Democratic Representative Caucus

From Academic Kids

The Democratic Representative Caucus was a group of Canadian Members of Parliament who left the Canadian Alliance in 2001 in protest against the leadership of Stockwell Day. Day was regarded by many observers as a weak and gaffe-prone leader, whose mistakes and off-the-cuff remarks sometimes undermined even the efforts of his own caucus, and through the spring of 2001, several members of the Alliance resigned their shadow cabinet seats.

On May 2, Art Hanger was the first Alliance MP suspended from caucus for criticizing Day. Two weeks later, on May 16, he was followed by Chuck Strahl, Gary Lunn, Jim Pankiw, Val Meredith, Grant McNally, Jay Hill and Jim Gouk. In late June, they were joined by Monte Solberg, Andy Burton and Brian Fitzpatrick, and in the first week of July by Deborah Grey and Inky Mark. Through the summer, this group of MPs sat as "Independent Alliance Caucus", and were jokingly dubbed the Rebel Alliance by political commentators.

In early September, an offer was made to the MPs that they would be readmitted to the Alliance caucus if they promised to refrain from criticizing Day's leadership. The MPs surveyed their constituents, and on September 10, the offer was accepted by Hanger, Gouk, Solberg, Fitzpatrick and Burton. The remaining seven MPs refused, and initiated the Democratic Representative Caucus on September 12, with Strahl as its parliamentary leader. This was not intended as a new political party, but simply as a group caucus.

Two weeks later, on September 24, the DRC members entered into a coalition with the Progressive Conservatives, which was intended to be Joe Clark's framework for proving that the two parties could be united on his terms rather than Day's. Clark, as PC leader, remained leader of the "PC-DRC Coalition" caucus, and Strahl, as leader of the DRC, was named deputy leader. The coalition agreement was controversial, but Clark and Strahl tried to propose common policies that would appeal to both PC and Alliance members.

While the DRC members insisted that they remained loyal to the Canadian Alliance despite tehir opposition to Day's leadership, the group began to establish the Democratic Representative Association (DRA), presumably to support their re-election campaigns as DRC Members of Parliament.

On November 19, Lunn left the DRC to rejoin the Alliance shortly after Day agreed to hold a new Alliance leadership race.

In March 2002, Day lost that leadership race to Stephen Harper, and on April 10, most of the DRC members returned to the Alliance caucus, ending their coalition agreement with the PCs. The DRA was disbanded.

Mark chose not to return to the Alliance caucus, instead sitting as an Independent Conservative, and later joining the PC caucus.

Pankiw's request for readmission to the Alliance caucus was denied, as he was embroiled in a political scandal involving a violent confrontation with an aboriginal constituent. He ran for mayor of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 2003, while still sitting as an independent MP, and again attracted controversy because his home was in fact outside of Saskatoon's city limits.


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