The agony of defeat

The choices federal leaders made after losing an election

There's no silver medal for coming in second in a Canadian election. The party leader who fails to become prime minister — or loses the top job — usually faces questions about his or her political future.

After losing an election, some party leaders quit on the spot. Others take time to mull over their options or announce they’re not leaving, and sometimes have to face the wrath of party faithful who’d rather see them gone.

Here's a look at what some of Canada’s party leaders did after falling short in federal elections.

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Year Leader Action
2006Paul Martin (Liberal)Resigned as leader on election night
2004Stephen Harper (Conservative)Stayed on as leader, passed leadership review in 2005
2000Stockwell Day (Canadian Alliance)Stayed on as leader until 2002
1997Preston Manning (Reform)Stayed on as leader until Canadian Alliance formed in 2000
1993Kim Campbell (Progressive Conservative)Resigned as leader more than a month after the election
1993Lucien Bouchard (Bloc)Second-place finish was the best possible result, stayed on as leader
1988John Turner (Liberal)Resigned as leader a year after 1988 defeat, passed leadership review after 1984 defeat


Joe Clark (Progressive Conservative)Passed leadership review in 1983 but resigned in 1983 after failing to increase support within party