Canadian political parties have measures in place to keep their leaders from overstaying their welcomes. In most cases, delegates at party conventions, usually held every two years, vote in a referendum on the leader's performance. The result signifies the strength of the party membership's confidence in its leader.

The process is commonly referred to as a leadership review, and not all parties go about it the same way.

Some parties only hold a leadership review after failing to form the government. Others, especially provincial parties that have kept a steady hold on power for decades, hold a leadership review every few years.

Here's a look at what Canada's five major parties do.

Conservative party


Stephen Harper, seen at the Conservative party's founding convention in 2005, breezed through the first and, so far, only Conservative leadership review vote with the backing of 84 per cent of the delegates. ((Francois Roy/Canadian Press))

The Tories hold a leadership review at the first convention after an election in which they don't form the government. The party held a leadership review vote at its founding policy convention in 2005 because it failed to form a government in the 2004 election.

Party members must be elected as delegates to the convention in order to vote.

Leader Stephen Harper received the support of 84 per cent of delegates in the 2005 leadership review.

Since the party won the 2006 federal election, the 2005 leadership review has been the only one in its history.

Liberal party

Like the Conservatives, the Liberals also hold leadership reviews — called "leadership endorsement votes" — after every election in which they don't form the government. There was no leadership review after the 2006 election because outgoing prime minister Paul Martin stepped down immediately.

The Liberal leadership review process uses the one member, one vote system. Members vote on whether or not to endorse the leader at their local delegate selection meetings.

The ballots are counted at the convention, where the results are announced.

Bloc Québécois

The Bloc Québécois, which can never form a federal government because it does not run candidates outside Quebec, holds a leadership review at every convention.

Like the Conservative process, Bloc members must be elected as delegates to the party's convention in order to vote in a leadership review. Leader Gilles Duceppe won the backing of 95 per cent of delegates at the party's most recent convention.

New Democratic Party

The federal New Democrats hold a leadership review every two years, even if an election hasn't been held between the party's conventions.

Leader Jack Layton received a 92 per cent approval rating at the party's 2006 convention.

Layton will face another leadership review at the next convention regardless of how well or poorly the party fares in the federal election on Oct. 14.

Green party


Elizabeth May, seen at the Green party convention in 2006, will face a leadership review or a leadership race at the next convention. ((Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press))

The Greens, like the NDP, hold a leadership review at each of their conventions every two years — but with a twist. If a member wishes to challenge the sitting leader for the leadership, the leadership review automatically becomes a leadership race.

If no challenger comes forward, the vote is a referendum on the sitting leader's performance.

The Greens elected Elizabeth May as their leader in 2006, after former leader Jim Harris opted to step down. Had Harris wanted to stay on as Green leader, he would have faced a leadership review at the 2006 convention.

The 2008 convention was scheduled for September but was postponed after the fall election was called. A new date has yet to be announced.

May will face a leadership review or, if a challenge to her leadership surfaces, a leadership race.

Provincial parties

The circumstances differ from province to province, but many provincial parties hold leadership reviews even while serving as the government, and some sitting premiers have been removed from power that way.


Ralph Klein, seen at the 2006 Alberta Progressive Conservative convention, stepped down after only receiving an approval rating of 55 per cent in a leadership review. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein resigned as leader of his province's Progressive Conservative party after receiving the support of 55 per cent of delegates to a party convention in 2006.

When the Ontario Liberal party held a leadership review after winning a second majority mandate in 2007, Leader Dalton McGuinty won 95.4 per cent of delegate support.

In the meantime, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory faced an organized movement calling for his defeat in a post-election leadership review. Tory hung on to his job with 66.9 per cent of support from delegates.

In Quebec, former Parti Québécois leader Bernard Landry quit as leader in 2005 after falling short of the support level he set for himself — 80 per cent.