Preston Manning

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Ernest Preston Manning (born June 10, 1942, in Edmonton, Alberta), is a Canadian politician. He was the first leader of the Reform Party of Canada, a Canadian federal political party that disbanded under his leadership to form the Canadian Alliance. He sat in Parliament for this party until retirement, after which it in turn merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form today's Conservative Party of Canada.

Manning came from a political background; he was the son of Ernest Manning, Premier of Alberta between 1943 and 1968. In 1964 Preston Manning graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.A. in Economics. He ran for M.P. in the 1965 federal election as a Social Credit candidate, but was defeated.

Manning formed the Reform Party in 1987, but was not elected to the House of Commons until 1993, when Reform had its first major electoral success, replacing the Progressive Conservative Party as Canada's dominant right wing party, with a base especially in Western Canada. In the 1997 election the party became Canada's official opposition, with Manning becoming the Leader of the Opposition.

With Reform's emergence, however, Manning fragmented the conservative vote into two parts - Reform and the weakened Progressive Conservative Party. With Canada's plurality voting system, the result was political domination by the centrist Liberal Party. Manning's goal was to reunite the two conservative parties under his leadership, and he launched the United Alternative movement to examine ways for the parties to cooperate. The movement resulted in the formation of a new party, the Canadian Alliance, which as its full name (Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance) shows, was intended to supplant both parties. Most of the PC Party, however, refused to cooperate, and the new party was seen as nothing but a move to transform the image of the Reform Party.

With the formation of the new party, Manning opened the door for rival leadership bids in the Canadian Alliance leadership election.

After a fierce campaign, Manning was succeeded as leader by the younger and more flamboyant Stockwell Day in 2000. Manning has since described the loss as one of the most crushing experiences of his life. In 2002 he retired from federal politics. He is now a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, and of Massey College at the University of Toronto. Since retiring, Manning has written his memoirs, and continues to comment on public affairs.

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Preceded by:
Reform Party Leaders
Succeeded by:
Party became the Canadian Alliance
Preceded by:
Gilles Duceppe
Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons
Succeeded by:
Deborah Grey
Preceded by:
Bobbie Sparrow
Member of Parliament for Calgary Southwest
Succeeded by:
Stephen Harper

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