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JUNE 11, 1983 – Joe Clark Defeated as Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

Rt. Hon. Joe Clark hugs a disconsolate supporter in the hours following Clark's defeat to Brian Mulroney on the fourth ballot of the P.C. Party Leadership Convention in Ottawa.

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Joe Clark hugs supporters in reception room after defeat at the P.C. Leadership Convention / Copyright (c) 1983 by William C. Stratas. All Rights Reserved.

In an epic political drama stretching over three long years, Joe Clark finally met his day of judgment as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada at the party's leadership convention in Ottawa, June 9-11, 1983.

The imminent announcement of voting results from the fourth and final ballot brought a halt to the boisterous, anticipatory atmosphere in the main hall of the Ottawa Civic Centre early that Saturday evening. The announcer rose to the podium and delivered the final numbers, without emotion: " Joe Clark ... 1,325 ... Brian Mulroney ... 1,584" A tumultuous wave of emotion rolled through the hall, enveloping victors and vanquished equally. Clark supporters displayed the full range of emotions one would expect from the defeated side. With characteristic strength, however, Clark simply muttered, "That's it" and began shaking the outstetched hands of caucus colleagues who were seated in the bleachers surrounding him.

Hours later, as Mulroney supporters joyously celebrated their hard-earned victory in hotels throughout downtown Ottawa, Clark's team gathered in a main-floor function room at the Chateau Laurier Hotel. A courageous final round of "Clark-Clark-Clark" cheers erupted as the vanquished leader entered the room. Supporters circled protectively, some cried, many hugged, others sobbed. For over 20 minutes Clark absorbed their tears, felt their pain, shared their grief, but never lost his poise.


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AUDIO COMMENTARY: The photographer, William Stratas, recalls the emotion and circumstance of this post-defeat moment with Clark (1:23)

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