The election was called by Progressive Conservative leader Kim Campbell, who had been Prime Minister for only a few months. She had replaced Brian Mulroney, who was considered one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers in Canadian history after his failed constitutional reforms and the poor state of the Canadian economy. While she was expected to lose the election, she was forced to call one as the Tories' five-year mandate had almost expired.
From the start of the campaign it seemed that Jean Chrétien's Liberals would inevitably form the next government. Of more interest was how the opposition parties would be divided. Two new parties were fighting in this election. The West produced the Reform Party, a right-wing populist party lead by Preston Manning. In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois, a separatist party, rose to the fore under the leadership of ex–Tory cabinet minister Lucien Bouchard. Both parties did very well in the election. Reform swept Alberta and won much of British Columbia and many seats in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Bloc dominated Quebec, winning enough seats to form the Official Opposition as the second-largest party in Parliament.
Two older parties did not fare so well. The governing Tories were devastated. A poorly run campaign only exacerbated their problems. Most memorable was an advertisement that attacked Chrétien's paralysed face, which offended many Canadians as a perceived cheap shot against a person's physical disability. In the election the Tories were reduced to two seats, their worst showing ever. Kim Campbell, who lost her own Vancouver riding, resigned as leader of the party after the fiasco. One of the major problems the party faced was the fact that their vote was spread out over a wide area, resulting in victories in few seats.
The other national party, the New Democratic Party also did poorly, falling to nine seats, losing ground in the West to Reform and in Ontario to the Liberals.
Another new party, the National Party, founded by Mel Hurtig failed to make a significant impression and disbanded after the election.
The Liberals won all but one riding in Ontario and significant support in the Maritimes and on the Prairies. They also won a fair number of seats in Quebec and British Columbia. This gave them a substantial majority in parliament.
1988 Canadian election
|Canadian federal elections||
1997 Canadian election