In Canadian elections every member of parliament (house of commons) is chosen in the electoral district in which he runs. Most of them are affiliated with one of the federal parties (some run independently). Hence, I presume that party leaders also run as members of parliament in their own electoral districts.

Hence, can it occur that a party leader is not chosen in his own district? Does that mean that s/he does not play an active role in the Canadian parliament but only through his party members?

I am just wondering because then it means that the party leader cannot take credit for votes or any other actions done throughout the years where the party leader is supposed (maybe?) to set the tone of the party as a whole.

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    This applies to any parliamentary body where all members represent constituencies. For a different but related example in the UK, Alec Douglas-Home was a member of the House of Lords when he became Prime Minister in 1963. He immediately disclaimed his peerage, and stood for election in a safe (and vacant) seat in the Commons, which he won. As a result, he was PM for 4 days as a member of the House of Lords, and 20 days as a member of neither house. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 8:50
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    This is common for the smaller regional parties in the UK, whose leaders often don't stand for election to the Commons. For example, the current leader of the Scottish National Party is busy being the First Minister of Scotland, and has never stood for election to the Commons. Instead, someone else is designated to be the party's leader there. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


The role of a party leader is to set the political direction that their party takes. This does not necessarily have to be done as a member of the House of Commons (they can still meet with their Parliamentary caucus if they're not), but it makes it a lot easier if they are. They still set the tone of the party, but they do not vote in Parliament themselves.

It is not uncommon for new party leaders to not have a seat in Parliament (Jagmeet Singh and Yves-François Blanchet being two recent examples). In this case, an MP in a safe seat for that party will usually resign their seat to make way for said party leader to win a by-election.

It is very rare in modern times for a major party leader to lose their seat in Parliament without resigning their position as party leader immediately afterwards.

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