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Let’s merge, eh

Despite the presence of many excellent Canadians in the blogosphere (such as this splendid chap) I don’t know all that much about Canada. My first and only visit to that country was some fifteen years ago and rarely does Canada merit any coverage in the UK media.

However, from what little I have learned I get the impression that it is a country where the left-of-centre political culture is pretty much set in stone and the ruling (and misnamed) ‘Liberal Party’ is a perennial electoral shoe-in.

Could that be about to change?

The leaders of Canada’s two rival right-wing parties said on Wednesday they were very close to agreeing on a merger to form a united conservative movement to challenge the ruling Liberal Party.

Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper pulled out of a town hall meeting in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, to fly back to Ottawa for talks with Peter MacKay, leader of the Progressive Conservatives.

“We haven’t (yet) come to an arrangement but we’ve had some very positive talks and I expect to have some more very shortly, and I am very optimistic about things developing,” Harper told reporters at Calgary airport.

“It’s not often that the political landscape is altered in a big way so quickly but I think we’re very close to doing that,” he said. The tentative name for the united party would be the Conservative Party of Canada.

Interesting as far as it goes but it does beg quite a few questions, such as:

1. Is this ‘merger’ likely to happen or is this all aimless flapping?

2. If it does succeed then is the Conservative Party of Canada going to commit to rolling back the Canadian state?


Polls give the Liberals the same support as all four opposition parties combined, but also show that a single right-wing party could mount a serious challenge.

3. What are their chances of climbing that electoral mountain any time soon or at all?

16 comments to Let’s merge, eh

  • Kevin

    Nothing much is likely to change in Canada. Support of an ever-growing state is largely a litmus test of Canadian patriotism and decency in Canada. Anyone who advocates a cautious trimming of the many bloated Soviet-like programs is simply shouted down as a racist, traitor, someone hates the poor and the Children(tm), and worse – American.

    Most conservatives in Canada simply find it easier to leave, as Conrad Black, David Frum, and Mark Steyn have done, to name a few.

    The last time a Conservative party was elected in Canada they weren’t very different from the Liberals. Big tax hikes, big spending, and big deficits were their legacy.

  • Guy Herbert

    Every Canadian I’ve heard of (except politicians) is a former Canadian. Even John Kenneth Galbraith left for the US…

    How collectivist can it be?

  • Rob Read

    It would be interesting to do a study looking at the hypothesis that the more socialism in a state the more people leave it.

    Maybe we could also do the inverse and rate a countries degree of socialism by the numbers leaving??

  • Because of the “first past the post” electoral system, the merger of two marginal parties can have *significant* electoral effects.

    Maybe not enough to become the party of government, but certainly to provide a more serious opposition.

    Death to the _C_ BC! Another foul newsopoly.

    Fred – just another Canadian in exile

  • Russ Goble

    Is it just me, or does the name Conservative Progressives send pretty mixed signals.

  • Jay

    1. Looks like they have finally set egos aside, knowing full well the alternative is another 10 years of one-party soft tyranny under the socialist Libs.

    2. Highly unlikely, in my opinion. I think there are too many on the “right” here under the fatal conceit that if only the right people were in charge, all the waste, cronyism and mismanagement would magically disappear. Few fail to see, or at least have the stones to admit publically, that an overstretched govt is the problem.
    Even polite questioning of the dogma of say, Universal Healthcare, gets you labelled as some kind of sadistic brownshirt in this country.

    3. Not good. The feds make an industry out of transferring wealth around the country (or more acurately, redistributing poverty!) and come election time, key areas (Quebec, Atlantic provinces) will be paid off with tax dollars to ensure their unconditional support.

    So it goes….

  • Sandy P.

    Follow Daimnation for more, Damien keeps an eye on this stuff, he’s in Nova Scotia(?).

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    The Kanucks are screwed, because they are pathologically opposed to doing anything like the horrid Americans. Since they have no identity other than “not American”, they cannot adopt any policies that are in any way like the US.

    The best hope for Canada is for Quebec to secede, and then possibly for other provinces to do so.

  • Tedd McHenry

    I agree with Fred, that the “first past the post” electoral system could make this merger significant in the next election (although vote-splitting in the last election doesn’t seem to have affected the outcome all that much). But I have to go along with the general consensus that this development–if it goes ahead at all–will not change much other than who sits where in the House of Commons, if even that. (Anti-U.S. sentiment is probably pushing the electorate even further left than in the last election.)

    One hopeful note is that Ontario, which has about a third of the seats in the national legislature and traditionally has a different party in power than the federal government, has just gone strongly Liberal.

    But I’m not sure why I call that hopeful, as the Conservative Party (or whatever they end up calling themselves) aren’t likely to be hugely different from the Liberals in practice, as we saw with the Progressive Conservatives in the late eighties and early nineties. Both the Liberals and the PCs oppose policies when they are in opposition, then support or even expand on them when they are in power; consider the GST, “free trade,” and reform of young offenders legislation.

    The principle difference that the Reform/Alliance party offered (these are the guys who are proposing to merge with the PC, for non-Canadian readers) is reform of Parliament. They will almost certainly have to de-emphasize or even give up those policies to successfully merge with the PC. They already have, largely. The whole “unite the right” campaign clearly shows that, since most of the Reform party’s original platform couldn’t possibly be described as “right wing,” being primarily concerned with significant reform to Parliament to push it in the direction of popular government.

  • Daimnation originates from Newfoundland.

  • The Barenaked Ladies are Canadian. So are Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Nickleback, the Matthew Good Band, Our Lady Peace, Chantal Kraviazuk, and lots of other famous people who aren’t ‘formerly Canadian.’

    While there are a lot of ‘former’ Canadians, and ex-pats, that’s true of any country.

    As for whether a possible Conservative renaissance in Canada would lead to ‘rolling back the Canadian state,’ my guess is no. If anything, Conservatives would likely push for us to ditch ties to the Queen as a cost-cutting measure.

    In Canada, the conservative movements that have been most successful can be seen at the provincial level, in Alberta, B.C. (hiding behind the ‘Liberal’ label) and, until recently, Ontario. Federally, the biggest support has been for the Canadian Alliance, and that’s mostly because they appealed to conservative Albertans, and then tapped into western alienation to get votes in other western provinces.

    As for the merger, it does look like aimless flapping.

    I agree that the ruling Liberals are fat and bloated and arrogant after holding power so long, but I – and most other Canadians – don’t see much of an alternative. The NDP are too far to the left and all the other parties are too far to the right. Canadians tend to stick to the middle of the road, which the Liberals have a lock on. If we had a different electoral system that was more representative of the wishes of the population, we’d probably see a healthier debate in Parliament because more smaller parties would get elected. But our first-past-the-post system leads many to feel their votes are wasted if their political views don’t conform to the majority.

  • fnyser

    Something’s gotta be done. I ran across an article a while back about Canadians having their DirecTV system confiscated because they could recieve evil American broadcasts which are detrimental to Kanuckistani culture, did not support CBS alternatives, or some damn thing…so I looked up the Canadian Broadcasting Act. Terrible stuff. There are a lot of adjectives I could use to describe these policies but I would be called names in return.

    I wouldn’t hold out too much hope. In 2000 21,475 Canadians moved to the US, in 2001 it was 30,203 (.094%) – meanwhile the reverse was 5,814 and 5,894 (.002%) for the respective years. Funny thing though; a lot of newpapers ran stories. about the increase in Americans moving to Canada to escape Bush and get the super-primo heathcare…riiiiiiiight.

  • Wild Pegasus

    The merger of the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives is not a bold strike for Canadian liberty by any stretch of the imagine. The PC, when it was last in power under PM Brian Mulrooney, instituted the hated national sales tax. The Liberals ran on an anti-tax platform, formed the government, then promptly kept all the taxes.

    There is no classical liberal or libertarian movement in Canada. The Canadian LP makes the USLP look positively viable. Although there are currently 5 major national parties, not a one of them would be considered “mainstream economic conservative” in the US, let alone something mildly libertarian like the Cato Institute, or really libertarian like the Mises Institute.

    FWIW, could someone tell this Yankee the fascination that UK libertarians have with the Tories? Dr. Gabb goes on about them endlessly for no reason I can fathom.

    – Josh

  • Adam

    Maybe I just have my nose in roses, but I sure hope that Canada can come up with a viable political alternative to the Canadian National Socialist (“Liberal”) Party. I have met too many good Canadians in western Canada to want to give up on the whole country. Many Canadians, esp. those from Ontario, seem to have a Parent-Child view of their relationship with government. Good Luck.

  • Conservative Canucks or Brits are always welcome in the U.S. — and the liberal Americans are likewise welcome… to leave and go and live in Canada or France.

    A little while back, I even wrote an Immigration Primer for Brits wanting to come to the U.S.

    Heck, our local Kroger even stocks brown sauce, salad dressing, Bisto, and Fry’s Turkish Delight.

  • Gerald Joly

    Why all the concern about the P.C.`s they succeeded in a short 8 years to practically destroy our country in every way. They caused our country to loose faith with the world community, they succeeded in raising our national debt to an all time high, while the scandals and corruption were unparralled in the history of any free loving country. I say good ridence to them and all those who might consider suppoting them. They were a parasite on the Canadian people and like all parasites should be disposed of. Brian Mullroney can best be described as an egotiscical meglamaniac, as the quote about him is the one remaining thing that I will never forget in my life. QUOTE: No where in the world can a hat be found to fit such a swelled head: end of quote.