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The Article

Red Tories lend off-colour tint to true-blue Conservative ideals

Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s merging of the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservatives was hailed as a great stroke of his negotiating and diplomatic skills.

Yet increasingly, true Conservatives whisper they believe it allowed a ‘fifth column’ of ‘Red Tories” to sneak into the party.

That fifth column, headed up by former PC leader Peter MacKay, and Canada’s answer to Paris Hilton, heiress Belinda Stronach, are out to take over the party and move it to the wishy-washy centre again.

That means we’ll have a Conservative party that is basically a “me, too” mirror image of the Liberals but with some ethics.

Don’t you occasionally just wish we’d kept with Reform?

Or at least with the Alliance?

That way we’d still have a solid 100% Conservative party.

None of this talk of becoming more “inclusive.”

I’m told Harper privately knows trouble is afoot, which is one reason he hasn’t brought down Prime Minister Paul Martin’s minority government. If he did, and if his Conservatives didn’t at least win their own minority government, he’d be gone as leader and the MacKay-Stronach team would replace both him and true Conservative principles.

Isn’t that the frightening scenario, Stephen?

That’s one reason at the party’s Montreal policy convention last month, attempts were made to ensure a future convention isn’t flooded overwhelmingly with Red Tory delegates.

Why, one has to ask, should a small constituency with just a handful of members—say in Atlantic Canada or Quebec—have as many delegates as a western constituency with hundreds and hundreds of loyal members? That hardly sounds like a sensible proposition.

And what about the question of campus organizations?

Just supposing some ingenious—no, devious—Red Tories went out organizing hundreds of campus organizations at universities and colleges across the country each with the authority to send just one delegates to the convention.

Those delegates could quite swamp legitimate delegates, oust a leader, and set the party back on a disastrous course.

With the suggestion some fairness, common sense and principle be put into constituency associations, the MacKay-Stronach types went ballistic.

MacKay didn’t even wait for these questions to hit the conference floor before going to the news media warning that any interference in constituency make-up could tear the party apart.

The Nova Scotia MPs murmurings were Page One news. Attempts to tighten up the rules were overturned. Strike one success for the Red Tories, one defeat for true Conservatives.

But let’s face it, when you’re dealing with “Pipsqueak Pete,” you are dealing with a political operator with some cunning.

Recall how he grabbed the PC leadership by conning anti-free trade advocate David Orchard to back him.

Considering the free trade pact with the U.S. and Mexico was the greatest achievement of Brian Mulroney’s eight-year reign, to clasp to your bosom an individual who has fought to demolish the pact with all the vigour he can muster indeed makes for strange bedfellows.

Yet, how did MacKay reward Orchard for his support?

By merging his small rump with the Canadian Alliance—a party Orchard rightfully, for his philosophy, detests—in reality Mackay knifed Orchard in the back.

If the scene is becoming clearer to you, that’s all for the good. If you’ve been blinded by the supposed camaraderie of the merger, naively believing all is well, you’ve been taken in.

What’s really holding this unholy alliance—if I can use that word—together for the moment is hope that come the next election the party can actually win power.

If spats break out now the Lib-Left news media and Martin’s Liberals would make mincemeat out of the Conservatives.

Jonathan Denis, a Calgary lawyer and longtime conservative activist, who was a delegate at the conference, remarks “voters are not looking for a second Liberal party whose agenda is power as opposed to principle.”

Sadly, it looks like we could get what Denis and true conservatives fear most.

Yet the unfolding picture could look like this: Harper wins the next election and then as prime minister, he can clean house of the MacKay-Stronach Red Tory types.

Or, he loses the election, the Red Tories take over, the party splits, and we go back to our roots and rebuild the Reform/Alliance movement.



Copyright ? 2005 Paul Conrad Jackson.

Click here to read Paul Jackson’s full and fascinating biography.  Paul Conrad Jackson is one of Canada’s most distinguished and thought-provoking journalists.  He is currently senior political commentator for the Calgary Sun and other related newspapers, after being both Editor and Associate Editor for a number of years. Mr. Jackson has interviewed such world famous political figures as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, John Diefenbaker, Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, Yitshak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu.


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