An interim leader, in Canadian politics, is a party leader who is appointed by the party's legislative caucus to temporarily lead the party, when there is a gap between the resignation or death of a party leader and the election of his or her formal successor.
A Canadian party leader is always selected by the party members, either through a "one member one vote" (OMOV) system or through a delegate selection process. Usually a party leader retains the leadership until his or her successor takes over; however, in some situations this is not possible. This may be because the leader passes away (eg. Wilfrid Laurier), or because a leader is forced to resign due to controversy or scandal before a convention can be organized (eg. Glen Clark), or because a leader is forced to recontest his or her leadership (eg. Joe Clark, Stockwell Day), or because a new party is incorporated from existing party caucuses (eg. Canadian Alliance, Conservative Party of Canada).
When this happens, an interim leader is appointed by the party's caucus. By convention, an interim leader must be a caucus member who is not standing as a candidate in the official leadership race, so that he or she does not gain unfair advantage in the leadership contest.
Interim leaders in Canadian politics have included:
- Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Liberal Party of Canada) - 1919, between the death of Wilfrid Laurier and the election of William Lyon Mackenzie King
- Erik Nielsen (Progressive Conservative Party of Canada) - 1983, between the resignation of Joe Clark and the election of Brian Mulroney
- Elsie Wayne (Progressive Conservative Party of Canada) - 1998, between the resignation of Jean Charest and the re-election of Clark
- John Lynch-Staunton (Conservative Party of Canada) - 2003-2004, between the incorporation of the new party and the leadership race scheduled for March 24, 2004
- Deborah Grey (Canadian Alliance) - 2000, between the incorporation of the new party and the election of Stockwell Day
- John Reynolds (Canadian Alliance) - 2001-2002, between the resignation of Day and the election of Stephen Harper
- Andy Brandt (Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario) - 1989-1990, between the resignation of Larry Grossman and the election of Mike Harris
- Dan Miller (New Democratic Party of British Columbia) - 2000, between the resignation of Glen Clark and the election of Ujjal Dosanjh (Miller also served as interim premier as the NDP was in government at this time)
- Joy MacPhail (New Democratic Party of British Columbia) - 2001 - 2003, between the party's 2001 election defeat (in which Dosanjh lost his seat) and the election of Carole James