Decisive Week for Future of Reform Party Leader Preston Manning and Fate of United Alternative Movement: How Will it Change Canadian Political Landscape?
Ask a York University Expert
TORONTO, January 24, 2000 -- As Reform Party Leader Preston Manning heads into the most decisive week of his political life and for the future of the nascent movement to which he has tied his future, party disciples, pundits and political junkies are sketching scenarios and analysing implications for political futures and for the country's political culture.
At the United Alternative convention in Ottawa, Jan. 27-29, will Reform Party rank and file members back Manning's efforts to unite the right under one political banner? How will Manning fare at the Reform Assembly that follows the UA gathering Jan. 29-30? If Manning's United Alternative flies this weekend, will Manning be able to secure the support of at least two-thirds of Reformers in a national party referendum planned for March? What are the electoral implications? What influence will regional politics have on the potential success of a revamped right-wing political party?
York University offers up the following political experts who can answer these and other questions:
Reg Whitaker, one of York's top experts on Canadian and provincial politics, has followed the Reform Party and United Alternative movement closely. He says if Manning succeeds in his efforts to create a new party, Ontario -- now dominated by the federal Liberals -- will become fair game for the United Alternative in the next federal election. Whitaker contends that the United Alternative will never achieve national status because it will never get support in Quebec, and will likely find resistance to its policies in Atlantic Canada. Whitaker can be reached at home: (416) 484-7366.
Alexandra Dobrowolsky, a York University political science professor specializing in political parties in Canada, says that Manning's ultimatum that he will quit as leader if grassroots members don't embrace his United Alternative vision has badly divided the party. Dobrowolsky says the Reform Party's stance in relation to Quebec, as well as its views on multiculturalism and immigration policy, have been highly problematic. Dobrowolsky can be reached at (416) 736-2100, ext. 88834.
David Shugarman, a political science professor and director of York University's Centre for Practical Ethics, has researched and written about protest parties and movements. As a university student at the University of Alberta in the ë60s, Shugarman had the unique experience of debating Manning during a mock-parliament. Shugarman expects Manning to get a majority of support from his Reformers, but doubts it will be overwhelming, suggesting that he could find himself in the same position Joe Clark did when he failed to receive two-thirds of delegates' votes at a Progressive Conservative leadership review. Shugarman, who recently co-authored, with York Prof. Ian Greene, Honest Politics: Seeking Integrity in Canadian Public Life ( James Lorimer, 1997), and co-edited Cruelty and Deception: The Controversy Over Dirty Hands In Politics (Broadview Press, 1999) can be reached at: (416) 736-2100, ext. 77083, (416) 736-5128, or at (416) 229-0595.
Daniel Drache, York political scientist and director of York University's Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, says Manning is in a do-or-die situation in his effort to unite the right. Manning must broaden national support for his movement by toning down his movement's hard line on cutting taxes and social spending, but risks alienating the party's Western roots at the same time. Drache can be reached at: (416) 736-5415, or (416) 921-3332.
Robert Drummond is a political science professor with extensive knowledge of Ontario politics and provincial public policy. He says that Manning is taking a gamble with his leadership and predicts that core Reform Party members will reject plans to join the UA. He says that Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Tony Clement and Tom Long, one of the principle authors of the Ontario Conservative's Common Sense Revolution, are in the minority of Conservatives who want to marry into the UA with Reform. Drummond can be reached at his office at: (416) 736-2100, ext. 88843 or (416) 494-3460.
Ian Greene, a political science professor who has done in-depth research on Canadian attitudes toward ethical issues in politics, says while grassroots Reformers' belief that Ottawa's politicians should be held to a higher ethical standard is sincere, the party leadership still has a thing or two to learn about political integrity. Greene also believes the UA will not succeed because Joe Clark, who has adamantly opposed UA, still commands the respect of many rank and file Conservatives. Greene, who has written and co-authored numerous books including A Question of Ethics (1998) and, with York Prof. David Shugarman, Honest Politics: Seeking Integrity in Canadian Public Life (James Lorimer, 1997), can be reached at: (416) 736-5260, ext. 33375, or (416) 763-0766.
James Laxer, a political science professor at York University's Atkinson College who has written extensively about the political left in Canada, can comment on the culture of the right in Canada and draw parallels to conservative movements in Europe and in the US. Laxer can be reached at: (416) 736-2100, ext. 66462 or (416) 544-9941.
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