Originally appeared inThe Prince Arthur Herald
If any rumbles came out of Washington last month it was as a result of the free marketplace of ideas known as CPAC. The Conservative conference is a hallmark of the political calendar in the United States; it is the ultimate intersection of ideas and the political Grassroots. Similarly, sowing the seed of Conservatism in Canada is the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. The Manning Centre has been fostering the next generation of Conservative leaders and thinkers since 2005. They’re annual networking conference is a must for anyone interested in learning more about, individual responsibility, free markets and how government can get out of the way. It is a hybrid between the latest technical know-how and theory based policy.
In fact, a trailer promoting the upcoming conference has been circulating the Internet for about a month now. The short one minute video clip takes the viewer on a patriotic and panacea journey of the opening and building of the Canadian frontier. In addition to highlighting quaint brief glimpses into Canada’s past, along with the stunning visuals, it splashes well-known quotes across the screen, from such diverse sources as Québécois artists Félix Leclerc to former Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. The Video leaves one with the feeling that the Manning Center is trying to not only stay connected to Canada’s past but set out on a bold new vision for the country’s future. As for the conference this year, slated for March 8-10, the schedule of programs includes “Beyond The Welfare State” and a “Conservative View Of The Military”. As well there will be distinguished speakers such as world-renowned British M.E. P. Daniel Hannan including Conservative strategist, Nick Kouvalis; along with a slew of federal MPs including the Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney. Clearly for one weekend this will be the center for small C. conservative thought in the country.
In short, the Manning Centre event has turned into a hub not only for free market solutions to today’s policy questions, but the premier place to promote Conservative ideas. Recently a poll was released by AngusReid showing that most Canadians believe the country has become more Conservative in the last decade. However, the paradox of this poll was that overwhelming numbers in Central Canada still believe that there is a significant role for government in funding the social safety net. Although more Canadians than ever believe Canada is shifting in the right direction politically; it is still essential to continue cultivating a political environment that is receptive to center right concepts. At times like these it’s nice to see that institutions like the Manning Centre are in tune with the political questions of the day; for instance take One of this year’s programs for the conference “Government As A Facilitator”. Furthermore, the intent of the conference is to create a sense of Conservative collegiality, going so far as to marketing it, as a Conservative family reunion. Although there might be differences in geography, backgrounds and vocation, all Conservatives can rally behind a similar set of basic values. Traditions do not just spring up overnight, hopefully the Manning Centre Conference events will become a staple of Conservative thought and engagement for years to come.