wrote on NRO about the decision of Canada’s two
right-of-center parties, the Progressive
Conservatives and the Canadian
Alliance, to merge into one entity, to be called
the Conservative Party of Canada.
At the time of the announcement more than two weeks
ago, I was quite bullish about the prospects of this
new party. I still am today. I’ve seen political activists
who have sat on the sidelines for years express a
willingness to get involved again (many have already
done so) because of the merger announcement. Polls
have been released showing that the party would have
considerable support in each region of the country
minus Quebec, which traditionally only votes for a
political party if it’s led by a politician from their
In order for this merger to be ratified, members
of both existing parties must separately approve the
deal through a plebiscite. The Progressive Conservatives
(known as the Tories) need a two-thirds majority to
get the deal through, while the Canadian Alliance
needs only 50 percent. I have little worry that the
CA will push the deal through; its members are overwhelmingly
support creating a single conservative party.
The Tories, on the other hand, are more divided.
Joe Clark, a former prime minister and twice leader
of the Tories, is opposing the deal, and an anti-free-trade
zealot named David Orchard is organizing against the
merger agreement. Orchard finished second in the recent
Tory party leadership race, and he has considerable
support inside that party–some say as much as 25
percent. Nevertheless, if I were a betting man I’d
say this deal will go through.
The new party will have its hands full getting ready
in time for the next federal election, expected in
the spring. Remember, the right in Canada has been
divided for more than a decade; we’re talking about
melding together two entities that have warred bitterly
for three or four elections. The task of getting everyone
united in this new amalgam will be formidable, especially
given the policy issues that divide conservatives
across Canada’s diverse regions.
While the job ahead will be challenging, I am confident
that the new party will work for several reasons:
1) Canadian conservatives understand the need to
find common ground and try to put their differences
aside. Despite some differences (namely on social
policies) they understand the need to work together
inside one big tent like the U.S. Republicans. Members
of both parties understand that half a loaf is better
than no loaf at all.
2) After languishing in the electoral wilderness
since 1993, conservatives are craving a return to
power. They are willing to do this for the sake of
gaining power, and they understand they simply must
work together to win. It may take two or more elections
for this to happen, but best to start the drive toward
forming a government now.
3) Canadians want this. They want to see that conservatives
are capable of running the country. By feuding for
the past ten years, conservatives have shown that
they can’t get their act together. As a result, they
have (deservedly) failed to gain the respect of voters.
The new party will show the electorate that conservatives
are ready to earn their trust.
For the sake of Canada and conservatism, this merger
must and will work.
is a member of the editorial board at Canada’s