Deal with pop­ulist sen­ti­ment: Man­ning

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA -

The man who once suc­cess­fully har­nessed pop­ulist sen­ti­ment in Canada into po­lit­i­cal suc­cess is warn­ing that much is at stake if to­day’s po­lit­i­cal leadership fails to do that.

Pre­ston Man­ning, founder of the Re­form party, says the great­est chal­lenge fac­ing po­lit­i­cal lead­ers is that peo­ple are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dis­en­chanted with gov­ern­ment, main­stream me­dia and pol­i­tics.

“The an­swer is to man­i­fes­ta­tions of Trumpo­ma­nia is not Trumpopho­bia, but po­lit­i­cal leadership that ad­dresses the root causes of voter alien­ation and redi­rects neg­a­tive po­lit­i­cal en­ergy into pos­i­tive ends,” Man­ning said Fri­day at the an­nual con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence that bears his name.

At $500 for the con­fer­ence fee, less for stu­dents, the gath­er­ing is less rank-and-file grass­roots of the con­ser­va­tive move­ment in Canada and more the party’s in­tel­li­gentsia and op­er­a­tors gath­ered to de­bate the way for­ward.

But Man­ning said the point is to give the dis­parate el­e­ments of the move­ment the op­por­tu­nity to meet, net­work and de­velop tools and strate­gies nec­es­sary to take the lead in fed­eral and pro­vin­cial pol­i­tics in the fu­ture years.

The more care­fully watched por­tion of the con­fer­ence is likely to be the de­bate among the can­di­dates for leadership of the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive party.

Fri­day is the dead­line to reg­is­ter for the leadership con­test and, bar­ring last-minute en­trants, there are 14 con­tenders.

Sev­eral have in­for­ma­tion tables in the hall­ways at the con­fer­ence, where 900 peo­ple have re­port­edly reg­is­tered for the two-day event, and oth­ers are hold­ing par­ties off-site as they seek to woo card-car­ry­ing Tories and sell mem­ber­ships to oth­ers.

The party will se­lect its new leader in May.

The pool of can­di­dates is a tes­ta­ment to the in­clu­sive tent the party has built, in­terim leader Rona Am­brose said in her re­marks to the con­fer­ence.

“While the is­sues that the can­di­dates em­pha­size may vary and while some of their pol­icy prescriptions may dif­fer, the prin­ci­ples that un­der­lie their leadership plat­forms are the same — the clear recog­ni­tion that a gov­ern­ment’s role is to serve the peo­ple who pay the bills, not the well-heeled in­ter­ests that talk the loud­est.”

CP PHOTO

Pre­ston Man­ning speaks at the open­ing of the Man­ning Cen­tre con­fer­ence Fri­day in Ot­tawa.

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