Liberal Party of Canada Leadership Election, 2006 - Timeline


  • January 23, 2006 - As returns indicate that the Liberals had lost the 2006 federal election to Stephen Harper's Conservatives, Prime Minister Paul Martin concedes the election and announces his intention to resign as Liberal party leader. In his concession speech, held in the early hours of the morning (EST), he states: "I will continue to represent with pride the people of LaSalle—Émard, but I will not take our party into another election as leader".
  • January 25, 2006:
    • Former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada John Manley informs the media that he will not seek the party leadership, stating "While I hope to play a role in the renewal, healing and unification of the Liberal party, I have decided for personal reasons that I will not be a leadership candidate" On election night Manley appeared on CBC television's coverage of the election, and immediately after Prime Minister Paul Martin's announcement was asked whether he might seek the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Manley's response at that time was to poke fun at himself saying: "Some may want a dynamic, charismatic leader. Some others may support me."
    • Former Premier of New Brunswick Frank McKenna announces his resignation as Canada's ambassador to the United States. Although submitted in the context of giving Harper the opportunity to appoint an Ambassador who will support Harper's vision of U.S. - Canada relations, it was widely speculated that he was lining up for a run at the federal Liberal leadership.
  • January 30, 2006 - Surprising many pundits, Frank McKenna announces he will not run for the leadership. Prior to this, McKenna had been tipped and widely reported as the race's frontrunner. While recognizing the significance of the leadership McKenna acknowledged: "You’ve got pretty good odds of being the prime minister if you’re leader of the Liberal party." However, he put an end to his association with the 2006 Liberal Party leadership race, explaining that he did not want "his life to become consumed by politics." as he had allowed it to become when he was premier of New Brunswick. He also said his decision was in part because: "I reminded myself of my vow upon leaving office that, having escaped the trap, I wouldn’t go back for the cheese."
  • January 31, 2006 - Brian Tobin announces he will not seek the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Mr. Tobin rationalized his stepping out of the running as an opportunity for the Liberal Party to heal, revitalize and rejuvenate itself. In his words: "... I think it's time for new blood and I think it's time for new players and I think this is an opportunity for the Liberal party to renew itself and, in the process, to heal itself a little bit as well." and that: "I think that I've had my opportunity and I made my contribution. I enjoyed it enormously."
  • February 1, 2006 - ^ Prime Minister Martin announces that he will remain leader of the Liberal Party until his successor is chosen but will not take on the position of leader of the opposition, allowing caucus to choose a parliamentary leader. Later that day the Liberal caucus chooses Bill Graham for that position, and Lucienne Robillard is named as his deputy. Martin subsequently moved up the date his resignation became effective to March 18, 2006.
  • February 3, 2006 - Both Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock announce they will not run for the leadership of the Liberal party.
  • February 6, 2006 - Martin resigns as Prime Minister, succeeded by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.
  • February 8, 2006 - ^ Martha Hall Findlay becomes first to declare candidacy for the leadership.
  • March 1, 2006 - The Toronto Star reports that Gerard Kennedy is seriously considering a leadership bid and that he is backed by Senator Terry Mercer, former national director of the Liberal Party of Canada.
  • March 9, 2006 - Scott Brison is revealed to have sent an email to an investment banker in November 2005 prior to the Martin government's change of policy on income trusts. It is also revealed that the RCMP had interviewed Brison as part of its investigation on an alleged leak of information on the policy shift and related claims of "insider trading". Though Brison insists he was only passing on public information, his judgement in the matter has raised questions about his suitability as a candidate for the party's leadership.
  • March 13, 2006 - Bob Rae gives a speech to the Canadian Club in Winnipeg outlining his views of the problems facing the country. He says he'll make up his mind on whether he'll run for the Liberal leadership in the next few days.
  • March 14, 2006 - Mark Marissen, Martin's chief organizer in British Columbia, reportedly commits to manage the Dion leadership campaign. This likely confirms Marissen's wife Christy Clark is not considering a run at the leadership herself.
  • March 18, 2006:
    • The federal Liberal Party's national executive holds the first of two days of meetings to decide on the date of the leadership convention as well as the preliminary rules for the contest.
    • Paul Martin formally resigns as leader and Bill Graham is appointed interim leader of the party until the convention.
  • March 19, 2006:
    • Convention rules and spending limits are finalized.
    • A press conference is held at 3 p.m., during which the date and location of the convention, the entrance fee for candidates, spending limits and other details of the process for selecting the new leader are announced.
    • Don Valley West MP John Godfrey becomes the second declared candidate for the leadership. "I intend to run I just don't think this thing, in the end, is going to be won by money."
  • March 20, 2006 - Musician Ashley MacIsaac declares himself a candidate for the leadership; his announcement is widely characterized in the media as a publicity stunt to promote his new album. However, MacIsaac never formally files his registration as a candidate, and announces in June that he is abandoning his campaign, officially citing his lack of ability to speak French.
  • March 23, 2006 - At the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, Paul Zed and Dennis Mills host a cocktail reception honouring Sheila Copps for thirty years in public life. The event is attended by virtually every declared or rumoured leadership hopeful, and is viewed by most as the public launch of the leadership race.
  • March 29, 2006 - Vaughan MP Maurizio Bevliacqua confirms in a television interview that he will likely be a candidate.
  • April 5, 2006
    • Gerard Kennedy resigns from the Ontario cabinet clearing the way for him to enter the federal leadership contest.
    • According to the Globe & Mail, Bob Rae has submitted his application to join the Liberal Party.
  • April 6, 2006 - Belinda Stronach announced she wouldn't join the race citing the way the contest is structured. Sources close to Stronach also cite her lack of French as a factor.
  • April 7, 2006
    • The leadership campaign formally starts on this date, the first in which candidates can officially register and the date from which time window for the selection of delegates and party membership is counted.
    • Stéphane Dion joined the race. His stated priorities include economic and social development, environmental sustainability and a better public health services.
    • Michael Ignatieff officially declares his candidacy.
  • April 8, 2006 - The Alberta wing of the Liberal Party holds its annual convention in Edmonton. A "leadership panel" is organized which is billed as the first opportunity for declared and prospective candidates to appear and "debate" each other. Declared candidates Clifford Blais, Stéphane Dion, John Godfrey, Martha Hall Findlay, Michael Ignatieff, and Gerard Kennedy, participate along with undeclared candidates Maurizio Bevilacqua, Carolyn Bennett, Scott Brison, Ruby Dhalla, Joe Fontana, Hedy Fry, John McCallum, Bob Rae, Joe Volpe, and Paul Zed. Denis Coderre was absent due to a prior commitment. Ken Dryden could not attend due to a family wedding.
  • April 12, 2006 - John Godfrey withdraws from the race, citing concerns about his health.
  • April 19, 2006 - Greater Toronto Area MP Maurizio Bevilacqua officially enters the race.
  • April 21, 2006 - Toronto MP Joe Volpe enters race.
  • April 23, 2006 - Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison enters the race.
  • April 24, 2006 - Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae and Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett formally declare their candidacies.
  • April 27, 2006 - Toronto MPP Gerard Kennedy enters the race.
  • April 28, 2006 - Toronto MP Ken Dryden launches his campaign.
  • May 4, 2006 - Hedy Fry announces her leadership bid.
  • June 1, 2006 - Following demands for an investigation and accusations that he had violated the Elections Act, Joe Volpe gives back $27,000 in donations given by the children of Apotex corporate executives who had exceeded the legal limit for their own individual donations.
  • June 10, 2006 - The first formal leadership debate of the campaign occurred in Winnipeg.
  • June 17, 2006 - Moncton hosted the campaign's second formal debate.
  • July 4, 2006 - Deadline for anyone wishing to vote in the leadership election to take out party membership if they are not a member already or if they are a former member whose membership has lapsed. Those who were formerly "Life members" (a defunct category in Newfoundland and New Brunswick) have until the end of September to renew.
  • July 13, 2006 - The Toronto Star reports that Gerard Kennedy appears to have signed up more new members than any other candidate. The article says that it had been "conventional widsom" that Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae were the leaders in the race but "(t)hese numbers would indicate a change in the dynamic of the race".
  • July 26, 2006 - Jim Karygiannis resigned as national chair of Joe Volpe's campaign due to disagreements over Volpe's position on the war in Lebanon.
  • August 14, 2006 - Maurizio Bevilacqua becomes the first official candidate to drop out of the race. He throws his support to Bob Rae.
  • August 21–24, 2006 - Vancouver - National Liberal Caucus meets in Vancouver, BC
  • August 22, 2006 - Liberal Women's Caucus Leadership Forum in Vancouver.
  • September 10, 2006 - Quebec leadership and policy forum in Quebec City.
  • September 15, 2006 - Carolyn Bennett withdraws from the race and endorses Bob Rae.
  • September 17, 2006 - British Columbia leadership and policy forum in Vancouver.
  • September 25, 2006 - Hedy Fry withdraws and endorses Bob Rae.
  • September 29 - October 1, 2006 - "Super Weekend" during which all riding associations and party clubs elect delegates to the convention.
  • September 30, 2006 - Deadline for candidates to formally register.
  • October 10, 2006 - A debate for the "frontrunners" is hosted jointly by the Canadian Club of Toronto and the Empire Club of Canada. It is a tradition, according to the clubs, that dates back 100 years to invite the frontrunning candidates in Toronto mayoral elections as well as Ontario and federal leadership campaigns. Messrs. Ignatieff, Rae, Kennedy and Dion were invited but Mr. Ignatieff declined to attend. Mr. Ignatieff said he would not attend unless all eight candidates were allowed to participate though the clubs said he also offered to come and speak individually without other candidates present.
  • October 15, 2006 - Toronto leadership and policy forum.
  • November 29 - December 1, 2006 - Liberal biennial convention.
  • December 1, 2006 - Candidate speeches and first ballot. Joe Volpe dropped out prior to the 1st ballot results were given, endorses Bob Rae. And after Rae was eliminated, endorses Stéphane Dion.
  • December 2, 2006
    • Martha Hall Findlay arrives last on the 1st ballot, endorses Stéphane Dion.
    • Scott Brison drops out after the 1st ballot, endorses Bob Rae. And after Rae was eliminated, endorses Michael Ignatieff.
    • Ken Dryden arrives last on the 2nd ballot, endorses Bob Rae. And after Rae was eliminated, endorses Stéphane Dion.
    • Gerard Kennedy drops out after the 2nd ballot, endorses Stéphane Dion.
    • Bob Rae arrives last on the 3rd ballot, releases delegates.
    • Stéphane Dion wins the Liberal leadership over Micheal Ignatieff on the 4th and final ballot.

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