Selley: Preston Manning has answer to carbon problem, but clout with conservatives seems in decline

By Chris Selley, Ottawa Citizen, March 22, 2019

OTTAWA — In his post-politics career, Preston Manning has always cut a unique figure within the Canadian conservative movement: He was born (literally) into the Western populist tradition, and helped guide that wing of the movement to primacy in a united federal party that governed for a decade; but in more recent years he has been seen very much as an establishment figure. Probably no issue has highlighted the disconnect more than carbon pricing.

In Ottawa, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the spiritual heirs to Reform have long been virulently opposed to a carbon tax. In Ontario, not so long ago, Progressive Conservatives seemed willing to tolerate adopting the federal “backstop” carbon price as party policy. But when party leader Patrick Brown resigned that was over in a heartbeat: Every candidate to replace him opposed it, and none more bitterly than the eventual winner, now-Premier Doug Ford. The same was true of every candidate to replace Stephen Harper as federal Conservative leader — except one, Michael Chong, who was booed every time he brought it up, and not in a friendly way.

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