July 10, 2000
Thanks for everything, Preston - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER -- I have been criticised for being a member of the Canadian Alliance. Some people are a little baffled on how I, an NDPer, was able to jump ship to the Alliance almost a month ago. Well, upon my resignation from the NDP, I took on the CA membership to participate in the leadership contest. Some may calculate that as political opportunism, I simply regard that as participating in ‘direct democracy’. I have, especially in the 1997 campaign, supported the NDP federally. In my riding of Vancouver-Kingsway, Liberal Sophia Leung went up against Victor Wong of the NDP. Wong, who went on to do work for the Chinese migrants, lost by a slight margin and Ms. Leung was a packing to Ottawa.
I didn’t dare support the Tories or Reform that year, simply because the former was going no where and the latter supported views that I was not comfortable with. During the 1993 campaign, not really understanding politics all that much, asked an adult why she did not vote Reform. Then a 12 year old kid, suddenly received a lecture on where the Reform party sat on the political spectrum. “They’re a bunch of racist, fascists,” said the adult and I never looked upon the Reformers, especially Mr. Manning with much comfort.
Then came the wisdom that comes with age, (not to mention Rafe Mair,) and I looked at Reform rather differently. I soon realised that Reform was essentially a protest party, much like the old CCF and the NDP. Thanks to Rafe, I realised that I could support the Reform party on matters constitutional, but would have to look the other way when it came to social policy and stuff of the sort.
The feeling, as a CA member, feels awfully honeymoon stage-like, right now. I’ve become a member and I realise that this party may in the future drag out the skeletons of racism and intolerance, should that occur I will be sending my resignation promptly. The Canadian Alliance though born from the Reform party is somewhat different. It’s a party that can’t afford to dwell on topics like immigration, but on the larger and more important issue of defeating the Liberals. I’ve believed that, thus the Alliance was where I felt most comfortable.
My detesting of the Reform party did not make my entrance into the Alliance easy. I’ve felt it was the Reform party in new clothes. But with the emergence of Stockwell Day and Tom Long, I realised that this was to be an alliance that attempted this facade of being as broad based as possible, thus my membership fears were somewhat calmed.
(Preston Manning has never been one of my favourite politicians. I guess it’s his persona and physical nature that made me feel uneasiness, it shouldn’t have, but it did.)
I joined the Alliance and I felt compelled to support Stock Day. Rather than spew the gimmicky-lines like: he’s served in government, flat taxes, young offenders bills, etc. I chose to support him, because I joined a new party. I faced the fact it was relatively new, and since it was that, it made no sense to have the old guy running it. Preston had his chances, and he proved unsuccessful.
Day’s chances at winning in Ontario are no better than Manning’s, but the fact he’s new to the federal scene, affords us hope.
Preston Manning’s political career has not ended. Unless he chooses to go into retirement, he’s got great political legs ahead of him. He’ll assume the Stanley Knowles role that he played under subsequent NDP leaders: Douglas, Lewis and Broadbent. That’s not a put-out-to-pasture role, and Manning will do something to prove that. He’ll affect policy like never before and that will surely be a benefit to the party, as well as the nation.
(Readers, in their puzzlement are correct that there is irony in my support of Stock Day. He’s seen as far more right-wing than Preston Manning.)
Preston Manning’s building of Reform, from fringe party to official opposition is admirable and nothing short of amazing. He paved that party and helped shaped this new one. Preston Manning did an amazing job, and while the party he founded turned it’s back on him Saturday night, his legacy is this new entity, one that will have unceasing possibility. It’s a party that will surely stumble (hopefully to power,) but it will make a genuine effort to change this country for the better. His vision, has become a venue for me to become politically involved.
Preston Manning has changed the political landscape of the country, even though only a portion of it really accepted him. If nothing more, I admire him for that and respect him a hell of a lot more.
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