OTTAWA, October 24, 2003 ( – The CAPC merger process and the “Founding Principles” of the proposed new Conservative Party are causing more of a stir among political commentators.

On Tuesday, LifeSite reported on Ezra Levant’s questioning of the founding principles and former Preston Manning loyalist Rick Anderson’s surprising criticism of the omission of the ReformAlliance’s founding pillars of social conservatism.

Lorne Gunter on Rick Anderson

On Wednesday, conservative Edmonton Journal columnist and merger cheerleader Lorne Gunter emphasized that the Alliance caucus has ratified the merger plan by an overwhelming vote of 51 to 1. To Gunter, that level of confidence in the leader’s plan indicates Alliance MP’s are very positive about the deal and not worried about the current wording of the founding principles.

As for Rick Anderson’s credibility, Gunter pointedly notes, “throughout his more than decade-long working arrangement with Manning, Anderson has been more responsible than any single person for convincing Manning to run away from social conservatism on abortion, gay rights and religious values in public debate”.

Gunter says that “unless Anderson has had a Road to Damascus conversion to social conservatism…it is more likely he is playing the so-con card in order to scuttle the deal”. The reason, Gunter proposes, is “Because if this merger goes through, the right will not be wiped out in the next election.” He suggests further that if that doesn’t happen, Manning and Anderson will lose their chance to be seen as the white knights to save the party and regain their former power.

Terrance Corcoran Rips Merger

In Friday’s Financial Post, editor-in-chief Terrance Corcoran, contrary to the overwhelming enthusiasm for the merger from his affiliated National Post editors, rips the deal as an “unprincipled union”.  Corcoran states, “Canadian conservatives certainly want a place to call their own, but the messy origins of the new party’s first set of founding principles suggests they are still a long, long way from home”.

Corcoran says, “the dubious origins of the agreement’s statement suggest(s) ideas may not matter all that much to the new party’s founding establishment”. The implication is that winning and desperation to finally defeat the Liberals have dominated the merger so far. “The founding principles, in fact, have no particular significance”, Corcoran concludes, and he worries that the Alliance negotiators dangerously “assumed, apparently, that the Alliance agenda could be worked into the party’s documents and platform at some later time”.

Sinclair Stevens Exposes Power Corp. Involvement

In an open letter to Peter McKay in the Friday Toronto Star, former social conservative Tory MP Sinclair Stevens, in what is mostly a sour grapes tirade, also lashes out at the merger plan. Stevens calls the Alliance “a radical party” and charges that “A review of their constitution, priorities and principles confirms how radical they are”. Citizen-initiated referenda and recall votes are given as example of the supposed dangerous radicalism.

What Stevens does add to the debate is to highlight the intimate involvement of a dubious corporate Canada group, led by Don Mazankowski, in the merger process. He states “The directorships held by the group are impressive. Maz (as we used to call him) is a key figure in Power Corporation, including Great West Life and The Investors Group. Bill Davis is also on the Power Corporation and the Magna International boards; Mike Harris, often cited as a possible leader of the proposed new party, is also on the Magna board. Magna, of course, provides a link to Belinda (Stronach, head of Magna). Mulroney is on the Barrick Board, Quebecor and various American corporations including being chairman of Forbes Global of Forbes Magazine”.

Stevens curiously does not mention that Brian Mulroney is also intimately involved with the Desmarais family, their Power Corp. and their dominant web of influence within the Canadian political system.

Globe’s John Ibbitson Labels New Party “libertarian conservatism”

In Friday’s Globe and Mail, often astute social liberal political columnist John Ibbitson sees the merger as the rise of what he calls “libertarian conservatism”. 

Ibbitson believes the leadership race “continues to evolve toward a confrontation between Alliance Leader Stephen Harper and former Ontario premier Mike Harris”. The Globe columnist categorizes both Stephen Harper and Mike Harris as being “firm libertarians”. “Mr. Harris is even more libertarian than Mr. Harper,” he says, “in that the former premier keeps his distance from social conservatives: He believes the state should have as little place as possible in either the bedrooms or the boardrooms of the nation”(a la Pierre Trudeau). “Mr. Harper, on the other hand,gives a sympathetic ear to those economic libertarian/social conservatives who want freedom to do what they want,” he writes.

He believes it is safe to predict “the Conservative Party of Canada will be decidedly libertarian in outlook”, and suggests that as the reason “NDP Leader Jack Layton is urging Red Tories to join the NDP”.

An open letter to Peter MacKay in The Star

Unprincipled union by Terrance Corcoran

The rise of libertarian conservatism by John Ibbitson

See previous LifeSite reports:
Mike Harris Will Make Early Nov. Decision on Running for Leadership of New Party
More CA/PC Merger Agreement Details Revealed
Alliance and Tory Merger Deal Struck