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Canadian Alliance
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Canadian Alliance

Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance
Founded:March 27, 2000
Reform Party founded in 1987
Dissolved: December 7, 2003
Merged with the PC Party
into the Conservative Party
Colours:Green and Blue

The Canadian Alliance (in full, the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance) was a Canadian right-wing conservative political party that existed from 2000 to 2003. It served as the Official Opposition in the House of Commons throughout its entire existence.

The Alliance was created out of the United Alternative initiative launched by the Reform Party and serveral provincial Tory parties as a vehicle to merge with the Progressive Conservatives. The federal Progressive Conservative Party under Joe Clark rebuffed the initiative to unite the right, however. In December 2003, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative parties voted to disband and integrate into a new party called the Conservative Party of Canada.

Table of contents
1 Background
2 Conservative Party of Canada
3 Party Leaders
4 See also

Background

The Canadian Alliance was a right-wing party, with strong grassroots and neoconservative leanings. Its origin was in the Reform Party of Canada, which was a social conservative and populist party founded in 1987. Initially, it 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 Ernest Manning premier of Alberta gained support partly from the same political constituency as father's old party, the Social Credit Party

With the collapse of a fragile Tory coalition composed of westerners, Ontarians and Quebec nationalists, the Reform Party's fortunes rose. The party achieved major successes in the 1993 federal eleciton, when it succeeded in replacing the Progressive Conservative Party as the leading voice in western 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. In the 1997 election, the Reform Party was even more successful, becoming Canada's official opposition. The party still failed to present a true challenge to the Liberal government, mostly due to inadequate support in central and eastern Canada.

Manning, many other members of the Reform Party, and many Progressive Conservatives, began to try to form a new, united party of the right. In 2000, following the second of two United Alternative conventions, the party voted to adopt a new name - the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance, a Declaration of Policy and a brand new Constitution.

However, 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 even though it, like the Bloc, didn't vote for the use of Party within the name Alliance making it actually the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance. 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.

The federal PC party under Joe Clark refused to participate in these talks, but there was strong support from many neo-conservative provincial Tories, especially in Ontario and Alberta. Subsequently, a leadership convention rejected Preston Manning, the founding head of the Reform Party, in favour of the younger, more charismatic Alberta treasurer Stockwell Day.

In 2000, the governing Liberals called a snap election that caught the Canadian Alliance off-guard. Though disappointed with the election results in Ontario, the CA increased its presence to 66 MPs, including two MPs from Ontario. Nationally, the Party increased its popular vote to 25%. The Canadian Alliance remained the Official Opposition in the House of Commons. The Liberals retained their large majority, and the Tories under Joe Clark remained in fifth place but the leader held his seat of Calgary Centre in the middle of Alliance country, so the overall political landscape was not significantly changed.

However, the Alliance failure to win more that the two seats in Ontario, coupled with residual resentments from the Alliance leadership contest, led to caucus infighting. In the summer of 2001, a group of dissident MPs, led by Deborah Grey and Chuck Strahl, quit the party and formed their own parliamentary grouping, the Democratic Representative Caucus, and joined Clark's Tories in the House. The split forced Day's resignation, and, in April 2002, Stephen Harper defeated 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 Mark chose to remain outside of caucus, and eventually joined the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and the scandal-plagued Jim Pankiw was rejected when he applied for readmission to the Alliance caucus.

Conservative Party of Canada

On October 15, 2003, the Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party announced that they would unite 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 the membership of the Progressive Conservative 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 new party.

It is not clear yet whether the new party will retain key elements of the Alliance's platform. It will not be known until the founding constitution and policy convention, which was planned for Fall 2004, has been slated for Spring 2005, will be held. The 2004 Canadian election saw the party retain its social conservatism on matters such as same-sex marriage, but largely jettisoned were grassroots initiatives such as referendums and Senate reform.

Party Leaders

See also: Canadian Alliance leadership elections

See also

Bloc Québécois;, New Democratic Party, List of political parties in Canada, Politics of Canada