Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Mulroney Merger

The rehabilitation of Brian Mulroney's public image is continuing apace, with the revelation that he put far more effort behind the scenes to join together what he had split asunder:

Brian Mulroney played a crucial role in reuniting Canada's political right and positioning the new Conservative party for power, says a new book by Ottawa Tory insider Bob Plamondon.

Yet few outsiders knew anything about the former prime minister's deep involvement, largely because his lingering radioactivity with voters made it perilous to acknowledge his backroom influence, Mr. Plamondon writes in Full Circle, the first full account of events that led to the 2003 merger of the Progressive Conservative and Alliance parties.

The book will be in stores Wednesday.


When Mr. MacKay took flak from Red Tories for talking merger, Mr. Mulroney advised him to overlook the criticism and "bring the family back together," writes Mr. Plamondon.

"Whenever MacKay felt hesitant about moving forward with the negotiations, Mulroney was there with encouragement and support," he writes adding that he even reviewed some of the draft documents under discussion and offered his comments.

At the same time, he was advising Mr. Harper, making it clear that he wanted a speedy merger to happen. Their conversations began after Mr. Harper became Alliance leader in 2002, and intensified around the time of the merger.

Conspiracy theorists will have a field day with book. The Red Tory fringe that formed Joe Hueglin's band of old believers in the eternal "Progressive Conservative" myth will be screaming that Mulroney was on Stephen Harper's side all along; the hard-core Western populists will complain that Mulroney manipulated Peter MacKay to deliver them back into the hands of the old guard Red Tories.

But it may help explain a sense that many of us had in the predecessor parties in those whirlwind weeks before the merger: we were being pushed, but we still wanted to be pushed.

Now that his work has been vindicated--however tentatively--by the electorate, Brian Mulroney can come out and take credit for it.

Time and events have a way of healing old political wounds.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

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