72 – “The West Wants In”
Preston Manning (1987)
• 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
2- To recommend an appropriate political vehicle for advancing the West’s Agenda for
• 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
• “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
• 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
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
The old tools aren’t fixing things, so it’s time to search for new tools