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:: Liberal Leadership Links

Key Dates

Nov 29 to Dec 3

Liberal Convention (Palais des Congrès, Montreal)

December 1

First ballot voting begins
(3:00 p.m. ET)

Candidate speeches
(4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET)

First ballot results
(11:00 p.m. ET)


December 2

Second and subsequent balloting begins 
(9:00 a.m. ET)

> Full Convention Schedule (PDF)


> Liberal Party
> Liberal Leadership Process
> Convention Overview

Media Links

> CTV The Next Big Race

Candidates' Sites

> Scott Brison
> Stephane Dion
> Ken Dryden
> Martha Hall Findlay
> Michael Ignatieff
> Gerard Kennedy
> Bob Rae
> Joe Volpe

> Contact PoliticsWatch

:: Liberal Leadership Race 2006

Dion's convention upset

[PoliticsWatch Updated 11:30 a.m. December 13, 2006]

Stephane Dion outwitted and outlasted 11 other Liberals and emerged victorious at the Liberals' Montreal convention on December 2.  

Dion's victory is considered an upset. 

However, the fact is the possibility of a Dion or Gerard Kennedy emerging victorious was always there since Super Weekend, when party members chose convention delegates. 

Everyone knew that if either men took most of their delegates to the other one that they would move ahead of Michael Ignatieff, knock Bob Rae off after the third ballot and be in a strong position to win as the alternative to the much criticized front runner. 

However, even news stories about the two men meeting and having an agreement failed to have any impact on the conventional wisdom that the final ballot would be a showdown between Rae and Ignatieff. 

About a month before the convention, Politicswatch predicted the convention would unfold this way. 
The second ballot will be the crucial ballot. 

One of either Stephane Dion or Gerard Kennedy is expected to fall off that ballot by finishing in fourth place. 

Who ever finishes fourth on the second ballot will essentially become the kingmaker. 

If the fourth-place finisher backs Ignatieff, then it could be enough to end the convention there. 

If the person backs Rae, then Rae would move ahead of Ignatieff and be in a strong position to win after the next ballot.

But if the fourth-place finisher backs the third place finisher then suddenly we have a new convention with either Dion or Kennedy ahead of Ignatieff and Rae with about 40 per cent of the total delegates. 

Rae would fall off the next ballot and if half of his delegates go to the new frontrunner then you have the makings of a huge upset -- Dion or Kennedy win the leadership. 

Here's how it actually unfolded. Fairly close to PoliticsWatch's analysis. 

First ballot results

Michael Ignatieff: 1,412 votes, 29.3 per cent 
Bob Rae: 977 votes, 20.3 per cent 
Stephane Dion: 856 votes, 17.8 per cent 
Gerard Kennedy: 854 votes, 17.7 per cent 
Ken Dryden: 238 votes, 4.9 per cent 
*Scott Brison: 192 votes, 4 per cent 
*Joe Volpe: 156 votes, 3.2 per cent 
#Martha Hall Findlay: 130 votes, 2.7 per cent 

* voluntarily dropped off ballot
# knocked off ballot

> Brison backs Rae; Martha to Dion

Released in the early hours of Saturday morning the big news was that Ignatieff failed to break the 30 per cent barrier. And Dion had moved ahead of Kennedy for third place, by just two votes. Martha Hall Findlay finished last and would be forced off the ballot. She would later show up at the convention in her Big Red Bus with Dion. Joe Volpe was actually the first off the ballot announcing his intention to support Rae after the Friday speeches. Scott Brison also backed Rae on Saturday morning. Ken Dryden announced he would fight on even though he had less than five per cent support. 

Second ballot results

Michael Ignatieff: 1,481 votes, 31.6 per cent 
Bob Rae: 1,132 votes, 24.1 per cent 
Stephane Dion: 974 votes, 20.8  per cent 
*Gerard Kennedy: 884 votes, 18.8 per cent 
#Ken Dryden: 219 votes, 4.7 per cent

* voluntarily dropped off ballot
# knocked off ballot

> Ignatieff maintains lead; Dryden joins Team Rae
> Kennedy, Dion join forces

The entire convention turned after the second ballot. Dryden fell off, as was expected, freed his delegates, but chose to join up with Rae, giving Rae even more momentum. But Kennedy walked over to Dion after the results and shook his hand then returned to his seat. The gesture created a buzz in the convention hall. Kennedy waited until the last second before informing the convention he was dropping off the ballot and then he walked over to Dion. Kennedy had made Dion a player, but would his delegates follow? 

Third ballot results

Stephane Dion: 1,782 votes, 37.0 per cent 
Michael Ignatieff: 1,660 votes, 34.5 per cent 
# Bob Rae: 1,375 votes, 28.5 per cent 

# knocked off ballot

> Iggy vs. Dion in final ballot

After the third ballot Dion found himself as the frontrunner for the first time in the entire leadership race. Rae fell off the ballot and freed his delegates and would not reveal who he would vote for on the final ballot. Ignatieff's people spent the ensuing minutes trying to recruit as many Rae delegates as possible to salvage a victory. But it was not to be. 

Fourth ballot results

Stephane Dion: 2,521 votes, 54.7 per cent 
Michael Ignatieff: 2,084 votes, 45.3 per cent 

DION WINS: Puts Harper on notice
(Updated 6:30 p.m. December 2, 2006)

Stephane Dion came from fourth place to win the Liberal leadership race on four ballots in Montreal on Saturday. Dion moved into the lead earlier in the day after Gerard Kennedy dropped off the ballot and backed him.


Former cabinet minister Stephane Dion 

Stephane Dion  

(2,521 delegates, 54.7%)

Dion wasn't considered a serious candidate when he entered the race in April, but slowly won respectability and eventually won the leadership race.. 

Dion is a respected former Liberal cabinet minister who is best known for his introduction of the Clarity Act, which sets out rules on Quebec secession.

After the narrow federalist win in the Quebec referendum, Dion was recruited by former prime minister Jean Chretien into politics after a career in academia. 

Dion has a Ph.D and briefly was a professor at Universite de Moncton before leaving for Universite Montreal where he taught until entering politics.   

Dion focused his leadership campaign on sustainable development and the economy. 

Former Liberal MP and ratpacker Don Boudria co-chaired Dion's campaign. Dion had the support of 10 Liberal caucus members, including Liberal MP Marlene Jennings.

Entered Race: April 7
Based: Montreal
Age: 50
Languages: Fluently bilingual (English/French)
Political Experience: Former Environment and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister
Education: M.A. Université Laval; Ph.D Institut d'études politiques de Paris
Quote:  "I'm proud of both my Quebec identity and my Canadian identity. Identities are to be added, not subtracted."  
Web Site: www.stephanedion.ca
Fun Fact: Dion was not in Paul Martin's first cabinet and almost lost his riding nomination, but later his efforts to help out during the 2004 election campaign won him respect from the Martin people and a spot back in the cabinet.


Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff 

Michael Ignatieff  

2nd Place
(2,084 delegates 45.3%)

The political novice retained his frontrunner status after Super Weekend, but lacked growth at the convention. 

During the campaign, Ignatieff has shown extraordinary communication and speaking skills, but was also prone to the occasional gaffe. 

He was elected to Parliament in January after a heated nomination process in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding. 

Ignatieff has a Ph.D from Harvard and is an accomplished journalist, broadcaster, author and academic. Before entering politics he was a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.    

Ignatieff was also a controversial candidate because of his support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

The Toronto MP enjoyed the broadest caucus support, with 43 MPs and senators. This includes former cabinet ministers Denis Coderre, Wayne Easter, Albina Guarnieri, John McCallum, Joe McGuire, Stephen Owen, Jim Peterson, Geoff Regan, Robert Thibault, and  Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla. 

Entered Race: April 7
Based: Toronto
Age: 58
Languages: Several, including English, French and Russian
Political Experience: Elected MP Etobicoke Lakeshore in 2006
Education: Ph.D history Harvard
Quote:  "I am fighting to revive faith, not just in the Liberal party, but in politics itself. I'm a devoted Liberal, I've been one all my life. That's why I'm in the fight to renew the party I love." 
Website: www.michaelignatieff.ca
Fun Fact: When he attended the University of Toronto in the 1960s, Ignatieff befriended a fellow student who has become a lifelong friend and now a potential leadership rival. That man is former Ontario premier Bob Rae. 


Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae 

Bob Rae   

Dropped off after third ballot
Released his delegates

Bob Rae was eliminated on the third ballot on the convention floor after Kennedy delegates moved en masse to Dion. . 

The former Ontario premier had been the candidate of choice for the three leadership contenders who have dropped out.  

Rae kept a relatively low profile more than 10 years after he resigned as leader of the Ontario NDP.

Rae spent most of his early life in politics, having been elected as an MP for Toronto in 1978, then becoming Ontario NDP Leader in 1982, and eventually Ontario Premier in 1990.

Rae says he will run for the Liberals in the next election if Dion wants him to.

Rae inherited a lot of former prime minister Jean Chretien's supporters, including former PMO chief of staff Eddie Goldenberg and John Rae, Rae's brother. He's also has the support of John Webster, who was a co-chair for Paul Martin's election campaigns. 

Rae has the support of 14 Liberal caucus members, including former leadership contenders Maurizio Bevilacqua, Carolyn Bennett and Hedy Fry, former cabinet ministers Ralph Goodale, Irwin Cotler, Ujjal Dosanjh, Lawrence MacAulay and Diane Marleau.

Entered Race: April 24
Based: Toronto
Age: 57
Languages: Fluently bilingual (English/French)
Political Experience: Former Ontario Premier
Education: Law degree University of Toronto
Quote:  "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."
Website: www.bobrae.ca

Former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy 

Gerard Kennedy  

Voluntarily dropped off after second ballot

Backed Dion

Call Kennedy the kingmaker. 

Kennedy's decision to drop off the second ballot and back essentially changed the dynamics of the convention and put Dion ahead of Ignatieff.

Well known in Ontario, but relatively unknown in Ottawa, Kennedy entered the race after resigning as Ontario's Education Minister in early April. 

Kennedy was first elected to provincial politics in 1996 in a by-election in former Ontario premier Bob Rae's riding. 

He sought the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party in 1996 and lost to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on the fifth ballot.  

Before entering politics, Kennedy gained prominence for operating food banks in Edmonton and later in Toronto. 

Kennedy's supporters included 16 members of the Liberal caucus. Most were younger MPs from the Toronto area, including Dan McTeague, Omar Alghabra and Mark Holland. Former cabinet ministers Joe Fontanna and Raymond Chan also backed Kennedy. 

Entered Race: April 27
Based: Toronto
Age: 45
Languages: Fluently bilingual (English/French)
Political Experience: Ontario Education Minister
Education: Studied economics and politics at  Trent University and the University of Alberta. 
Quote:  "There has to be a fundamental reform of the party. It needs to be a much more open party. The success of the party caused it to be cloistered. It missed the beat in terms of connecting to people. We need to roll up our sleeves and look at the way the party works." 
Web Site: www.gerardkennedy.ca
Fun Fact: Father Jack Kennedy, uncle Edward Kennedy and mother Caroline Kennedy -- no, not those Kennedys.


Former cabinet minister Ken Dryden 

Ken Dryden  

Dropped off after second ballot

Backed Rae

Name recognition was not enough to propel Dryden's leadership campaign as he finished in the bottom tier.  

Dryden is a hockey Hall of Famer, lawyer, writer, and sports executive who became the Liberal government's point man on its national child care policy.

Dryden was recruited into politics in 2004 by former prime minister Paul Martin.  

As a rookie in 1971, Dryden led the Montreal Canadiens to a surprise victory in the Stanley Cup playoffs and was team's goalie for five more Cups during the team's 1970s dynasty.   He retired from the game in 1980 while he appeared to be on top and had a successful post-hockey career as an award winning author and executive for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Dryden's campaign had 10 caucus members backing it, including Senators Frank Mahovlich and Art Eggleton and Liberal MPs Tina Keeper and Anita Neville.

Entered Race: April 28
Based: Toronto
Age: 58
Languages: English
Political Experience: Former Social Development Minister
Education: BA Cornell; LLB McGill
Quote:  "I believe in a big Canada, of big ambitions, big pride — a Canada that takes on big challenges."
Website: www.kendryden.ca
Fun Fact: Dryden has won six Stanley Cups, more than all the other nine Liberal leadership contenders combined.


Martha Hall Findlay 

Martha Hall Findlay

Dropped off after first ballot

Backed Dion

Marthamania never caught on but she is expected to be key to the future of a Liberal party looking to renew its image and promising to attract more women into politics. 

Hall Finlay's decision to back Dion after falling off the first ballot provided the eventual winner the early momentum on voting day. 

Her name first received media attention during the 2004 election campaign when she squared off in Newmarket-Aurora against then Tory candidate Belinda Stronach. 

Findlay came within 700 votes of upsetting Stronach on election night and had already been acclaimed in the riding for a rematch in the next election. Then in late May of last year, Findlay was informed that she would have to step aside to make way for Stronach who had crossed the floor to join the Liberals. 

On the first day of the convention, Finlay gained the support of Liberal MP Judy Sgro. She also had the support of former cabinet minister David Anderson.

Entered Race: February 8
Based: Toronto
Age: 46
Languages: Fluently bilingual (English/French)
Political Experience: Liberal candidate 2004 federal election
Education: BA University of Toronto's International Relations Program; LLB Osgoode Hall Law School. 
Quote: "My goal is to help build the Liberal Party back to one that Canadians want to vote for, in a positive way, not just because we’re less ‘bad’ than the alternatives." 
Website: marthahallfindlay.ca
Fun Fact: Silver medalist 1976 national ski championship


Former cabinet minister Scott Brison 

Scott Brison

Dropped off after first ballot

Backed Rae

Youth and past leadership campaign experience wasn't enough for Brison who finished dropped off after the first ballot results were announced. 

However, Brison went to Rae after dropping off and then chose Ignatieff for the final ballot. 

Brison finished fourth, behind Peter MacKay, David Orchard and Jim Prentice at the 2003 Progressive Conservative Leadership contest.  In that contest he backed Prentice on the final ballot and again was on the wrong side of the final results.

Less than a year later, Brison found himself at a press conference with Paul Martin to announce he was joining the Liberals. Brison went on to become the Liberals' pointman on Adscam during question period as public works minister. 

Brison had eight Liberal caucus members backing his campaign, including Liberal MPs Mark Eyking and Mike Savage. Brison also has the support of former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna.

Entered Race: April 23
Based: Nova Scotia
Age: 38
Languages: English 
Political Experience: Former Public Works Minister
Education: Commerce degree, Dalhousie
Web Site: www.scottbrison.ca
Fun Fact: Brison gave up his seat in Parliament in 2000 so Joe Clark could run in a by-election in his riding. 


Former cabinet minister Joe Volpe 

Joe Volpe

Dropped off after first ballot

Backed Rae

Despite a reputation for being a good organizer, controversy may have made Volpe less of a player in the race. 

He was the first candidate to voluntarily withdraw before the first-ballot results were announced. 

Volpe is an 18-year veteran of the House of Commons who was a backbencher until Paul Martin took power in 2003. 

Born in Italy, Volpe served as human resources minister and later replaced Judy Sgro as immigration minister.

Before entering politics, Volpe was a teacher, vice principal and later a principal. 

Volpe's had four MPs supporting his bid, including Joe Comuzzi and Massimo Pacetti. 

Entered Race: April 21
Based: Toronto
Age: 58
Languages: Fluently bilingual (English/French)
Political Experience: Former Immigration Minister
Education: Masters of Education University of Toronto
Web Site: www.joevolpe.ca
Quote:  "I think when people see Joe Volpe they're going to see somebody who is steeped in the Liberal party, somebody who knows opposition, who knows government." 


Liberal MP Belinda Stronach 

> Former Deputy PM John Manley announces he won't seek leadership (January 25).

> Former Ambassador Frank McKenna announces he won't seek leadership (January 30).

> Former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin announces he won't seek leadership (January 31). 

> Canada's ambassador to the UN Allan Rock announces he won't seek leadership (February 3).

> Former justice minister Martin Cauchon announces he won't enter the leadership race due to family commitments. (March 22).

> Liberal MP Belinda Stronach announces she is not entering the race (April 6)

Toronto MP John Godfrey 

John Godfrey  - Godfrey became the first candidate to drop out of the race on April 11, just four days after the race was officially launched. 

Godfrey cited undisclosed health reasons for leaving the race. 

Entered Race: March 20
Based: Toronto
Age: 63

> Former cabinet minister Joe Fontana tells the London Free Press he will not enter the leadership race. (April 20)

> Former finance minister Ralph Goodale tells supporters in a letter he is not entering the leadership race. (April 21)

> Denis Coderre, former immigration minister, announces he is not running. (May 3)

Toronto MP  Maurizio Bevilacqua 

Maurizio Bevilacqua - Bevilacqua became the first official candidate to drop out of the race on August 14. He is throwing his support to Bob Rae and will serve as a campaign co-chair. 

Entered Race: April 19
Dropped Out: August 14

Carolyn Bennett - Rae picked up another leadership candidate when Bennett dropped out of the race on September 15. Rae's campaign believes the support of the Toronto MP will help reduce concerns that Rae is a liability for the party in Ontario. 

Entered Race: April 24
Dropped Out: September 15

Hedy Fry - Ten days after Bennett dropped out, Fry became the third veteran Liberal MP to back Rae. She was the only candidate in a large field to be based in Western Canada.  

Entered Race: May 4
Dropped out: September 25


Liberal Leaders Through History

George Brown (1867 to 1872)
Alexander Mackenzie (March 6, 1873 - April 27, 1880)
Edward Blake (May 4, 1880 - June 2, 1887)
Wilfrid Laurier (June 23, 1887 - February 17, 1919)
*Daniel Duncan McKenzie (February 17, 1919 - August 7, 1919 interim leader)
William Lyon Mackenzie King (August 7, 1919 - August 6, 1948)
Louis St. Laurent (August 7, 1948 - January 15, 1958)
Lester B. Pearson (January 16, 1958 - April 5, 1968)
Pierre Trudeau (April 6, 1968 - June 15, 1984)
John Turner (June 16, 1984 - June 22, 1990)
*Herb Gray (February 6, 1990- December 21, 1990 interim Parliamentary leader)
Jean Chrétien (June 23, 1990 - November 13, 2003)
Paul Martin (November 14, 2003 - March 18, 2006)
*Bill Graham (February 1, 2006 - March 18, 2006 interim Parliamentary leader; March 18, 2006 - December 2, 2006)
Stephane Dion (December 2, 2006 - present)

(*interim leader)

:: PoliticsWatch Story of the Liberal leadership race to date
> "Front runner" Ignatieff faces uphill battle (June 16)
>  Volpe gives back kids' campaign donations (June 1)

> PM's Afghan vote puts opposition parties on the spot (May 16)
> The Bad News Bears of the Hill (May 5)
> I'm used to being underestimated- Rae (April 25)

> Belinda bails (April 6) 
> Ignatieff explains his past support for Iraq war (March 30) 

> Martin to officially resign as Liberal leader on weekend  (March 16) 
> NDP asks Shapiro to investigate Stronach defection (March 10) 
> Liberals want RCMP to look at leak about Brison  (March 8) 

> Bevilacqua considers leadership bid (March 3) 
> Volpe wins Oscar for waste (March 1) 
> Graham not sure who'd lead Liberals in case of an election (February 23) 
> Graham names former cabinet minister Stewart chief of staff (February 15) 
> Martin giving up power but staying on as leader (February 1)
> Liberal leadership wide open with McKenna out (January 30) 
> Martin resigns (January 24) 

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