Progressive Group for Independent Business
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2010)|
The Progressive Group for Independent Business (PGIB) is a membership-funded right-wing business group in Canada founded in 1992 with the goal of promoting "less government, lower taxes and political accountability" in Canada. The PGIB claims to have a membership of roughly 6500. Its CEO is Craig Chandler.
Since the mid-1990s, the PGIB has claimed to have influenced the development of some of the policies of the Common Sense Revolution platform that elected Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Mike Harris to provincial government. The PGIB also claims that in its 1995 campaign "Focus Federally for Reform" (FFR), it successfully restrained the Reform Party from creating a provincial party in Ontario, thereby splitting the right-wing provincial vote. In the 1997 election, the PGIB gained notoriety for running attack ads against Liberal candidates Sheila Copps and Jane Stewart.
In 1998, under the auspices of the PGIB, Chandler organized a controversial "Unite the Right - Roots of Change" conference in Toronto, Ontario. The conference included social conservative delegates from the Reform and Progressive Conservative Parties. It was criticized for also including representatives of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, Confederation of Regions Party, Freedom Party of Ontario, Renaissance Canada and the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada. Attendees also included conservative commentators Michael Coren and Linda Leatherdale.
The PGIB has also been criticized internally by members who have suggested that the top-down organization has essentially become Chandler's personal lobby machine for his own SoCon agenda and that the PGIB does not do enough to canvass and promote the will and agenda of its general membership. The PGIB claims to survey its membership from time to time. Furthermore, in recent years, Chandler purposely moved towards separating his fiscal and social conservative agendas by forming Concerned Christians Canada Inc. (CCC), a social conservative Evangelical Christian lobby group. Some have suggested that the uses of the members' dues of the PGIB, which range from $60 CAD to $350 annually are largely unaccounted for to the general membership. However, others[who?] argue that this claim is false and that Chandler is transparent and provides financials to all members at bi-annual conventions.
In 2003 the PGIB launched the "2cards.ca" initiative that called for a United Alternative. Chandler ran as the PGIB candidate in the Progressive Conservative leadership convention, 2003. Since their founding, PGIB Offices in Burlington, Ontario and Calgary have received threatening calls, and the Burlington office has received at least one bomb threat.
In June 2009, Mark Dyrholm the group's National Vice President and a Calgary Chiropractor. Ran for the Leadership of the newly former Wildrose Alliance Party to succeed Paul Hinman in their 2009 Leadership Convention. In the end Dyrholm lost to Danielle Smith an Alberta journalist and broadcaster.