|Liberal leadership convention, 2006|
|Date||December 2–3, 2006|
|Campaign to replace||Paul Martin|
|Won by||Stéphane Dion|
|Spending limit||C$3.4 million|
Liberal leadership conventions
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The Liberal Party of Canada leadership convention of 2006 was prompted by Paul Martin's announcement that he would not lead the Liberal Party of Canada into another election, following his party's defeat in the 2006 federal election in Canada. The party's biennial convention, already scheduled to occur from November 29 to December 1, 2006 in Montreal's Palais des congrès, was followed by the party's leadership convention at the same venue occurring December 2 to December 3, 2006. As the winner, Stéphane Dion led the Liberal Party into the 2008 federal election.
The party constitution set out a process by which the party leader would be chosen by several thousand delegates, who were elected by riding associations, women's associations, and Young Liberal clubs in proportion to the number of votes they received at a delegate selection meeting of the general membership of that association. Hundreds of other ex-officio delegates were automatically awarded delegate spots at the convention, including Liberal Members of Parliament, Senators, riding association presidents, past candidates and members of provincial or territorial association executive boards.
As stipulated by the party constitution, the selection of delegates for the convention had to occur 35 to 59 days prior to the convention, and only Liberals who joined the party at least 90 days before the delegate-selection meetings could vote for delegates, although there was no deadline for becoming delegates themselves . As a result, the early months of the leadership race were dominated by competing drives to sign up members who were likely to back the various candidacies.
The convention date was approximately three years after the 2003 convention, in which Paul Martin was selected after years of conflict between his faction of the party and that of outgoing Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
After four ballots, former cabinet minister and dark horse candidate Stéphane Dion won the leadership on December 2, 2006.
On February 1, 2006, outgoing Prime Minister Paul Martin announced that he would like to continue as leader of the Liberal Party until his successor was chosen but that he would not serve as Leader of the Opposition.  Later that day, the 103-member Liberal caucus selected Bill Graham, Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and the outgoing Minister of National Defence, as Leader of the Opposition and interim parliamentary leader in the House of Commons. (The caucus was soon reduced to 102 members when David Emerson crossed the floor to join the Conservatives.) Graham named Lucienne Robillard, member for Westmount—Ville-Marie and the outgoing Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, as his deputy leader. Alberta Senator Dan Hays, outgoing speaker of the Canadian Senate, was chosen as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
Though Martin initially intended to remain the official leader until the party chose his permanent replacement, the former Prime Minister announced on March 16, 2006 that his resignation would take effect the following weekend, once the Liberal Party executive set the date of the convention. According to media reports, Martin made his decision to end speculation that he may lead the Liberals into the next election, should the Harper government fall in the following few months.
Bill Graham was given the full-fledged role of interim leader (rather than just interim parliamentary leader) by the National Executive on March 18, 2006. Interim leaders are traditionally expected to be neutral in leadership races and are typically individuals who are not expected to be candidates themselves.
The date and rules of the convention were decided upon by the Liberal Party National Executive during its meeting on March 18–March 19, 2006.
The party constitution required that a convention be held within a year of the leader's resignation and that the party's biennial convention be held by March 2007. The leadership convention also served as the party's regular policy convention, so there was debate and voting on policy resolutions and an election for the party's executive.
Selection of delegates by riding associations and party clubs occurred on the weekend of September 29 to October 1. Only those who have purchased or renewed their party membership by July 4, 2006 were be eligible to vote. Approximately 850 ex-officio delegates who automatically gained the right to attend the convention by virtue of being a Liberal Member of Parliament, recent candidate, Senator, etc. The Liberal Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission was entitled to send a delegation that is in proportion to the percentage of the Canadian population that is Aboriginal. All delegates except those with ex-officio status and those who won election as independent delegates were bound to a particular candidate on the first ballot, however all delegates were free to vote as they wished on subsequent ballots.
Each candidate had to gather the signatures of at least 300 Liberal Party members, including at least 100 in each of three provinces or territories, and pay a $50,000 fee to enter the contest (down from $75,000 at the previous convention). The spending limit for each campaign was set at $3.4 million, down from $4 million. All of the first $500,000 raised by each candidate was kept by the candidate's campaign, and any amount raised above that figure was subject to a 20% levy by the party. In contrast to the previous campaign when the sale of party memberships was severely restricted, the executive decided to allow party membership to be purchased online.
The Convention Organization Committee, and the convention proceedings were co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc and Tanya Kappo. Steven MacKinnon, National Director of the party, was the General Secretary of the convention.
The deadline for candidates to enter the race was September 30.
The voting was done in two stages on the ballot:
Ex-officio delegates could automatically attend and vote at the convention without the requirement of getting elected. Ex-officio delegates included MPs, Senators, riding association Presidents, immediate past candidates, and a certain number of party executive members and members of the executive of various Liberal Party Commissions (such as the national youth commission, national women's commission, national Aboriginal commission etc) and provincial sections of the federal party as laid out in Section 16(13) of the party constitution.
At the convention, the first ballot by elected delegates was pre-set according by proportional representation according to the amount of support each leadership candidate received at the delegate selection meeting (i.e., the "leadership portion" of the ballot cast at riding association or club meetings), even if the delegate has personally expressed support for another candidate. Ex-officio and undeclared delegates could vote however they wish, while declared delegates were compelled to vote for their declared candidate, their only other choice being to abstain from voting on the first round. dec On the second ballot (which occurred because no leadership candidate received over 50% of the vote on the first ballot), all delegates were free to vote according to their personal preference.
The unofficial Liberal Party tradition was to alternate between francophone and anglophone leaders, a tradition informally known as alternance. With Stéphane Dion as the only francophone candidate in the current race, however, this tradition would have been broken by the 2006 race if any candidate other than Dion had won. However, the principle of alternance was not widely cited as a specific issue in this leadership campaign — throughout the campaign, Dion was considered an "underdog" candidate with at best an outside chance of emerging as the eventual victor. Although polls consistently showed him as a popular second choice of delegates committed to other candidates, Dion's status as a Quebecer was widely considered a handicap, with conventional wisdom suggesting that the party was unlikely to turn to its third consecutive leader from Quebec.
The party also had another tradition of selecting a leader from among the ministers in the previous leader's Cabinet. Since Mackenzie King succeeded Wilfrid Laurier in 1919, every Liberal leader had served in the previous leader's Cabinet. Laurier himself had served in the Cabinet of Alexander Mackenzie, the first Liberal leader, though the leader who directly preceded Laurier, Edward Blake, never served as prime minister, making him the only historical Liberal leader to date who never served in that capacity. Blake is also the only Liberal leader (besides Mackenzie) who never served in the Cabinet of a previous Liberal leader
As the possibility of a 2006 Liberal leadership convention emerged during the midpoint of the election campaign, most media speculation focused on the surfeit of potential candidates poised to replace Martin. Some optimistically billed this convention as being most likely to provide a broad field of skilled contenders not seen since the 1968 convention that included Pierre Trudeau, Robert Winters, Paul Martin, Sr., John Turner, Joe Greene, Mitchell Sharp and Allan MacEachen. Such speculation seemed rooted in the assumption that high profile members of the Chrétien cabinet that had elected not to challenge the Martin juggernaut in 2003—most commonly enumerated as John Manley, Allan Rock, Brian Tobin and Martin Cauchon—would return to federal politics, along with 2003 runner-up Sheila Copps and Martin's own presumptive heir Frank McKenna, prompting a balanced matchup between multiple household names.
Instead, all of the above-mentioned politicians indicated they would not be contesting this race. Some commentators have stated that this is because of a prevailing view that the Liberal Party will spend an extended period in Opposition meaning that winning the party leadership comes with no certainty of becoming Prime Minister. Also, some say that the reported party debt might also have something to do with them backing down.
There is also the toll politics may take on one's personal life. In his decision not to run, Frank McKenna cited the fact that the prime ministership is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week job that leaves little time for anything else.
While some view the withdrawal of prominent candidates as indicating that the Liberal leadership is undesirable, others have heralded the potential for a "wide open" leadership race that is free from the baggage of the past which might do much to heal the lingering rifts in the party.
Early in the race the field of declared contenders was often described as having a first tier of six potential winners (the "big six") most commonly cited as consisting of Scott Brison, Stéphane Dion, Ken Dryden, Michael Ignatieff, Gerard Kennedy and Bob Rae. By August 2006 however most news articles cited the top-tier of consisting of only three, or four potential winners most commonly cited as Stéphane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, and Bob Rae, but also occasionally including Gerard Kennedy.
In October 2006, the Toronto Star reported that the campaigns of Gerard Kennedy and Stéphane Dion were holding talks about a potential alliance. The paper speculated that this alliance would be likely to win as their combined delegates would surpass both Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae.
In May 2006, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the then-eleven candidates were tested for bilingualism certificates by University of Ottawa professor Hélène Knoerr. Seven received passing scores: Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff both received top scores, while Stéphane Dion (who was tested on his English fluency), Joe Volpe, Martha Hall Findlay, Gerard Kennedy and Maurizio Bevilacqua also were graded as bilingual. (Bevilacqua later dropped out of the race.) The remaining candidates all failed the test, whereby each candidate was asked the same four questions and graded based on their syntax, vocabulary, and grammar. Hedy Fry (who also withdrew) did not finish the interview. The newspaper initially errantly reported that Kennedy and Bevilacqua had failed to meet fluency requirements in French, but later retracted this statement.
According to an opinion poll of Liberal party members by the Globe and Mail, conducted from September 12–18, Michael Ignatieff enjoyed a slim lead over the pack with 19% support. The remaining candidates' support was calculated at: 17% for Bob Rae, 13% for Stéphane Dion, 9% for Gerard Kennedy, 9% for Ken Dryden, 3% for Scott Brison, 2% for Joe Volpe, 1% for Martha Hall Findlay, and less than 1% for Hedy Fry. The poll found that 27% of party members did not know or were undecided about their choice. The poll appeared to show a potential second-ballot weakness for Ignatieff: 12% selected him as their second choice, compared to 23% for Rae and 17% for Dion. The accuracy of the poll was questioned by some, since it was taken based on membership lists provided by Brison, Dryden and Dion.
A poll of Liberal party members in Ontario and Quebec by EKOS Research Associates for the Toronto Star and La Presse, conducted from September 17–24, showed similar results, with Rae and Ignatieff supported by 25% each, Dion by 17% and Kennedy by 16%. Rae and Dion again had strong support for second choice at 27% each, compared with 19% for Ignatieff.
Party insiders suggested that Ignatieff would need to secure at least 35% of the delegates elected on "Super Weekend" to avoid being overtaken in subsequent ballots. Although he won the most delegates overall on that weekend, he did not reach the 35% target. An anonymous source speculated to the BBC that Ignatieff's 30-year absence from Canada and his initial support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq played against him in the election.. Ignatieff eventually lost at the fourth ballot; Patrick Gossage, a Toronto political consultant and Ignatieff supporter, explained the loss in this way: "There were people saying, 'Who is this telling us what he's going to do with the party?' Even though he was supported by the party establishment he nevertheless was an outsider, and he never successfully dealt with the labels the media put on him that he'd been away for 30 years." Lauren P. S. Epstein, the former prime minister of the Harvard Canadian Club, said: “What it came down to in the final vote was that the Liberal delegates were looking for someone who was more likely to unite the party; Igantieff had ardent supporters, but at the same time, he had people who would never under any circumstances support him.”
Individuals who have gathered the necessary signatures from 300 party members and paid the first $25,000 installment of the entry fee:
Scott Brison is the MP for Kings—Hants and was Minister of Public Works and Government Services under Martin. He had previously been a Progressive Conservative MP (since 1997) and had run for the leadership of the PC Party. Brison crossed the floor to join the Liberals shortly after the creation of the Conservative Party of Canada. An openly gay former investment banker, Brison is a fiscal moderate and social progressive. He stood for the leadership of the PC Party on a platform of Employment Insurance reform, more private involvement in healthcare, integrated defense strategy with the US, and socially liberal policies. His 2006 Liberal leadership platform emphasises the candidate as a "defender of the environment, business innovation and socially progressive values.
Former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, considered the leading contender until he announced he was not running in the race, had donated $3000 to Brison's campaign in August and formally endorsed Brison on November 30.
Stéphane Dion was Intergovernmental Affairs minister under Chrétien, Environment minister under Martin. Before entering federal politics by his 1996 appointment to cabinet followed shortly by his election to parliament from Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Dion was a professor of political science and noted federalist commentator. Dion is noted for his vocal opposition to Quebec sovereigntism and his support for such measures as the Clarity Act. He was considered a Chrétien loyalist who nonetheless worked well with the Martin camp. Dion announced his candidacy on April 7.
Former Liberal House Leader Don Boudria serves as Dion's Campaign Chair. Paul Martin's BC Lieutenant Mark Marissen is his National Campaign Director. One-time Progressive Conservative leadership aspirant David Orchard also announced his support of Dion. Additional high profile supporters include the leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party David Karwacki, Jamie Elmhirst, the President of the British Columbia wing of the Party, Adam Campbell, the President of the Alberta wing of the Party, former Green Party of Canada deputy leader Tom Manley, former Prime Minister Paul Martin's Chief of Staff Tim Murphy, Herb Metcalfe, former John Manley Campaign Chair, and Marc-Boris Saint-Maurice the co-founder and former leader of the Marijuana Party of Canada. Former Justice minister Allan Rock endorsed Dion on December 1. Eighth-place Martha Hall Findlay was eliminated on the first ballot and endorsed Dion, and fourth-place Gerard Kennedy withdrew and supported Dion after the second ballot.
Ken Dryden was Social Development minister under Martin. A former star goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, Dryden was elected in 2004 as a star candidate for the Liberals. He was instrumental in putting forward a child care strategy during the Martin government. Dryden, who has written a book about the public education system, stressed the importance of improving the education system in order to keep Canada competitive. "Learning is at the core of our future—for a person, a society, an economy, a country," Dryden said. "Learning is our only real security, our only real opportunity, and this program, years in the hoping, was the first big step towards truly lifelong learning." He also said Canada's unique, multi-ethnic mix needs to be held up as an example to the world.
Martha Hall Findlay, a Toronto lawyer, was the first candidate to officially declare she would run for the leadership when she did so on February 8, 2006 . She has previously run as a Liberal candidate in the 2004 election, losing to Belinda Stronach in the district of Newmarket—Aurora. When Stronach crossed the floor in 2005, Hall Findlay ceded her Liberal nomination for the riding to Stronach. Hall Findlay, 45, is fluently bilingual and has worked as the principal of her own management and legal consultancy organization, The General Counsel Group, which works primarily in the high-tech and telecommunications fields in Canada and Europe. On March 17, 2008, Hall Findlay was elected to serve the constituency of Toronto Willowdale as Member of Parliament.
Michael Ignatieff is a public intellectual, who has worked as a teacher, writer/journalist and politician. For most of his professional life Ignatieff lectured and wrote outside Canada; first in the United Kingdom at Cambridge University from 1978–1984, then in London as a journalist and writer until 2000 when he was named director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. His 1993 novel, Scar Tissue was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Upon his return to Canada in 2005, he became a visiting professor at the University of Toronto, and in the 2006 federal election campaign he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as MP for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. Ignatieff is a staunch supporter of interventionism, and was in favour of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, despite the conflict's relative unpopularity in Canada, and recently in the United States. Some media see Ignatieff as belonging to the right-wing of the Liberal Party because of his positions on foreign affairs. However, he has taken a centre-left position on most domestic social policies.
Ignatieff's campaign was co-chaired by Senator David Smith, a powerful Chrétien organizer and chairman emeritus of Canada's largest "cross-border" law firm, MP Denis Coderre, MP Ruby Dhalla, and was initially headed by Ian Davey (son of Senator Keith Davey), Toronto lawyers Alfred Apps (a party fundraiser and former federal candidate), Daniel Brock (former assistant to John Manley and Irwin Cotler) and Paul Lalonde (son of former minister Marc Lalonde). David Peterson was Ignatieff's honorary campaign co-chair along with former Trudeau cabinet ministers Marc Lalonde and Donald MacDonald, and former Chrétien Minister Jean Augustine. As the candidate with most caucus support, Ignatieff's regional campaigns were mostly headed by parliamentarians (Ontario - Former Martin ministers Jim Peterson and Aileen Carroll, Atlantic Canada - MP Rodger Cuzner, Quebec - MP and former president of the Liberal Party's federal Quebec wing Pablo Rodriguez, British Columbia - MP Stephen Owen, Alberta - Senator Grant Mitchell, Manitoba - MP Raymond Simard. In addition to federal caucus support, Ignatieff was also endorsed by numerous provincial ministers in Ontario and New Brunswick (the two provinces with Liberal governments that are affiliated with the federal party).
Gerard Kennedy was until April 5, 2006 the Minister of Education in the Ontario provincial government of Dalton McGuinty. Kennedy was a key player in rebuilding the Ontario Liberal Party and bringing it to government in 2003. As Education Minister, he is widely viewed as having restored faith in the public education system after years of growing support for private schools. He resigned from cabinet on April 5 in order to enter this leadership race. He was the runner-up in the 1996 Ontario Liberal leadership race, having finished in first place on the first four ballots, he was defeated by McGuinty on the fifth and final ballot. He is viewed by many in the media as being on the left wing of the party.
Kennedy is backed by Senator Terry Mercer, former national director of the federal Liberal Party. He also enjoys the support of former Premier of Prince Edward Island Keith Milligan and former Premier of New Brunswick Ray Frenette. While former cabinet minister Joe Fontana is still supporting Kennedy, he has since resigned his seat in the House of Commons to run for Mayor of London. On 25 November, the Globe and Mail reported that Justin Trudeau had declared his support for Kennedy's leadership bid.
Bob Rae was the Ontario New Democratic Party Premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995 and was a federal NDP MP in the House of Commons from 1978 to 1982. Since leaving electoral politics, Rae has worked on a number of contentious issues for the federal government, most notably the Air India disaster; has worked in international relations advising on constitutional issues and has conducted a study for the Ontario government on post-secondary education. Rae joined the Liberal Party in April 2006 (he had been a Liberal in the 1960s) before launching his campaign that month and is running as a centrist. In a speech to the Canadian Club of Winnipeg on March 13, 2006, Rae expressed his interest in uniting the 'progressive' forces of Canada in order to regain a majority government in the Canadian House of Commons. "There's a progressive record that's shared by a majority of Canadians, but so far, we have not succeeded in becoming a majority in the House of Commons, so we must think a bit about how that can happen."
Concerns about Rae's ability to appeal to Ontario voters, given his turbulent tenure as Premier in the early to mid 1990s, have been expressed.
During the convention, several anonymous messages were circulated on the convention floor encouraging delegates not to vote for Rae because his wife, writer and publisher Arlene Perly Rae, is Jewish. The messages were widely denounced by the leadership candidates.
Rae is supported by former senior Chrétien aides such as Eddie Goldenberg and John Rae (who is Bob Rae's older brother) as well as senior Ontario provincial Liberals such as provincial finance minister Greg Sorbara and provincial health minister and Deputy Premier George Smitherman. On May 12, Rae was endorsed by longtime Trudeau cabinet stalwart Allan MacEachen. Former leadership contenders Maurizio Bevilacqua, Carolyn Bennett and Hedy Fry withdrew from the campaign to throw their support to Rae, with Bevilacqua becoming National Co-Chair for the campaign and Chief Advisor on Economic Policy. Susan Kadis, the former Toronto co-chair of Ignatieff's campaign, endorsed Rae on October 27. Former Finance Minister Ralph Goodale endorsed Rae on November 28. Scott Brison and Joe Volpe withdrew after the first ballot to support Rae, as did Ken Dryden after being knocked off on the second ballot. Bob Rae was knocked off the third ballot, and encouraged his delegates to choose the candidate that best suits their personal beliefs. He refused to comment on who he decided to vote for.
Joe Volpe was Minister of Citizenship and Immigration under Martin. He announced his candidacy on April 21, 2006. A former schoolteacher, he was elected to the House of Commons in 1988. His top priorities will include reinvigorating the party to get it back "on a professional keel." He will aim to "make it a good corporate institution that it's been and the nation-building institution that it has always proved to be." Volpe's main campaign themes are expected to include, making education and training a higher priority and improving the system for accommodating immigrants, planks that draw on his cabinet experience as human-resources minister and immigration minister.
Volpe ran into trouble on June 2 when it was revealed that his campaign had received $5,400 in donations from each of three children under the age of 15. All of whom were children of executives of the pharmaceutical company Apotex. The donations were later returned. This situation led to the creation of the satirical Web site Youth for Volpe. Subsequently Sukh Dhaliwal and Yasmin Ratansi left the Volpe campaign to support Michael Ignatieff.
The Liberal Party of Canada announced a $20,000 fine against Mr. Volpe because his campaign allowed membership forms to be distributed to cultural associations in Quebec without ensuring that new members would pay their own membership fee. Volpe was subsequently exonerated, and the fine was withdrawn.
Following the candidate speeches on December 1, Volpe announced his support for Bob Rae's candidacy. Volpe withdrew after the first ballot results were announced.
|Globe & Mail||Stéphane Dion|||
|Le Devoir||Michael Ignatieff|||
|Montreal Gazette||Stéphane Dion|||
|Toronto Star||Bob Rae|
|Toronto Sun||Stéphane Dion and Martha Hall Findlay|||
John Godfrey announced his entry into the race on March 19, 2006 and withdrew from the race on April 12, before becoming an official candidate, citing health reasons. On October 20, he endorsed Bob Rae.
9 MPs and 6 Senators declared themselves neutral in the race, while 1 of 102 MPs and 10 of 63 Senators have not made their affiliations known or remain undecided.
The first three days of the Convention, November 29 to December 1, constituted the biennial convention of the Liberal Party of Canada. As such, delegates cast their ballot for party executive positions as well as the new leader. They also engaged in plenary workshops and other meetings associated with biennial conventions.
A number of new party executives were elected at the convention. Notably, Senator Marie Poulin was elected President defeating Bobbi Ethier, former MP Tony Ianno. Executive members elected at the Convention serve until the next biennial convention.
|Candidate||Elected Delegates||% of Elected Delegates||Ex-officio Delegates||Total Delegates||Current Percentage||1st Ballot Potential|
|Martha Hall Findlay||46||1%||5||51||0.9%||10.7%|
* Undeclared and neutral ex-officio delegates might choose not to attend convention and therefore might not vote.
As of November 27, 2006, 23:53 EDT.
|Martha Hall Findlay||130||2.7%||+1.7%|
* Denotes changes from results of delegate selection meetings.
Note: There were five spoiled ballots.
Note: There were six spoiled ballots
Note: There were 20 spoiled ballots