Skip to comments.Canada needs a viable conservative alternative
Posted on 10/25/2003 10:08:10 AM PDT by knighthawk
There has been much public discussion of late regarding the new conservative party that would result from the coming together of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the Canadian Alliance. Within the PC party particularly, concerns have been expressed about policy and the direction this new entity will ultimately take, should it be ratified by the membership of both parties.
The agreement-in-principle signed by CA leader Stephen Harper and myself was the culmination of several months of discussions involving a number of prominent and respected individuals representing each party. These discussions were the continuation of talks begun a few years ago during the association between disaffected members of the Canadian Alliance and the PC party, a body known as the PC-DRC coalition. This coalition, led by then-Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark, was a crucial first step in reuniting the conservative family in this country. At that time and since, it has been evident to everyone that Canadians would be better served by a single conservative party using a clear voice to present a principled alternative to an increasingly arrogant and corrupt Liberal regime.
Like most successful political parties, our origins lie in coalition and honourable compromise. Over the years, the name of the party now known as the Progressive Conservatives has varied and our policies have evolved. But we have always remained united by the broader purpose of nation building. Our history as a party has taught us many important lessons, among them that change is inevitable and that in order to survive, we must be ready and able to adapt.
Our party founded a nation. In the years since 1867, it has been an integral part of every major event that defines Canada's history. As the Liberal Conservative party, the Conservative party and the Progressive Conservative party, we produced 12 of Canada's 20 prime ministers, built a national railway, brought in a Bill of Rights, pioneered environmental protection and laid the basis for Canada's prosperity in the 21st century through free trade. Whenever bold steps need to be taken, there is risk and there is resistance. Today, bold steps need to be taken if our legacy is to continue.
The opportunity before us is enormous and exciting. I encourage everyone desirous of reuniting the conservative family in Canada and building a new conservative party to participate. This is particularly true of the policy process. Good policy is critical to good government. Being innovative and adept in responding to the needs of Canadians will determine our success. Canadians want moderate, tolerant and inclusive policies that reflect their values. Defining the policy direction and leadership of this new party is very much in the hands of the membership. By insisting on the equality of ridings, I guaranteed the democratic right and role of every federal riding in Canada as one of the founding values. The people and policy that emerge will determine the shape and direction we take.
A successful political party recognizes and acts upon the nation's priorities with measured, costed policy initiatives that enjoy broad approval. But a party and a government must also lead. They must attempt to forge consensus where there is none, and balance interests and display intelligence and vision when seeking solutions. Health care can be healed, student debt contained, the environment protected and enhanced, bureaucracies streamlined, a responsive and effective justice system maintained, and foreign policies and military capacity established to restore Canada's place in the world.
Fiscal prudence and parliamentary accountability are critical to restoring lost faith. The corruption and excess of the present government must cease. A strong and united conservative alternative gives reality to that hope.
After a decade of doubt and decline, there is a compelling need for a new conservative consensus, an amalgam of the best the conservative movement has to offer. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians can return to participate in the reinvigorated political movement. The low voter turnout, particularly among our young, can be reversed. A new conservative party incorporating the best of Reform and Progressive Conservatism has the potential to draw large swaths of Canadians from every region and walk of life. Canada needs a strong, viable conservative alternative committed to the cause of Canada.
Peter MacKay is leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
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