Monday, September 19, 2011

Chapter Seventeen: The Campus Leadership Roles of Morton Blackwell and Preston Manning

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

In 2006, Cliff Fryers, Chair of the Conservative Party’s 2005 policy conference, and Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform Party, sat down with Morton Blackwell, founder of the American Leadership Institute.  Blackwell, a former Special Assistant to President Reagan, and longtime activist for the Conservative Movement, was eager to assist his Canadian colleagues, who had also been involved with the movement for decades.

Fryers and Manning were interested in starting their own Leadership Institute in Canada, based on the strategies and techniques of Blackwell's successful school of instruction in the art of dirty tricks.  Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and Karl Rove, are all former graduates, and according to Marci MacDonald, 700 Canadian graduates of Blackwell's school, are working for the movement in Canada. (2)

Manning won't say who provided the $10 million single donation that was the seed money for his Manning Centre for Building Democracy, but when it was established, Cliff Fryer was named its director (3).  Fryer has worked with the Reform-Alliance party from its inception and knows how the game is played.

Until recently, Fryer was the chairman of the Enmax Corporation's board of directors, the Calgary owned utilities company.  However, he was forced to resign for backing former CEO Gary Holden, who was fired  following the discovery that he took a trip to the French Riviera, courtesy of a company that does business with Enmax.  According to other board members, Fryer’s resignation was "for the best".  Said one: “Well there's a few of us that weren't all that enthused about some of the comments that he made back when we were having some issues with Enmax and some of the things that had transpired over the years so we kind of were advocating for his resignation ... " (4)

According to Rick Bell, columnist for the Calgary Sun, Holden's parting shots were typical.
He insists he's done nothing wrong while speaking of "intrigue," the "motives" of "business and political forces," the attacks on Enmax, the biased media reports not telling the true story, his self-styled high-minded decision to depart and his possible future career as a politician.

When all is said, Holden does what he does best and what Enmax board chairman Cliff Fryers also does best.  He doesn't tell us anything of substance when asked but then uses one-way e-mails or a bully pulpit to play victim, casting other supposed sinister sorts as the source of what is the ongoing soap opera over at Enmax. (5)
This is what most neoconservatives do.  Blame someone else.

Another High-Profile Visitor

While Morton Blackwell was discussing the nuts and bolts of his operation to Preston Manning and company, Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, was the featured speaker at an election training program hosted by the Charles McVety's Canada Family Action Coalition.  (6)

Reed counsels social conservatives to practice “stealth politics” and “fool voters” by “hiding their religious agenda and instead promoting popular issues such as tax reform.” (7) The merging of neoconservatism with misguided Evangelism, to create what Noam Chomsky calls. "The religion of market knows best".  At least part of it is based on deceit.

In attendance at Reed’s strategy session, were Tim Dobson, Conservative Candidate for Pickering-Scarborough East, John Carmichael, Conservative Candidate for Don Valley West (won in 2011), Michael Mostyn, Conservative Candidate for York Centre, Rhondo Thomas, from McVety's Christian College, and Jim Flaherty, now our finance minister.

Reed told the assembled activists and candidates about the philosophical approach that should motivate their activities: “We're not trying to change a church into a political party, and we're not trying to change a political party into a church, but if the people of the church don't get involved, somebody else will.” (6)

Reminds me of an old Irish proverb that my father told me "If God doesn't change you, the devil will", his loose interpretation of religion.  Clearly, the devil is at work here.

What They Teach at Manning's Campus Leadership Training Program

In March of 2009, a Conservative Party workshop was held at the University of Waterloo. A student who attended was clever enough to take a tape recorder and what was revealed from the meeting was a clandestine attempt to take over student unions, by setting up a series of front groups.

This operation is one of the strategies taught at the Manning Centre's Campus Leadership Training program.  From their website:
Has your student government been overrun by extreme left-wing students?

Is freedom of speech being infringed upon on your campus? Are groups on campus using student money to further a left-wing agenda? Do you want to get organized and fight back?

Then the Manning Centre’s Campus Leadership Training is for you. Campus Leadership Seminars introduce aspiring political leaders on campus to the principles and practices of effective political involvement. Topics for these seminars include:

»The Fundamentals of Campaigning
» Political Communications
» How to run an effective Campus Club
» How to win campaigns on campus
» How to build effective coalitions
What they teach, however, is something a little different.
Audio recordings, photographs and documents that were leaked from a recent Conservative Party student workshop in Waterloo expose a partisan attempt to take over student unions and undermine Ontario Public Interest Research Groups (OPIRGs) on campuses across Ontario. 
At a session held in early February by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association (OPCCA) and the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, campus Conservatives, party campaigners, and a Member of Parliament discussed strategies to gain funding from student unions for the Conservative Party and ways to run for—and win—positions within student unions. (8)
What Manning had instructed the students to do was to set up "front" groups, all linked to a central organization.  In this way they could get funding for each group, despite the fact that they were not independent.  The Member of Parliament they speak of was Peter Braid, Conservative MP for Kitchener-Waterloo.

Blackwell's Leadership Institute is running the same kind of clandestine operations as Manning, under their Campus Leadership Program.  Journalist Jeff Horowitz went under cover at one of their summer seminars, where they taught their students how to manipulate elections.  One tactic was to volunteer to help run the election, and then place the ballot box in an obscure location, with little foot traffic.  Conservatives would know well in advance where it was. (9)

They also provide funds for a campus newspaper espousing conservative theories, and "front" groups for the Young Republicans.
The structure of Blackwell's Campus Leadership Program is simple. The Leadership Institute trains promising conservative college graduates over the summer and dispatches them to campuses in the fall with a mandate to start conservative student organizations.

Need $500 and some ideas to start a combative right-wing campus publication? The institute would love to help you. Unlike chapter-based political organizations, CLP clubs are unaffiliated with either the Leadership Institute or each other. According to Blackwell,this trait offers a serious advantage: "No purges." The clubs' independence also comes with the benefit of plausible deniability. "You can get away with stuff that you would take a lot of flak for doing in the College Republicans." (9)
Creating mini-me Ralph Reeds and Karl Roves on both sides of the border.


1. Bloodshed on the floor was inevitable, By Siri Agrell, National Post, March 21, 2005

2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8

3. Manning Centre for Building Democracy,

4. Enmax chairman Cliff Fryers resigns, CBC News, September 8, 2011

5. Watt is this guy thinking? By Rick Bell, Calgary Herald, January 22, 2011

6. US Political Wiz Ralph Reed Urges Canadian Social Conservatives to ‘Make History’ This Election,”,, December 2, 2005

7. Secrets and Ties, By Bill Berkowitz, Media Transparency, April 17, 2005

8. Conservative Party strategy to take over student unions exposed, By Rebecca Granovsky-Larsen, Editor-in-Chief and Nora Loreto, News Editor, Ryerson Free Press, March 16, 2009

9. My Right-wing Degree, By Jeff Horwitz, May 24, 2005

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