(This column was published in the North Shore News on June 28, 2000)

 

Alliances new Day scary for federal Grits

By Leo Knight

FRESH from watching the Canadian Alliance leadership convention on the weekend, I am torn between writing the political obituary of Preston Manning, the dawning of a new Day in federal politics, or an angry diatribe on the eastern media's bias against all things western.  

 

There's no doubt that, barring a political stumble on a par with Greg Norman's final day collapse in the '96 Master's, Stockwell Day will be the leader of the Alliance come July 8.  

 

None of the purveyors of "conventional wisdom" even conceived there was any possibility that Manning would not be in the lead following the first ballot. Which goes to show, I suppose, that "conventional wisdom" is neither conventional nor wise.  

 

In the past couple of months, as the leadership campaign has gathered momentum, it has become patently obvious that Day is the one man who makes the federal Liberal party of Jean Chretien nervous.  

 

The omnipresent Liberal lackey, Warren Kinsella, wrote a disparaging commentary in the National Post a week ago under the headline "Day invokes a tired bogeyman."  

 

In the mental meandering of Kinsella, he attempted to paint Day as a right-wing wacko for attacking political correctness. In truth, what Day had said was that we have to stop letting political correctness guide the level and subject of debate in Canada. Gee, Warren, what an outrageous suggestion!  

 

Chretien, Kinsella and the rest of this tired government, would love nothing more than to have Manning win the leadership campaign.  

 

They know full well that Manning will not sell anywhere east of the Red River. They also know that Manning's "Howdy Doody" persona pales in comparison with the vigorous, fit, youthful Day.  

 

Equally, if faced with federal election, Chretien, while fit for his age, is still in the waning years of his 60s.  

 

Remember the photo that dominated the 1974 election campaign of then-Conservative leader Bob Stanfield, fumbling a football gently tossed to him? That image, coupled with a newly-married, vigorous Pierre Trudeau and his youthful bride, Margaret Sinclair, virtually sealed a majority government for the Libs.  

 

Make no mistake, Chretien is afraid of Day.  

 

Instead of his traditional arrogance, comfortable there was no one on the horizon with the requisite "Royal Jelly" to challenge him, Chretien and his cronies will take out the knives and begin an attempt to carve up the character, political intentions and image of Stockwell Day.  

 

He will be painted, much more than he has already been, as a "homophobic." (Geez, I hate that word. Those who dislike gays are hardly afraid of them. They disdain them. Is "homodisdainia" a word?)  

 

He'll be categorized as anti-feminist, perhaps even as a misogynist, because he, personally, is against abortion. And this will only be the start.  

 

Unfortunately, none of this is true. Sure Day is promoting family values and morality in government. He is promoting less government and responsibility with taxpayer dollars. Try as I might, I fail to find anything wrong with any of this.  

 

Imagine, politicians with virtue! Interesting spin on that from the Libs.  

 

"Don't vote for him, he's honest. Vote for the crass corruption and cronyism of the Liberals you have grown to despise."  

 

Who, in their right mind, wants another term of the big government, big taxes, big spending Liberals? Who can stomach another debacle like the HRDC billion dollar boondoggle, let alone the blatant lies that have accompanied the dismantling of the Canada Jobs Fund in the past week?  

 

But let's look ahead to see why they are afraid.  

 

In the first place, the Liberal braintrust and the Progressive Conservative lack-of-braintrust, have tried to marginalize the Alliance by saying they're a regional party. Realistically, in today's politics, they're all regional parties.  

 

Allow me to digress for a moment. I'm getting sick and tired of Joe Clark's refusing to acknowledge the Alliance name by stubbornly calling them the Reform party. It reminds me of a racist American media steadfastly calling Mohammed Ali "Cassius Clay" long after he legally changed his name.  

 

Get over it Joe.  

 

The Libs, while they have a handful of seats elsewhere, are essentially an Ontario party. The PCs are dead outside Atlantic Canada. The Bloc has a lock on Quebec and who cares about the NDP.  

 

So how might this play out in the next election? With the Alliance obtaining 70 of the 88 Western Canadian seats, the Bloc taking 65 of Quebec's 75 seats, the PCs hovering at about 20 of the Maritimes' 32 seats, this means the Liberals need to sweep Ontario. Piece of cake with a Manning-led opposition.  

 

But what if a Day-led Alliance should take, say, 40 of the 103 seats in Ontario. And it won't take much to get those 40 seats, assuming the conservative element of Ontario recognizes the futility of supporting Joe Clark and doesn't split the vote.  

 

A new House of Commons might look like this: Libs 105, Bloc 65, PC 20, NDP who cares, and the Alliance would conceivably have a minority government with 111.  

 

Now, give or take a few seats in either direction, there is a strong probability there will be a minority government, either Alliance or Liberal.  

 

Given the Bloc and the Liberals can't agree on the colour of the sky, there would be every opportunity for the Bloc and the Alliance to form a coalition. Take away the sovereignty issue, the Alliance and the Bloc can certainly agree on the devolution of federal powers in favour of more autonomous provincial governments.  

 

What all of this translates to is the fear that the only person in this country capable of loosening the Liberals grip on power is poised to be given the chance as the new leader of the Canadian Alliance.  

 

The Liberal gloves are off and it's about to get vicious.

 

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