Independent MPs usually start off in parties and rarely win an election
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, May 27, 2019 7:23PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Since Confederation, at least 93 MPs have sat as Independents in the House of Commons. The vast majority of them were elected originally as members of a party and either left or were forced out for various reasons ranging from criminal allegations to disagreements over policy.
Only a few successfully ran as Independent candidates, and even fewer managed to find any power as Independents when a minority government needed their votes to stave off defeat.
Here are some of the more recent and memorable Independents:
John Nunziata -- Elected as a Liberal MP in the Toronto riding of York South-Weston in 1984, 1988 and 1993. In 1996 he was expelled from the Liberal caucus for voting against the government's budget. In 1997 he ran and won as an Independent. In 2000 he ran as an Independent and lost to Liberal Alan Tonks.
Andre Arthur -- An outspoken and well-known radio host, Arthur was elected in 2006 as an Independent MP in the Quebec riding of Portneuf--Jacques-Cartier. He was one of the very few truly Independent MPs, with no previous partisan affiliations. Arthur never joined the Conservative party but because he backed the Conservative minority government often, the Conservatives did not run a candidate against him in either 2008 or 2011. He won in 2008 but in 2011 he lost to the NDP.
Tony Roman -- Elected as an Independent in a Toronto riding in 1984, he served a single term before throwing his backing to the Progressive Conservative candidate in the 1988 election. Like Arthur, he is one of the few Canadian MPs elected as Independents who had not previously been in another party.
Chuck Cadman -- Elected as a Reform MP in Surrey, B.C. in 1997, and re-elected under the Canadian Alliance banner in 2000, Cadman lost a nomination challenge for the merged Conservative party nomination in 2004. He ran as an Independent and won and refused invitations to rejoin the Conservatives. As an Independent MP in that Parliament, which had a Liberal minority government, Cadman held significant power and his vote in favour of the 2005 budget saved the Paul Martin government from defeat.
Gilles Bernier -- The father of People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, Gilles Bernier was elected as a Progressive Conservative in Quebec's Beauce riding in 1984 and 1988. In 1993, he was not allowed to run as a Tory because of fraud charges (he was later acquitted), but ran and won as an Independent.
Bill Casey -- Elected in Nova Scotia in 1988, 1993, 1997 and 2000 as a Progressive Conservative MP, he joined and ran for the merged Conservative Party in 2004 and 2006. In 2007 he was expelled from the Conservative caucus for voting against the government's budget over concerns about the Atlantic Accord. In 2008 he ran and won as an Independent but resigned in 2009. In 2015, he ran again, this time as a Liberal, and won.
Scott Andrews -- Elected as a Liberal MP from Newfoundland in 2008, he was removed from the Liberal caucus in 2014 following allegations of sexual misconduct. He ran as an Independent in the 2015 election and finished a distant second, to Liberal Ken McDonald.
Helena Guergis -- Elected as a Conservative MP in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011 in the Simcoe-Grey riding north of Toronto, Guergis was also cabinet minister between 2008 and 2010. She was forced out of the Conservative caucus in 2010 over unspecified allegations and prime minister Stephen Harper said he had asked the RCMP to investigate her conduct. The police later said they found no evidence of criminal behaviour. She ran as an Independent in 2011 and lost to Conservative Kellie Leitch.
Brent Rathgeber -- Elected as a Conservative MP from Alberta in 2008, and 2011, he resigned from the caucus in 2013 over what he said was the lack of commitment the Conservative government had to transparency. He ran as an Independent in 2015 and lost to Conservative Michael Cooper.
Bev Desjarlais --Elected as a New Democrat in the Manitoba riding of Churchill in 1997, 2000 and 2004, Desjarlais split with her party over its support for same-sex marriage. She was challenged successfully for the NDP nomination in Churchill in 2006 by Niki Ashton. Desjarlais immediately resigned from the NDP caucus and then ran as an Independent that year and lost, with the Liberals picking up the seat.
David Kilgour -- Elected first as a Progressive Conservative in 1979, he was expelled from the caucus for voting against the GST in 1990 and joined the Liberals after sitting as an Independent. He left the Liberals in 2005 in the midst of the sponsorship scandal, but his vote as an Independent in favour of the 2005 Liberal budget helped keep the government alive.
Farther back in history, some big names won election as independents:
Louis Riel -- The Metis leader ran for Parliament three times as an Independent in Manitoba in the 1870s. He won but feared arrest if he appeared in Parliament. Though he signed the MPs' register in disguise once, Riel did not take his seat and the Commons expelled him (twice, the second time after Riel won the byelection forced by his first expulsion).
Henri Bourassa -- The Quebec nationalist leader and founder of Le Devoir served several stints as an MP between 1896 and 1935, including nearly 10 years as an Independent between 1926 and 1935. He also sat as a Liberal at times.
Camillien Houde -- Best known for his multiple terms as mayor of Montreal and for being interned over his public opposition to conscription in the Second World War, Houde lost as a Conservative in a 1938 byelection and as an Independent in 1945 before winning as an Independent in 1949. He served one term as the MP for Papineau.