Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Canadian Alliance simply warmed-over Reform tripe," March 30, 2000
If I had a nickel every time that the pundits in the media or the critics in the Liberal party (often one and the same), wrote off any bold or innovative agenda for change, I'd be able to pay tuition for my entire university career. The Gauntlet's recent opinion piece on the Canadian Alliance demanded a response to set the record straight.
On Sat., March 25, 2000, hundreds of the most prominent and successful Canadian politicians gathered together at Calgary's Metropolitan Centre to celebrate the birth of a big and broad coalition of Canadians who want more sustainable education, tax cuts, and better health care. It was that night where the results of the Reform Referendum 2000 were announced--92 per cent of Reformers across the country, with overwhelming support in every province and every territory, chose to adopt the policies and constitution of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. This, despite so many critics and nay-sayers rejecting the notion that building a coalition of principled Canadians was not possible and achieving consensus in the Reform Party was a far-fetched fairy tale.
So, does this mean the death of the Reform Party? Well, permit me to indulge in a brief analogy. The caterpillar and the butterfly have two different names and serve two different purposes, but as the Biology majors in our club point out: both have the exact same genetic make-up. The Canadian Alliance is the next stage in evolution of Reform.
So, what's different? The Alliance is a coming together of key representatives for change from all over the country, giving all Canadian citizens the chance to build a party from the ground up. It is a coalition of Klein Conservatives in Alberta, Harris Conservatives in Ontario, people looking for a new and better federalism in Quebec, and Atlantic Canadians who tire of the status-quo. The Alliance is also a coalition of federal Reformers and "Blue Conservatives," people who no longer identify with the Party of Clark (pc).
The entire United Alternative has been the most wide open grassroots democratic exercise in coalition building recorded in Canadian history. The result: an entity capable of governing Canada--once it selects its first Leader, the next Prime Minister of Canada.
This brings me to the controversial topic of the candidates who seek that top job. Let me be bold and state right off the bat that the Leader of the Canadian Alliance will win Ontario. Why you might ask? Well, key Harris organizers are on side and committed towards making the Alliance work. They took Mike Harris to Queen's Park in 1995 despite a slow start and small election war chest with their famed "Common Sense Revolution." All it would take to make a powerful electoral breakthrough in Ontario would be having those same people run federally.
The provincial and federal constituencies are one and the same in Ontario, essentially a race between two incumbents: Ottawa Liberals and Ontario Conservatives. The victor--dare I say--would be the one with the better track record in government. The Liberals got elected in Ontario by default through the phenomenon of vote splitting, and their failures over the past 10 years have permanently damaged their reputation. The Ontario Conservatives have just recently won a second, back to back, majority government--a strong approval of their governance. Based on these observations, a landslide victory in Ontario can be fairly predicted.
Furthermore, Paul Martin makes for a more saleable conservative than Joe Clark, who welcomes NDP Members of Parliament to his caucus and values the advice of anti-free trade activists. The Canadian Alliance is already positioned to be the clear, united alternative, and Ontario will not hesitate to show their support at the ballot boxes in the next federal election.
So back to my premise--the leader of the Canadian Alliance will win Ontario and become the next Prime Minister of Canada. The candidates who seek that position are all excellent people.
Alberta Treasurer Stockwell Day is, I think, being unfairly represented in the media. He is a good man, a principled personality, and an excellent orator. I may not agree with all of his views, but they certainly don't frighten me.
Frank Klees, Ontario Cabinet Minister, has the support of the architects of the "Common Sense Revolution" and was chosen by the most powerful conservative machine in the country--the Harris Conservatives--to be their representative in this exciting Leadership contest.
And lastly, Preston Manning, the man who has risked everything to marry the Reform and Conservative traditions successfully without sacrificing principles or people, did it all for the good of this country. Far too often, Mr. Manning has been underestimated, and time and again, he proves the critics and the pundits wrong. His is a track record of success, and many believe that he's ready for the job of being Prime Minister.
Watch the Alliance Leadership selection carefully, and learn how a Leadership Race should really be conducted. We have a focused agenda for change, based on positive principles, and our champions command deep respect in all corners of the Alliance and all regions of the country. Indeed, good government is coming soon.