Levelling the field for potential party leaders


Nevertheless, despite the fact that interim leaders often have excellent leadership skills and might be desirable as permanent leaders (an observation made in recent years about both Bob Rae and Rona Ambrose in their respective federal parties), some parties in Canada disallow someone who holds the interim position to run in the subsequent leadership election, while other parties follow this standard as an unwritten rule. A formal rule of this nature would be appropriate in Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are common violations of this standard in cases where a rule is absent. In 2014, for example, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger requested a leadership convention following a large exodus of ministers from his cabinet. He nevertheless maintained his position as premier and interim leader of his New Democratic Party. A Globe and Mail editorial called on Selinger to allow a neutral leader to replace him while he competed for the job, which Selinger did not do. He subsequently won the vote to remain leader in 2015.

There are important reasons why a rule of limiting interim leaders to the interim alone should be standardized and followed by political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador. This province has seen its two most recent elected premiers secure the leadership of their respective political parties in a similar manner to that of Selinger, though neither is an exact parallel.

In the first case (Progressive Conservative Kathy Dunderdale), the interim leadership was secured alongside a pledge to not seek the permanent leadership. The pledge was not maintained. In the latter case (Liberal Dwight Ball), the interim leadership was held for 18 months alongside a pledge to seek the permanent leadership, with the position being relinquished three months before the leadership vote.

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