Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Leadership Reviews Have Produced Dramatic Moments in Canadian Politics

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Leadership Reviews Have Produced Dramatic Moments in Canadian Politics

Article excerpt

A brief history of leadership reviews

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OTTAWA - Some 20 years ago, University of Saskatchewan political scientist John Courtney wrote that it's "inherently destabilizing" for a political party to conduct periodic leadership reviews.

Tom Mulcair, who faces a leadership review vote this weekend, would no doubt agree with Courtney that such a process "invites dissension."

Technically, delegates to this weekend's convention will be asked in a secret ballot to decide whether the party should hold a leadership convention. It amounts to a vote of confidence in Mulcair's leadership after he led the party to a disappointing third-place finish in last fall's federal election.

The NDP conducts such votes at every convention, though they rarely generate the kind of tension attending this one.

Both the Liberals and Conservatives put their leaders to similar tests -- but only at the first national convention following an election in which the leader does not become prime minister. Some provincial parties also subject their leaders to leadership reviews.

Herewith, with the help of Courtney, a brief history of leadership reviews and some of the most dramatic moments they've produced:

-- The Liberal Party of Canada was the first to adopt a leadership review process, in 1966, with the implicit understanding that it would not be used until after then-leader Lester Pearson stepped down. That process was first employed in 1970, when Pierre Trudeau's leadership was handily endorsed.

-- Also in 1966, the Progressive Conservatives were waging a bitter internal war over John Diefenbaker's leadership. Dalton Camp ran for party president on the promise that he'd hold a leadership convention within a year. …

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