Single Issue Candidate

Literally, a candidate who only cares about – or cares overwhelming about – a single issue, largely to the exclusion of all else.

Single issue candidates are most common in municipal elections, where the lack of party nominations and the prominence of often emotional development or zoning issues can play a decisive role

In federal elections, the most persistent “single issue” candidates have been from the “Pro-Life” (anti-abortion) movement. Strong organizational structures often enable candidates to take over open party nomination meetings.

The Liberal nomination victory of Scarborough Liberal Tom Wappel in 1988, for instance, is seen as a key turning point in the power of the Pro-Life movement. While Wappel went on to have a long career in Parliament, the breakthrough was one of the factors that induced Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien to seek the power to bypass nomination meetings and directly name candidates in some ridings in the 1993 election.  The move frustrated the Pro-Life movement’s plans to take over other Liberal nominations.

In the leadup to the 2015 election, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau went even further, preventing anyone who opposed abortion from becoming a candidate for his party.

Image Source: Flickr user fibonacciblue

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