The rise of the Common Sense Movement

While this description of the Common Sense Coalition is fictional, many of the factors on which it is based are real

This is part 3 in our series Report of the Covid Commission
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While the following series is fictional, the principle objective is non-fictional – to explore the likelihood that sooner or later, Canadians will demand a full-scale investigation into the management of the COVID crisis by our federal government.

Preston ManningPredictably, while most of the mass media and academia went along with the channel change strategy, the vast majority of rank and file Canadians did not. It was their conviction that the Prime Minister’s pronouncements on an alarming international crisis were as insincere and misguided as his pronouncements on the COVID crisis at home. Moreover, the formation of the Liberal/NDP Coalition was nothing more than cynical manoeuvering by an insecure government to stay in office.

Serious questions concerning the rationale behind the federal government’s pandemic management and its failure to anticipate, acknowledge, and address its negative impacts continued to be asked with increasing intensity by increasingly more opinion leaders, by organizations small and large from coast to coast, and by independent media – questions which the Trudeau government was neither willing nor able to answer satisfactorily.

As the public demand for answers mounted, with no satisfactory response from the federal government or parliament, there was a growing negative reaction against the Liberal dominated government, against the federal NDP for sustaining it, and against parliament itself for its seeming inability to hold the federal government accountable for its management of the COVID pandemic.

Public support for the Freedom Convoy broadened into what came to be called the Common Sense Movement. Its rise was somewhat akin to that which occurred in the 1980s and ‘90s, whereby the populist-oriented Reform Party morphed into the Canadian Alliance, which in turn led to the creation of the Conservative Party of Canada and the formation of a majority federal government by that party. But due to the prevalence and dominance of social media, in 2022-23 it took only a year, rather than a decade, for this COVID-driven transformation of the federal political landscape to occur.

The Common Sense Movement came to be headed by a charismatic, anti-establishment female leader named Leah Wahlstrom. Her father’s small independent trucking firm had been forced into bankruptcy by the vaccine mandate, and Leah emerged as a shrewd and gifted spokesperson for the Freedom Convoy and its growing contingent of political activists.

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By the summer of 2022, the Common Sense Movement had grown to the point where many considered it to be the chief source of opposition to the Liberal/NDP government outside of parliament. The Interim Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons –  whose party was in the midst of a leadership contest –  therefore proposed a conference between representatives of her party and the Movement to explore the prospects of working more closely together.

The result of this conference and subsequent meetings was the formation of the Common Sense Coalition –  co-led by Leah Wahlstrom and the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada chosen by the party membership on September 10th, 2022.

A key component of the new leader’s leadership campaign had been a pledge to form a principled Coalition with the Common Sense Movement with the approval and support of the large grassroots memberships of both groups. This Common Sense Coalition was to be contrasted with the unprincipled Liberal/NDP Coalition formed and announced without any consultation of the rank and file members of those parties or their electoral supporters.

The declared intention of the Common Sense Coalition was to marry the populist energy and resources of the Movement with the research, organizational, and campaign capacities of the Official Opposition to fight the next federal election whenever that should occur. In the meantime, the first significant project of the Common Sense Coalition was to create and support what came to be known as the COVID Commission.

Preston Manning’s long record of public service includes work as founder of the Reform Party and as a Member of Parliament.

Preston is a Troy Media contributor. For interview requests, click here.

Next: The COVID Commission

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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Troy Media is an editorial content provider to media outlets and its own hosted community news outlets across Canada.

Preston Manning

Preston Manning tirelessly championed the cause of democratic and political reform throughout his impressive career as one of Canada’s great political visionaries. His presentations provide an inspirational and substantive discussion of both current issues and future challenges, all imbued with a surprising dose of humour that you might not expect from a politician. A reformer at heart, Preston is right at home challenging the status quo and conventional thinking.
Serving as a Member of the Canadian Parliament from 1993 to 2001, Preston founded two political parties – the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. Both of these became the official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament and led to the creation of the Conservative Party of Canada, which formed the federal government of Canada from 2004 to 2015.
Preston served as Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2000; is a Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Queens Privy Council for Canada, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and has received honorary degrees from six Canadian universities. He is also founder of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy – a national not-for-profit organization that supports research, training, and communications initiatives.
He has published two books: The New Canada, and Think Big. He has also served as a senior fellow of the Canada West Foundation, the Fraser Institute, the Market Place Institute of Regent College (UBC), and as distinguished visitor at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto.

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