It's time for Tories to jump
Article by Margret Kopala
published in the Ottawa Citizen July 10, 2001
for general distribution
The Tories have been playing peek-a-boo on the subject of uniting the right. It's time to put up or shut up. It's time for Tory MPs to join the Rebel Alliance.
Just as Tories are suspicious of Mr.Day, so too are Alliance members suspicious of Tory leader Joe Clark. For the Alliance Group of 13, who have risked so much be leaving caucus, expecting a similar act by Tory MPs is not unreasonable. A gesture of solidarity - even a defection by one or more Tories - would establish a middle ground open to both sides and do much to establish a comfort zone for MPs and ordinary party members in both parties. Tory defections would also signal an even stronger intention that the right intends to unite - without Mr.Day and Mr.Clark.
It's over for Stockwell Day. The only question is how much of the Alliance party goes down with him. As for Mr.Clark, he could be forgiven for slavering over the prospect of salvaging some of the Alliance pieces, but such expectation would be inappropriate for the leader of a party plagued by its own dismal results in recent years. A credible centre-right party can rise from the turbulence of the noble Alliance experiment and the Tory woes, but first a significant gesture of solidarity is needed from the Tories.
Many Tory MP's have unofficially joined forces with the Group of 13. They have been laying the groundwork for entente between the parties, establishing trust and demonstrating how they, unlike Mr.Day and Mr.Clark, are serving a cause greater than themselves. Informal meetings between the MPs have allowed the creative juices to flow. From somewhere in the platforms of the two parties will come a synthesis of Tory and Alliance thinking that can revitalize Canadian politics. Perhaps most important, the Alliance members and the Tory Mps working with them have demonstrated that rare commodity in political life- courage. Co-operative Tories risk being labelled as disloyal by their own party, while members of the Alliance G-13 have faced censure by party colleagues. For the Alliance G-13, battle was inevitable. The latest round, fought publicly and tumultuously over the weekend, ended with marginal gains for the G-13, who were joined by a majority of the Alliance's executive committee in calling for Mr. Day's resignation.
With the basis of a moderate, centre-right party - one credibly representative of Western and Eastern Canada - in place, it won't be long before more MPs join. How long would it be before the Conservative and Alliance parties collapsed into the New Conservative union? Or, at a minimum, before they negotiated with each other to bring the New Conservative union back into the fold?