The Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May MP (Saanich-Gulf Islands) announced last week (16 August) that the Greens will not be standing a candidate in the upcoming Burnaby South by-election against the newly-elected New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh as part of the Canadian parliamentary tradition of the ‘leader’s courtesy’.
Newly-elected leaders of political parties who stand in by-elections are often not opposed so that they can enter the legislature. In 2002, the Liberals and Conservatives stepped aside for Stephen Harper when he ran in a by-election held shortly after he became leader of the Canadian Alliance.
The courtesy also was extended to Conservative leaders Robert Manion (1938), George Drew (1948), Robert Stanfield (1967) and Joe Clark (2000), as well as Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien (1990) and Alliance Leader Stockwell Day (2000).
“The leader’s courtesy is a long-standing Canadian parliamentary tradition that facilitates a newly elected party leader’s entry to the legislature by allowing him or her to contest a by-election unopposed,” said May.
She added: “Every party leader deserves a voice in the House. My record as a parliamentarian clearly demonstrates that the Green Party of Canada will always act in the interests of a stronger democracy by striving to make our parliament work more effectively for all Canadians.”
“Our parliamentary democracy is stronger when traditions are respected and civil debate supplants partisan bickering. I applaud Mr Singh for graciously accepting this courtesy in the spirit in which it was offered and I look forward to welcoming him as he takes his seat as the head of his party in the House.”
May herself received the leader’s courtesy in 2008 when then Liberal leader Stéphane Dion chose not to run a candidate against her in Central Nova.
You can find out more about the Green Party of Canada on the party's website.