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Liberal Party of Canada leadership election, 2003

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Title: Liberal Party of Canada leadership election, 2003  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Sheila Copps, Canadian federal election, 2004, Joe Volpe, 2004 Liberal Party of Canada infighting, Charles Caccia, Herb Dhaliwal, Martin Cauchon, Jim Karygiannis
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Liberal Party of Canada leadership election, 2003

Liberal leadership election, 2003
Date November 14, 2003
Convention Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Resigning leader Jean Chrétien
Won by Paul Martin
Ballots 1
Candidates 2
Entrance Fee $75,000
Spending limit $4 million

The 2003 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election ended on November 14, 2003, electing former Finance Minister Paul Martin as the party's new leader, replacing outgoing Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. The official campaign had lasted several months, although the candidates had been trying to get the position for years. Indeed, Martin's supporters had been pushing for leadership contests as early as 1997 and again in 2000.

Stakes for the race were very high as the winner would go on to become Prime Minister because the Liberal Party then formed the government, and the winner would take a party that was high in the polls and likely to be re-elected with an even larger majority.

Paul Martin spent the entire race as the unquestionable front runner, as his supporters had secured a lock on the party executives of the federal and most provincial sections of the party. They had made rules such as those regarding the sale of party memberships so onerous as to give Martin an unsurmountable advantage. Because of this, many potential candidates did not enter the race or dropped out, including John Manley, Allan Rock, and Brian Tobin. As Martin held a large lead throughout the campaign, despite refusing demands from Manley to reveal his donors, even most Chrétien supporters grudgingly voted for Martin rather than rally around any of the other candidates.

Martin easily captured the leadership with 93.8% of the delegates, however the party would be plagued by significant infighting afterwards, as he and his supporters moved to remove Chrétien supporters from cabinet and even from Parliament.

Simon Fraser University professor Doug McArthur has noted that Martin's leadership campaign used aggressive tactics, in attempting to end the contest before it could start by giving the impression that his bid was too strong, similar to the strategy being used by Brian Topp for the 2012 NDP federal leadership. McArthur blamed Martin's tactics for the ongoing sag in Liberal fortunes, as it discouraged activists who were not on side.[1]


Sheila Copps


MP for Hamilton East, Ontario (1984–2004)
Deputy Prime Minister (1993–1996, 1996–1997)
Minister of the Environment (1993–1996)
Minister of the Multiculturalism and Citizenship (1996)
Minister of the Communications (1996)
Minister of Canadian Heritage (1996–2003)
Minister of Amateur Sport (1996–1999)
Copps was a candidate during the 1990 leadership election, finishing in third.

Date campaign launched: February 13, 2003

Paul Martin

Paul Martin

MP for LaSalle—Émard, Quebec (1988–2008)
Minister of Finance (1993–2002)
Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec (1993–1996)
Martin was a candidate during the 1990 leadership election, finishing in second.
Martin's loss during the 1990 leadership election result and Jean Chrétien's slim win during the 1997 election led to a period of infighting within the party, with Martin leaving cabinet in June 2002, and Chrétien, in the face of a leadership review, announcing his intention to step down February 2004.

Date campaign launched: March 7, 2003

Withdrawn candidates

John Manley

John Manley

MP for Ottawa South, Ontario (1988–2004)
Deputy Prime Minister (2002–2003)
Minister of Industry, Science and Technology (1993–1995)
Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (1993–1995)
Minister of Industry (1995–2000)
Minister of Foreign Affairs (2000–2002)
Minister of Finance (2002–2003)
Manley withdrew from the race on July 22, 2003 and endorsed Martin.

Date campaign launched: March 17, 2003
Date campaign ended: July 22, 2003

Declined to run


First Ballot
Candidate Delegate Support Percentage
MARTIN, Paul Edgar Philippe 3,242 93.8%
COPPS, Sheila Maureen 211 6.1%
Spoiled ballots 2 0.1%
Total 3,455 100%



  • June 2 - Paul Martin resigns as Finance Minister of Canada. John Manley is named to replace him.
  • August 21 - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien tells Canadians he will step down in February 2004.


  • February 13 - Sheila Copps announces she is going to run for leadership.
  • March 7 - Martin announces he is going to run for leadership.
  • March 17 - Manley announces he is going to run for leadership.
  • July 22 - Manley drops out of the race.
  • September 21 - Paul Martin's victory becomes a certainty when he secures 92% of the party delegates from across the country.
  • November 14 - Martin officially becomes leader of the Liberal Party of Canada winning 3242 of 3455 votes against Copps.
  • November 28 - Manley announces his retirement from politics.
  • December 12 - Martin is sworn in as Canada's Prime Minister, along with his cabinet.


  1. ^ Mickleburgh, Rob (25 September 2011). "Topp’s NDP campaign tactics border on bullying, professor warns". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 

External links

  • CBC report from the Convention, Video
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