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Minister in his prime

"Minister in his prime" Continued...

Issue: "Lieberman vs. Gore," Aug. 19, 2000

Moreover, Mr. Day has calmed the fiscally conservative but socially liberal crowd in his own party, which was afraid he would "impose" his Christian morality on Canadian society. "No member of Parliament has the right to do that," he said in a speech last April. He proposes legislation for citizen-initiated referendums and allowing "free votes" in the House of Commons (where MPs are expected to vote according to the wishes of their constituents) on such controversial social issues as abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment.

Weeks after that speech, key Ontario conservatives promised to raise $18 million for a Day-led Alliance federal campaign, more than double the Reform Party's last election budget. They think Mr. Day might win, observes Tom Flanagan, professor of political science at the University of Calgary, and while they may not agree with his moral stance they understand his democratic approach. "He's known as a team player," said Mr. Flanagan, "someone who won't turn the board over and walk away when he loses the game."

The pro-life, pro-family forces in Canada have bought into Mr. Day's program. Joanne Hatton, president of Alberta Pro-Life, would be satisfied with a chance to force a national referendum on defunding abortions. "Stockwell won't bring in a law to criminalize abortion," she said, "but it's our job as pro-lifers to change public opinion. In a democracy, that's as good as it gets."

Does Mr. Day have a realistic shot at winning next spring? Mr. Flanagan notes that the Reform Party typically polled around 10 percent between elections but nearly 20 percent on election day. The Alliance is already taking 20 to 25 percent, says Mr. Flanagan, so if the pattern holds Mr. Day might nab 30 percent in the election itself. "That's not enough to win, but it is enough to take 20 or 30 seats in Ontario," and deny the Liberals a majority.

And he just might go all the way, according to Mr. Flanagan. "The evidence isn't there yet, but he has the kind of personality that might create a bandwagon. If he can get his views understood outside Alberta, he could have a winning position."

Les Sillars
Les Sillars

Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., and is the editor of WORLD's Mailbag section.

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