New Democratic Party leadership election, 2012

New Democratic Party leadership election, 2012
New Democratic Party leadership election, 2012
Date March 24, 2012
Convention Exhibition Place
Toronto, Ontario
to replace
Jack Layton
Entrance Fee $15,000
Spending limit $500,000

New Democratic Party leadership elections

1961 · 1971 · 1975 · 1989 · 1995 · 2003 · 2012

A leadership election will be held to replace Jack Layton who died in office on August 22, 2011.

An election for the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP), a social democratic party in Canada, will occur on March 24, 2012, as a result of the death of Jack Layton, the party's former leader. The party's executive and caucus set the rules for the campaign at a series of meetings in September 2011. The election will occur in Toronto and on the Internet, with final results announced at the Leadership Convention, held at Exhibition Place's Allstream Centre. The vote will be open to all NDP members in a process known as One Member One Vote (OMOV), with each member voting by preferential ballot in advance, or with a single ballot for each round on the day of the election. The entrance fee was set at $15,000 and each candidates' spending limit was capped at $500,000.

The winner will become the NDP's seventh leader elected since its founding in 1961. Since the NDP is the Official Opposition, the winner of the election will consequently become Leader of the Official Opposition if they already sit in or upon their taking a seat in the House of Commons.


Convention timing

In a letter written days before his death, Layton recommended that a leadership election be held as early as possible in 2012 on approximately the same time lines as in 2003, and that Nycole Turmel, who had been appointed interim leader because of his illness, continue in that role until the election of a permanent leader.[1] Turmel initially said that the party intended to hold the leadership election in January 2012.[2] Others, including party president Brian Topp and Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair—both prospective candidates—called for a longer race. Topp agreed with calls for a vote later in the year, such as February or March. Mulcair said he would not run if the convention is held too early. Like Topp, he suggests a convention in "late winter or early spring". He also pointed out that such a time frame would be consistent with the last leadership election, which took 7.5 months (June 6, 2002 – January 23, 2003).[3] On September 9, the NDP federal council set the election for March 24, 2012, in Toronto.[4] The longer timeline allows more members to be recruited in Quebec, which has low numbers but, following the "orange wave" in the recent election, the bulk of the party's MPs.[5]

Election rules

The leadership election will be held by secret ballot open to all members during a convention. In the 2003 leadership election, members were able to vote in person at the convention, by mail, or online.[6] Also in that election, affiliated organizations (such as trade unions) were allotted a minimum of 25 percent of the vote, with the remainder held by individual party members.[2][6] The party's federal executive ruled in September 2011 that a 2006 change to the party constitution mandating one member, one vote precluded a carve out for affiliated groups.[7] Party president and leadership candidate Brian Topp supported retaining the carve-out as did former MP Dawn Black, while current MPs Thomas Mulcair, Peter Stoffer, and Pat Martin opposed it.[8][9]

Candidates in the campaign will have a $500,000 spending limit.[4]

On September 14, 2011, Nycole Turmel announced rules for candidates from the federal caucus that would members of the caucus executive, e.g., deputy leaders, to stay in post, but would require critics and committee chairs and vice chairs to step down if they chose to join the race.[10]

All those who are party members by February 18, 2012 are eligible to vote and may do so in one of three ways: 1) Mail-in preferential ballot; 2) by internet either by casting a preferential ballot prior to March 24, 2012 or by voting ballot by ballot in real time on March 24; or 3) In person as a delegate at convention.


  • January 25, 2003: Jack Layton wins the leadership election to succeed Alexa McDonough.
  • May 2, 2011: For the first time in the party's history, the NDP became the Official Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons due to the party's runner-up finish in the 2011 federal election. Of its 103 seats, 59 were won in Quebec as a result of the party's breakthrough in that province.
  • July 25, 2011: Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton takes a medical leave of absence; Nycole Turmel is appointed acting leader of the New Democratic Party.[11]
  • August 22, 2011: Jack Layton dies of cancer. Turmel becomes interim leader of the NDP, and acting Leader of the Opposition.
  • September 9, 2011: The NDP federal council meets to discuss the date and rules for the election, and the venue for the convention.[12]
  • September 15, 2011: Campaign rules for caucus are announced by interim leader Nycole Turmel, official start of the leadership campaign, and nomination period opens.[13]
  • January 24, 2012: Deadline to register as leadership candidate.[14]
  • February 18, 2012: Membership deadline to join the NDP and be eligible to vote.[13]
  • March 24, 2012: Last day of voting. Results announced at leadership convention being held in Toronto at Exhibition Place.[4]


Declared candidates

Niki Ashton


Niki Ashton has been the MP for Churchill, Manitoba since 2008. Until she announced her bid, she had been the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women. She is also a past shadow cabinet critic for Youth, and for Rural and Community Development.

Date campaign launched: November 7, 2011[15]
Campaign website:

Robert Chisholm

Robert Chisholm

Robert Chisholm is the current MP for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was first elected federally during the 2011 election, and until he announced his candidacy, was the Official Opposition's Critic for International Trade, ACOA and the Atlantic Gateway.[20][21] Prior to federal politics, he was the Leader of the Nova Scotia NDP from 1996 to 2000.[21] In 1998, he lead the NDP to official opposition, the first time since the party's predecessor Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) accomplished that feat in the 1940s under Donald MacDonald.[22] Chisholm was a former Atlantic Regional Director for Canadian Union of Public Employees.[23] He does not speak fluent French, and is currently in a French immersion course.[24] He announced his candidacy at a press conference in Halifax, on October 30.[20]

Date campaign launched: October 30, 2011[20]
Campaign website:

Nathan Cullen

Nathan Cullen

Nathan Cullen is MP for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, first elected in 2004. Cullen is the most experienced and long-standing Parliamentarian in the leadership race. Before becoming involved in politics, Cullen worked in community and economic development throughout Latin America, North America and Africa and also started his own business, Maravilla Consultants, providing strategic planning and conflict resolution services to business, government, and non-profit agencies throughout B.C.[26] Cullen has served as a critic in the NDP shadow cabinet, first for environment, national parks and youth, then natural resources and energy. In the current Parliament, Cullen serves as Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Privacy, Access to Information and Ethics.[27] He is also the Associate Critic for Natural Resources, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and Environment and Sustainable Development.[28] In the 2011 federal election, Cullen received over 55% of the popular vote in his constituency, the highest plurality in the region since 1962.[29] He is functionally trilingual (English, French and Spanish).[30][31]

Date campaign launched: September 30, 2011[29]
Campaign website:

Paul Dewar

Paul Dewar

Paul Dewar has been MP for Ottawa Centre since 2006, and served as critic for foreign affairs. He has also chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity. He is a former teacher and elected representative of the Ottawa Carleton Elementary School Teachers' Federation. Earlier in his career he was constituency assistant to then-MPP Evelyn Gigantes. He understands but is not conversant in French.[33]

Date campaign launched: October 2, 2011[33]
Campaign website:

Thomas Mulcair

Thomas Mulcair

Thomas "Tom" Mulcair has been the NDP MP for Outremont and one of two deputy leaders of the party since 2007, and has served as house leader and finance critic. Prior to holding elective office he was a lawyer and public official. As a member of the Quebec Liberal Party, he represented the Laval riding of Chomedey in the National Assembly of Quebec from 1994 to 2007, and was Quebec's Minister of the Environment from 2003 to 2006. The Quebec Liberals were not officially affiliated with any federal party, and the federal NDP were not officially affiliated with any provincial party in Quebec, at the time and since. His mother is French Canadian; he was raised and educated and built his career in Quebec and is fluently bilingual.

Date campaign launched: October 13, 2011
Campaign website:
  • MPs: (33) Jamie Nicholls, Vaudreuil-Soulanges; Robert Aubin, Trois-Rivières; Claude Patry, Jonquière—Alma; François Lapointe, Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup;[35] Pierre Nantel, Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher; Marc-André Morin, Laurentides—Labelle; Tarik Brahmi, Saint-Jean;[36] Matthew Dubé, Chambly—Borduas;[37] Alexandrine Latendresse, Louis-Saint-Laurent;[38] Hélène LeBlanc, LaSalle—Émard; Jean Rousseau, Compton—Stanstead; Mathieu Ravignat, Pontiac; Sadia Groguhé, Saint-Lambert; Pierre-Luc Dusseault, Sherbrooke;[39] Djaouida Sellah, Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert;[40] Annick Papillon, Québec; Anne-Marie Day, Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles;[41] Philip Toone, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine; Jonathan Tremblay, Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord; Jonathan Genest-Jourdain, Manicouagan; Sylvain Chicoine, Châteauguay—Saint-Constant; Réjean Genest, Shefford; Sana Hassainia, Verchères—Les Patriotes; Pierre Jacob, Brome—Missisquoi; Marie-Claude Morin, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot; José Nunez-Melo, Laval; Manon Perreault, Montcalm; François Pilon, Laval—Les Îles; Lise St-Denis, Saint-Maurice—Champlain, Dan Harris, Scarborough Southwest; Matthew Kellway, Beaches—East York; Wayne Marston, Hamilton East—Stoney Creek; John Rafferty, Thunder Bay—Rainy River.[42]
  • Current/former provincial NDP leaders: (1) Dominic Cardy, leader of the New Brunswick NDP[43]
  • Past MPs: (2) Lorne Nystrom, former Saskatchewan MP and 2003 leadership candidate; Phil Edmonston, first-ever elected NDP MP in Quebec[44]
  • Other prominent individuals: Julius Grey, civil rights lawyer;[43] Michael Byers, author and former NDP candidate[45]

Peggy Nash

Peggy Nash

Peggy Nash is the current MP for Parkdale—High Park, in Toronto, Ontario. She also represented the electoral district from 2006 to 2008. Until she announced her candidacy, she was the Official Opposition critic for finance, and in her previous term in Parliament was party critic for industry.[46] She served as the President of the NDP from 2009 until 2011. Prior to being elected an MP, she was a Canadian Auto Workers negotiator, and became the first woman in North America to negotiate a major contract with one of the "Big Three" Detroit automakers, when she negotiated a contract with Ford in 2005.[47] She holds an honours degree in French language and literature from the University of Toronto, and is fluent in English, French and Spanish.[48]

Date campaign launched: October 28, 2011[49]
Campaign website:

Romeo Saganash

Romeo Saganash

Romeo Saganash is the MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, Quebec, first elected in May 2011, and was critic for natural resources. Saganash is also former Deputy Grand Chief and director of governmental relations and international affairs for the Grand Council of the Crees and former vice-chairman of the Cree Regional Authority. He helped to negotiate the Paix des Braves agreement between the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec. He is fluently bilingual having been raised speaking English and French.[53]

Date campaign launched: September 16, 2011[54]
Campaign Website:
  • MPs: (2) Christine Moore, Abitibi—Témiscamingue;[55] Pierre Dionne Labelle, Rivière-du-Nord[56]
  • Other prominent individuals: Marc Laferriere, former federal NDP candidate for Brant [57]

Martin Singh


Martin Singh is a pharmacist from Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia, president of the NDP's Faith and Social Justice Commission and president of the Sackville—Eastern Shore NDP riding association.[58] He intends to build his campaign on four issues: entrepreneurship and engaging the business community, health care and the promotion of a national pharmacare plan, the environment and the issue of leadership.[59] He is reportedly bilingual.[59]

Date campaign launched: October 2, 2011[60]
Campaign website:

Brian Topp

Brian Topp

Brian Topp was President of the NDP from its 2011 convention; he recused himself from participation in establishing the rules of the campaign and resigned to enter the leadership race.[61][62] He is executive director and CEO of the ACTRA Toronto union local. He was previously deputy chief of staff to Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow (1993–2000) and senior adviser to Jack Layton during the 2011 election campaign. In the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, he served as NDP federal election campaign director. Raised in Quebec, Topp is fluently bilingual.[63][64]

Date campaign launched: September 12, 2011
Campaign website:

Considering running

Name Riding
(MP since)
Bilingual? Background Comments
Pat Martin[81] Pat Martin.jpg Winnipeg Centre, Manitoba
No French[82] Official Opposition Critic for Canadian Wheat Board Said in August that he would run if no candidate emerges who supports talks with the Liberal Party on unity or co-operation.[83]



September 2011

A survey conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion on September 20 and 21, 2011 found that 28% of Canadian voters would vote for the NDP if it was headed by Mulcair and 25% of Canadians would support the NDP under Topp.[95]

A survey conducted by Leger Marketing between September 12 and 15, 2011 found that 17% of NDP supporters favoured Mulcair as leader. Topp received support from 10% of the same group. Saganash received support from 1% of Quebec NDP voters, but no support outside the province.[96] Paul Dewar received support from 3% of NDP voters in Canada, Peggy Nash and Nathan Cullen each received 2% support and Peter Julian received 1% of the support.[97]

A Harris-Decima poll conducted between September 1 and September 4, 2011 showed support for Chow at 19%, Mulcair at 14%, Gary Doer at 6%, Paul Dewar at 3%, and Libby Davies, Topp, Peter Julian and Robert Chisholm all at 2%. Among NDP supporters, 22% would support Chow, 21% Mulcair, 7% for Doer, 4% for Dewar and Davies each, 3% for Julian and just 2% for Topp and Chisholm each.[98]

August 2011

A poll conducted between August 23 and 28, 2011 indicated that 51% of Canadians did not know who was best to lead the NDP.[99] Thomas Mulcair and Olivia Chow each support from 14% of respondents, while Bob Rae was selected by 9%. Brian Topp and Nycole Turmel each received 3% support.

See also


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External links

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