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  House of Commons
Dates of election / renewal (from/to):
  28 June 2004
  28 June 2004
Purpose of elections:
  Elections were held for all members of the House of Commons following the premature dissolution of this body. Previous general elections had been held in November 2000.
Background and outcome of elections:
  On 23 May 2004, on the advice of the Prime Minister Paul Martin, the Governor General dissolved Parliament paving the way for general elections on 28 June 2004.

Mr. Martin was appointed to the office of Prime Minister in December 2003 following his election as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the retirement of Mr. Jean Chretien who had served as Prime Minister for ten years.

The Prime Minister was trying to take his Liberal Party to its fourth straight general election victory. This party was challenged by the Conservative Party, led by Mr. Stephen Harper, the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) of Mr. Jack Layton, and the Bloc Québécois, a separatist party that is strong in Quebec. For the first time since 1993, the country's two strongest conservative parties, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives, were united to contest the general election, having merged into the new Conservative Party in October 2003. Conservatives in the country had been divided since the Reform Party, the predecessor of the Canadian Alliance, benefiting from voter disillusionment with the traditional political parties in general, and with the Progressive Conservative party in particular, took votes away from the Progressive Conservatives in the 1993 general election, winning 52 seats, and enabling the Liberal Party to win a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.

The main issue of the 2004 campaign was the "sponsorship scandal", that involved the disbursement by the government of $250 million in advertising contracts over four years to Quebec advertising firms friendly to the Liberal Party with a significant portion, of the amount, about $100 million, paid as fees and commissions. The Sponsorship Program, created in 1997, was originally intended to fight Quebec independence by improving Canada's image in the French-speaking province. Sponsorships were arrangements in which the Government of Canada provided organizations with financial resources to support cultural and community events. In exchange, the organizations agreed to provide visibility by, for example, using symbols such as the Canadian flag at their events, and on promotional material. The country's auditor general released a report soon after Mr. Martin took power, stating that the firms had done little or nothing for the money. Mr. Martin insisted that he knew nothing of the payoffs even though he was finance minister at the time. But he called the election before a final investigation could be completed. Both, the Conservative Party and the Bloc Quebecois used this scandal against the Liberal Party.

Other major issues during the electoral campaign included improvements in the government-administered healthcare system, taxes, gun registration, homelessness and the issue of same sex marriages.

Mr. Martin promised to increase federal financing for the government-supported healthcare insurance system, to reduce waiting lists for surgery and diagnostic tests and expand home care while Mr. Harper advocated an increased privatization of services and promised to institute insurance for drug costs for dire health problems. The Bloc Québécois supported the idea of eliminating the federal Health Council, since Quebec already has a council overseeing health care delivery. Mr. Layton for his part promised to launch a national child-care plan and a national pharmacare programme to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

The Liberal Party pledged to cap the cost of the gun registry at $25 million a year and increase penalties in the Criminal Code for people who misuse firearms and weapon traffickers. The NDP continued to support gun control while Mr. Harper pledged to abandon gun registry regulations and Mr. Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois, while supporting gun control, was critical of ballooning spending on the federal registry. Regarding social issues, the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP and the Liberal Party all supported same-sex marriages, while Mr. Harper managed to steer clear of pronouncing controversial views on gay rights and abortion.

Voter turnout was 60.9 per cent, the lowest since 1898.

The Liberals won 36.7 percent of the popular vote. That translated to 135 seats in the House of Commons, a sharp decrease from the number the Liberals had won in three landslide victories since 1993, but far more than the 99 seats won by the Conservative Party. The big winner of the election was the Bloc Québécois, whose win of 54 of Quebec's 75 seats was a considerable improvement over its victory in 38 districts in 2000. The New Democratic Party obtained 19 seats while the last seat went to an independent candidate.

On 20 July 2004, a new minority government led by Mr. Paul Martin was sworn in.

The Parliament held its first sitting on 4 October 2004.
Round no 1 (28 June 2004): Election results
Number of registered electors 22'466'621
Voters 13'683'570 (60.91%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 118'868
Valid votes 13'564'702
Round no 1: Distribution of votes
Political Group Candidates Votes %  
Liberal Party 308 4'982'220 36.73  
Conservative Party 308 4'019'498 29.63  
Bloc québécois (BQ) 75 1'680'109 12.39  
New Democratic Party (NDP) 308 2'127'403 15.68  
Independents 65 64'864 0.48  
Other parties 621 690'608 5.09  
Round no 1: Distribution of seats
Political Group Total
Liberal Party 135
Conservative Party 99
Bloc québécois (BQ) 54
New Democratic Party (NDP) 19
Independents 1
Other parties 0
Source: Elections Canada and The Globe and Mail
House of Commons (23 February 2005)

Liberal candidate Todd Russell won the by-election of 24 May 2005, replacing Liberal MP, Mr. Lawrence O'Brien, who died in December 2004.
Distribution of seats according to sex:
Men: 243
Women: 65
Percent of women: 21.10
Distribution of seats according to age:
21 to 30 years 8
31 to 40 years 35
41 to 50 years 72
51 to 60 years 133
61 to 70 years 58
Over 70 years 2
Distribution of seats according to profession:
Law, social science, education, government service       117
Management (Senior managers)       67
Business and finance (Professional occupations)       22
Management (Middle managers and other occupations)       21
Primary industry (Skilled occupations)       21
Art and culture (Professional occupations)       16
Administration and business (Skilled occupations)       14
Health (Professional occupations)       8
Natural and applied sciences (Professional occupation)       7
Sales and service (Skilled occupations)       7
Natural and applied sciences (Technical occupation)       5
Transport and equipment (Trades and skilled operators)       4
Art, culture, recreation and sport (Technical and skilled occupations)       3
Sales and service (Intermediate occupations)       2
Processing and manufacturing machine (Operators and assemblers)       1
Law, social services, education and religion (Paraprofessional)       1
Health (Technical and skilled occupations)       1
Clerical occupations       1

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