New Reform Party of Ontario

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New Reform Party of Ontario
Leader James Gault
President Lynne Scime
Founded 1987 (1987)
Headquarters Hamilton, Ontario
Ideology Populism, Fiscal Conservatism, Social Conservatism, Grassroots Democracy, Libertarianism, Localism
Colours Blue, Green
Seats in Legislature
0 / 107
Website
newreform.ca
Politics of Ontario
Political parties
Elections

The New Reform Party of Ontario is a minor provincial political party in Ontario, Canada that promotes a populist, fiscally conservative, socially conservative, libertarian, and localist ideology. It was formed in Hamilton in 1987 as the Family Coalition Party of Ontario (FCP)[1] by pro-life Liberal members from the Liberals for Life splinter group and members of the pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition. It has fielded candidates in every provincial election since then. None of its candidates have ever been elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The FCP joined with some executive members of the Reform Party of Ontario (RPO) and grassroots members of the Ontario Reform movement in 2015 to form the New Reform Party of Ontario. The merged entity holds populist democratic reform ideals side by side with its traditional moral values and principles from the past. It has begun to overhaul its principles, policies, and platform for the next provincial election in 2018.

History[edit]

Logo of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario prior to the 2015 merger with Reform


Logo of the Reform Party of Ontario prior to the 2015 merger with the Family Coalition

Leaders[edit]

The first leader and founder of the FCP was Donald Pennell, who had been a candidate for the Ontario Liberal Party in the Burlington South riding during the 1975 provincial election. He served as leader from 1987 to 1997. Pennell campaigned for the Canadian Alliance in the Burlington riding during the 2000 federal election.

Pennell was replaced by Giuseppe Gori, who led the party from 1997 to October 2009, and who renamed the party Ontario Coalition. A leadership convention was held in Hamilton on October 24, 2009, to elect a new leader. Phil Lees was elected by acclamation and filled the role until January 2014.[2]

Eric Ames held the post of interim leader, from January to November 2014, when James Gault was acclaimed at the 2014 annual general meeting in Burlington at the Crossroads Forum, as Ames remained the director of communications and deputy leader.

Electoral activity[edit]

The first Ontario general election for the Family Coalition Party of Ontario and its founder and leader Donald Pennell was the 1987 provincial election, where the party ran 36 candidates for 48,110 votes overall and 1.3% of the vote. The party's strongest showing was in the 1990 provincial election, when it received over 100,000 votes. In 1990, several candidates received over 10% of the popular vote (the best was 13%). The party ran 76 candidates.

During the 1999 election, the party achieved limited media attention by conducting a demonstration at Queen's Park featuring three "cloned sheep" to represent Progressive Conservative leader Mike Harris, Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty and New Democratic Party leader Howard Hampton. The FCP's intent was both to indicate their opposition to cloning technology, and to suggest that the major parties were identical in ignoring family issues, usng the slogan "Liberal, Tory, NDP same old status quo story".

Its strong support declined drastically in the 1995 and 1999 elections, followed by a modest recovery in 2003 when it ran in 51 of 103 ridings. The party nominated 83 candidates in the 107 ridings for the 2007 provincial election; in those 83 ridings, it obtained 1.045% of the votes, or 0.82% province-wide.

After the 2011 provincial election, the FCP worked on local advocacy campaigns within various communities around the province, most notably involving the challenge of the[3] Bill 13 anti-bullying legislation [4] presented by the Ontario Liberal Party. FCP leader Phil Lees was a speaker at two Queen’s Park Bill 13 protest rallies in early 2012.[5][6] The FCP stated in 2014 that it intends to become more active and visible between elections, to better represent what it calls the “traditional-principled” electorate in Ontario, which led it to merge closer towards a grassroots participatory democratic political ideology held traditionally by Reformers in Ontario.[7]

After the 2014 election, the Reform Party of Ontario (RPO) had been deregistered by Elections Ontario for failing to run candidates, and the FCP had finished poorly with its worst showing in a distant seventh place.

The FCP leadership, its newly elected party leader James Gault, deputy leader and director of communications Eric Ames, and president Lynne Scime, led a move to create a new merged political entity, the New Reform Party of Ontario. Those actively involved with the merger with the FCP include RPO president Joshua E. Eriksen, deputy leader and agriculture critic Bill Cook, and other executives and members from the RPO, the Reform Association of Ontario and the Reform Ontario movement.

The party holds populist democratic reform ideals side by side with its moral traditional values and principles from the past. Its political agenda includes referenda on issues such as electoral financing reform and preferential ballot voting, a recall for removing unpopular politicians and fixed election dates, and responsible representation through via more free votes for MPPs instead of direction from the party whips in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The party voted to change its name to the New Reform Party of Ontario in a membership vote in December 2014 - January 2015 and began the process to overhaul its principles, policies, and platform for the next provincial election.[1]

Ideology[edit]

New Reform's principles include respect for life, freedom and ownership of property. They emphasize "the family, rather than the individual" as the "basic building block of our society",[8] and asserts that the promotion of stronger family units will result in reduced social problems and a more robust workforce. The party's emphasis on the family unit favours heterosexual married couples: it opposes spousal benefits for same-sex couples and common-law heterosexual couples. New Reform supports increasing personal and spousal tax exemption, and providing assistance to single mothers who choose to carry a pregnancy to term. It also recognizes "the work of mothers in the nurturing of children", and supports increased tax benefits for stay-at-home parents. On education, New Reform favours options for families to choose the form of education that best suits their values and needs,[9] and the protection of parental values in the school setting.

The party's ideals on various matters are generally traditional, being fiscal, social, and libertarian conservative in tone, although not universally so. New Reform supports a reduction in the size of government, and "the long-term removal of all measures that insulate industries, businesses, financial institutions, professions and trade unions from domestic and foreign competition". New Reform recognizes that the limited government has a reduced role to play in issues relating to environmental, educational, and health care management, and ensuring access to health services regardless of ability to pay.

New Reform, like the Reform Party of Ontario, Reform Association for Ontario, and the Reform Ontario movement it continues from, also supports voter recall, referenda, and responsible electoral financing reform, preferential ballot voting, and more free votes for MPPs instead of direction from the party whip in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Party leaders[edit]

Donald Pennell (1987-1997)[edit]

Donald Pennell is a political and religious activist in Ontario. He was the first leader of the Family Coalition Party, helming the party during the 1987, 1990, and 1995 campaigns, and has campaigned for political office at various levels, originally for the Liberals.

He first ran for political office in the 1975 provincial election, as a Liberal Party candidate in Burlington South. He lost to Progressive Conservative incumbent George Albert Kerr by just under 6,000 votes.

Pennell was a leading figure in founding the Family Coalition Party in 1987. This group began as a political extension of the pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition with pro-life Liberal members from the splinter group Liberals for Life. Pennell was chosen as the FCP's first interim leader, and then full-time. In addition to promoting a pro-life position on abortion the party developed a platform opposed to divorce, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and adoption of children by same-sex couples, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, pornography, and contraception.

In the 1995 provincial election, Pennell ran against sitting Ontario Premier Bob Rae in the Toronto riding of York South. After a very distant fourth place finish, Pennell stepped down as leader of the party in 1997, and was replaced by Giuseppe Gori.

In the 2000 federal election, Pennell ran as a candidate of the Canadian Alliance in Burlington. Some political observers expressed surprise that the former leader of a minor provincial political party would be allowed to stand for Canada's official opposition. Pennell received a career high of 11,500 votes, but still finished almost 11,000 votes behind the winner, Liberal incumbent Paddy Torsney. Torsney had worked as a volunteer on Pennell's 1975 campaign, his first as a Liberal.

He remained an advisor to the party after 1997, and helped select the party's candidates for the 1999 provincial election, as well as involved in a number of conservative Roman Catholic organizations. He now lives in Vineland, Ontario, and works as the communications and public relations director of the Fatima Centre, a devotional group based around the miracles said to have occurred near Fátima, Portugal in the early twentieth century. In 2004, Pennell criticized a Hindu group for conducting a devotional service on the shrine grounds.

Giuseppe Gori (1997-2009)[edit]

Giuseppe Gori is a businessman and a politician in Ontario. From 1997 to 2009,[citation needed] he was the leader of the Family Coalition Party, piloting the party during the 1999, 2003, and 2007 campaigns.[10]

Gori has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Pisa in Italy (1973). He worked as an Assistant Professor at Pisa for three years, and has also been a visiting professor at the University of Western Ontario. In the 1980s Gori has held positions at IBM, Canada Systems Group and Geac Computer Corporation.

Gori replaced Donald Pennell as leader of the FCP in 1997. Like other members of his party, he is pro-life (from conception to natural death), and supports what he describes as "traditional family values". Gori would change the party name from Family Coalition Party to Ontario Coalition during his tenure. Gori did not run in the October 2009 leadership election, to dedicate more time to his manufacturing business, he was succeeded as party leader by Phil Lees.

Phil Lees (2009-2014)[edit]

Phil Lees is an educator by profession. From 2009 to 2014, he was the leader of the Family Coalition Party, representing the party during the 2011 campaign. During the course of his career, he became cognizant of what he describes as a "radical change in values being encouraged by the teachers union", he became involved in grassroots activism following an incident with his own child. Her 5th grade class had been shown a film titled Head Full of Questions, this film depicted adult sexual intercourse and provided an understanding of homosexuality, he founded a group called the Hamilton-Wentworth Family Action Council to address the issues at local schools. He also ran for office in the 1999 election.[11]

Eric Ames (2014) (interim)[edit]

Eric Ames is a former educator and communications professional, Ames had served as the FCP communications director since 2001, yet has never run electorally for the party. As interim leader of the Family Coalition Party, Ames led the party during the 2014 campaign in a caretaking role, while also remaining the director of communications on the FCP board of executives.

James Gault (2014 - present)[edit]

James Gault was acclaimed at the 2014 annual general meeting in Burlington at the Crossroads Forum, ran for the FCP in the 1995 election, while Ames remained the director of communications and deputy leader.

Electoral record[edit]

(See Elections Ontario results at: http://www.elections.on.ca/en-CA/Tools/PastResults.htm)

Election results[edit]

Year of election # of candidates # of seats won # of votes % of popular vote
1987 36 0 48,110 1.3%
1990 68 0 110,831 2.7%
1995 55 0 61,657 1.5%
1999 37 0 24,216 0.6%
2003 51 0 34,623 0.8%
2007 83 0 35,763 0.8%
2011 31 0 9,861 0.23%
2014 6 0 4,288 0.09%

Election candidates[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]