In the business world, those who specialize in combining corporations are known as merger and acquisition specialists. The combination of the old Canadian Alliance and the old Progressive Conservative party, while described by its leading proponents as a “merger,” really falls into the category of an acquisition.
The number of active members in the Alliance is about 100,000, while the Tories hover near 25,000. In other words, Alliance members outnumber Tories by about four to one. This numerical advantage matters in a political party, because decisions on policy, leadership, and candidate selection are decided by majority votes of the membership. Thus, the Alliance is actually acquiring the assets of, not merging with, the remnants of the once grand Tory party.
It is legitimate to question what the Alliance will actually inherit from the moribund PCs, given their $4 million debt and handful of MPs. The strength of the acquisition is admittedly subjective, but it lies in the enhanced ability of the new party to attract a greater combined sum of votes in a significant number of ridings, thus beating the Liberals in the Maritimes, the West and a substantial number of ridings in Ontario. Government may be within grasp.
Yet, while the new party will be called Conservative, reflecting the general ideology of the membership, its members will never again be called Tories. The majority of the new conservatives are not interested in simply becoming the latest incarnation of a party that, when last in government, raised taxes to new heights and ran record deficits, as well liberalized abortion law, lowered the age of sexual consent to 14, and gave millions of dollars to fund the homosexual “rights” agenda.
New conservatives desire to inherit neither the high tax-and-spend legacy of Brian Mulroney, nor the extreme social liberalism represented by two-time leader Joe Clark, who is infamous as the leader of the 2001 Calgary gay pride parade.
In this regard, the “merger” agreement that current leaders Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay signed has left many principled conservatives scratching their heads. All 16 principles enumerated as the basis for the new party are drawn from the PC party constitution. The most obnoxious of these is a supposed commitment to a “progressive,” meaning liberal, social policy.
The inclusion of such an offensive term should not be seen by social conservatives as a red flag regarding the new party, so much as a red flag regarding the deal-makers themselves. Harper, who agreed to adopt the other party’s principles, is to be seen primarily as a pragmatist for his deal-at-any-cost approach.
Yet, with a current four-to-one advantage in membership, the more socially conservative Alliance need not fear a watering down of its positions in favour of marriage or its willingness to raise issues that would lead to the protecting of human life. If anything, one can expect the more extreme elements of the PC party to bail out of the new entity. The David Orchard faction is likely to re-join the NDP, and a small number of senators, and even an MP or two, may find their way into a much more natural arrangement with the Liberals. So be it.
In fact, the new arrangement presents incredible opportunities to social conservatives (so-cons) who are willing to seize them. A policy convention, whenever that is eventually held, will provide so-cons with the prospect of removing words like “progressive” from the party constitution and crafting policies on social issues that properly reflect our Judeo-Christian cultural heritage.
Also, the Conservative party will elect a leader in mid-March. With the participation of the so-con membership, the new leader will be, at the very least, sympathetic to our issues. And, the leadership campaign of a social liberal, such as that of homosexual activist MP Scott Brison, may be advantageous to so-cons.
When Brison finishes last with a small percentage of the vote, we can point to this as evidence that social liberalism is anathema to our party and to the voters to which it hopes to appeal.
Finally, with at least 301 nomination meetings in the party scheduled for early in the new year, pro-family and pro-life people have the potential to send a number of new social conservative MPs to Ottawa in the place of pro-abortion Liberals. Of course, these opportunities require social conservatives to become actively involved. So, it’s time to sign up and get going.
Peter Stock, former national affairs director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, is a political consultant and writer living in Orillia, Ont.