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Paul Martin, prime minister no longer

The Story

After nearly two decades of working his way to the summit of Canadian politics, Paul Martin's tenure at the top seems to be over in the blink of an eye. On Jan. 23, 2006, his Liberals fall to Stephen Harper's Conservatives, who capture a minority of their own. Conceding defeat, Martin announces he will also step down as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. His stint at the helm lasted just two years. The man who had charted his course so carefully and waited for so long to realize his dream is already retreating into the background. How did it all go wrong? On CBC Radio's The Current, Liberal insiders Herb Dhaliwal and Akaash Maharaj examine Martin's undoing.

Medium: Radio
Program: The Current
Broadcast Date: Jan. 25, 2006
Guests: Herb Dhaliwal, Akaash Maharaj
Host: Anna Maria Tremonti
Duration: 12:05

Did You know?

• The winter campaign leading up to the Jan. 23, 2006, federal election lasted 56 days. It was the longest campaign in two decades, allowing for downtime over the holidays.

• In the wake of the sponsorship scandal, the 2006 election was in many ways a referendum on the Liberal party itself, not the key issues of health care, daycare and tax cuts.

• The Liberals did not do well during the campaign. Their advertisements attacking the Conservatives were poorly received, and Martin seemed flustered in his public appearances.


• The election resulted in a Conservative minority victory, though the Liberals did not fare as poorly as many pollsters predicted. The Conservatives took 124 seats to 103 for the Liberals. The Bloc Québécois captured 51 seats, the NDP took 29 and there was one independent.

• Soon after midnight, Paul Martin conceded defeat. In his concession speech Martin announced he would step down as Liberal leader. "I will continue to represent with pride the people of LaSalle-Émard, but I will not take our party into another election as leader," Martin told his supporters.

• It's rare for a defeated prime ministers to announce their resignation during their concession speech, but Martin wanted to head off any discussion of whether he should step down. While many Liberal insiders were caught off guard by the election night announcement, there was little protest.

• At 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 24, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Martin told Governor General Michaëlle Jean that he was resigning. The same day, Jean asked Conservative leader Stephen Harper to prepare to form the next government.

• On Feb. 1, 2006, Paul Martin stepped down from the Liberal party leadership, asking Toronto MP Bill Graham to act as interim leader and leader of the Official Opposition until a new leader is appointed at a convention later in the year.

• Stephen Harper became Canada's 22nd prime minister on Feb. 6, 2006.



Paul Martin: Prime Minister in Waiting more