This is the big time.
The Leader of a political party has an incredible amount of influence and power over the party, the caucus (both in the House of Commons and the Senate), public policy, and even over the members of the party themselves.
Under the Elections Canada Act, the leader of a federal party must sign the nomination forms for each nominated candidate in each riding in order for that person to run. Conversely, the Leader could very well not sign the nomination papers for a nominated candidate in a riding.
Basically, the Leader is called the leader for a reason.
Who gets to elect the Leader?
The Leader of a political party is elected by the members of the political party. Federally, all members of each of the political parties get to vote on who they would like to be the Leader of the party.
However, it is not a simple case of first-past-the-post, meaning whoever gets the most votes win. For the Liberals and Conservatives, the Leader is elected on a points system. Each riding (there are 338 federal ridings across Canada) has 100 points allocated to them. The points for each riding are allocated to the leadership candidate based upon the result of the leadership vote in that riding.
For example, let’s say that you were running for the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada against two other people. In the riding of Brandon-Souris, you received 50% of the votes, the second leadership candidate received 30% and the third leadership candidate 20%. You would get 50 points, the other person 30 and the last person 20.
In order to win under the points system, you need at least 50% of the total available points across Canada.
For the NDP and the Greens, they employ the system of one member, one vote. This means that each member of the party gets one vote. The leadership candidate who is able to get 50% + 1 of the votes cast is elected as Leader of the party.
Can a Leader be removed?
It is possible that a Leader be removed as the Leader of the party without resigning. In order to trigger this, a motion of leadership review must be made on the plenary floor of a national convention (this is rare as most motions are considered out of order on the plenary floor of a convention, except a motion for a leadership review).
If 50% +1 of the delegates at a convention vote in favour of a leadership review, then a leadership race will be held with the date, location and rules for leadership candidates established by the National Council.
Are there requirements to run for Leader?
The National Council of a party will create a committee to establish the rules for leadership candidates in a leadership race. Rules typically include:
- An entrance fee (for the Conservatives, this is $100,000 for the 2017 leadership race)
- A minimum number of signatures of members (for the NDP, this is 500 member signatures for the 2017 leadership race, of which 250 have to be from self-identified women and 100 from minority groups such as indigenous peoples, LGBT members and youth)
- Campaign expense limits
- Be a member of the party
- Have a criminal and credit background check
- Be approved by the National Council committee
So why does this matter to pro-lifers?
The Leader is a very big prize to win for pro-lifers. Leadership races are rare and they are excellent opportunities to really change the culture within a political party to be more pro-life.
As a pro-lifer, the best thing you can do is join a political party and vote, support and work on the campaigns of pro-life leadership candidates. If you are wanting to get involved in your party’s leadership campaign, contact us at RightNow today and we’ll provide you with all tools and training necessary!