What Is Wrong With The Canadian Alliance?

Edmonton - Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - by: Ron Thornton


With poll numbers barely in double digits, once again pundits are wondering what might be wrong with the Canadian Alliance. It was a movement that showed promise as it hit the national stage as the voice of the people against the elite-driven Charlottetown Accord. A by-election victory was followed by Canada's only elected Senator, then Reform's 1993 triumph to become the voice of the west in Parliament. However, things did not exactly end with everyone "living happily ever after."




As much as Reform touted itself as a "grassroots" party, its direction seemed to be more stage-managed from above. For example, when an actual opposition emerged to debate the process that would transform Reform into the Canadian Alliance, Preston Manning believed he should deal with such people as "God himself has chosen to treat us when we rebel against Him with repeated offers of reconciliation and forgiveness, not judgement and expulsion." Unfortunately, Manning was not the Divine, perfect, spiritual creator of us all, but a flawed human leader of a democratic political party. Sometimes such people, unlike God, are wrong. Once that bloom was off the rose, the garden was further trampled by very public internal intrigues and missteps. In the end, public perception was that the Canadian Alliance was seen to be, in regards to political parties, what the Keystone Cops were to law enforcement.




In rode Stephen Harper to save the party from itself. No doubt he has an imaginative agenda to present before us in creative fashion, when he believes the time is right, to attract such support that might allow us to save this nation from the grip of those hapless Liberals. However, a party must show that it takes itself seriously before the public can do the same.



failure to

Not a week goes by, it seems, that someone within its ranks calls for an "uniting of the right" rather than concentrating on putting something forward that might tempt and excite the electorate. If all the Canadian Alliance has become is the alienated conservative wing of the Progressive Conservatives, then we can safely say that the West is the only place conservatives congregate in sufficient numbers to elect their own. If this is the prevailing sentiment, then we can assume that the rest of the country has gone liberal.



PCs not

As for the Progressive Conservatives, they have not yet shown that they understand nor care about the issues that caused many to forsake them all those years ago. However, that should not be an impediment to any kind of merger between the PC's and the CA, provided that the call for the "west wants in" no longer matters. As for seeking a union of regional interests, it was tried before in 1942. What the union of the Progressives and the Conservatives achieved was an additional fifteen years of Liberal rule. Not exactly a winning solution.




What is wrong with the Canadian Alliance is that it can not sell its message, or it will not, or that it now believes it can not gain support outside of the West by doing so. If it is no longer interested in representing western views while no longer seeing itself as a viable national alternative on its own, then maybe what is wrong with the Canadian Alliance is that it has lost its relevance.




Ron Thornton




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