I MET MARTYN BROWN shortly after the dying days of British Columbia’s Social Credit Party, following the 1991 provincial election. He was working with Jack Weisgerber, and a handful (seven) of the remaining Socreds, which were all that was left of a former political dynasty that had lasted several decades.
It was not long after that election that Jack Weisgerber, Richard Neufeld, and two other Socreds jumped ship to join a party many had never heard of – the BC Reform Party (which in fact predated the federal Reform Party).
I actually called Jack Weisgerber’s legislative office to speak with him, and was told he was in the legislature but would call me back. “Yah sure,” I said to myself, but lo and behold he did call me back, that evening, and we spoke for roughly two hours.
I was impressed by what he was attempting to do — build something that British Columbians could see the value in supporting — and build it from scratch. I joined the party immediately, and set to work getting others on board in the Kamloops region and we set about creating riding associations.
The BC Reform Party, with Jack, Martyn and others, created policy and a platform to take into the 1996 election — and ended up with candidates to run in all 75 ridings (myself included in Kamloops-North Thompson).
Riding high with 20-plus percent of the vote, we were confident we would surpass the BC Liberals but that was not to be. The closer we got to the ’96 election, the more fear voters had of the NDP winning, and member after member, and supporter after supporter, moved to the BC Liberals who were seen to be the stronger, but not necessarily a better, choice.
Now again, remember Martyn was there at the time. He knows the work that went into trying to build something new, and that was with a couple of years to get things up and organized.
All of which led to my surprise when in the Georgia Straight yesterday, I read his comment … “I would love to see them start their own party.”
He then went on to state:
If only to establish a foothold upon which to build, in creating a new and exciting political alternative that might forever change Canada’s stale and disheartening political landscape. Particularly for progressive voters.
Crap, Martyn …. you yourself already went through that painful experience, only to see the hopes and dreams of many dashed upon the rocks! Have you seriously forgotten what that was like?
“Hell, they might call it the Just Society Party,” Martyn went on to suggest, before continuing with:
“Call that new party whatever you want. I couldn’t care less. Yet just imagine if Canadians could actually vote for a party led by Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, with Puglaas as its most likely titular leader.”
“Go for it, JWR and Philpott, I say. Start your own party. Don’t settle for isolating yourselves as independents,” said Brown, as I again shook my head thinking back to 1996.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott shouldn’t run in this Octobers general election. Far from it — I sincerely hope they do, which is why I agree at least with THIS comment from Martyn:
“Don’t settle for running under other leaders’ party banners, which would not fully allow your leadership to make the most of the promise you might hold out for all Canadians.”
I hope that both Philpott and Wilson-Raybould will run … run as Independents. There is no doubt in my mind they will receive the financial support needed to run their campaign, and it will come from Canadians in every province of the country.
Run … get elected … and then see what direction they can take in the year or two that follows the election.
They’ll have a better chance of creating something that will be able to have a strong enough foundation under it to last.
Maxime Bernier’s Peoples Party of Canada (PPC) seems to be falling apart already, if what we hear in the news is accurate. And they had already created riding associations across the country. Its possible collapse comes after less than a year of trying to build something new to take on the established parties.
There is NOT enough time to create a new party …. there is not enough time to build the riding associations … and there is not enough time to find, and vet, credible candidates to run.
Martyn Brown, near the end of his commentary, stated:
“Make your indelible mark on Canadian political history that much more meaningful and everlasting.”
If they listen to this advice coming from him, and likely many others, the only indelible mark likely to be made will be their political demise … and something which Martyn Brown called “meaningful” will sadly fail.
Just as it did in 1996 … here in British Columbia.
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada and the B.C. Reform Party, and a past and current member of the BC Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.