Conservatism: TNG

  • National Newswatch

Author, speaker, and digital public affairs strategist Mark Blevis is attending the 2016 Manning Centre Conference and will be offering brief reports and analyses for National Newswatch readers over the coming days.


Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning took the stage at the Manning Centre Conference this morning to deliver a blunt message and his five step proposals for, as the conference theme suggests, "Recharging the right."

With a map of Canada containing just three blue splotches projected on large screens at the front of the room, Manning declared "Conservatism is now largely in the out of office cycle" to a sparse early morning audience.  That led into his vision for re-establishing the conservative movement in Canada.

Most of Manning's plan seems like a familiar pull from a political playbook.  It opened with gaining public trust, moved through policy research and training (a stable of the Manning Centre) and networking.  It was his final proposal that seems most poignant, given the outcome of the October federal election.  Manning announced to the room that it's time for his generation to pass the torch to the next.  Then he addressed the young people in the room.

"It is upon your shoulders that the recharging and reinvigorating of conservatism in Canada now largely rests," Manning said.

The leadership of the Conservative Party is one of two key themes in which watchers of the conference are most interested (the other being electoral reform).

With Kevin O'Leary already attracting a paparazzi ahead of his afternoon speech, and a number of other leadership hopefuls also in the program, one wonders what the threshold is for determining the "next generation."

Mark Blevis specializes in reputation and issues management, online advocacy and litigation support.  He is a regular analyst of the role of digital in public affairs and politics for Canadian media organizations including CTV, CBC, the Globe and Mail, Canadian Press and PostMedia.