New Reform Party of Ontario

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New Reform Party of Ontario
Nouveau Parti Reformiste de l’Ontario
Former provincial party
Founded 1987 (1987)
Dissolved 2016 (2016)
Headquarters Hamilton, Ontario
Ideology Populism, Fiscal Conservatism, Social Conservatism, Grassroots Democracy, Libertarianism, Localism
Colours Blue, Green

The New Reform Party of Ontario (NRP; French: Nouveau Parti Reformiste de l’Ontario) was a minor provincial political party in Ontario, Canada that promoted 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] through 11,000 signatures fulfilling the Elections Ontario requirements[2][3] by members from the Liberals for Life (a splinter group of the Liberal Party of Canada) and members of the anti-abortion organization Campaign Life Coalition.[4] It has fielded candidates in every provincial election since then. None of its candidates were ever elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

In late 2015, the FCP renamed itself the "New Reform Party of Ontario", which maintained the party's conservative social values,[5] while also promoting conservative fiscal values. It began to overhaul its principles, policies, and platform, reorganizing the central office, and aiming to reestablish is provincial executive council regionally[6] in time for the next provincial election in Fall 2018.

The last leader of the NRP was James Gault and provincial party president was Lynne Scime.

The party was deregistered by Elections Ontario in January 2016.[7][8]


Logo of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario prior to 2015


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.[9]

Eric Ames held the post of interim leader, from January to November 2014, when James Gault was elected by membership vote and mandate and 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 in only four weeks of existence to organize for a fourth place showing ahead of the Libertarians.[10] This solid performance from the upstart party led to expansion into new ridings with bigger membership base.[11][12] The party's strongest showing was in the 1990 provincial election, when it received over 100,000 votes, once again good enough for a fourth place showing ahead of the CoR party. In 1990, several candidates received over 10% of the popular vote (the best was 13%). The party ran 76 candidates.[3][5]

Its strong support declined dramatically in the 1995 and 1999 elections with fourth placings ahead of Natural Law, followed by a modest recovery in 2003 when the FCP ran in 51 of 103 ridings, but dropped from fourth to fifth place just below the Greens. The minor breakthrough was made, according to FCP leader Giuseppe Gori, through the democratization of the internet beyond the mainstream media[13] and hope for a form of proportional representation ballot electoral reform.[14] 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. The FCP stayed in fifth place, under the Greens, but above the other minor parties.[15]

The loss of traction in 1995 was blamed on the true blue wave of the Common Sense Revolution by the Mike Harris led Ontario PCs, taking with it a large swatch of socially conservative constituency from the traditional FCP base of support via the "Mulroney Effect" as was coined by the Campaign Life Coalition.[16]

Going into the 1999 election with new leadership and executive,[17] 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, using the slogan "Liberal, Tory, NDP same old status quo story".[5]

The FCP and its leader Giuseppe Gori supported Ontario's Referendum on Proportional Representation in 2007 for a mixed member proportional representation (MMP) hybrid voting system.[14]

The FCP set, according to The Toronto Star, a record for the number of family members running as candidates in a single election in 2007. Eight members of the Kidd family and six members of the Carvalho family are running as candidates in the Greater Toronto Area. The newspaper could not find a Guinness Book record for such a feat.[18]

The party nominated 31 candidates in the 107 ridings for the 2007 provincial election; in those 31 ridings, it obtained 0.23% of the votes province-wide. The FCP dropped to sixth place as the Greens and Libertarians surpassed.

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 [19] Bill 13 anti-bullying legislation [20] presented by the Ontario Liberal government. FCP leader Phil Lees was a speaker at two Queen’s Park Bill 13 protest rallies in early 2012.[21][22] Education, not abortion, soon became the prime issue for the FCP during this era and the need to give parents and their children-students a choice became the main question.[23] The FCP stated in early 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.[24]

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, running only six candidates in 2014 for 0.09% of the votes province-wide for the former fourth party just more than a quarter century previous. In the Simcoe North byelection in 2015, won by Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, NRP leader James Gault finished fifth out of eight candidates. NRP and Gault had planned on running in the Whitby—Oshawa byelection in 2016, where outgoing MPP and former Ontario Progressive Conservative Deputy Leader Christine Elliott has resigned her seat and taken leave. The election was held on February 11. However, when the NRP was deregistered by Elections Ontario in January 2016, Gault decided to run as an independent.[7] He then changed his mind and endorsed Greg Vezina and promoting the None of the Above Party, which shares the NRP's "3Rs of Democracy" idea of responsible government, referendum, and recall, instead.[25] with the NRP.

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 rename the FCP as the New Reform Party of Ontario. The NRP was not related to the Reform Party of Ontario, the Reform Association of Ontario, or the provincial Reform Ontario movement, such as those actively involved within the Reform Party of Canada (RPC) including RPO president Joshua E. Eriksen, RPO deputy leader and agriculture critic Bill Cook, and other RPO executives and members.

The party voted to change its name to the New Reform Party of Ontario in a December 2014 membership vote and began the process to overhaul its principles, policies, and platform,[26] reorganizing the central office, and reestablishing provincial executive council regionally[6] in time for the next provincial election in Fall 2018.

Relations with Christian Heritage Party[edit]

The NRP's membership overlapped significantly with that of the federal Christian Heritage Party of Canada. The parties shared many socially conservative policies, but had no organizational connection.[27]


New Reform Ontario's principles remained the same as they were with the FCP, which include respect for life, freedom, and ownership of property.[28][29] The NRP "adheres to principles expressed in the Canadian Constitution that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law, natural law and just human law. The New Reform Party believes in the democratic principle of subsidiarity: Government is an institution created by people, while people’s fundamental rights are inherent in every human being as each one is created by God. The role of government is restricted to what individuals and private organizations cannot do by themselves. The New Reform Party is committed to restricting its own policies and rule accordingly, were it elected to govern."[30][31] The NRP believed all people are equal and should be treated as such under the law.[32]

On familial issues, they emphasized "the family, rather than the individual" as the "basic building block of our society", and asserted that the promotion of stronger family units will result in reduced social problems and a more robust workforce.[33] On marriage issues, the party emphasised the family unit, favouring heterosexual married couples, as it opposed spousal benefits for same-sex couples and common-law heterosexual couples. The NRP supported increasing personal and spousal tax exemption, and providing assistance to single mothers who choose to carry a pregnancy to term.[34] It also recognized "the work of mothers in the nurturing of children", and supported increased tax benefits for stay-at-home parents.[14] The party opposed Sunday shopping and supported a housing and taxation policy beneficial to family. On human life issues, the party supported an end to the taxpayer funding and support of abortion by the government, and the "harvesting" and production of "spare parts" by keeping anencephalic babies alive. On education issues, they supported funding of all schools, not just the public and Catholic systems[35] favouring options for families to choose the form of education that best suits their values and needs, and the protection of parental values in the school setting.[36]

The party's "Contract with Ontario", after the 2007 election, incorporated 12 points: "We will not breach your trust and we will uphold the truth; we will govern according to moral principles, defending life, freedom and property; we believe in the value and dignity of the human person over and above material goods, ideologies and corporate entities; we will defend the traditional family as the first government where children are educated in knowledge, wisdom and responsibility; we believe any government above the family is delegated and must be chosen through fair and democratic elections; we will maintain an optimum amount of government and avoid government duplication of what individuals, families, associations, groups and businesses can do; we believe an optimum amount of government can greatly improve the economic environment and thus, the standard of living, employment levels, and wealth creation; we believe people have free will and are called to exercise it; we believe people are dignified by employment; we believe people fully develop their potential by self-employment; we believe competition and high standards drive excellence; we do not believe in government or corporate monopolies."[6]

The New Reform Ontario's ideals on various matters were generally traditional, being fiscal, social, and libertarian conservative in tone,[5] although not universally so. For one example, the NRP opposed the privatization and firesale of Hydro One by the Wynne Ontario Liberal government to pay down the debt and balance the budget,[37] as it had no mandate from its recent majority election having not run on the idea and is just a "quick cash grab to pay short term projects and past financial mistakes" which run counter to free market economics.[38] New Reform Ontario supported 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". The NRP believed 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.

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.[39]

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.[40]

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 grade 5 class had been shown a film titled Head Full of Questions. This film depicted, through animated characters, adult sexual intercourse and provided an understanding of homosexuality. As a result, 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.[41]

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.[42]

James Gault (2014-2016)[edit]

James Gault, a candidate for the FCP in 1995 and Owen Sound mayoral candidate in 1997 and 2000, was acclaimed leader at the 2014 annual general meeting in Burlington at the Crossroads Forum.[43] He led the party during the renaming from FCP to New Reform Party.

Gault was a candidate in the Simcoe North byelection in 2015, looking to replace Progressive Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop. He was defeated by the newly chosen Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown.[44][45][46] Gault and New Reform placed fifth out of eight candidates, with 197 votes and 0.50%. Brown won 21,103 votes (53.70%).[47]

When the NRP was deregistered by Elections Ontario in January 2016, Gault decided to run as an independent in the February 11 by-election in Whitby—Oshawa and continued to promote the party.[7] He later chose to withdraw from the race and endorsed Greg Vezina of the None of the Above Party of Ontario, which he stated shared the NRP's "3Rs of Democracy" idea of responsible government, referendum, and recall.[25]

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]


External links[edit]