Introduction of Mr. Preston Manning


 3 November 2003

Preston Manning is currently a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, a leading Canadian economic think tank specializing in the role of markets in economic and social development, as well as the Canada West Foundation, an independent non-partisan, non-profit public policy research institute dedicated to introducing western perspectives into current Canadian policy debates. In 2002, he was a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto.

From 1987-2002, Mr. Manning was an active participant in Canadian federal politics. He was one of the principal founders of the Reform Party of Canada in 1987 and the Canadian Alliance party in 2000. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 for the riding of Calgary Southwest, and re-elected in 1997 and 2000. He served as Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament from 1997-2000, and as Opposition critic for Science and Technology 2000-2001.

Under Preston Manning’s leadership, in just ten years the Reform Party grew from a small western-based protest movement to become the Official Opposition in Parliament, while espousing a number of key principles:

  • Fiscal responsibility, including balanced budgets, controlled spending, debt reduction, and tax relief aimed at building a stronger economy;
  • Social responsibility, including a stronger, more focused government commitment to strengthening the family and protecting the personal security and property of citizens;
  • Democratic accountability, including a commitment to reforming federal institutions like the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, so that they are more representative and accountable to the Canadian people;
  • Reformed federalism, based on the equality of citizens and provinces in law and a rebalancing of responsibility between the federal and provincial governments so they can provide better services to all Canadians.

In 1998, Mr. Manning proposed that Reform Party members participate in two national conferences with other like-minded conservatives to create a United Alternative to the federal Liberal Party. This initiative resulted in the creation of a new, broader opposition party, the Canadian Alliance, which the membership of the Reform Party voted to join on March 25, 2000.

Over the course of his political career, Mr. Manning demonstrated a strong commitment to democratic principles, the value of a private enterprise economy, and active social responsibility. Most important, he was a politician who was always associated with ideas. And whether you agreed with him or not, he consistently sought – and often succeeded – in engaging others in a discussion about these ideas. This represented a refreshing change in political discourse in Canada, which all too often focused on the clash of personalities, rather than ideas. The rise of the Reform Party under Mr. Manning clarified choices for voters and forced other parties to respond to the ideas that Reform was putting forward, either by articulating or developing a contrasting set of policies and ideas, or by co-opting policy ideas first put forward by Mr. Manning and his party.

Preston Manning is the author of the 1992 bestseller, The New Canada, and a new political biography published by McClelland and Stewart entitled Think Big: My Adventures in Politics and Life. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and conventions, as well as a print, television and radio commentator. He comes from a family with a distinguished record of public service. His father, the late Earnest Manning, served as Premier of the province of Alberta for 25 years, and in the Senate of Canada for another 12 years.

Preston Manning was born in Edmonton in 1942, where he spent his early childhood until his family moved to a rural community east of the city, where they operated a dairy farm. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta with a degree in economics. Prior to entering federal politics, Mr. Manning owned and operated a research and management consulting firm specializing in planning for the energy sector, native and community economic development, and federal-provincial relations research. Mr. Manning is a practicing Christian and has spoken extensively on the intersection of faith with politics, science, business, and conflict resolution.

Preston and his wife Sandra have been married for 35 years. They have five children and to date, five young grandchildren. Although the Mannings currently reside in both Calgary and Toronto, it has been intimated that they much prefer to be on the back of a horse riding through the Canadian Rockies.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you this year’s speaker in the Allan J. MacEachen Lecture series, Mr. Preston Manning.


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