Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning talks Western alienation in Calgary

Former Calgary Southwest MP and Official Opposition leader Preston Manning discussed Western alienation during a talk in Calgary on Tuesday, on the heels of his book’s release last week.

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“I do worry in this age of social media and where people can substitute discussing it, blogging about it, tweeting about it — but are you actually going to do something, join an interest group, join a party to do something more than just talk about it if some of these problems are going to be resolved?” Manning said.

Western alienation

Manning was the founder and leader of the Reform Party of Canada, which formed in 1987 “as a populist and conservative expression of Western Canadian frustration with the governing Progressive Conservative Party and previous governments led by the Liberal Party,” according to Encyclopædia Britannica.

The Reform Party was replaced by the conservative Canadian Alliance, which evolved to become the Conservative Party of Canada.

The 77-year-old was a keynote speaker at the President’s Breakfast Club ATB Speaker Series event at the Webber Academy Performing Arts Centre in Calgary.

Manning said Albertans need to figure out what constitutes a fair deal for the province, referencing a panel in which he has been involved.

“Some of the obvious things are: we need unobstructed transportation corridors to the Atlantic, Pacific and the Arctic to move our resources to tidewater and world markets,” he said. “We need a federal government that’s supportive of these kinds of measures rather than one that obstructs.”

Manning said he believes Western alienation was broader during his political career, but today, the unrest is more concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“I don’t think it’s as broad — this sentiment — that maybe we should look at secession, but where it does exist, it’s more concentrated and intense,” he said.

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