Small "c" conservatives should be heartened by those who believe the right wing of Canadian federal politics can still be patched together despite a decade of defeat.
"Gritlock," a new name for the Canadian phenomenon of Liberal political immortality, is both the name of Peter White's new book and the topic of his speech on Jan. 15. The speech, not part of a book tour, took place at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel and was hosted by the Canadian Club of Calgary.
White's three-step plan revolves around the upcoming Canadian Alliance leadership race between Stephen Harper, Diane Ablonczy, Grant Hill and Stockwell Day.
"We should ensure the election as leader of a moderate who understands that the Liberals will be in office forever unless we can restore unity among conservatives," White asserted, "by casting your ballot for, if you accept my analysis, either Diane Ablonczy or Grant Hill."
With two candidates running on the unity platform, the possibility of a vote-split keeping both of them out of the leadership is present.
"Either one of the candidates should concede, which they'll have to work out between themselves," said White in his speech, "although when Diane [Ablonczy] came to see me about it she said that she would be happy to step aside if somebody better qualified came along, though she doesn't think that Hill is better qualified than she is."
White provided reason for optimism about the outcome of this round of unity talks for any cynics after the United Alternative movement failed to create an alternative to the Liberals. He pointed to high level communications between Bruck Easton and Clayton Manness, presidents of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties respectively.
After the speech, White entertained questions from the audience, including one from a man claiming to have spent the weekend with 150 teenagers, not one of whom cared about federal politics.
"They believe that they can't make a difference and that politics ultimately don't affect them," explained White. "It would take a huge disaster or some real leadership to motivate young people. For example, I think that the young people in Argentina are very interested in what their government is doing."