Vive Le Canada

Conservative Party Links to Right-Wing American Groups
Date: Tuesday, January 16 2007

Conservative Party Links to Right Wing American Groups


Over 20 candidates and members of Parliament for the Conservative Party of Canada, including leader Stephen Harper, Justice Critic Vic Toews, Foreign Affairs Critic Stockwell Day and Firearms Critic Garry Breitkreuz, have links to organizations established under the umbrella of the Council for National Policy (CNP), an American group that the New York Times calls a “club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country,” and which Rolling Stone reports has “funnelled billions of dollars to right-wing Christian activists.”

Stephen Harper addressed CNP members in 1997 at its meeting in Montreal, where the group reportedly conceived of the Republican effort to impeach President Clinton.

Addressing the elite group is no small feat, given that guests may only attend meetings with the unanimous consent of the Executive Committee. Since Mr. Harper’s address, links between Conservative Party members and groups sponsored by the CNP like Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition of America and the National Rifle Association have grown. In turn, these groups have taken an increasingly forthright role in influencing Canadian politics through radio broadcasts, Canadian affiliates, and training for grassroots advocacy efforts in support of Conservative Party candidates. This should perhaps come as no surprise given that the Vancouver Sun estimates that “roughly half the current 98 members” of the Conservative caucus “are religious social conservatives,” which is “well over double the national average.”

It suggests, however, that powerful forces may be affecting the distribution of political power in this country about which Canadians may not be aware. The following report describes in detail the links among the CNP, its associated organizations, their activities in Canada, and various Conservative Party candidates for the 2006 election.

The disclosure of this social conservative network is important because such links are likely to become stronger in the future. Influential young Canadian conservatives like Tasha Kheiriddin of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation have called for the creation of leadership training institutes along the lines of the Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., which teaches, according to two Wall Street Journal reporters, “young members of the Religious Right how to take a role in national politics,” to train a new generation of Canadian conservatives “how to do all the things in politics.”

Within the last year, Cliff Fryers, current Director and Chairman of the Manning Centre and the Chair of the Conservative Party’s 2005 policy conference, and other officials from the former Reform Party leader Preston Manning’s advocacy organization have met with the President of the Leadership Institute, Morton Blackwell, a former Special Assistant to President Reagan and “a particularly hard core conservative activist,” specifically for this purpose. Blackwell, in turn, has shown a keen interest in spreading the teachings of his school to would-be conservative leaders from all over the world. It is perhaps no coincidence, then, that Mr. Blackwell was the Executive Director of the CNP when it invited Mr. Harper to address the organization in 1997, having administered the powerful social conservative group in that capacity from 1991 until at least 2000.

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[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 17, 2007]

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