Don Newman posits his theory as to where everything went sideways.
The fraying was not — it might surprise some I’m sure — the fault of the Bloc Québécois who, while preaching their own view of both history and the future, always treated Parliament with respect.
Rather it came from the Reform party led by Preston Manning. Reformers came to Ottawa with the argument that everything in the Nation’s Capital was corrupt. In fact, Reform MPs were ordered at one point not to stay in Ottawa over the weekends in case they became corrupted by this latter day Babylon…
Manning, of course, is long gone. Replaced first by Stockwell Day, then by one of the original Reformers, Stephen Harper, the current prime minister. But while Harper lives at 24 Sussex and seems to enjoy all the trappings of the prime minister’s office, as indeed he should, he seems to maintain the Reformer’s deep suspicion of Ottawa and all other political parties.
I arrived too late in Ottawa to witness the Reform party in its original form. And aside from interviewing Chuck Strahl and having pleasant phone conversations with Monte Solberg and Deb Grey, I’ve had little interaction with its founding figures. But it seems to me to be the most intriguing Canadian political phenomenon of the last decade. And the University of Calgary’s archive of related documents is probably worth a long look through.