In politics, a manifesto can be equally important. It’s something that those aspiring to become leader of the Conservative party should consider penning right now, so their supporters sing from the same song sheet until the June convention. A manifesto would ensure that party members know what kind of party they’d help shape, if elected. Voters would get simple, clear and unfiltered articulations of the prospective leaders’ vision and policies. And the media and other influencers would amplify the messages with analysis and commentary.
Doing so is not new to politics. Back in the late 1980s, while attending the University of Calgary, a young Stephen Harper co-authored what was called the “Canary Manifesto,” apparently in reference to the yellow paper it was printed on.
The manifesto envisaged a new political brand called the “Western Taxpayer Party.” Language matters when writing a manifesto that will eventually guide the brand’s narrative and Harper weighted the pros and cons of the party’s name: “A Taxpayers Party has potential appeal in all parts of the country. This is especially true as the Red Tory hacks lean to a centre defined by the left, convinced that conservatives have ‘nowhere to go’. They position the PC party on crowded political ground, dissolving it as a national party force. In the West, however, awareness of the discrimination of the present system is particularly acute and sentiments are easier to organize. A Western Taxpayers Party can confront the political elite with more levers — the double threat of potential separation and possible tax revolt.” That was written 30 years ago. Plus ça change.