House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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Leaders of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons Since 1873

The Member who is the leader of the largest party sitting in opposition to the Government in the House of Commons becomes the “Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition”. Provisions governing the position are defined in the Parliament of Canada Act, in the Standing Orders and in various practices of the House.  To become the Leader of the Official Opposition, a person must hold a seat in the House of Commons.  Consequently, in instances where the national leader of a party was not a Member of the House of Commons, another Member of Parliament of that party served as Leader of the Official Opposition.  Those instances are indicated with an asterisk.

  Name Party Period Parliament
1. Alexander Mackenzie Liberal 1873 [1] 1st Session, 2nd Parliament to
2nd Session, 2nd Parliament
2. Sir John A. Macdonald Liberal-Conservative 1873-78 2nd Session, 2nd Parliament to
3rd Parliament
3. Alexander Mackenzie Liberal 1879-80 1st Session, 4th Parliament to
2nd Session, 4th Parliament
4. Edward Blake Liberal 1880-87 2nd Session, 4th Parliament to
1st Session, 6th Parliament
5. Wilfrid Laurier Liberal 1887-96 1st Session, 6th Parliament to
7th Parliament
6. Sir Charles Tupper Conservative 1896-1901 8th Parliament
7. Robert Borden Conservative 1901-11 9th Parliament to
11th Parliament
8. Sir Wilfrid Laurier Liberal 1911-19 12th Parliament to
1st Session, 13th Parliament
9. Daniel McKenzie * Liberal 1919 2nd Session, 13th Parliament to
3rd Session, 13th Parliament
10. W.L. Mackenzie King Liberal 1919-21 4th Session, 13th Parliament to
5th Session, 13th Parliament
11. Arthur Meighen Conservative 1921-26 14th Parliament to
1st Session, 15th Parliament
12. W.L. Mackenzie King Liberal 1926 1st Session, 15th Parliament
13. Hugh Guthrie Conservative 1926-27 1st Session, 16th Parliament
14. R.B. Bennett Conservative 1927-30 2nd Session, 16th Parliament to
4th Session, 16th Parliament
15. W.L. Mackenzie King Liberal 1930-35 17th Parliament
16. R.B. Bennett Conservative 1935-38 1st Session, 18th Parliament to
3rd Session, 18th Parliament
17. Robert J. Manion Conservative 1938-40 4th Session, 18th Parliament to
6th Session, 18th Parliament
18. Richard B. Hanson * Conservative 1940-43 1st Session, 19th Parliament to
3rd Session, 19th Parliament
19. Gordon Graydon * Progressive Conservative 1943-45 4th Session, 19th Parliament to
6th Session, 19th Parliament
20. John Bracken Progressive Conservative 1945-48 1st Session, 20th Parliament to
4th Session, 20th Parliament
21. George Drew Progressive Conservative 1948-54 5th Session, 20th Parliament to
1st Session, 22nd Parliament
22. W. Earl Rowe * Progressive Conservative 1954-55 2nd Session, 22nd Parliament
23. George Drew Progressive Conservative 1955-56 2nd Session, 22nd Parliament to
3rd Session, 22nd Parliament
24. W. Earl Rowe * Progressive Conservative 1956 3rd Session, 22nd Parliament to
4th Session, 22nd Parliament
25. John Diefenbaker Progressive Conservative 1956-57 5th Session, 22nd Parliament
26. Louis St. Laurent Liberal 1957-58 1st Session, 23rd Parliament
27. Lester B. Pearson Liberal 1958-63 1st Session, 23rd Parliament to
25th Parliament
28. John Diefenbaker Progressive Conservative 1963-67 26th Parliament to
2nd Session, 27th Parliament
29. Michael Starr * Progressive Conservative 1967 2nd Session, 27th Parliament
30. Robert Stanfield Progressive Conservative 1967-76 2nd Session, 27th Parliament to
1st Session, 30th Parliament
31. Joseph Clark Progressive Conservative 1976-79 1st Session, 30th Parliament to
4th Session, 30th Parliament
32. Pierre E. Trudeau Liberal 1979-80 31st Parliament
33. Joseph Clark Progressive Conservative 1980-83 1st Session, 32nd Parliament
34. Erik Nielsen * Progressive Conservative 1983 1st Session, 32nd Parliament
35. Brian Mulroney Progressive Conservative 1983-84 1st Session, 32nd Parliament to
2nd Session, 32nd Parliament
36. John Turner Liberal 1984-90 33rd Parliament to
2nd Session, 34th Parliament
37. Herb Gray * Liberal 1990 2nd Session, 34th Parliament
38. Jean Chrétien Liberal 1990-93 2nd Session, 34th Parliament
39. Lucien Bouchard Bloc Québécois 1993-96 1st Session, 35th Parliament
40. Gilles Duceppe * Bloc Québécois 1996 1st Session, 35th Parliament
41. Michel Gauthier Bloc Québécois 1996-97 2nd Session, 35th Parliament
42. Gilles Duceppe Bloc Québécois 1997 2nd Session, 35th Parliament
43. Preston Manning Reform 1997-2000 1st Session, 36th Parliament to
2nd Session, 36th Parliament
44. Deborah Grey * Canadian Alliance 2000 2nd Session, 36th Parliament
45. Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance 2000-01 2nd Session, 36th Parliament to
1st Session, 37th Parliament
46. John Reynolds * Canadian Alliance 2001-02 1st Session, 37th Parliament
47. Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance 2002-04 1st Session, 37th Parliament to
2nd Session, 37th Parliament
48. Grant Hill * Conservative 2004 3rd Session, 37th Parliament
49. Stephen Harper Conservative 2004-06 3rd Session, 37th Parliament to
1st Session, 38th Parliament
In the First Parliament, following the general election of 1867, the Members who sat in the House opposite the government of Sir John A. Macdonald did not constitute a party but a coalition of various interests, just as the government did.  A number of historians state that John Sandfield Macdonald (Reform Member for Cornwall and the first Premier of Ontario), who had campaigned in alliance with Sir John A. Macdonald in the general election, was appointed Leader of the Opposition by the government.  Other historians hold that although Alexander Mackenzie (Lambton) was not formally appointed Leader of the Opposition until March 6, 1873 when he assumed the leadership of the Liberal Party, he was de facto Leader of the Opposition as early as 1869.  (See William Buckingham and George Ross, The Hon. Alexander Mackenzie: His Life and Times, 5th ed., (Toronto, Rose Publishing, 1892) pp. 242, 254, 329; J. C. Courtney, “Party Leadership Selection in the New Dominion”, Canadian Political Party Systems: A Leader, edited by R. K. Carty (Peterborough, Broadview Press, 1992) p. 108; Donald Creighton, John A. Macdonald, Vol. 1: The Old Chieftain (Toronto, Macmillan, 1955), p. 4; Joseph Schull, Edward Blake Vol. 1: The man of the other way (1833-1881), (Toronto, Macmillan, 1975), Vol. 1, p. 46; Dale Thomson, Alexander Mackenzie: Clear Grit, (Toronto, Macmillan, 1960), p. 103.)

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