- Canadian Alliance
party_name = Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance
"Alliance réformiste-conservateur Canadienne"
party_wikicolourid = Canadian Alliance
status = defunct
class = fed
Stockwell Day(2000-01) Stephen Harper(2002-03)
president = n/a
March 27, 2000
December 7, 2003
Merged with PC into the modern Conservative Party
Conservatism, Neoconservatism, Social conservatism
headquarters = n/a
int_alignment = n/a
seats_house = n/a
website = n/aThe Canadian Alliance (in French "Alliance Canadienne"), formally the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance (or in French "Alliance réformiste-conservateur Canadienne"), was a Canadian conservative political party that existed from 2000 to 2003. The party was the successor to the
Reform Party of Canadaand inherited its position as the Official Opposition in the House of Commons and held it throughout its existence. The party supported policies that were both fiscally and socially conservative, seeking reduced government spending on social programs and reductions in taxation.
The Alliance was created out of the
United Alternativeinitiative launched by the Reform Party and several provincial Tory parties as a vehicle to merge with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. The federal PC Party under Joe Clarkrebuffed the initiative to "unite the right". In December 2003, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative parties voted to disband and merge into the Conservative Party of Canada.
The Canadian Alliance's origins were in the
Reform Party of Canada, which was founded in 1987 as a populist party supporting Western Canadian interests. However, soon after its formation it moved sharply to the right and became a populist conservative (largely socially conservative) party. Initially, the Reform Party was motivated by the need for democratic reforms and by profound Western Canadian discontent with the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney. Led by its founder Preston Manning, the Reform Party rapidly gained momentum in western Canada and sought to expand its base in the east. Manning, son of longtime Alberta Premier Ernest Manning, gained support partly from the same political constituency as his father's old party, the Social Credit Party of Canada.
With the collapse of a fragile Tory coalition composed of westerners, Ontarians and
Quebecnationalists, the Reform Party's fortunes rose. It first entered Parliament in 1989 when Deborah Greywon a by-election in an Edmonton-area riding. The party achieved major success in the 1993 federal election, when it succeeded in replacing the Progressive Conservative Party as the leading right-wing party in Canada. Its platform and policies emphasized, "inter alia", the rights and responsibilities of the individual, Senate and other democratic reforms, and smaller more fiscally responsible government. However, the party came under constant attack of being extremist and intolerant due to a number of statements by Reform MPs which were considered to be racist, homophobic, and sexistremarks. In the 1997 election, the Reform Party made only minor gains, but did manage to become Canada's official opposition. The party still failed to present a true challenge to the Liberal government, since its agenda was seen as too extreme for the liking of central and eastern Canada. Reform actually won a seat in Ontario in 1993, but lost it in 1997.
Demand for unity by the right, encouraged Manning to promote a new movement, the "
United Alternative", to create a small-"c" conservative alternative to the Liberals. Manning blamed "conservative" vote splitting for keeping the Liberals in power, although some polls showed that the Liberals were the second choice of many PC voters (especially in Ontario). Manning's efforts created a strong debate in the Reform party, and he would even write a letter to the effect that he didn't want to lead Reform anymore, but would only lead the new party. Manning would win a leadership review with over 75%, and opposition died down.
In 2000, following the second of the two United Alternative conventions, the party voted to dissolve in favour of a new party: the "Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance", a declaration of policy and a new constitution. The new party's platform was a mixture of the PC and Reform platforms. However, it was largely seen as merely a renamed and enlarged Reform Party. Former Reform members dominated the new party, and the Reform caucus in the Commons essentially became the Alliance caucus (with a few exceptions). Former PM
Brian Mulroneycalled the party "Reform in pantyhose", and some opponents referred to the party as the "Reform Alliance" to enforce this perception.
Media covering the convention quickly pointed out that if one added the word "Party" to the end of the party's name, the resulting initials were "CCRAP" (humorously pronounced "see-
crap" or just "crap") even though it, like the Bloc Québécois, didn't actually have the word "party" in its name. When it became clear after a few days that the joke was not going to subside, the party's official name was quickly changed to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, but was almost always called simply "the Canadian Alliance" or "the Alliance". However, the "CCRAP" nickname was still used by its opponents. Grey, the deputy leader of Reform, was chosen as the new party's interim leader, becoming the first female Leader of the Opposition in Canadian history.
The federal Progressive Conservatives under
Joe Clarkrefused to participate in these talks, but there was strong support from many provincial Tories, especially in Ontario and Alberta. Subsequently, at the new party's first leadership convention, Manning was defeated in favour of the younger, more charismatic Stockwell Day, longtime treasurer (finance minister) of Alberta. One Progressive Conservative senator, Gerry St. Germain, joined the new party in October 2000, becoming the Alliance's only member of the Senate.
In the fall of 2000, the Liberals called a snap election that caught the Alliance off-guard. Nonetheless, the party went into the election with great hopes, campaigning on tax cuts, an end to the federal gun registration program, and their vision of "family values". Day was expected to have greater appeal to Ontario voters. At one point, the Alliance was at 30.5% in the polls, and some thought they could win the election, or at least knock the Liberals down to a
minority government. However, the Liberals responded by accusing the Alliance of having a "hidden agenda" (introduce two-tier health care, threatening gay rightsand abortionrights) which the party denied.
Though disappointed with the election results in Ontario, it increased its presence to 66 MPs, including two MPs from Ontario. Nationally, the party increased its popular vote to 25%. The Alliance remained the Official Opposition in the House of Commons. The Liberals increased their large majority mostly at the expense of the NDP, and the Tories under Joe Clark lost many seats and remained in fifth place, but Clark held his seat of
Calgary Centrein the middle of Alliance country, so the overall political landscape was not significantly changed.
However, the Alliance failure to win more than the two seats in Ontario, along with residual resentments from the Alliance leadership contest and questions about Day's competence, led to caucus infighting. In the spring of 2001, eleven MPs who either voluntarily resigned or were expelled from the party formed the "Independent Alliance Caucus". The group was led by
Chuck Strahland included Grey. Day offered the dissidents an amnesty at the end of the summer, but seven of them, including Grey and Stahl, turned it down and formed their own parliamentary grouping, the Democratic Representative Caucus. The DRC formed a coalition with Clark's Tories in the House, which was widely seen as an attempt by Clark to reunite the Canadian right on his terms. The split forced Day to call a new leadership convention, and, in April 2002, Stephen Harperdefeated Day at the subsequent Canadian Alliance leadership election.
Once Harper assumed the leadership, most of the rebellious MPs rejoined the Alliance party. Two MPs did not rejoin, however:
Inky Markchose to remain outside of caucus, and eventually joined the Tories, and the scandal-plagued Jim Pankiwwas rejected when he applied for readmission to the Alliance caucus.
During its short history, the Canadian Alliance never seriously entertained the prospect of forming provincial wings, or forging formal links with existing provincial parties. The vast majority of CA supporters in most provinces supported, and continued to support their provincial Progressive Conservative parties, while most supporters in
Saskatchewanremained loyal to the Saskatchewan Party.
However, an attempt to form a provincial party with clear, if unofficial links with the CA was made in
Alberta, where the Alberta Alliancewas formed in 2002. Under the leadership of Reform/CA activist Randy Thorsteinson, the new party never sought a formal link with the CA, and had it done so the overture would likely have been rebuffed since many Albertan CA members continued to support the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. However, the Alberta Alliance copied the colours of the CA and many of its logos bear a striking resemblance to those of the federal party. The Alberta Alliance continued to grow following the federal party's merger, and the provincial party fielded a full slate of candidates for the 2004 provincial election, on November 22, 2004, and won one seat in the Legislature.
Conservative Party of Canada
October 15, 2003, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party (under its new leader Peter MacKay) announced that they would merge to form a new party, called the Conservative Party of Canada. The union was ratified on December 5, 2003, with 96% support of the membership of the Canadian Alliance, and on December 6, 90.04% support of elected delegates in the PC Party. On December 8, the party was officially registered with Elections Canada, and on March 20, 2004, former Alliance leader Stephen Harper was elected as leader of the party. The new party was dubbed "the Alliance Conservatives" by critics who considered the new party a " hostile takeover" of the old Progressive Conservatives by the newer Alliance.
The new Conservative Party would form the government on February 6, 2006.
Deborah Grey— March 27, 2000– July 8, 2000(interim)
Stockwell Day— July 8, 2000– December 12, 2001
*John Reynolds —
December 12, 2001– March 20, 2002(interim)
Stephen Harper— March 20, 2002– December 7, 2003
Federal election results 2000
Canadian Alliance leadership elections
Canadian Alliance candidates, 2000 Canadian federal election
List of political parties in Canada
Politics of Canada
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