The question now for Premier Christy Clark is which member of her caucus will step down and whether the opposition will stand aside when she runs for a seat again.
The fact that Ms. Clark returned the Liberal Party to power in British Columbia Tuesday night was matched in noteworthiness by the fact that voters in her riding shunned her.
She’s not the first Canadian political leader who won an election but was defeated in her own riding. It even happened twice to William Lyon Mackenzie King when he was prime minister.
A look at past cases in political history shows that usually a backbencher in a safe seat will resign so the leader can run in a by-election. Since the leader has just earned an electoral mandate from the population, oppositions also don’t field candidates in that by-election.
In April 1989, Clyde Wells brought the Liberals back to power for the first time in 17 years in Newfoundland. However, he lost in the riding of Humber East against Lynn Verge, who was justice minister and deputy premier in the outgoing Conservative government.
Mr. Wells previously held the central Newfoundland seat of Windsor-Buchans, which he won in a by-election.
“'I was aware Ms. Verge was a popular member and would be no pushover,” Mr. Wells said on election night. “'But I chose to run in Humber East because it's my home.”
Liberal Eddie Joyce, who held the neighbouring Bay of Islands seat, stepped aside and a month later Mr. Wells won by acclamation because the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats decided not to field a candidate.
Mr. Joyce became an aide in Mr. Wells’ executive office and in 1999 was re-elected in the same riding.
Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives have held power since 1971 but one of their less stellar moment came when premier Don Getty sought to get re-elected in March 1989. Even though the party won its sixth consecutive election, Mr. Getty lost to Liberal Percy Wickman in the south Edmonton riding of Whitemud, a Tory stronghold for 18 years.
Even though Recreation and Parks Minister Norman Weiss immediately offered his Fort McMurray seat, Mr. Getty first hired a Detroit research firm to poll Albertans. He eventually ran in the rural riding of of Stettler after it was freed by its MLA, Brian Downey. He had to face Liberal and New Democrat candidates but won easily, even though the episode was one of many setbacks in his career, paving the way to his successor, Ralph Klein.
The former Quebec premier resigned after he was turfed from power by the Parti Québécois in 1976. Following a seven-year political exile, he returned as Liberal Leader in October, 1983. After remaining without a seat for nearly 18 months, Mr. Bourassa was pressured into running when the PQ opened four seats for by-elections, none of them Liberal-friendly.
Still, Mr. Bourassa won a by-election in the riding of Bertrand, south of Montreal, in June of 1985. Later that year, a general election was called and the PQ government of Pierre-Marc Johnson made great efforts to defeat Mr. Bourassa in his riding. The PQ chose as a candidate in Bertrand a popular local mayor, Jean-Guy Parent, and appointed him to the provincial cabinet as an unelected minister of external trade.
On Dec. 3, the Liberals won in a landslide but Mr. Bourassa lost in Bertrand. Bourassa aide Ronald Poupart said afterward that the PQ's tactics constituted one of the dirtiest “low blows” seen in Quebec politics.
“They were frustrated by his incredible comeback. They turned it into something personal. If we had done the same thing in Mr. Johnson's riding, it wouldn't have been very hard to defeat him,” Mr. Poupart said, noting that in his electoral district Mr. Johnson only edged the Liberal candidate Denis Ricard by 344 votes.
Liberal MNA Germain Leduc, who held the safe federalist riding of St-Laurent, ceded his seat so Mr. Bourassa could run again and the PQ didn’t name a candidate. Competing against fringe-party candidates, Mr. Bourassa won his seat by a 14,319-ballot margin.
Mr. Leduc was named to the board of a crown corporation, la Société de développement industriel. The riding of Bertrand, now known as Marguerite D'Youville, remained a Péquiste constituency until the 2003 election.
WILLIAM LYON MACKENZIE KING
After his first term as prime minister, King saw his Liberals returned to power in the October 1925 federal election but only as a minority government. King lost in the Toronto-area riding of North York to Conservative Thomas Lennox so he ran in a by-election in February 1926 in Prince Albert, Sask., which he represented until 1945.
In the June 1945 general election, the Liberals won a third consecutive mandate, though King was defeated in his Saskatchewan riding by 129 votes.
He returned to an Ontario constituency and was elected in a by-election in August 1945 in Glengarry. Again, opposition parties stood aside and he handily defeated Richard Monahan, a doctor who ran as an independent Liberal.
- Who will step aside to bring Clark to the Legislature?
- In winning re-election, Clark rose above perception and rebellion
- Why were the polls completely wrong about the B.C. election?