Ernest Preston Manning (born June 10, 1942) is a Canadian politician. He was the only leader of the Reform Party of Canada, a Canadian federal political party that evolved into the Canadian Alliance. He sat in Parliament for the Canadian Alliance until his retirement from federal politics in 2002, after which it in turn merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form today's Conservative Party of Canada.
Manning was born in Edmonton, Alberta. He came from a political background: he was the son of Ernest Manning, Social Credit Party Premier of Alberta between 1943 and 1968. In 1964, Preston Manning graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.A. in Economics. He sought election to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1965 federal election as a candidate of the federal Social Credit Party, but was defeated. Manning identifies himself as an evangelical Christian and attends the First Alliance Church in Calgary. In 1984 Manning was hired as a policy consultant by the Representative Party of Alberta.
Together with Stan Roberts and Francis Winspear, Manning formed the Reform Party in 1987. Intellectual influences included journalist Peter Brimelow and foreign aid critic Paul Fromm. (Fromm was expelled from the party in 1988). Manning's chief policy adviser was Stephen Harper, a student at the University of Calgary and now the Prime Minister of Canada. Harper designed the Reform Party's 1988 campaign platform. The Reform Party was a combination of fiscal conservatism and populism, though aspects of social conservatism grew. All of the Reform Party's candidates were defeated in the 1988 federal election, including Manning in the Alberta electoral district of former Prime Minister Joe Clark, Yellowhead. However, the first Reform Member of Parliament, Deborah Grey, was elected in a federal by-election in 1989 at Beaver River, Alberta. Manning's lack of fluency in French was very nearly a sticking point as attempts were made by the leaders of other parties to block his participation in the Leaders' Debate in 1993, demanding that the leaders should participate fully in both debates. Manning called the move partisan, saying it interfered "with basic freedom of speech." The Reform leader gave an opening and closing statement in the French debate and answered a few (translated) questions. In 1997 Manning also participated in the French Debate with the aid of an earpiece interpreter and answered the questions in English...
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