Alliance: "Not yet, not this time"

Globe and Mail Update
Tuesday, November 28 – Online Edition, Posted at 3:33 AM EST

It was a disappointing night for the Canadian Alliance, to say the least.

The party that had desperately wanted to spread from its Western roots in the West by branching out into Ontario with promises of tax cuts and a socially-conservative platform, fell victim to a third Liberal majority government.

With 99 per cent of polls reporting results, the Alliance had won a total of 66 seats.

But Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day remained upbeat, telling supporters in his B.C. riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla that the results gave him more motivation to fight for the Alliance.

Mr. Day said the voters of Canada had spoken and by giving the Liberals a majority government, they were telling the Alliance, "not yet, not this time.

"We have heard this message."

Mr. Day said soon after the results were known, he phoned Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien and congratulated him for making history by winning a third straight majority.

The party did extremely well in British Columbia and Alberta as expected. The Alliance gained three seats in British Columbia — two from the Liberals and another one from the New Democrats. In total, 27 Canadian Alliance MPs were elected along with five Liberals and two New Democrats.

Early on, Mr. Day was declared the victor in Okanagan-Coquihalla. In September, the former Alberta treasurer won a by-election landslide giving the Leader his seat in the House of Commons.

During the last election, the Alliance's predecessor, Reform, won 25 of 34 constituencies, but lost one to the Liberals in a 1998 by-election.

Votes for the party were mainly generated by the rural and suburban vote, while the Liberals did well in Vancouver and Victoria.

Secretary of State Hedy Fry was re-elected in Vancouver centre, Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal returned in Vancouver South-Burnaby and Environment Minister David Anderson survived in Victoria.

The Alliance Leader, with wife Valorie and family members gathered around him, appeared to be buoyed by the national support his party did receive, pointing out that the party was the only one to have increased its popular vote in every province in Canada.

Mr. Day said becoming the Canadian Alliance Leader had been a "learning experience" and vowed to fight in the House of Commons for "freedom and democracy" and against things he felt were wrong. Mr. Day said he would fight to see the day when the federal government "truly represents every region of this country."

He made a point of greeting Alliance candidates of Sikh, Jewish, and Chinese origins, a clear challenge to the charges of intolerance and racism Mr. Day and several of his candidates faced throughout the campaign.

Although the party did not meet its original goal of getting 40 seats in Ontario, it did elect two MPs — Scott Reid in Lanark-Carleton and Cheryl Gallant in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.

There were a few early bright spots for the party — but they were the expected successes in Alberta, where former leader of the Reform Party, Preston Manning, won his riding of Calgary Southwest and Monte Solberg won in Medicine Hat, Alta.

In the Alberta riding of Crowfoot, Kevin Sorenson defeated independent Jack Ramsay, a former Reform MP convicted of attempted rape. Ken Epp, the Canadian Alliance MP who last week said his party would eventually phase out Old Age Security benefits for seniors and cut back on the Canada Pension Plan, was re-elected in Elk Island, Alta.

And long-time Reformer Deborah Grey won her seat in Edmonton North.

In Prince Albert, Sask., Brian Fitzpatrick was re-elected. Mr. Fitzpatrick apologized last week for making remarks about being "scalped" in a room filled with Canadian Alliance supporters and aboriginals.

The race in the Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar was expected to be a tightly fought battle between the Canadian Alliance's Brian Pallister, a former Progressive Conservative MLA and junior cabinet minister, and incumbent MP Jake Hoeppner. Mr. Pallister defeated Mr. Hoeppner. Mr. Pallister had lost a bid for the Tory leadership to Joe Clark, and failed to win this same constituency in the 1997 federal election.

The Canadian Alliance suffered a setback in Atlantic Canada as soon as polls closed, although it was not totally unexpected.

Peter Fenwick, former Newfoundland NDP leader, was defeated in the riding of Burin-St. George's by Liberal Bill Matthews, who is a former Tory who crossed the floor.

In the riding of Acadie-Bathhurst, Jean Gauvin, a former New Brunswick Tory who jumped to the Canadian Alliance, was defeated by NDP candidate Yvon Godin.

with files from Candian Press

Copyright © 2003 Bell Globemedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.