No region of North America has had more experience – much of it positive – with populist movements, populist parties, and populist governments than western Canada. It was the populist Progressive and Farmers parties that elected the first woman to Parliament, the first women to provincial legislatures, and which secured recognition of women as “persons” in Canadian law. It was populist legislators in the prairie provinces and in the House of Commons that secured the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement which granted ownership and control of natural resources to the people of those provinces. And the first healthcare system offering universal coverage regardless of the patients ability to pay was established by a populist government in Saskatchewan.
Preston Manning, former Leader of the populist Reform Party and the Official Opposition in parliament, is a long time student and practitioner of populist politics. He was also his party’s science critic and is a long time student of the application of science to public policy. Mr. Manning believes that the bottom up political energy exhibited by the recent Freedom Convoy and those supporting it has the potential:
- To force the creation of an independent, non-governmental investigation of governmental mismanagement of the COVID pandemic, including its misuse of science to support its positions.
- To facilitate a change in government at the federal level depending on the extent to which Canadians demand a better balance between health protection and the protection of their rights, freedoms, and economic wellbeing, and whether the Official Opposition in parliament under a new Leader can respond positively and vigorously to that demand.
Mr. Manning thoroughly explores both these possibilities in a futuristic fictional work entitled The COVID COMMISSION which the Frontier Centre recently published and posted on its website, and exploring as part of its Leaders on the Frontier series.
Born in 1942, Preston Manning is the second son of long time Alberta Premier Ernest C. Manning. Growing up in a household which was both political and evangelical, he became intimately familiar with the political and religious experience of western Canada including its extensive and largely positive experience with populist movements, parties and governments.
Mr. Manning served as a member of Parliament from 1993 to 2001. He founded two political parties – the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance – both of which became the Official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament, and laid the foundation for the Conservative Party of Canada(CPC). In 2006 the CPC formed a minority federal government under Stephen Harper, originally elected as a Reformer, and in 2010 the CPC formed a majority government. Mr. Manning served as Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2000 and was also his party’s science and technology critic. In 2007, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada and in 2013 was appointed to the Privy Council.
Mr. Manning graduated from the University of Alberta with a BA in Economics and provided consulting services to the energy industry for twenty years before entering the political arena. He has received honorary degrees from eight Canadian universities and is the author of four books, The New Canada; Think Big; Faith, Leadership, and Public Life; and most recently, Do Something! 365 ways you can strengthen Canada.
After leaving parliament in 2001, Mr. Manning founded and two non-profit organizations, the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education and the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. These organizations offered research, educational, and communications services designed to strengthen Canadian democracy, Canadian confederation, and the contributions thereto by conservative oriented participants.
In 2019 Mr. Manning began the process of retirement, the networking and conferencing functions of the Manning Centre being assumed by the Canada Strong and Free Network. The Manning Foundation continues to support Mr. Manning’s writing and political mentoring activities and to publish the conservative oriented electronic journal C2C.