Volume 91, Issue 91

Friday, March 20, 1998

Lynn and Tonic


The politics of merging politics

By Lisa Weaver
Gazette Staff

Lately, federal Reform Party leader Preston Manning has been talking about mixing green with blue – unifying the Progressive Conservative Party and Reform.

In a news conference yesterday, Manning said he believes his "united alternative" would be a powerful force that could defeat the Liberal Party in the next election.

"I think if you got all those people under one tent you would have a government alternative to the Liberals, not just a third party," he said.

Michael Rubinoff, leader of the Education Party of Canada, however, was doubtful about the success of a merger. "I think the PC and Reform are two very different parties and I would be very concerned about a merger, especially with the tactics the Reform Party has used lately."

Rubinoff saw the resulting party as a "stronger opposition to the Liberals," just as Manning foresees, but he was unsure of the benefits for Canadians. "Some of the Reform's policies are not the best for Canada and I'm not sure they would be the best for the Conservative Party."

Sid Noel, Western political science professor, took a different approach to the question of the unification of the Reform and PC parties. "Is there a 'right' to unite?" he asked. "The difference between the Reform and PC parties is quite different."

Noel doubted the merger would occur, despite Manning's attempts. "It's a sort of false question because it's very unlikely that if the PC were to die they would all go to Reform. About one-third would go to Reform, while one-third would go reluctantly to the Liberal Party."

He added he was not so sure, however, about the strength of the Reform Party. "If Reform were to die tonight, where would the Reformers go? Very few would go to the Liberals."

The question also remains as to who would lead this newly formed party. Manning has said he is interested.

Noel had a different opinion about who would be the best choice. "The political figure who would be most likely to attract the most following would be Ralph Klein, the Premier of Alberta. Although he would have a tough fight on his hands."

–with files from Canadian Press

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Copyright The Gazette 1998