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Will Joe Clark go?

The Story


Joe Clark is in the fight of his political life. Seven challengers have lined up to capture the job he's held for seven years. Though he's running first with over 1,000 supporters, Clark is unlikely to win over more delegates in later ballots. From the convention floor, CBC reporter Susan Reisler considers Clark's chances of victory. 

Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: June 9, 1983
Guests: Bob Howard, John McDermid, Sinclair Stevens, Michael Wilson
Host: Barbara Frum, Peter Kent
Reporter: Susan Reisler
Duration: 5:53

Did You know?


• Clark had two main competitors in the leadership contest: Montreal lawyer and businessman Brian Mulroney, who had placed third in the 1976 race, and Newfoundland MP John Crosbie, Clark's former finance minister.

• Rounding out the list of contenders were investment banker and former cabinet member Michael Wilson, former Toronto mayor David Crombie, Edmonton businessman Peter Pocklington, MP John Gamble and anti-metric crusader Neil Fraser.

• "For the 3,000 delegates to the [Progressive] Conservative party's leadership convention, the choice today is between the return of Joe Clark or the movement known as ABC - Anyone But Clark." - Globe and Mail, June 11, 1983

• In an effort to win more support, Clark's campaign asked every one of his 1,000 delegates to find a non-Clark delegate to win over.

• "The question for Canadians is can we win... Yes... We can win except when we are fighting ourselves," Clark said in his convention speech, which also emphasized his experience fighting the Liberals. "I do more than reflect and respect this country... I fight for it."

• Clark began the speech by reminding the delegates of his strong belief in party unity, and closed it with: "I ask for your continued trust and help."

• Voting took place on Saturday, June 11, 1983. Clark led on the first ballot, with 1,091 votes to Mulroney's 874 and Crosbie's 639.

• On the second ballot, Clark's support was nearly unchanged at 1,086. Mulroney's support grew to 1,021, as did Crosbie's to 781.

• The third ballot was a near repeat of the second. On the fourth, once Crosbie dropped out, Mulroney triumphed with 1,584 votes to Clark's 1,325.

• According to the Globe and Mail, Clark would not allow booing of Mulroney's name at a party-turned-wake after the voting. "I meant what I said tonight about party unity," he told supporters.

• Mulroney had kind words for his opponent after the vote, complimenting him as "a friend, as a colleague-in-arms, and as a distinguished and thoughtful Canadian." Mulroney also said Clark must remain a major party player.

• A year later, in the 1984 election, the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney won the largest majority in Canadian history with 211 of 282 seats in Parliament.

• Clark ran in the election as a Progressive Conservative candidate and easily won his Alberta seat of Yellowhead.

• True to his word, Mulroney named Clark Secretary of State for External Affairs in his cabinet. Clark held the post from 1984 to 1991.


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