Let me begin by saying that I have serious problems with large parts of the Party's program. I am not an economic determinist. I support free trade with the United States, but not with Mexico or the rest of Latin America. I believe the Party has been wishy-washy on social policy for fear of alienating people who wouldn't vote Conservative in a million years. That said, there is a strong social-conservative group within the Party, as indeed there is within the governing Liberal Party. However, there is no paleoconservative grouping within the Party. Indeed, such views are frowned upon by the Party elite. But where else is one to go? To the Christian Heritage Party? Well....perhaps. But not just yet. Consider this a year-long probation for the Tories, at the end of which I'll decide whether to stay or go.
Although I don't support many of the Party's policies, I've joined because among 'electable' parties they come closest to my own personal views. There's a bit of crass opportunism in this that really bothers me. But this is politics, after all. Besides, my own political history tends to point in this direction. Apart from my paid work in public policy/citizens' action groups, specifically The National Citizens' Coalition (1985-1987) and The Fraser Institute (member, 1982-1991; employee, 1991-1995), I've had the following explicit political associations in my life:
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
- Member 1979-1982
- Vice-President, Oriole P.C. Youth Association 1980-1982
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
- Member 1980-1984
Ontario Libertarian Party
- Member 1982-1990
- Candidate, Oriole Constituency 1985
- Candidate, Wentworth North Constituency (by-election) 1985
- Candidate, Oriole Constituency 1987
- Member-at-Large, Executive Committee 1988-1990
Libertarian Party of Canada
- Member 1984-1988
- Candidate, Willowdale Riding 1984
Reform Party of Canada
- Member 1991-1994
Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance
- Member 1999-2001
A couple of things are omitted.
From 1983-1986 I was a de jure member of the British Columbia Social Credit Party, even though I didn't live in the province at the time. I was just a big fan of the then-Premier, Bill Bennett, and the way he stood up to the province's unions during the provincial general strike in 1983.
In 1998, I worked as the Canvass Chair in the re-election campaign of John Oostrom, the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Willowdale. (He won the riding in 1988 when I ran as a Libertarian in the same area.) He didn't want me to run again because he anticipated a close race and he was worried that I would take votes away from him. So we reached a deal whereby I would work for him in exchange for a letter of recommendation to the Journalism School I wanted to attend. He lost his bid for re-election, but I got into Journalism School. Go figger.
In 1993, the Reform Party candidate in the riding of Surrey North (British Columbia) withdrew part-way through the campaign, and I was asked if I would stand in for her. I declined, since it would have meant taking an unpaid leave-of-absence from work and I simply could not afford that. As it turned out, Reform won that riding and if I'm not mistaken has held it ever since.
And there went my one big shot at scoring a juicy taxpayer-funded pension.