http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070511.wxright0511/BNStory/National/homeDisgruntled Tories consider refounding Reform Party
Globe and Mail Update
May 11, 2007 at 8:52 PM EDT
Ottawa — Somewhere in Kingston Saturday, a small group of disaffected Conservatives will meet to discuss what would have been unfathomable in the heady days that followed the last federal election: refounding the Reform Party.
Organizers say they have room for just 30 people, but that this weekend's event is a mere prelude to a much larger meeting later this month.
“It's now or never,” the online invitation says. “This new party will never be infiltrated by Red Tories, special interest groups or Quebec again.”
In another part of the country, Link Byfield is writing columns for his Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy that criticize the policies of the federal Conservatives.
“Has Stephen Harper been ‘Otta-washed?'” Mr. Byfield, a strong voice for small-c conservative Alberta, wrote on April 5. He went on to decry the March budget as a “massive spending splurge two or three times the rate of inflation [that] clomps big Liberal boots into all kinds of provincial responsibilities.”
When the Conservatives were elected in January, 2006, the former Reformers were jubilant at the thought of finally having a voice in Ottawa. But after a series of centrist decisions by Mr. Harper, they are again lamenting their disenfranchisement.
Connie Wilkins of Kingston, who owns freedominion.ca, one of the most popular conservative websites in Canada, has been invited to the weekend meeting.
At this point, she says, reforming Reform is just a discussion.
“The idea is just to get together and to decide how it would be best for people who have conservative values – stronger conservative values – to make their voices be heard better and to be listened to,” Ms. Wilkins said.
While it is impossible to gauge just how many on the right feel abandoned by the Harper government, she said Web traffic indicates their numbers are increasing.
Many were angry over what they see as the Prime Minister's capitulation on same-sex marriage. But it's not just socially conservative issues that upset the old Reformers, Ms. Wilkins said. “It's the fiscally liberal things that they have been doing lately that people have really started to get upset about.”
The fury began with the luring of David Emerson from the Liberals to sit as a Conservative cabinet minister, and the naming of Conservative organizer Michael Fortier as unelected senator and Public Works Minister.
Then came a vote to declare Quebeckers a nation, the budget, a settlement with Maher Arar that many found egregious, a reversal on income trusts, and a complete about-face on the environment.
A Conservative policy convention scheduled for November – an opportunity for expression of the dissatisfaction – has been cancelled.
Welcome to Balkanland North American version.