Author Topic: Disgruntled Tories consider refounding Reform Party  (Read 1220 times)

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Offline Blackadder1916

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Disgruntled Tories consider refounding Reform Party
« on: May 12, 2007, 10:46:06 »
Disgruntled Tories consider refounding Reform Party

GLORIA GALLOWAY Globe and Mail Update May 11, 2007 at 8:52 PM EDT

Ottawa — Somewhere in Kingston Saturday, a small group of disaffected Conservatives will meet to discuss what would have been unfathomable in the heady days that followed the last federal election: refounding the Reform Party.

Organizers say they have room for just 30 people, but that this weekend's event is a mere prelude to a much larger meeting later this month.

“It's now or never,” the online invitation says. “This new party will never be infiltrated by Red Tories, special interest groups or Quebec again.”

In another part of the country, Link Byfield is writing columns for his Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy that criticize the policies of the federal Conservatives.

“Has Stephen Harper been ‘Otta-washed?'” Mr. Byfield, a strong voice for small-c conservative Alberta, wrote on April 5. He went on to decry the March budget as a “massive spending splurge two or three times the rate of inflation [that] clomps big Liberal boots into all kinds of provincial responsibilities.”

When the Conservatives were elected in January, 2006, the former Reformers were jubilant at the thought of finally having a voice in Ottawa. But after a series of centrist decisions by Mr. Harper, they are again lamenting their disenfranchisement.

Connie Wilkins of Kingston, who owns, one of the most popular conservative websites in Canada, has been invited to the weekend meeting.

At this point, she says, reforming Reform is just a discussion.

“The idea is just to get together and to decide how it would be best for people who have conservative values – stronger conservative values – to make their voices be heard better and to be listened to,” Ms. Wilkins said.

While it is impossible to gauge just how many on the right feel abandoned by the Harper government, she said Web traffic indicates their numbers are increasing.

Many were angry over what they see as the Prime Minister's capitulation on same-sex marriage. But it's not just socially conservative issues that upset the old Reformers, Ms. Wilkins said. “It's the fiscally liberal things that they have been doing lately that people have really started to get upset about.”

The fury began with the luring of David Emerson from the Liberals to sit as a Conservative cabinet minister, and the naming of Conservative organizer Michael Fortier as unelected senator and Public Works Minister.

Then came a vote to declare Quebeckers a nation, the budget, a settlement with Maher Arar that many found egregious, a reversal on income trusts, and a complete about-face on the environment.

A Conservative policy convention scheduled for November – an opportunity for expression of the dissatisfaction – has been cancelled.

“It's not a huge issue in and of itself,” Ms. Wilkins said. “But because it's piled on to so many other things, it's just one more indication to a lot of people that we've lost our grassroots feelings and that it doesn't really matter what the membership says.”

Conservative Party president Don Plett says the convention was delayed because of the high potential for an election and because the party held a large election-preparation workshop in Toronto this spring. Because Elections Canada considers workshop fees and convention fees political donations, and because the maximum that anyone may donate to a party in one calendar year is $1,100, the party feared that two gatherings in 2007 could put members in contravention of election laws.

As for Conservatives who say they feel disenfranchised, Mr. Plett said: “Are there a handful of people that are disgruntled? There are in every party. We have less than others.”

That the grumblers are a minority is borne out by the fact that the Conservative bank account is overflowing with donations.

“It is a small, very vocal, more-heat-than-light group of professional victims,” said former Reform MP Ian McClelland.

But Gerry Nicholls, who was fired as vice-president of the right-wing National Citizens Coalition after he wrote columns that were unflattering of the government, said he has been deluged with e-mails and calls from people who are frustrated with the direction Mr. Harper is taking.

“One thing I know about politics is it abhors a vacuum. And a lot of people right now are sensing that there is no party speaking for them, especially small-c conservatives, fiscal conservatives.”

There have been major points of disagreement, Mr. Nicholls said, including about seeming small things such as the ban on traditional light bulbs.

“That light-bulb ban was just the final thing that broke open the dam for a lot of people,” he said. “It's stupid, it's political correctness, it's nanny-stateism, it's everything that Conservatives of all stripes abhor about the Liberals or the NDP – telling us how to run our lives.”

Ms. Wilkins said there is much fear that the creation of a new Reform Party would split the Conservative vote and return the Liberals to power.

“So everybody has a lot of mixed feelings about this,” she said. “They just wish the party would listen to the membership and kind of start moving back to the right.”

Some of the disenchanted are talking about creating a lobby group to press the Conservative Party from the outside.

“What I am hearing online is a lot of people saying ‘I'm not even going to vote for the CPC at this point,' and these are people who were out pounding signs in the last election,” Ms. Wilkins said.

Mr. Nicholls said the Conservatives have decided that they can write off the right.

“They are basically saying we can afford to alienate these guys, we can afford to abandon them, because where else are they going to vote? … What they are failing to consider is the intensity of support. What helps win elections are volunteers, people putting up signs, people helping to get the vote out, people canvassing. I think increasingly [the support is] beginning to crack under the pressure of what the Tories are doing. If they crack their base, they are not going to win.”

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Offline George Wallace

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Re: Disgruntled Tories consider refounding Reform Party
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2007, 10:52:15 »
OK.....I know I've seen this already today................... ???

Found it:  Re: My take on Harper....
« Last Edit: May 12, 2007, 10:55:39 by George Wallace »
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Offline ArmyVern

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Re: Disgruntled Tories consider refounding Reform Party
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2007, 11:02:13 »

So I'll lock this up. It should now show up in a search for sure...and those with comments to add can do so by posting in the thread already created by Mr. Campbell which is linked in the post below (where he has commented already).

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