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14 Days

14 Days: Making the Conservative Movement in Canada

Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    14 Days
    Book Description:

    A first-hand look into the back rooms of the conservative movement in Canada, 14 Days provides insights into how the recent history of the Canadian right has influenced the Conservative government over the past two decades. Bruce Carson, having worked in close proximity to many Conservative leaders, describes a series of important moments in the disintegration, re-integration, and eventual repeated electoral success of the modern Conservative Party, formed from its Progressive Conservative forebears. Carson recounts how decisions are made and communicated, how issues are managed, and policies are developed under Harper's leadership. Crucial moments in the Conservatives' rise to power - from the devastating results of the 1993 election to the growth of the Reform Party and its election as Official Opposition, through the parties' merger, leadership decisions, conventions, and elections as minority and majority governments and most recently, the Conservative Party as majority government holder in Canada - are presented from the point of view of an outspoken witness and active participant. Carson candidly shares information on the government's approaches to Afghan detainees, the Cadman and Schreiber affairs, the 2008 constitutional crisis and worldwide recession, the development of their first budget, and the determination of the tenets of Harper's approach to federalism. A rare, behind-the-scenes account of the Harper Conservatives from opposition to government, 14 Days provides a vivid portrayal of all participants and will be eagerly read by anyone interested in the government's inner circle.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9196-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. ix-1)

    As I put the finishing touches on this book in the late fall of 2013, the prime minister has been playing both offence and defence. He completed a major shuffle of his Cabinet in July and, in mid-October, delivered a Speech from the Throne and announced the signing of the Canada–European Union Free Trade Agreement. He hopes all this will allow his Conservative government to rebound in the polls and attain a second majority mandate in the next election. For the first time since forming the government in 2006, the prime minister is dogged by problems that have hurt...

  4. DAY 1 Nowhere but Up: Post–Election Day 1993
    (pp. 3-19)

    In order to have a comeback, there must be something to come back from. For the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, going from 158 to 2 Members of Parliament in one election was the something, and 25 October 1993 was the day it happened. No ordinary feat, it was a long time in the making. The same can be said of the Reform Party: going from 1 seat to 52 seats in one election took a lot of planning and hard work. Rising from virtual obscurity to substantial thirdparty status, with a robust group of members – some with considerable provincial...

  5. DAY 2 Open Season: Searching for Leadership of the Right
    (pp. 20-32)

    As the dust settled after the June 1997 election, it would have been hard to predict the turmoil that would occur in the period between 1997 and the next general election in 2000. Leadership change could not be ignored by either of the parties on the right. For the PCs, it was necessitated by a call to duty for national unity. For Reform, it stemmed from the continual goal of marching eastward, the need to win seats in Ontario through to and including Atlantic Canada – a goal denied until merger of the two parties in 2003.

    But before going forward,...

  6. DAY 3 Millennium Makeover: The PC–DRC Coalition
    (pp. 33-40)

    The results of the 2000 general election were disappointing to both parties on the right. Having dared the PM to call the election, Day, by his campaign and his conduct, especially in the leaders’ debate, demonstrated why he needed to age at least a year as leader of the Official Opposition prior to forcing and fighting a general election. While the Alliance seat count improved slightly, the breakthrough in central Canada, save for three rural seats in Ontario, did not happen. At that point, Day had every right to believe he would get at least two shots at forming a...

  7. DAY 4 New Alliance Sheriff in Town: Staphen Harper
    (pp. 41-47)

    It was 20 March 2002 and Stephen Harper had gained the leadership of the Alliance party For Joe Clark, all the work he had put into building up the pc caucus was for naught. The Stockwell Day leadership implosion meant that the steady-stream-becoming-a-torrent of Alliance MPS leaving to sit with Clark and the other dissidents was not to. plan A, moving of Official Opposition status or minority government in 2000, had not come to pass. Now Plan B, making the move though destruction of the Alliance Party, was stymied. For Clark there was no plan C.

    As senior members of...

  8. DAY 5 PC Leader of the Pact: Peter MacKay
    (pp. 48-60)

    Less than a year after the first major joint PC–DRC caucus retreat in September 2001, Clark’s time as PC leader was over. We were back in Edmonton for the August 2002 PC Party AGM, and asking ourselves:Where does the Party go from here? And who would want to lead it to wherever it was going?

    At the AGM,Bernard Lord, then premier of New Brunswick, gave what was generally acknowledged as the best speech of his career. It was like he was auditioning for the job of national leader – except he had too many problems to deal with back in...

  9. DAY 6 By-election Wake-up Call: Two Merge Into One Under Stephen Harper
    (pp. 61-76)

    In concentrating on winning the leadership, MacKay and those around him did not appreciate the full significance of what happened in the 13May 2003 by-election in the sleepy Ontario riding of Perth–Middlesex.¹Yes, it was recognized that Gary Schellenberger had won, demonstrating that the PC Party could still win in Ontario –which was great, and a tremendous boost for the Party going into the leadership convention at the end of the month. Schellenberger not only attended the convention but also gave his support to Mac- Kay. What went unrecognized was that, without any question, this was the single most...

  10. DAY 10 Governing, Part I: Implementing the Platform and Tacking Unexpected Issuses
    (pp. 159-194)

    I have been involved with three governments – two federal and one provincial – and have spent almost a decade with the Parliamentary Research Branch of the Library of Parliament in the federal Law and Government Division. Over those years I have seen a number of different methods of governing, but in reality, especially in a minority situation, it distills down to what happens on five different yet parallel tracks.

    The first track, easier in a majority than a minority situation, is perhaps the simplest to follow is implementing the government’s platform or program. Through either the annual budget or important pieces...

  11. DAY 11 Governing, Part 2: Solving Issues – Policy Clashes, Managing People, and Staying Election Ready
    (pp. 195-218)

    The previous chapter began with a description of the five governing tracks in play during the first mandate, and then went on to look at the first (what the government wants to do as it implements its agenda) and the second (unexpected things coming at the government that may derail track one efforts). This chapter carries on with the last three tracks: where a problematic issue can combine with a policy initiative and turn what might have been a negative into something

    quite positive; personnel; and the omnipresent, election readiness.

    A track three issue doesn’t happen often, but it does...

  12. DAY 12 Financial Crisis, 2008: House Manoeuvres and a Stimulus Budget
    (pp. 219-246)

    The autumn of 2008 and winter of 2009 saw the beginnings of the worst worldwide financial collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Canada, the governing Conservatives forced a September general election in spite of fixed-date election legislation, and the newly elected Conservative government, after a near-death experience in late November–early December 2008, delivered a planned deficit, stimulus budget in late January 2009, which was approved by the House of Commons in February 2009. In the relatively short period of five months, both the Canadian political scene and the economic, budgeting situation had gone through enormous upheaval....

  13. DAY 13 Minority Second Mandate: Governing like a Majority
    (pp. 247-269)

    In the period immediately after the approval of the 2009 stimulus budget through to the 2011 election, the most important day was 2 May 2011, polling day. It delivered the long sought-after majority government for the Conservative Party. But between these two dates were myriad issues, challenges, and opportunities that, when taken together, helped fashion the result in May 2011. For veteran observers, this approximately twenty-seven-month period had to be one of the most fractious periods in Canadian parliamentary history. However, through the stimulus measures of the 2009 budget, it was also a productive time as Canada persevered through and...

  14. DAY 14 Majority Third Mandate: The Harper Doctrines
    (pp. 270-290)

    As the dust settled and the sun rose on 3 May 2011, it was obvious to most that the general election just concluded played perfectly into the Conservative ballot question and delivered Canadians a “strong, stable, national Conservative majority government.” By mid-campaign, the issues that had triggered the election, and that were held so dear by the Liberal Party, were forgotten by all but the Liberal leadership. The Conservative platform that promised job creation, support for families, deficit elimination by 2014, safe streets, and a strong military won out over what Harper termed a “reckless coalition” that at the beginning...


    • What the Left Can Learn from the Right
      (pp. 291-297)

      The electoral divide on the right of the political spectrum began before the 1993 federal election, but was most apparent in the electoral results: much of western Canada abandoned the Progressive Conservative Party and moved its conservative support to the Reform Party. East of the Ontario–Manitoba border, voters had either forsaken conservatism altogether or split their support between the two parties on the right. The rise of Reform in the West had been coming for some time. Its strength was a surprise to the PC Party, but it shouldn’t have been.

      The period from 1993–97 on the right...

    • An Uncertain Path Forward for the Conservatives
      (pp. 298-306)

      A look back at the past twenty years and fourteen “days” of events and decisions, people and personalities, actions and inactions that, I believe, piloted the federal conservative movement from opposition to government must, naturally, prompt a look forward. What do the past and present suggest about Day Fifteen, about the future of the Harper government and the Conservative Party?

      Going back to my story about the man spinning plates on the top of poles as a metaphor for governing, it seems that attaining a Conservative majority has not brought the focus to policy development and its implementation, and to...

  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 307-308)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 309-318)
  18. Index
    (pp. 319-329)