. Newman, The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister. Random House Canada, 2005, p. 363.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b Forsythe, Frank, Krishnamurthy, and Ross 337.
  8. ^ Woolstencroft 15.
  9. ^ Clarkson 36.
  10. ^ "Fill in the Blanks." The Globe and Mail. September 25, 1993 pg. D6.
  11. ^ Ellis and Archer 67.
  12. ^ Ellis and Archer 69.
  13. ^ "Reform Candidate Quits." The Globe and Mail. October 14, 1993 pg. A6.
  14. ^ Woolstencroft 17.
  15. ^ a b c Gordon Donaldson, The Prime Ministers of Canada, (Toronto: Doubleday Canada Limited, 1997), p. 367.
  16. ^ "without a doubt" the most important issue. Frizzell, Pammett, & Westell 2.
  17. ^ Ron Eade "Election Spending." The Ottawa Citizen. April 29, 1994. pg. A.1
  18. ^ Brooks 207.
  19. ^ Robert J. Jackson and Doreen Jackson. Politics in Canada 1998 ed. 400.
  20. ^ a b Richard Mackie "Voters Find Uncommon Views on the Fringe." The Globe and Mail. Tuesday, October 5, 1993. pg. A6.
  21. ^ Chris Cobb "Maharishi had Last Laugh over Canadian Taxpayer." Montreal Gazette October 29, 1993. pg. B.3
  22. ^ "1993 Canadian Federal Election Results (Detail)". Esm.ubc.ca. http://esm.ubc.ca/CA93/results.html. Retrieved 2009-09-09.  
  23. ^ WARREN CARAGATA in Ottawa with CARL MOLLINS in Washington. "Clinton Visits Chrétien". Thecanadianencyclopedia.com. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0010399. Retrieved 2009-09-09.  
  24. ^ Whitehorn 52.
  25. ^ Support numbers come from Pammett.

References

  • The Canadian General Election of 1993. ed. Alan Frizzell, Jon H. Pammett, and Anthony Westell. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1994.
    • Clarkson, Stephen "Yesterday's Man and His Blue Grists: Backward into the Future."
    • Ellis, Faron and Keith Archer. "Reform: Electoral Breakthrough."
    • Pammett, Jon H. "Tracking the Votes."
    • Whitehorn, Alan. "The NDP's Quest for Survival."
    • Woolstencroft, Peter. "'Doing Politics Differently': The Conservative Party and the Campaign of 1993."
  • Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Canada's Electoral System Ottawa: Elections Canada, 2001. ISBN 0-662-65352-1
  • Forsythe, R., M. Frank, V. Krishnamurthy and T.W. Ross. Markets as Predictors of Election Outcomes: Campaign Events and Judgement Bias in the 1993 UBC Election Stock Market in Canadian Public Policy vol. XXIV, no. 3, 1998.
  • Bliss, Michael. Right Honourable Men: The Descent of Canadian Politics from Macdonald to Mulroney. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.
  • Brooks, Stephen. Canadian Democracy: An Introduction. Second Edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada, 1996

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