When the Reform Party was still getting used to the spotlight
Their seat count jumped from had one to 52, and that took some getting used to in 1994
After seven years on the outside, it was hard for members of the Reform Party of Canada to get used to their new place as insiders.
Founded in Calgary in 1987, the party had achieved its greatest electoral success to date, winning 52 seats in Alberta and B.C. in the 1993 election that almost wiped the Tories from the House.
"Reform MPs make a point of doing things differently," said the CBC's Saša Petricic, reporting on March 20, 1994. "Raising questions that are sometimes taboo, about immigration or the governor general, for instance."
Questions in the House were inspired by what came in over the fax machine at the party's offices, and members used their allotted time to push for changes in how the country was governed.
Examples included "introducing a code of ethics for MPs" and "asking for more referendums."
Another difference was Reform's determination to keep the debate polite.
The party would send a list of their upcoming questions in the House to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, to give him more time to review them with his advisors.
"When they send us their questions in advance, they'll certainly get better answers," Chrétien said, in French.
Sandra Manning, wife of Reform leader Preston Manning, thought he could stand to be more forceful in the House.
"I guess I'd like to see him just a little more aggressive," she told an interviewer.
Preston Manning agreed his wife was the "feisty" one in the family, but it just wasn't his style.
"I can't manufacture false emotion," he said in a parliamentary scrum.
Needs more strategy
MP Stephen Harper said Reform had yet to finesse its approach.
"The party ... has been successful at getting a new style," he said. "But it's not been successful at being really strategic with that style."
"Reform insists ... it will keep on playing the role of political outsider," summed up Petricic. "Polls show that despite its lack of experience or spark, the party has retained its election support.
"But the challenge will be to build on that."
The Reform Party boosted its numbers in the election that followed, in 1997, and became the Official Opposition.