Uniting the Reform alternative
By Sharon Navarro
"Broadening the tent" is the political metaphor Jason Kenney, Reform Party Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast, spoke of at a visit to campus yesterday. This term has come to represent the Reform-launched idea of the United Alternative.
The informal luncheon at the Wave drew mostly Western Reform Club members as well as a sprinkling of members from Western's Progressive Conservative Club.
"Basically it's an attempt at creating a larger coalition of people with similar political ideas for Canada," Kenney said. He explained the purpose of the unification as a means to find commonalities between people who voted against the Liberal government. He added the lack of understanding by many students on Canadian political issues provided impetus for his visit.
"I agree that in order to defeat the Liberal government a dialogue between the Reform and the Conservatives must be done but I don't know if this is a viable alternative," said Yvonne Tomilko, a third-year administrative and commercial studies student and supporter of the Progressive Conservatives.
Tisha Ashton, a self-proclaimed "small-c" Conservative a supporter of Reform and Conservative views and third-year economics student, also shared Tomilko's partial support for the United Alternative. "I think it's an elaborate thinly-disguised recruitment tool for the Reform Party. It's definitely a Reform-driven initiative and I think they're trying something to expand," she said.
"We are a democracy and we don't want the Liberals in power forever," said Ray Novak, Western Reform Club president. Novak said Canadians who did not vote Liberal in the last election should exercise their democratic right and contribute to making a change.
The Liberal view, however, was a little different. "The Reform party is reaching out and trying to paint a negative picture against the Liberal government. It is doubtful that this will gather enough support for the United Alternative," said David Palumbo, president of the Young Liberals. He added the new federal Conservative leader is not likely to embrace a united front.
Should this United Alternative gain momentum it could signal a pivotal moment in Canadian politics with the possibility of the formation of a new political party, Kenney said. He added there is significance to students because it is their futures at stake.