Strengthen focus on environment, Manning urges conservatives

Above: Conservative party statesman and former Reform Party leader Preston Manning says there’s a danger to politics being associated with hostility and personal attacks.

OTTAWA — Despite some improvements, Conservatives still need to strengthen their focus on the environment, said Preston Manning, who founded the Reform Party.

“I think there’s slow progress, but not as fast as I would like to see,” he said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. “I think conservatives could be very positive and proactive on the environment. Conservation and conservative come from the same root.”

While environmental issues are increasingly significant among younger people, “there’s a lot to be done to get the politicos more comfortable with it,” said Manning, the father of Canada’s conservatism.

Selecting a new environment minister, Leona Aglukkaq, in July’s cabinet shuffle indicated a step in the right direction, he said.

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“From Nunavut, with a real consciousness of the Arctic and how important the environment is, I think she has a chance to kind of make a fresh start on environment and the balance with resource development that’s hopefully a positive development,” he said.

Manning was in Ottawa this weekend for the annual Manning Networking Conference, which can be likened to Woodstock for conservative Canadians, drawing hundreds to discuss and refine the small-c conservative response to issues.

In his interview, Manning also discussed the risk of negative political discourse in Ottawa tainting the public’s view of federal politics.

“Two of the things we try to tell conservatives, and particularly younger people is, if you want to attack a position, that’s OK, but don’t attack the person.”

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