Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay, David Orchard and Preston Manning (base images from CTV) .


PC/CA Merger - History In The Making,
Or Just History About To Repeat Itself?

Edmonton - Monday, October 20, 2003 - by: Ron Thornton


Welcome to the world of grassroots politics, where the roots end up turning green with rot and decisions are made based less on open debate but rather manipulated consent. Sounds like the same old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada many once left, but unfortunately it also sounds like the Reform Party that gutted itself a few years back.


According to my cyrstal ball, soon Progressive Conservative Party of Canada members will be manipulated to endorse this deal. Make no mistake about it, it will pass because members of either party will not be given much of a choice. If we can learn from recent history, such as the United Alternative initiative that put an end to Reform and gave rise to the Canadian Alliance, the rank-and-file will soon be be told that Paul Martin is making a $10-million haul on his way to his coronation and about to retire any and all Liberal Party debt. They will be told that he Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, already in the financial red, will find itself facing a huge debt and few willing to toss anything more than a token toward their war chest. Its membership will be told that if they fail to endorse this plan, their leadership may abandon them as a lost cause, leaving them either with nothing or with a major lurch to the left under the leadership of the Orchard camp fighting for relevance against the Liberal juggernaut and Jack Layton's NDP. They will be told that without such a merger, the electoral future of a Progressive Conservative Party of Canada standing alone would consist of being all but wiped clean from the political map with slim to no hope for revival. We all can debate this all we want, but in the end the perception will become the reality, and the grassroots will fall in line as they will be offered no palatable alternative. This is what faced Reformers in 1998, and it is what faces members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada today.


I remain a Conservative reformer, while some will remain progressive Conservatives. I question if this Conservative Party will address the issue of institutional change that I see as imperative to providing truly national government. We can not long expect to continue under a system where those seeking the favour of Central Canada and its 60% share of Parliamentary seats can continue to ignore the other eight provinces without fear of any real political consequence. That feeling of impotence is what caused many to abandon the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 1988, a feeling that has yet to be addressed and remains an issue for many to this day.


What once was greeted with much hope and promise in 1984 came apart at the seams by 1993. The only question that remains is if the about to be reunited Conservatives will learn from history or be destined to repeat it.


Ron Thornton




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