Canadian federal election, 1993

Canadian federal election, 1993

Infobox Election
election_name = Canadian federal election, 1993
country = Canada
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = Canadian federal election, 1988
previous_year = 1988
previous_mps = 34th Canadian Parliament
next_election = Canadian federal election, 1997
next_year = 1997
next_mps = 36th Canadian Parliament
seats_for_election = 295 seats in the 35th Canadian Parliament
election_date = October 25, 1993

leader1 = Jean Chrétien
leader_since1 =
party1 = Liberal Party of Canada
leaders_seat1 = Saint-Maurice
last_election1 = 83
seats1 = 177
seat_change1 = +94
popular_vote1 = 5,647,952
percentage1 = 41.24%
swing1 = +9.32%

leader2 = Lucien Bouchard
leader_since2 =
party2 = Bloc Québécois
leaders_seat2 = Lac-Saint-Jean
last_election2 = 0
seats2 = 54
seat_change2 = +54
popular_vote2 = 1,846,024
percentage2 = 13.52%
swing2 =+13.52%

leader3 = Preston Manning
leader_since3 =
party3 = Reform Party of Canada
leaders_seat3 = Calgary Southwest
last_election3 = 0
seats3 = 52
seat_change3 = +52
popular_vote3 = 2,559,245
percentage3 = 18.69%
swing3 = +16.59%

leader4 = Audrey McLaughlin
leader_since4 =
party4 = New Democratic Party
leaders_seat4 = Yukon
last_election4 = 43
seats4 = 9
seat_change4 = −34
popular_vote4 = 939,575
percentage4 = 6.88%
swing4 = −13.50%

leader5 = Kim Campbell
leader_since5 =
party5 = Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
leaders_seat5 = Vancouver Centre
last_election5 = 169
seats5 = 2
seat_change5 = −167
popular_vote5 = 2,186,422
percentage5 = 16.04%
swing5 = −26.97%

map_size = 250px
map_caption =
title = PM
before_election = Kim Campbell
before_party = Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
after_election = Jean Chrétien
after_party = Liberal Party of Canada
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 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 Bloc Québécois had been founded only three years before and was competing in its first election, while the Reform was considered a fringe movement in the 1988 election.

The traditional third party, the New Democratic Party, 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.


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.

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. [Bliss 312.] In an attempt to restore the fiscal balance, Mulroney had brought in the highly unpopular Goods and Services Tax. [80% of Canadians disapproved of the GST in a June 1993 poll. Woolstencroft 32.]

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. [Bliss 308.] The Progressive Conservative Party's popularity reached a low of just over 15% in 1991.Brooks 194.] 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. [Peter C. Newman, "The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister." Random House Canada, 2005, p. 363.] 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 had resigned. 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. However, as Mulroney's popularity slipped, the Liberals rapidly picked up support, and surged to a wide lead in opinion polling. Indeed, the main reason Mulroney departed from the scene was an overwhelming consensus in the polls that he would be heavily defeated by Chrétien if he led the Tories into the election.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) had won a record 43 seats in 1988, and in the following few years, their support continued to grow. At one point, the NDP led 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 (and as of 2008, only) time that party won government east of Manitoba. 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. That position, as well as new leader Audrey McLaughlin's efforts to expand its support into Quebec instead of focusing on Western alienation, hurt the NDP's standing as the traditional voice of Western protest.

New parties

The greatest difference from 1988 was the rise of two new parties. After the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, Lucien Bouchard led a group of 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. Also, Grey had finished a distant fourth in the general election a few months earlier.

As Conservative support collapsed over the next four years, Reform support increased and almost surpassed that of the Tories. By the fall of 1993, it was obvious that Mulroney's "grand coalition" was about to implode.


Results by province

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


ee also

Articles on parties' candidates in this election:


*"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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