The Canadian General Election of 2004

The Canadian General Election of 2004

The Canadian General Election of 2004

The Canadian General Election of 2004


The Canadian General Election of 2004 is the definitive study of the campaign and the election. The 2004 edition includes analyses of: The campaigns of the 4 major parties and smaller parties; The role of newspapers, television and the internet in the campaigns; The pre-election polls; Voting patterns across the country; The rise in non-voting. Articles are contributed from leading Canadian political writers, commentators and pollsters, including: Stephen Clarkson, Faron Ellis, and Peter Woolstencroft, Alan Whitehorn, Alain Gagnon, Susan Harada, Tamara Small, Christopher Waddell, Paul Attallah, Michael Marzolini, Andre Turcotte and Lawrence Leduc.


By Jon H. Pammett and Christopher Dornan

The context of the 2004 vote

If elections are contests over how the country is to be governed and by whom, then the election of 2004 was an aftershock to a more seismic contest that had been going on for years. By 2002, there were open calls in the media for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to step down. His opponents within the Liberal party, led by Prime-Minister-in-Waiting Paul Martin, were determined that he should go sooner rather than later. Chrétien and his supporters were equally resolved to remain in power until they decided the time was right to depart. Canadians were treated to a contest over who would govern them during the inter-election period between 2000 and 2004, but not one in which they had any meaningful say.

The fight between Chrétien and Martin was carried out through meetings in hotel rooms, whispers in corridors, harsh words in riding offices, icy stares in Cabinet, and a tremendous trumpet of leaks, counter-leaks, and heated opinions in the press. Not even Liberal Party members got to vote on the outcome. All they got to vote on in the end was a leadership contest between Paul Martin and Sheila Copps. Thus the context for the 2004 campaign was a bitter internecine power struggle within the Liberal Party.

The other crucial feature that set the stage for the 2004 election was the “sponsorship scandal,” which is described later in this book. This was true not simply because it triggered sustained public outrage . . .

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