2003 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election

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2003 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election

← 1990 November 14, 2003 2006 →
Candidate Paul Martin Sheila Copps
Delegate count 3,242 211
Percentage 93.8% 6.1%

Leader before election

Jean Chrétien

Elected Leader

Paul Martin

2003 Liberal leadership election
DateNovember 14, 2003
ConventionAir Canada Centre,
Toronto, Ontario
Resigning leaderJean Chrétien
Won byPaul Martin
Entrance Fee$75,000
Spending limit$4 million
Liberal leadership elections
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The 2003 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election ended on November 14, 2003, electing former Finance Minister Paul Martin as the party's new leader, replacing outgoing Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

Stakes for the race were high as the winner would go on to become prime minister, in addition to leading a party that was high in the polls without a significant challenger.

Paul Martin spent the entire race as the front runner, as his supporters had secured a lock on the party executives of the federal and most provincial sections of the party. Because of Martin's apparent strength, several prominent candidates, such as Allan Rock, and Brian Tobin, did not go beyond the formative stages.

Martin's only serious challengers were John Manley and Sheila Copps, the former of whom withdrew before delegate selection began. Martin easily captured the leadership with 93.8% of the delegates.

The party would be beset by significant infighting afterwards, as he and his supporters moved to remove Chrétien supporters from cabinet and even from Parliament. Martin's initial tactics to secure the leadership were generally seen, in retrospect, as weakening his eventual tenure as prime minister.[1]



  • June 2 - Paul Martin resigns as Finance Minister of Canada. John Manley is named to replace him.
  • August 21 - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien tells Canadians he will step down in February 2004.


  • February 13 - Sheila Copps announces she is going to run for leadership.
  • March 7 - Martin announces he is going to run for leadership.
  • March 17 - Manley announces he is going to run for leadership.
  • July 22 - Manley drops out of the race.
  • September 21 - Paul Martin's victory becomes a certainty when he secures 92% of the party delegates from across the country.
  • November 14 - Martin officially becomes leader of the Liberal Party of Canada winning 3,242 of 3,455 votes against Copps.
  • November 28 - Manley announces his retirement from politics.
  • December 12 - Martin is sworn in as Canada's prime minister, along with his cabinet.


Sheila Copps[edit]

Sheila Copps

Sheila Copps, 50, had been MP for Hamilton East, Ontario, since 1984. At the time of the leadership election, she was Minister of Canadian Heritage, since 1996. Previously, Copps had been Deputy Prime Minister (1993–1996, 1996–1997), Minister of the Environment (1993–1996), Minister of the Multiculturalism and Citizenship (1996), Minister of the Communications (1996), and Minister of Amateur Sport (1996–1999). Copps was a candidate during the 1990 leadership election, finishing in third.

Date campaign launched: February 13, 2003

Paul Martin[edit]

Paul Martin

Paul Martin, 65, had been MP for LaSalle—Émard, Quebec since 1988. From 1993 to 2002, he was Minister of Finance. Martin had previously stood for the leadership in the 1990 leadership election, finishing second. The combination of his leadership ambitions and Jean Chrétien's slim win during the 1997 election led to a period of infighting within the party, resulting in Martin leaving cabinet in June 2002, and Chrétien, in the face of a leadership review, announcing his intention to step down February 2004.

Date campaign launched: March 7, 2003
Endorsements of Paul Martin[2][3]

Withdrawn candidates[edit]

John Manley[edit]

John Manley

John Manley, 53, had been MP for Ottawa South, Ontario since 1988. At the time of his candidacy, he was the incumbent Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, both since 2002. Previously, Manley had been Minister of Industry, Science and Technology (1993–1995), Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (1993–1995), Minister of Industry (1995–2000) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2000–2002).
Manley withdrew from the race on July 22, 2003 and endorsed Martin.

Date campaign launched: March 17, 2003
Date campaign ended: July 22, 2003


Declined to run[edit]


First Ballot
Candidate Delegate Support Percentage
MARTIN, Paul Edgar Philippe 3,242 93.8%
COPPS, Sheila Maureen 211 6.1%
Spoiled ballots 2 0.1%
Total 3,455 100%
First ballot
Spoilt ballots


  1. ^ a b c d Previously supported John Manley.


  1. ^ Mickleburgh, Rob (September 25, 2011). "Topp's NDP campaign tactics border on bullying, professor warns". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "The Hill Times' List of Who Supports Whom in Liberal Leadership Race". The Hill Times. May 5, 2003. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "The Hill Times' List of Who Supports Whom in Liberal Leadership Race, After Manley's Exit". The Hill Times. July 28, 2003. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f McCarthy, Shawn (June 18, 2001). "Contenders jostling for PM's position". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "After the PM, a deluge of names". Maclean's. June 25, 2001. Retrieved December 4, 2021.

External links[edit]