Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

When McGuinty’s gone, Harper will be the last first minister standing

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty answer questions at a news conference in Toronto June 1, 2009.


A political generation has passed. In early 2006, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper took office, 10 men ran Canada's provincial governments.

Early next year, when Dalton McGuinty's successor assumes the office of Ontario Premier, all of those leaders will be different – save for Mr. Harper.

Mr. McGuinty was the last of a group of premiers who had won multiple elections and served for nine years or more. Unless Mr. Harper bows out early, that's the minimum he'll have been in office when he faces the polls again in 2015.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. McGuinty announced his resignation as the leader of the Ontario Liberal party on Monday evening. He first won election in 2003, followed by a majority re-election in 2007 and a minority in 2011. In recent months, Mr. McGuinty and his party have been caught up in controversy over how and why they cancelled plans to build two power plants before the 2011 campaign.

That 2006 class of premiers also includes Gordon Campbell, the B.C. Liberal premier, who served from 2001 to 2011. He won three majority mandates, but resigned halfway through his third term after his popularity plummeted during a campaign to reverse the province's newly harmonized sales tax. He was replaced as party leader and premier by Christy Clark. Mr. Campbell now serves as the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

2006 was the last year in office for Ralph Klein, Alberta's premier for 14 years. The former Calgary mayor has been replaced twice as Progressive Conservative leader and premier: first by Ed Stelmach and then by Alison Redford. Mr. Klein retired from politics after stepping down.

Gary Doer, now the ambassador to the United States, was Manitoba premier from 1999 to 2009. He was replaced by Greg Selinger as NDP leader.

Pat Binns was a Progressive Conservative premier of Prince Edward Island from 1996 until he lost re-election in 2007. He then served as Canada's ambassador to Ireland.

Jean Charest, leader of the Quebec Liberals and one-time leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives, was Quebec premier from 2003 until losing an election in September.

That's six of 10 premiers active in early 2006 who served for nine years or more. Some of the others also had a long run.

Story continues below advertisement

Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams served from 2003 to 2010 and, when he resigned, still enjoyed extremely positive approval ratings. He was replaced by Kathy Dunderdale, who won election herself last year. New Brunswick's ex-premier Bernard Lord, in office for as long as Mr. Williams, lost re-election in 2006 to a Liberal who in turn lost in 2010.

The other provinces have had more turnover since Mr. Harper was first voted in. New Democrat Lorne Calvert was premier of Saskatchewan from 2001 until he lost re-election in 2007, and Nova Scotia's Rodney MacDonald only had a single three-year term that started in 2006.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to