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Canada (158,081)
POL2101 (26)
Chapter 72

Chapter 72 – “The West Wants In”

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University of Ottawa
Political Science
Luc Turgeon

72 – “The West Wants In” Preston Manning (1987) Introduction • This Assembly was called to accomplish two purposes: 1- To develop an “Agenda of Change” – a list of basic reforms required by Western Canadians to improve their economic and social condition, and their position within the Canadian Confederation 2- To recommend an appropriate political vehicle for advancing the West’s Agenda for Change • Manning’s task is to explore the advisability of creating a new, broadly-based federal political party with its roots in the West, as an appropriate political vehicle for carrying forward the West’s Agenda for Change. • In discussing such a political vehicle, Manning assumes that the vast majority of Western Canadians want into, not out of, the Confederation, and therefore rejects a separatist party as an appropriate vehicle for political action. ANew Party in the Reform Tradition • Creating a new political party to represent the West does not entail another splinter party, single-issue party, or party of extremes. • Creation of a new federal political party to carry Western concerns and contribution into the national political arena – new vehicle to represent the great political “reform tradition” • “Reform tradition” began in the mid-19 century when a group of reformers in the Canadian colonies – Joseph Howe in Nova Scotia, Robert Baldwin and Egerton Ryerson in Upper Canada, and Louis Lafontaine in Quebec – decided to fight against the vested political interests and inflexible colonial structures of their day to achieve responsible and responsive government. • 1860s – the Fathers of the Confederation (Liberal George Brown and Conservative Sir JohnA. Macdonald and Georges Cartier) set aside old party structures and allegiances to create the Liberal-Conservative coalition which brought into being the nation of Canada. • The trauma of Confederation exhausted the spirit of radical political reform inAtlantic Canada and Ontario – since, those two regions have been content to express themselves politically within the traditional framework of a two-party system dominated by the Liberal and Conservative parties. • Two great regions where the spirit of political reform continues to manifest itself by forming new political movements that seek to implement change by challenging and displacing the tradition party structures – Quebec and the Canadian Northwest • Western Reformers:  Louis Riel – the first Western reformer, whose efforts resulted in the creation of the Province of Manitoba, and his Indian allies who fought the imposition of the federal welfare state.  F.W.G. Haultain and the Independent members of the old Territorial Legislature. Haultain resisted efforts to carve the Canadian Northwest into multiple provinces and negotiated the terms of the “Autonomy Bills” by whichAlberta and Saskatchewan became provinces  1905-1920 “Farmers’Movement” which embodied the Western spirit of reform and which brought into being the Progressive Party – the first Western reform movement to break across the Canadian Shield and win substantial support in other parts of Canada. (John Bracken, J.S. Woodsworth, and Thomas Crerar of Manitoba, Henry Wise Wood ofAlberta, andAgnes Campbell McPHail – the first female Member of Parliament in Canada).  1921 federal election – Progressives captured the second-largest number of seats in the Canadian House of Commons and used their influence to secure the Crow’s Nest freight rate reform and the Natural Resources TransferAgreement.  The Depression parties, the Canadian Commonwealth Federation, the Social Credit movement inAlberta under WilliamAberhart and Ernest C. Manning, etc. • Just a few examples of men and women who created new vehicles as instruments of change when faced with unfair treatment by vested interests or insensitive government controlled by Central Canadian parties. • Creating a new federal political party means reviving a tradition older than Confederation • Central question: Is a new federal political party needed to advance the West’s interests and concerns? Is a New Federal Party Needed? Four Reasons Four reasons a new federal political party is required: 1. The West is in deep economic and structural trouble, yet no federal political party makes Western concerns and interests its top priority.  Poor economic conditions call for new directions and proposals for fundamental changes in national economic and social policy.  Nothing new for the West is coming out of Ottawa from traditional parties  Their top political continue to be to hold or increase their support in Ontario and Quebec  The old tools aren’t fixing things, so it’s time to search for new tools 2. The
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