Don't Blame Preston Manning for Alliance problems

Letter to the Editor
by Margret Kopala, November 30, 2001.

Re: Failed leaders just fade away, Susan Delacourt, Nov. 24.

for general distribution

Susan Delacourt's otherwise astute analysis wrongly suggest the Canadian Alliance's problems are the result of the failure of the former leader, Preston Manning, to "fade away".

This "sore losers'" school of thought is simply inaccurate. Everyone wished the current leader well through the federal election and after. But when it was clear that Mr.Day was not coping with his new duties, many - including those who had voted for him - could not help feeling concerned. By calling for him to step down, Deborah Grey, Church Strahl and others conscientiously reflected these feelings.

Ms.Delacourt also mistakenly dismisses the negotiating power of the Democratic Representative Caucus. Alliance MP Gary Lunn's reverse defection - having left the Alliance to join the PC-DRC coalition, only to leave it to rejoin the Alliance - illustrates the point. It tells the Tories that the DRC is not a collection of political orphans desperately seeking a home. For the Alliance, Lunn's return postponed a national council resolution to expel the DRC members, suggesting the council would favour a return of more. Ms.Delacourt does, however, correctly assess the DRC's limited scope for effecting Tory/Alliance unity. The best hope for achieving this is for each party's national council to appoint emissaries who are not only above the fray of any leadership controversy but who also have proven negotiating and media skills, and a full understanding of their party's culture, constitution and policies.

While it is important for the DRC to be involved, it is the PC and CA national councils - not the leaders, caucuses or constituency associations - whose authority has legal force and effect in this area. Recent surveys indicate a majority of both parties' members favour some form of co-operation. Why, then, are the PC and CA national councils stalled? If Ms.Delacourt explored this, she would find that it is not because of Preston Manning.

Margret Kopala

To comment on this article why not send Margret an e-mail.