The Canadian federal election of 1988 was held November 21, 1988, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 34th Parliament of Canada. It was an election largely fought on a single issue: the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
Incumbent Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, had signed the agreement. The Liberal Party, led by John Turner, was opposed to the agreement, as was the New Democratic Party led by Ed Broadbent. Among the minor parties, the Christian Heritage Party, running its first election candidates, supported the concept of free trade but had serious reservations about the negotiated agreement.
The Conservatives went into the election suffering from a number of scandals. Despite winning a large majority only four years before, they looked vulnerable at the outset.
The Liberals had some early struggles, notably during one day in Montreal where 3 different costs were given for the proposed Liberal daycare program. The campaign was also hampered by a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that stated there was a movement in the backroom to replace Turner with Jean Chrétien, even though Turner had passed a leadership review in 1986.
Support swung back and forth between the Conservatives and Liberals over free trade. With mid-campaign polls suggesting a Liberal government, this prompted the Conservatives to stop the relatively calm campaign they had been running, and go with Allan Gregg's suggestion of "bombing the bridge" that joined anti-FTA voters and the Liberals: Turner's credibility. The ads focused on Turner's leadership struggles, and combined with over $6 million CAD in pro-FTA ads, managed to stop the Liberals' momentum. Infighting among the Liberals and vote splitting between the NDP and Liberals contributed to a second Conservative majority government.
The Liberals reaped most of the benefits of opposing the FTA and doubled their representation to 83 seats to emerge as the main opposition; the NDP had also made gains but finished a distant third with 43 seats. The Progressive Conservatives won a reduced but strong majority government with 169 seats. Despite the Liberals' improved standing, the results were considered a disappointment for Turner, after polls in mid-campaign predicted a Liberal government. The election loss seemed to confirm Turner's fate, and he eventually resigned in 1990, and was succeeded by Chrétien.
The 1988 election was the most successful in the New Democratic Party's history. The party dominated in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, won significant support in Ontario and elected its first (and to date, only) member from Alberta.
The election was the last for Canada's Social Credit movement: the party won no seats, and had an insignificant portion of the popular vote.
The newly founded Reform Party also contested the election, but was considered little more than a fringe group, and did not win any seats.
In all, 76% of eligible voters cast a ballot.
For a complete list of MPs elected in the 1988 election see 34th Canadian parliament.
|Party||Party leader||# of|
|1984||Dissolution||Elected||% Change||#||%||Change||Progressive Conservative||Brian Mulroney||295||211||203||169||-19.9%||5,667,543||43.02%||-7.02%||Liberal||John Turner||294||40||38||83|| align="center"||4,205,072||31.92%|| align="right"||New Democratic Party||Ed Broadbent||295||30||32||43|| align="right"||2,685,263||20.38%|| align="right"||Reform||Preston Manning||72||*||*||-||*||275,767||2.09%||*||Christian Heritage||Ed Vanwoudenberg||63||*||*||-||*||102,533||0.78%||*||Rhinoceros||Charles McKenzie||74||-||-||-||-||52,173||0.40%||-0.39%||Green||Seymour Trieger||68||-||-||-||-||47,228||0.36%||+0.14%||Confederation of Regions||Elmer Knutson||51||-||-||-||-||41,342||0.31%||-0.68%||Libertarian||Dennis Corrigan||88||-||-||-||-||33,135||0.25%||+0.06%||Commonwealth||Gilles Gervais||58||-||-||-||-||7,467||0.06%||-0.21%||Communist||George Hewison||51||-||-||-||-||7,066||0.05%||-0.01%||Social Credit||Harvey Lainson||9||-||-||-||-||3,407||0.03%||-0.10%||Independent||55||1||4||-||-||22,982||0.17%||-0.01%||No affiliation||100||-||-||-||24,516||0.19%||-0.12%|
"% change" refers to change from previous election
| || |
A number of unregistered parties also contested the election. The Western Canada Concept party, led by Douglas Christie, fielded three candidates in British Columbia. The Western Independence Party ran one candidate in British Columbia, seven in Alberta, and three in Manitoba (although one of the Manitoba candidates appears to have withdrawn before election day).
The Marxist-Leninist Party fielded candidates in several ridings.
Blair T. Longley campaigned in British Columbia as a representative of the "Student Party". Newspaper reports indicate that this was simply a tax-avoidance scheme.
The moribund Social Credit Party actually fielded fewer candidates than was required for official recognition, but the Chief Electoral Officer allowed the party's name to appear on the ballot by virtue of its history as a recognized party.
|Party name||BC||AB||SK||MB||ON||QC||NB||NS||PE||NL||NT||YK||Total||Progressive Conservative||Seats:||12||25||4||7||46||63||5||5||-||2||-||-||169||Popular Vote:||35.3||51.8||36.4||36.9||38.2||52.7||40.4||40.9||41.5||42.2||26.4||35.3||43.0||Liberal||Seats:||1||-||-||5||43||12||5||6||4||5||2||-||83||Vote:||20.4||13.7||18.2||36.5||38.9||30.3||45.4||46.5||49.9||45.0||41.4||11.3||31.9||New Democratic Party||Seats:||19||1||10||2||10||-||-||-||-||-||-||1||43||Vote:||37.0||17.4||44.2||21.3||20.1||14.4||9.3||11.4||7.5||12.4||28.3||51.4||20.38|
|Parties that won no seats:||Reform||Vote:||4.8||15.4||3.3||2.1||Christian Heritage||Vote:||1.1||1.4||2.0||0.8||Rhinoceros||Vote:||1.2||0.4||Green||Vote:||0.4||Confederation of Regions||Vote:||4.3||0.3||Libertarian||Vote:||0.3||Commonwealth||Vote:||0.2||0.1||Communist||Vote:||0.1||Social Credit||Vote:||xx||Other||Vote:||0.4|
xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote.
Note: Parties that captured less than 1 % of the vote in a province are not recorded.