Volume 95, Issue 90

Friday, March 22, 2002
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Film festival fiasco

Legal beagles chase their tails

Caravan of culture rolls through atrium

French knight forges community bond

Harpen new Alliance leader, Day now officially a loser

London says no to drugs, despite doctor's prescription

New homeless funding falls short

News Briefs

Harpen new Alliance leader, Day now officially a loser

By Marcus Maleus
Gazette staff

The Canadian Alliance has a new head honcho and if all goes according to plan, the new big cheese will reverse the party's dwindling support in the polls.

At Wednesday night's Canadian Alliance leadership convention in Calgary, veteran MP Stephen Harper garnered 55 per cent of the vote, besting former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, who received 37.5 per cent. Ballots were cast by party members in a mail-in ballot.

On campus, opinions regarding the future of the party varied.

University of Western Ontario Canadian Alliance Club president Peter DeVries said Harper's victory is a definite step forward for the party. "The fact that he won with such a large majority gives him a strong mandate," he said.

DeVries said he sees Harper as a viable alternative to Prime Minister Jean Chretien, but the possibility of forming a government will take time. "It will take a couple of months for Canadians to see what the party is made of," DeVries said.

Huron University College political science professor Paul Nesbitt-Larking said Harper has an enormous task ahead. "In the last two years, there has been infighting within the party and it has lost support in the polls," he said.

"Harper has to be a party healer – he has to bring together the various factions behind his leadership. He has to present the Alliance as a viable alternative to the Liberals and move to a more moderate conservatism fiscally, while putting off the social conservatism element," he said.

Forming a government will be a major challenge to the Canadian Alliance during the two years remaining in Harper's mandate. "As it looks now, it'll take at least [one more] election for Harper to form a government," Nesbitt-Larking said.

Harper's victory comes amid decreasing national support for the Alliance party. "The victory puts talks of the future of the party to rest for a while. The question of uniting the right is off to the side for the time being," said Western political science professor Ian Brodie.

UWO Progressive Conservative Club president Rohan Belliappa agreed with Brodie when he said Harper's victory will postpone talks of uniting the right.

However, Belliappa said Harper's victory is a jolt of new energy into federal politics. "It'll be interesting to see how [Progressive Conservative party leader] Joe Clark and Harper work together, considering both have Tory pasts," Belliappa said.

"If Harper can't establish a national appeal, then the [Progressive Conservatives] stand to gain a lot," Belliappa said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002