MacKay faces anti-merger demonstrators

A group of anti-merger activists disrupted the kickoff of the Conservative Yes campaign.

A group of anti-merger activists disrupted the kickoff of the 'Conservative Yes' campaign in Toronto on Thursday night.

Angry protesters confronted Tory leader Peter MacKay, accusing him of being a 'traitor' for agreeing to merge with the Canadian Alliance.

MacKay was in Toronto to kickstart the campaign aimed at convincing Progressive Conservative Party members to support the merger.

Earlier in the day, the first candidates for the new unite-the-right party declared their intentions. But the road to creating the new political party will not be smooth.

David Orchard, who convinced MacKay to sign an agreement during this year's PC leadership convention not to merge with the Alliance, is mounting a legal challenge to the merger.

"What are we going to be left with if Paul Martin smashes this new party? We're going to be left with egg all over our faces and no Progressive Conservative Party of Canada left. That's going to be the tragedy."

But in the fractious Tory party, not even a legal challenge can unite the different forces.

Mulroney-era cabinet minister Sinclair Stevens is launching his own legal challenge. Both men say the new party won't have enough time to develop policy before the next election. But that doesn't seem to bother some Conservatives in the West.

On Thursday former Tory leadership candidate Jim Prentice and former Tory MP Lee Richardson both announced they'll be seeking the nominations in neighbouring Calgary ridings for the new Conservative Party of Canada.

"Whether or not they (Orchard and Stevens) proceed with any legal manoeuvrings, I think the momentum is here. All it was waiting for was the signal," said Richardson.

Stevens says he will mount his own committee in the next few days to fight the creation of the new party.