The 5 longest-serving Opposition leaders who never became prime minister


Opposition leader Robert Stanfield. (Ted Grant/CP)

1. Robert Stanfield (Nov. 6, 1967– Feb. 21, 1976): The former Nova Scotia premier lost three elections to Pierre Trudeau between 1968 and 1974. In 1972, his Tories were three seats short of toppling the Liberals, but it was not to be.

2. George Alexander Drew (Oct. 2, 1948–Nov. 1, 1954 and Feb. 1, 1955–Aug. 1, 1956): A former Ontario premier and mayor of Guelph, Ont., Drew left provincial politics in 1948 to lead the Progres- sive Conservatives in Ottawa. He left politics for good after two election defeats and later served as the first chancellor of the University of Guelph.

3. Edward Blake (May 4, 1880– June 2, 1887): The founder of one of Toronto’s most prominent law firms, Blake served as premier of Ontario before entering federal politics. He lost elections as federal Liberal leader in 1882 and 1887. He later went on to serve in the British House of Commons as an Irish Nationalist.

4. John Bracken (June 11, 1945– July 20, 1948): Trained as an agricultural scientist, Bracken served five terms as the premier of Manitoba. Recruited to lead the Progressive Conservatives in Ottawa in 1942, he was elected to Parliament in 1945 before losing the party leadership to George Drew in 1948. He lost his own seat in the general election of 1949.

5. Preston Manning (June 2, 1997–March 26, 2000): The founder and first leader of the Reform party, Manning took over as leader of the official Opposition after the federal election of 1997. He lost the post to Stockwell Day in 2000 after the formation of the new Alliance party.

Sources: Parliament of Canada; Canadian Parliamentary Guide

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