- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2001

TORONTO Canadas movement to unite the right has been shaken, but not stirred, by a call to hold a referendum on the issue.
Embattled Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day has called on his party to hold a vote on joining the Progressive Conservative party within 90 days.
Mr. Day admits its a risky proposition, one that could cost him his job. But he says he is willing to sacrifice his leadership to solidify the countrys small-C conservative supporters against the governing Liberals.
"Canada does not deserve the fate of a quasi one-party state," Mr. Day told an audience of business leaders in Toronto on Thursday.
"We need a single, viable alternative that citizens will look to with hope and confidence as a future government," he said. "I will do whatever I can including putting my own leadership on the line to see this happen because Canada deserves nothing less."
Critics were quick to criticize Mr. Days proposal, calling it an attempt to deflect attention from his latest leadership woes. The Canadian Alliance head has been on the job for barely a year, but he has been rocked by an attempted coup led by former party stalwarts.
Soon after Mr. Day announced his merger plan, Alliance foreign affairs critic Monte Solberg called on Mr. Day to quit.
Until now, many Alliance Members of Parliament havent dared to use the word "resign," but all have hinted strongly it is time for new leadership.
"I think the future of the party is really in trouble," Mr. Solberg said. "I think that even any chance of uniting the democratic conservative movement in Canada is in trouble as well as long as the leader stays where he is."
Like other Alliance members of Parliament, Mr. Solberg may pay the price for criticizing Mr. Day. It is expected that he will be stripped of his post and kicked out of the caucus when the party announces its new shadow Cabinet today.
Mr. Days plan came as a surprise to senior party strategists. Alliance co-President Ken Kalopsis said the partys national council wasnt given any notice of the proposal.
"That kind of concerns me," he admitted. "It almost sounds a bit ad hoc, a back-of-a-napkin kind of approach."
Just last week, a group of dissident Alliance legislators and grass-roots supporters began a campaign to convince party members they should push for a leadership vote at their annual meeting in April.
The infighting has even prompted Mr. Days government-paid chef to quit in disgust.
Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark slammed Mr. Days new plan to unite the right and brushed aside Mr. Days call for Mr. Clark to hold a similar referendum among his partys membership.
"This is not a serious proposal," the former Tory prime minister told reporters. "This is a reaction from somebody whos under serious pressure from within his own party. Hes trying to turn the topic away from his own difficulties."
Alliance and Conservative members already have been combining forces on some issues in Parliament. Mr. Clark says he wants to see the two parties unite against the Liberals in a more formal way, but thinks doing so will take more than 90 days.
"These things arent done suddenly; it requires some patience," Mr. Clark said, urging members of both organizations to take a steady course defining common goals.
"By working on real issues and demonstrating real cooperation, were going to form a coalition that, when the next election comes two, three or four years from now, well be able to give the Liberals a real run for their money," he said.
Mr. Clark noted the two parties combined support among voters totals 28 percent, hardly enough to form a government. Still, he believes there must not be two conservative parties vying for voters attention when the next election is called.
"Never again can we have a situation where a Liberal government is elected by default," he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide