October 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 27  

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A united right gives hope for future, maybe

From the Far Lane
Emmett Macfarlane


News the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives have reached an agreement-in-principle to join forces probably doesn’t have the Liberals quaking in their royal boots yet, but for right-thinking voters a ray of hope has been beamed into what used to be a perpetually dark tunnel.

Although the latest round of talks really only lasted weeks, discussion of “uniting the right” has been at the forefront of Canadian federal politics ever since the collapse of the PCs a decade ago.

Just because it might be created doesn’t mean the new Conservative Party of Canada is guaranteed electoral success — far from it. The true good news is its existence will force some degree of accountability upon the Liberal government, which would have ruled in perpetuity had Alliance leader Stephen Harper and PC leader Peter MacKay not reached a compromise.

Best of all, the deal leaves David “Red Tory” Orchard out in the cold. Orchard, if you don’t recall, is the scheming leftist who broached a deal with MacKay at the PC leadership convention in exchange for his support. At the time, the deal seemed to negate any chance of co-operation between the Alliance and PCs, but MacKay likely realized the PCs would be looking at eventual destruction if something drastic wasn’t done.

If caucus members and card-carrying members of both parties agree to the deal, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The creation of riding associations could be particularly tricky, as local-level PC and Alliance members are thrust together to organize and eventually nominate candidates for the next federal election.

A unified party would also have to worry about alienating the core Alliance support in the West or the possibility of left-leaning members of the PCs bailing out. The most important thing the new party has to do is choose a leader. Mike Harris’ name is already being thrown about and it is not even known if Harper or MacKay will even run themselves.

No matter who throws their hat into the ring, it has to be someone who can attract broad support, build consensus and be enough of a leader to prevent the embarrassing little gaffes that have plagued the Alliance, while still being principled (unlike the weak-kneed, ambiguous aura that has enveloped the PCs ever since Brian Mulroney retired).

A few months from now, hopefully Canadians will have reason to be interested in the political process, rather than apathetic and resigned to decades of Liberal rule.



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