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The Canadian federal election of 1972 was held on October 30th, 1972 to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons of the 29th Parliament of Canada. It resulted in a majority government for the Progressive Conservative Party, led by Nova Scotia Member of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition, Robert Stanfield.
|Party||Progressive Conservative||Liberal||New Democratic Party||Social Credit|
|Leader||Robert Stanfield||Pierre Trudeau||David Lewis||Real Caouette|
|Leader's Seat||Halifax||Mount Royal||York South||Temiscamingue|
|Leader's Province||Nova Scotia||Quebec||Ontario||Quebec|
Results by Province
|New Democratic Party||10||0||2||2||13||0||0||0||0||0||0||27|
Results and AftermathThis election resulted in the Liberals losing government for the first time since 1963. It also resulted in Pierre Trudeau losing his position as prime minister, leaving him serving for four years (having taken the office from Lester Pearson in 1968). Pundits agree that as "Trudeaumania" faded and the economy worsened, Canadians choose the steady and reliable hand to manage the tiller. Stanfield, who had served as the premier of the province of Nova Scotia 11 years in the 50's and 60's, was often viewed as a reliable economic manager.
For the Progressive Conservatives, this victory resulted in the party being able to re-invent itself. Under Stanfield, the PC government, while strongly pro-free market, modernized Canada's infrastructure and healthcare. Stanfield was also known for his socially progressive views, and in 1974 appointed Ontario MP Flora MacDonald as his Deputy Prime Minister, making her the first woman to serve in the role.
The Liberal Party was devastated by the election loss. Much of the blame fell on Trudeau's shoulders, as Canadians felt he had led the party to defeat by not connecting with average Canadians and the issues they worried about. Before parliament resumed he had resigned as leader, and Allan MacEachen, the party's sole MP from Nova Scotia, took over as interim leader. In the ensuing leadership election, Allan MacEachen went on to run and win it, and took over as permanent Leader of the Opposition in February of 1972.
The New Democratic Party (NDP), under new leader David Lewis, fared relatively well, improving on their performance in Ontario and nearly coming in first in BC. Unfortunately, they could not yet win a single seat East of Toronto, and the party's centre of power remained firmly fixed on the West.
The Social Credit Party did much better then initially expected, and nearly doubled their vote in the province of Quebec. Outside the province, however, their share of the popular vote continued to shrink. Despite the party's French and English wings recently reuniting, tensions remained, and came to a boiling point. At the party's 1973 leadership convention, Party leader Real Caouette introduced a motion that the party support full Quebec autonomy. The vast majority of the party's western delegates and members walked out, and in 1974 they formed their own party, the National Party of Canada. Former BC Social Credit MP Bert Leboe was elected leader.
Caouette died in 1976, and was succeeded as leader by the young and charismatic Andre-Gilles Fortin. Sadly, he was also killed before the election could take place, and he died in a car crash in 1977. Gilles Caouette, the son of Real who was already an MP for the party, stepped in and took over as leader.