40 years ago, Joe Clark became prime minister at age 39
Tory leader had hoped for a majority, but would instead lead a minority government
In just seven years, Joe Clark went from being a rookie MP to party leader to prime minister of Canada.
In May 1979, Clark led the Progressive Conservatives to the end of 16 years of Liberal rule. His party won 136 seats to the Liberals' 114, the NDP's 26 and six for Social Credit.
The election fell days before Clark celebrated his 40th birthday. And Clark became the youngest-ever prime minister in Canadian history.
When the election was called in March 1979, Clark told reporters he was "quite sure" his party would win a majority.
One month earlier, a Gallup poll put the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives in a dead heat with 39 and 38 per cent support, respectively.
Clark, who had been assured of his party's support at a leadership review in November 1977, largely focused on attacking the Liberals' economic record.
His campaign also aimed to convince Canadians of the need for change.
The weekend before the election, the parties were still virtually tied: the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives each had 37.5 per cent, with the NDP at 19 per cent.
The Liberals' support was much higher in Quebec, meaning the Tories were in the lead nationally.
The Progressive Conservatives won 57 of Ontario's 95 seats in the election. Their nationwide total of 136 was just seven seats shy of a majority.