The Reform Party is formed
It's called the "Western Assembly on Canada's Economic and Political Future" - not exactly a thrilling name for a conference, but its outcome will end up being hugely important in Canadian politics. The weekend-long forum begins on May 29, 1987, and by the end of the weekend, the delegates have decided to create a new federal party. "Its name and ideology will come later," announces the reporter in this 1987 TV clip. It's the beginning of what we later come to know as the Reform Party of Canada.
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 31, 1987
Guest(s): Preston Manning, Murray Smith
Anchor: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Whit Fraser
Did You know?
• A June 1, 1987 Globe and Mail article reported that the new party planned to "put Western concerns on the national agenda," with Senate reform being one of its major concerns. "Most delegates support the Triple E concept (elected, effective and with equal representation from each province), roughly modelled on the U.S. Senate."
• Other party platforms included free trade, minimizing and decentralizing the role of government in general, and opposition to Quebec's demands for special status.
• In the fall of 1987, the new party was officially named The Reform Party of Canada, and Preston Manning was chosen as its leader.
• A decade later, in June of 1997, Manning's Reform Party became the Official Opposition.
• In 2000, the Reform Party dissolved into a new party: The Canadian Alliance. Manning ceased to be leader with the dissolution of the Reform Party, and Alberta's Stockwell Day was chosen to lead the Canadian Alliance.
• In December 2003, the Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to become the Conservative Party of Canada. In the spring of 2004, Stephen Harper became leader of the newly merged party. Two years later, Harper was elected Canada's 22nd prime minister.