Merger could work
by Margret Kopala
Published by the Toronto Star, December 9, 2000
As a Tory on the moderate right who joined the Alliance to promote conservative unity, I am encouraged by Joe Clark's new openness towards a merger ("Clark studies Alliance merger" Dec 5). This would end vote splitting in Ontario and, by brokering differences between Atlantic Tories and Western Alliance members, one conservative party would be restored to its nation building role and on the high road to governance.
Mr.Clark rightly allows there are social conservatives in the Alliance who would be reluctant to give up turf - particularly their direct democracy proposals which offer a process for placing controversial issues not part of party policy on the national agenda. If Mr.Clark can persuade the Alliance to concentrate instead on its excellent proposals for institutional reform to establish parliamentary fairness, dignity and citizen responsiveness, progressive and social conservative elements in a fully merged party could co-exist and even balance each other. Fiscal conservatives would then occupy the critical centre, mediate between both sides and advance only the best arguments of each into party policy.
In addition to a strong history and a strong name, Tories bring to the negotiating table a strong constitution whose leadership selection process addresses takeover by single issue groups - an area in which the Alliance is unnecessarily exposed.