Reform Party indeed paralleled thernstance of Mulroney’s ruling party; successrntherefore depended on Tory displacement.rnIn this first electoral outing,rnReform captured seven percent ofrnthe vote in the western provinces ofrnCanada, but its share of the total voternwas barely over two percent; it electedrnbut a single member of Parliament.rnCentral to the discontent emanatingrnfrom western Canada, and Alberta inrnparticular, was the economic imbalancernof a prosperous oil and agricultural heartlandrntaxed by and subordinated to thernprovinces of the east with their large socialrnwelfare budgets and obsession withrnQuebecer demands for greater powerrnand autonomy within the confederation.rnIn 1989, Manning set as his goal the erosionrnof the political monopoly enjoyedrnby the traditional right and left in therncountry’s eastern provinces. Four yearsrnlater, the evidence—19 percent of thernnational vote resulting in the election ofrnmore than four dozen members of parliamentrn—suggests that the Reform Partyrnwill play a major role on the nationalrnstage of Canadian politics. Following itsrndramatic gains in October, Reform executiverndirector Gordon Shaw boasted:rn”we expect to be the governing party inrnfour years’ time.”rnWhile standing for strict fiscal responsibility,rnthe Reform Party is alsorndedicated to addressing the cultural issuesrnconfronting Canadian society. Keyrnon its agenda is the slashing of the umbilicalrncord that binds the federal governmentrnto the aboriginal peoples of Canadarnand to the resolution of a variety ofrnoutstanding land claim negotiations.rnReform recommends replacing the Departmentrnof Indian Affairs with selfgoverningrninstitutions. Additionally, thernparty formally declared that it seeks tornrepeal the National MulticulturalismrnAct, as well as to abolish the Departmentrnof Multiculturalism. It opposesrnpolicies encouraging “hyphenated Canadianism”rnand urges “the integration ofrnimmigrants . . . into the mainstream ofrnCanadian life.” Restrictions on immigrationrnwould be aimed at maintaining arntraditional distribution by socioeconomicrnlevel, if not by social origin.rnCritical to the party’s tax-reform agendarnis the repeal of the CST, the valuernadded levy imposed by the Tories inrn1988. And, given its strong commitmentrnto laissez-faire economics, the partyrnsupports free trade. In order to balancernthe federal budget. Reform callsrnfor steep reductions in foreign aid andrngrants to social advocacy groups, as wellrnas for the scaling down—but not eliminationrn—of social welfare and healthrnbenefits, particularly those provided tornnew immigrants. Overall, the governmentrnis regarded as too big, too remote,rntoo powerful.rnIn 1991, Manning expressed his preferencernfor an American-style marketrneconomy, although he felt that “it couldrnnot be sold to the Canadian people atrnthis point in time.” In the party’s “BluernBook” of principles, number 21 declares:rn”We believe that Canadians should seekrnto maximize the benefits of our uniquerngeographic and economic relationshiprnto the United States, and that the establishmentrnof more positive relations withrnthe U.S. need not in any way impairrnCanadian sovereignty or cultural identity.”rnThe Reform Party’s affinity to severalrnlarge U.S. oil, energy, banking, andrninvestment corporations, as well as itsrnlinks to South Africa, may give pause tornsome who see the party as an exponentrnof Canadian populism and nationalism.rnDependence on U.S. capital investmentrnin particular—something Preston Manningrnhas made a point of favoring—rnwould seem to run counter to thernstrengthening of small business and evenrnlarger enterprises at home.rnInevitably, comparisons of the ReformrnParty’s Preston Manning to the personalitiesrnof Canada’s southern neighborrnmay be offered. Such analogies abound,rngiven that Alberta may be seen as perhapsrnthe most American of Canada’srnprovinces. Indeed, its history is traced tornthe migration of Americans who followedrnthe grazing lands and oil fieldsrnnorth, with Calgary frequently beingrndubbed “North Dallas.” Yet, when arnleading newspaper proffered the headlinern”Canada’s answer to Ross Perot tapsrndiscontent” following Reform’s majorrnelectoral breakthrough. Manning bristledrnat the equation, labeled Perot “arnlone-wolf political entrepreneur,” andrnasserted, “We got started before Perotrndid.”rnWhile so much of the Reform Party’srnideology and platform closely resemblesrnthe ideas set forth by Pat Buchanan inrnhis 1992 bid for the Republican Partyrnpresidential nomination (especially onrnthe cultural side, where Buchanan is thernparallel, not Perot), the cautious andrnwell-grounded organizational skills ofrnPreston Manning set him apart from anyrnAmerican counterparts. What he hasrnaccomplished is the virtual destructionrnof a conservative party that seemed tornfail in its mission, in a manner quite reminiscentrnof the Bush presidency.rnCertainly it is hard to see in the choirboyrnfeatures of Preston Manning eitherrnthe Texas shrewdness and combativenessrnof Ross Perot or the savvy mediarntoughness of Pat Buchanan. And yetrnManning has achieved what even hisrnharshest opponents acknowledge: therntransformation of an anti-governmentrnprotest movement into a viable new politicalrnpresence in the very interstices ofrnCanada’s governing structure. As Manningrnhimself indicated in his victory address,rnhe intends to lead more than a rejectionistrnmovement, but to accomplishrnwhat the Freedom Party’s Jorg Haiderrnhas been able to achieve in Austria: makingrnitself the catalytic force within thernpolitical arena that drives a timid establishmentrnto confront the tough issues ofrnthe moment.rnRather than marginalizing the conservativernphilosophy in the public mind.rnManning has instead offered a challengernto the “political class” of Canada that focusesrnon the authentic populist roots ofrngovernmental and economic decentralization,rncoupled with cultural nationalism.rnIf this sounds like a “Canada First”rnapproach. Reform stresses the need to retainrnthe present confederation of coequalrnprovinces linked through a core ofrnvalues expressed in a majoritarian contextrnrather than a multiethnic one.rnIf, in the wake of Canada’s “OctoberrnRevolution,” that nation’s ConservativernParty is headed for the scrap-heap of history,rndoes it portend anything for Canada’srnsouthern neighbor? One may anticipaternthat the Reform Party will createrna new politics linking elements of traditionalrnconservatism with those of grassrootsrnpopulism. Admittedly inspired andrneven defined by an American model ofrnfree enterprise, the Reform Party is nowrnpositioned to do more than nay-say. Inrnthe cold and clear winter of its discontent,rnthe U.S. Republican Party may wellrnponder such a movement.rnDonald I. Warren is a politicalrnsociologist and the author of ThernRadical Center (J 976).rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn