Posts Tagged ‘Preston Manning’


In the emerging c-tine I am beginning to gather material for a new book, that I hope to be able to put together in the Spring of 2021. The topic is one that reflects my spiritual life, community-belonging-connection. Now one may ask in a work reflecting on Preston Manning’s new book, Do Something, I would share this. I to ponder, but because there are some points that he writes that speak to health community. Much like I suggested Christians read Irshad Manji’s The Trouble with Islam so I suggest Manning’s new work to those of any political stripe to begin to ponder some key points.

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Once I as a reader navigated through the conservative partisan bias (which is to be expected for one from a conservative political thought writer), there was some kernels to share. Yes, I had to set aside some of the partisan broadsides, accept there was some kernels of truth in some, some continued bias ideological statements overshadowing seeing the good in other. What was refreshing in Manning’s writings, was his open sharing about third parties moving Canada forward in a healthy way, including his positive reflecting and sharing around other political heroes of mine, Rev. J.S. Woodsworth & Pastor Tommy Douglas, as well as the usefulness of populism section touching on the Famous Five, and other human rights matters but also touching on the chaos it can wreck with separatist movements and “western alienation” to the information of a data and science informed conservatism, that illustrates, how off track the current Alberta government is, the Federal party. As long time readers will also know, I do not give much time to the concept of private encroachment into our just society safety net (whether health care or education). It was beneficial to have an “elder” of current social conservatism, even while arguing against identity politics, point out the need for truth and reconciliation with our history of racism and oppression.

Now into some of the meat if you will, that I found useful in Mr. Manning’s discourses. These would touch on topics of science, political spectrum, religion, preparation, and community involvement. In reading Manning’s words, I was reminded of reading some of the writings of Stanfield and his team in the Trudeaumania era of Progressive Conservatives. Shifting from populist drive of Diefenbaker, to a data and science driven policy approach.

This is a key understanding I think any political group needs to get to, for us to return to healthy discourse in our country (and religious groups, as it is the science that explains the how of creation). For it then shifts from yelling matches, gotcha politics and social media sound bytes to raising the bar back up to policy discussions. Manning’s example was pollution pricing (carbon taxes) and not arguing against the practice, but rather the implementation. His challenge that if one cannot believe in climate science, rather look at environmental impacts and work to solve that which they could understand. For those who may be too young to remember, I believe it was when Jim Harris stepped down as leader of the Green Party of Canada, Manning aided in raising them to prominence. The intertwining of his faith and love of science has led him in my understanding to find ways to be a caretaker of the environment (if only more in his ideological realm would hear the call).

The concept that is also helpful, is the false dichotomies we want to exist within politics (liberal or conservative, left-centre-right), where he would share a 12 axis assessment on issues for aiding in defining what one held to be true. As most Canadians, exist somewhere in the centre, not wanting to make a decision, but wanting to ensure the most possible are included in the decision (a consensus as much as possible) this does raise some ideas. Within the 12 axis were topics such as environment, trust, jurisdiction, values, health act, education, etc.

It does also aid I believe as it moves one from blind ideology to one party, making each candidate needing to work beyond their party affiliation and leader to win the trust of the voter. This speaks to the need for character, and connection within the community. Does the candidate belong? Are they known for being a positive community member and builder? Stepping back into the concept of what public service is to be about– that is service for all citizens for peace, order and good governance. The role of government being to create the best possible life for citizens, and through that, the healthy environment for creativity, and business will happen (in my opinion and experience).

It also speaks to preparation for community leadership. Do we expect people to prepare for a vocation? Manning admirably used the example of Brother Jesus, and for each year of his public ministry, he had 6 years of life (and for some preparation). What would shift and change within our municipalities, counties, provinces and country if for each year of elected office we expected a certain number of years of preparation? Work/service in their local community? Connection. Belonging. The bottom line of the thesis do something is the suggestions of how to become active in community leagues, groups, political parties, research whether as a participant, donor or volunteer…the old adage of giving of time, talent and treasure (from small steps to large leaps depending on personal capacity).

With a final nod to the religious aspect of community life. This section was handled well, had a conservative bent, but could easily be expanded to all parties. Manning shared of those who served of all political stripes and faith. The idea being simple and familiar, we need to acknowledge the harm that has been done in the name of religion. But for those with authentic faith, you cannot separate the value system from who you are (goes back to core character and integrity), but it is not about imposing that on the populace. The other piece, is creating space for discussion, debate and acceptance within political movements.

So yes, is it everyone’s cup of tea this book? Probably not. For the entrenched partisan depending on which primary colour they are in it can be vilified or beatified. Both responses would miss the point of a call to action work. This was a call to action that can be read at the surface level for Canadian conservatism and democracy to what it means to moderate. For any other politico or religious politico, it can be read for ideas and concepts on how others think, how to do a mirror reflection into your own movements, and how to engage at the local community level to grow engagement, connection and belonging.

To extend a metaphor from the c-tine. Where we live is our household, each of those households creates a community, each community a village/town/city, and those a province and then a country. How are we creating health households, then communities? How are you choosing to do something to create a healthy ripple in your pond? What simple action- step are you going to choose to do?

To do something to effect positive change in your world.

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Faith, Leadership and Public Life

If you were to drop Woodsworth’s Bible it is said to have opened to Luke 10 (Good  Samaritan)….Drop Aberhart’s open to John 3 (Personal Salvation). p.287-288

Some say religion/spirituality and politics should not mix. It is an extreme view. I hold that one’s religious/spiritual beliefs should not be imposed on another due to legislative-political power, but if one truly holds core values within the spiritual realm you cannot set them aside if you are called to pursue a political vocation. It was a question raised in the debates in 2006 when I ran, as a Third Order Franciscan, and answering honestly that my religion would not be left out for it is intrinsically part of me and informs my social conscience, yet that does not mean I cannot and would not represent those within the multi-cultural riding I lived if elected.

It is a challenge, and in Preston Manning’s 2017 book, Faith, Leadership and Public Life: Leadership Lessons from Moses to Jesus that Manning touches upon. Mr. Manning has a strong Evangelical faith that has shaped his political career, and it is a generational call as his father, Ernest, was an Alberta MLA, Premier, and Senator, What is aptly shown in the words and journey of Preston is that faith is not one sided. He writes of the spectrum of Christians (and one can extrapolate to all peoples) that have entered public life. J.S. Woodsworth and Tommy Douglas with the CCF (on the left) and his father, and William Aberhart with Social Credit (on the right), but the same belief structure governing it; if not a different perspective on emphasis.

The book walks through lessons from the life of Jesus of Nazareth; Moses; David; and what Manning terms the Exiles (Jeremiah, Daniel, Esther, Joseph, Ezra and Nehemiah). I may not always have agreed with his perspective– i.e. the Conservative Party Merger; or that David was an adulteror (readers know I list the Bathsheba incident as rape). But there is wisdom in Manning’s writings that if one can step outside the rhetoric of entrenched ideology they can see what is being laid out.

A path of conscience. Yes, Mr. Manning is more socially conservative than I (though some days the wife points out the NDP can be more socially conservative than I); but he lays out for spiritual leadership an authentic path. One that walks much like the mystics and monastics of our ancestors in developing a Spiritual Rule (laid out in my book, Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred): Daily Spiritual practice and examin.

He also writes of humility and humbleness in leadership. Why are we leading? He gives two examples as he shows the intertwining of his faith and politics:

At the end of the day, perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from Moses is that true leadership isn’t about the leader. It’s about serving someone and something greater. (p.179)

and

“It’s like trying to drive a car down the road while looking in the rear-view mirror. The most likely result will be a crash– and that will be your legacy.”

-Ernest Manning

We do what we do as leaders, not because of our legacy, or the esteem/power that comes, but because we are called to serve those we lead and do something to make this world better. The book also carries wisdom on a leader whose hardest battles will not be the attacks from outside, but when one inside your organization/church/party attacks you for who you are. Also areas touching on how to whether storms, look into yourself and remain healthy:

Particularly relevant to anyone in a pressure-packed occupation is the fact that most of us very much need a safe and cathartic outlet for our emotions, especially our fear and anxieties. Otherwise we unhealthily suppress them or vent them at the wrong time, in the wrong way and in the wrong place. (p.223).

A trusted support network. Some that are professionals (counsellors, spiritual directors, coaches, mentors) and a strong personal network. The term network may seem business or techno-centric. When I was working life recovery for those leaving youth corrections they used “Circles of Support” with the balance on the life map being more personal than professional. It means family and friends that are supportive and encouraging more than those that tear you down (and I believe we all know folks like that).

Between the Rule of Life; knowing one’s vocation; having the support; and being a support it may be possible to live as a healthy leader. Manning touches upon the need within religious framework to re-assert the need for reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians; care for creation and charity as other key points.

Manning’s third book was a good read. It challenged in some areas; reaffirmed in others. At some instances I outright disagreed, but there is tied in personal anecdotes with his lay theology. The main question that should arise as one reads through the chapters:

What are the take aways for my journey?

How do I commune with the Holy (what is your spiritual practice)?

 

 


The Constitution Act 1982 does not speak of political parties, what it does promise is that at each level of governance Canadians are guaranteed peace, order and good governance. In fact it has been a transformational journey of our young Westminster Parliament compared to others, but we can still learn a lot from the “Mother” parliament of the UK, and other styled parliaments within the Commonwealth.

Australia Broadcasting Corporation poked fun at their system in the Fifth and Final season of Rake, that saw Cleaver Greene as a senator, and a rapid succession of Prime Ministers as the party caucus members that controlled kept cycling through to find the one that “worked”.

Canada has been seen as one of the most “party” controlled parliaments, in fact, more likely, Leader and their circle controlled. Now you can rebut and say party members elect the leader, yes, but after that what happens? What if the person in the House or Legislature is not up to the job? Do elected members have an ability to make a good change? How is the first minister chosen? We have defaulted to the leader of the party with the most seats.

Image result for turning parliament inside outAre there ideas for changing things? A multi-party work came out in 2017 that shone some lights on change: Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy (Douglas & McIntyre); editors: Michael Chong, Scott Simms and Kennedy Stewart. The book was forwarded by Bob Rae, Ed Broadbent and Preston Manning. It has submissions from Members of Parliament across party lines (including Elizabeth May). For most politico it is nothing astonishing, it is a solid collection of 8 ways to give power back to elected representatives and decentralize from the leaders (and by extension PMO in governance) office. The eight essays are easy to follow, well laid out, and easy to discuss for those involved in the systems of politics and those not.

For EDA’s; and parties I would encourage reading and discussion groups on the topics. For the non-partisan, get a few friends together to read and discuss the ideas. Even better is that it can be used as a starting point for discussions on what reforms (minor to major) that need to happen.

Such things as the “official party” seat number is just a function, not a rule. How are questions taken/answered in question period? How to get more people involved as candidates? And the list can go on.

What are your thoughts on Parliamentary/Legislature reform?

What steps can happen at the local level?

What can happen within parties?

The conversation of change that threatens power can be a scary one. Mostly because it comes down to the reality that moving forward there will be those accessing power, you were not allowed access to in the same moments of your journey. Yet for constitutional health of our nation, it is a conversation that leads to action that needs to happen.

And it simply begins with talking over a cup of coffee…like so many political movements that shaped our nation and world….

One cup. One conversation.


It is actually quite funny that I would write a post on Preston Manning’s old Reform Party. But before the shenanigans that began with the merger, there was a lot of positive things within the party. It grew out of discontent in provinces, was member driven from the grass roots, knew that the Senate of Canada needed to be redone to be useful (Or abolished if you are a CCF’er)…

Then it began to veer of track, the first chink was when the MP’s backtracked on a party policy and opted into the platinum MP pension plan hand shake. Then the Stockwell Day days of the Canadian Alliance. The ascent of Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay’s platform of no merger/backroom coffee merger that did lead to the Conservative Party and a 10 years in power that did not help the masses within Canada, but did help corporate Canada and the wealthy…I mean just look as the MP for Calgary Forestlawn Deepak Obhrai pointed out recently that it is a party moving away from grassroots and chasing the wealthy.

In a time where the governing Liberals are talking abolishing membership fees, the Cons are increasing from $15 to $25, and you need a credit card to buy it to boot. They are out pricing themselves from the multi-cultural communities, and the new leadership race fee is locking out all but the Upper Class from running (at $100K)…yes Obhrai is right the party is becoming for rich white folks.

Trust me, it is a shocking day when I agree with a Conservative, but for once I am happy this guy is my MP for he is breaking party line and speaking up for his members.


Yup you read that right. Now I know we are Canadians, and as such like to keep our politics, like our religion, on the down low. But as we move towards the 2015 Federal Election I do want to encourage an informed vote, for which ever local candidate one decides to support.

Some key points to remember under the Constitution Act 1982:

1) We do not vote directly for the Prime Minister, if fact this is not even a constitutional role, basically it is perfunctionary in that the party that wins the most seats’ leader becomes the first minister.

2) Know the local candidate more than the brand, because it is the local candidate elected to represent your local communities and be your voice. Ask yourself if they would adhere to an old Reform Party principle, current Green party practice, that the constituents will overrides the parties ideology of votes in the House of Commons. That is that the MP’s are not whippable (when all MP’s are informed by the party how they are to vote).

3) The only vote that can truly be an automatic no confidence vote in the House and send us back to an election is on the budget, unless the vote is called to be a non-confidence vote.

4) Currently we have a law on the books for a fixed election date every four years, but under the Constitution the Majority party can call for an election with consent of the Governor General within 5 years of being elected, unless having lost the confidence of the House.

5) The Loyal Opposition is not there to oppose outright, they are there as sober second thought within the House of Commons before the bill goes to the Senate, to improve the laws for the people. As are all Opposition parties.

6) Our government is not a label of the majority party it is not “Conservative” or “Liberal” or “Green”; it is The Government of Canada, speaking for all Canadians, and our constitution guarantees that it is to be one of “Peace, Order and Good Governance under God”

7) Do not let Religious or Ideology Fundamentalists state that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is anti these things, for it was written in consultation with all aspects of Canadian Society.

Informed Community:

If we as a nation are supposed to expect our politicians to move beyond ideologies and work together for the greater good, we must hold them to a higher standard. We must be anti-attack ad, anti-cult of personality, we must challenge for a higher discourse, one of ideas, one of wisdom, one of true leadership at the community level. These are the discourses that built our nation under the Greatest Generation.

And where did these discourses happen? In family homes, community centres, church basements. Whether they were gathered around televisions, radios, books, or simply cups of tea/coffee. These are conversations that changed our world, crossing ideological boundaries.

This is the informed community we need to rebuild, and what I want to encourage Canadians to do in their own homes. Whether it is documentary night, or a book and brunch, or just coffee clatches. But the idea is to let go of our ideological groundings and to open up a simple discussion:

What is Canada to us?

Which candidate best represents that?

Some great reads to inform these discussions I would like to suggest (and please in the comments leave other ones and some documentaries or websites) are:

Think Big by Preston Manning (2003, McLelland & Stewart)

Who We Are by Elizabeth May (2014, Greystone Books)

The Longer I am Prime Minister by Paul Wells (2014, Random House)

How We Lead by Joe Clark (2014, Random House)

Hell or High Water by Paul Martin (2009, McLelland and Stewart)

The Right Balance by Hugh Segal (2011, D&M Publishers)

Speaking Out Louder by Jack Layton (2011, McLelland & Stewart)

I would also encourage reading any works by the abover writers as well as Pierre Trudeau, Lloyd Axworthy, Peter C. Newman, J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, Lawrence Martin, Andrew Cohen, Chantal Hubert, Romeo Dallaire, and Donald Savoie.