For three days in mid-February, people from all over the country will meet in Ottawa to hear speakers and to discuss and vote on political principles at the United Alternative Assembly. Some pro-lifers see the convention as a new opportunity to significantly influence what may be a major emerging force on the Canadian political scene.
The United Alternative Assembly runs this coming Feb. 19-21 at the Ottawa Congress Centre. The registration is $300, or $99 for students who sign up before Nov. 30.
Delegates will listen to various speakers (the complete list is not yet ready) and, on Sunday, vote on the statements of principles and strategy which will directly affect what the United Alternative will stand for and how it will eventually function.
The United Alternative is being presented by the mainstream media as a unite-the-right scheme orchestrated by the Reform Party to solidify the right-of-center vote behind Reform leader Preston Manning.
In fact, according to the United Alternative website, there are many Progressive Conservatives involved, including Ontario Transportation Minister Tony Clement and Alberta Treasurer Stockwell Day. Recently, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein agreed to give the keynote address. Organizers invited people from all parties who support four general principles (ranging from economic and social responsibility to political and governmental reform) to unite to defeat the Liberal government.
United Alternative promotional materials note that the Liberal government maintained a majority government despite winning only 38 per cent of the popular vote in the 1997 federal election.
Calgary Southeast Reform MP Jason Kenney told The Interim he believes many well-intentioned people spend a lot of time and money supporting individual pro-life, pro-family Liberal MPs, but get little in return because they make up a minority within their party and don’t hold influential positions within the government.
While some pro-lifers fear any unite-the-right scheme will inevitably focus on economic conservatism and ignore social conservatism, Kenney argues that the United Alternative Assembly gives pro-lifers a chance to voice their concerns and promote their issues.
The United Alternative has four starting points as principles it must stand for.
The second principle—social responsibility, especially strengthening the family—could encompass moral issues.
Debating the principles of the United Alternative will take place on the second day of the conference. Kenney says if pro-lifers do not make the case for the sanctity of human life, the United Alternative will not pay any attention to the issue; if they raise the issue and convince a majority of delegates, the United Alternative could recognize the sanctity of life as a general principle.
Kenney refers to the United Alternative Assembly as “an important moment for pro-family voters to be heard.” He says he expects that some of the delegates “may want to focus on an economic agenda, so moral conservatives need to become involved …. (Moral conservatives) need to make an intelligent, rational, amd pragmatic case for their agenda.”
For more information or to register, contact Jason Kenney by telephone at 613-992-2235, or by mail postage free, at House of Commons, Room 930, Confederation Building, Ottawa Ontario, K1A 0A6, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United Alternative website can be found at www.unitedalt.org.