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?