Friday, June 01, 2007

Reform's Anniversary

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Reform Party.

Preston Manning, the founder and first leader of Reform, has a good column in today's Globe and Mail, examining the positive legacy of the party.

"In the beginning, writes Manning, "it had only a handful of members, no seats in Parliament and no influence in national affairs. Ten years later, it had 130,000 members, formed the official opposition in Parliament with 60 seats, and significantly altered the national agenda on such issues as budget balancing, tax relief and the federal government's position on Quebec secession."

And Manning's right, the Reform Party in those terms was a success. And a large part of that success was that Reform had a more or less conservative ideology.

Yet, the fact remains that politically speaking, Reform failed. It never won a federal election.


Well there's two reasons.

First, Reform lacked a polished, professional image. Often it relied on media stunts, that gave the impression Reform was not a serious political entity.

Remember the Mexican band it hired to stroll through the halls of the Senate?

The second problem with Reform was its leader, Manning, was unelectable.

Now don't get me wrong, I have the utmost repect for Preston Manning. Certainly, intellectually he was head and shoulders above his rivals at the time.

But for whatever reason voters, at least in eastern Canada, did not see him as Prime Ministerial material.

Ironically, Reform's distant successor - the Conservative Party - is almost a mirror image.

It has an electable leader in Stephen Harper and it has a team of solid communication professionals -- but it is turning away from conservative ideology.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had a conservative party that had it all?


Wonder Woman said...

Not just nice...SHOWSTOPPING!

I keep getting told that a truly conservative party would never get elected in this country, but I think we're primed for it...we just need a party with the courage to try.

Gerry Nicholls said...

I couldn't agree more.

rondi said...

Yes, but when you say a conservative party that "has it all," do you mean social conservatism, as well? Because that makes me queasy...

Ace said...

What's wrong with social conservatives?

Protecting women from dangerous criminals, choice in childcare, pro-family policy, reducing abortion, restoring the traditional definition of marriage...I'm not a social conservative but geez...The CAW guys aren't necessarily going to vote JUST for the economic laissez-faire stuff.

What the heck are you people expecting? Hong Kong was not built in a day...

Kirby said...

Gerry, I feel your pain, trust me I do. But after reading Mr. Mannings article I draw opposite conclusions. Preston talks about the role of political parties, which is to win elections, in contrast with the role or a political movement, which is to change the political culture.

To this he say's...
"My insistence that Reform attempt to be both a movement and a political party at the same time no doubt constrained our progress on the partisan political front. Reform, the movement, tended to be more successful than Reform, the party."

What I take away from this, is that the people of east of the Manitoba border simply weren't ready for a Reform political party. However, Reform the movement, has effected them. Not alot yet, but it will be a slow process in my opinion.

To me what is important is that we have a movement underway moving Canadians rightwards, which I believe we have, and to have a political party with conservative members in government.

I'll be frank, I have not been pleased with much of what the Harper government has done, but at the same time I believe, especially in a minority situation, they are doing a better job than any Liberal government would be.

What is important for us who lean right, is that we keep the Reform movement alive. Today we have a great deal of right wing columnists, publications, think-tanks, but we still trail the left in this respect. It won;t be until we dominate the grassroots right across this country, that the Conservative party will really represent the views of those who consider themselves conservatives.

Whatever disagreements we have on this topic, I admire you and your dedication to the conservative cause. Keep fighting the good fight, the right fight!