Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Political Convention


Convention, Political, a meeting of delegates of a political party, for the purpose of framing a platform or of choosing a leader. The national party convention arose in the United States about a century ago, when the feeling became acute that the method of selecting presidential candidates by a caucus of the party representatives in Congress was objectionable, not only because it gave too much power to a small group, but also because it left without a voice those districts which had no party representatives in Congress. In course of time, the party convention, like many other American innovations in government, appeared in Canada. Probably the first party convention in Canada was the convention of the Reform party called by George Brown in 1859, for the formulation of a party platform; and this was followed by the famous convention of the Reform party called again by George Brown, to meet in Toronto on June 27, 1867, to determine the policies to be followed by the Reformers in the first elections under the British North America Act. Since then party conventions have been called intermittently by both political parties, both in the Dominion and the provincial spheres, though more frequently by the Liberal party than by the Conservative. It is only within recent years, moreover, that the political convention has been employed in Canada for the purpose of choosing a party leader. Both Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir Robert Borden were chosen leaders of their parties by parliamentary caucus; and as recently as 1920 the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen was chosen as successor to Sir Robert Borden by means of . a questionnaire. But the Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King was chosen leader of the Liberal party at the Liberal convention in Ottawa in 1919; and the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett was elected leader of the Liberal-Conservative party at a convention held in Winnipeg in 1927.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 120.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College