Here is an interesting article about the collapse of the Progressive Conservative party and the rise of the Reform Party in Canada. The author, Neil Flagg, hits the nail right on the head. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had a so-where-can-they-go? attitude with regard to his party’s right-wing. Well, in 1993, he got his answer. They formed a dynamic new party that energetically courted the hearts and minds of conservative Canadians. The ensuing vote splitting in ridings all across the country ensured that Mulroney’s party went from 169 seats in Parliament to two, while the upstart Reform Party went from one seat to 54.
A result like that can’t be blamed on Mulroney’s hasty replacement, Kim Campbell. (Like a rat, Mulroney had deserted his sinking ship barely four months before the election). She was little more than a populariser of dumb blonde jokes, but one hapless boob can’t construct an electoral catastrophe that complete in such a short time period. For that to occur, the rot had be deep.
While this resulted in “13 years of corrupt and aimless Liberal Party rule” (as Flagg says), I think it can also be said that the result was worth the cost; the old Progressive Conservative party had to be destroyed in order to be saved. The 1993 federal election was the first time that I, and many other Canadian conservatives, voted for somebody.
To be sure, the Republican Party of 2012 is in far healthier ideological shape than the Progressive Conservative Party was in 1993, but GOP big-wigs are making a big mistake if they think there the old Progressive Conservative Party’s fate contains no lessons for them.
The most important lesson being: don’t take your core supporters for granted. Not ever.