Reviewing Kinsella's reason's why a merger wouldn't succeed... 
I thought it would be fun to comment on the following list by Warren Kinsella:

Herewith, ten reasons why the United Alternative is A Turkey That Will Not Fly.

1. A Merger It Ain't: The United Alternative is a takeover, not a merger, and every Tory with an I.Q. knows it. In the corporate world, the CEOs, officers and directors of such takeover targets are notoriously uncooperative, and for good reason: unemployment awaits them when the deal is done. One can reasonably assume that Joe Clark did not plunge back into the rubber chicken circuit just so that he can act as a volunteer in Preston Manning's next electoral bid.

The terms of the merger agreement that dealt with the leadership selection and upcoming policy convention ensured a true merger. Kinsella talks about the CEOs in a merger - the win by Mackay in the PC leadership race was a huge step to create the new party. He had two very important differences when compared to Clark. 1. Age - Mackay can lead this party in the future, Clark, if not the leader of the united party would never again lead a national party. 2. Location - Mackay represents Eastern conservatism which more naturally merges with the western conservatism of the Harper.

2. Personal Grievances Aplenty: There are an ample number of grievances on both sides of the Canadian right wing political divide. Tories possess more than a few: they generally see Reformers as the lead actors in the putsch that led to their near-wipeout in 1993. Reformers, meanwhile, were sufficiently grieved with the current Progressive Conservative Party leadership to leave the party in the first place. A c ouple of intervening general elections have not ameliorated the differences - they have, in fact, exacerbated them.

Any wonder that the merger happens with the last of the old guard in both parties has left. Problems within the PC party between Clark and Mulroney - the legacy of the party and it's leaders - was a huge hurdle. The Alliance had similiar internal issues to work out until well into Harper's time as leader as the fractures from the Manning to Day to the splinter group working with the PCs to Harper took time to heal.

3. Policy Counts: On immigration, on Quebec, on health care - on virtually any key plank you can dream up - the Tories and their Reform opponents are too far apart. These differences of opinion are far from being reconciled - the recent Conservative leadership race has also served to amplify them. Messrs. Mulroney, Charest and Clark - along with Ms. Campbell - have all presumably ridiculed Reform Party policy not merely because it was expedient, but because they believed what they were saying.

Again, the removal of those that were primarily responsible for the bitter fighting had to leave before any genuine look at the mutual policy goals could take place.

4. The Kooks and Cranks Factor: Gore Vidal didn't say it, but he should have: a party filled with kooks does not a national government make. Ask the most powerful political force in the nation - the Ontario Soccer Mom (OSM). OSMs possess formidable political antennae, and they can detect intolerance from a long way off. Anti-Quebec, anti-choice and pro-evangelical nuttiness won't cut it with the OSM crowd - and Joe Clark et al. know it. Preston Manning, it appears, does not.

Warren is following the Liberal fear mongering formula here but I guess I understand the issue. Maybe this point couldn't be rebutted until after the merger actually happened. The growth of the party itself from less than 150,000 combined members to close to 300,000 has shown the party has widened it's base - especially in Ontario. Kinsella's OSM focus group now is a large part of the Conservative party and their fellow Ontarians have jumped on board the Harper bandwagon with much glee for a true alternative.
My personal belief is that the highly criticized Alliance social conservatism is more a rural-urban issue than a western/ROC issue. I'm sure many rural Liberal MPs in Ontario align more closely with the rural MPs from the West than their own caucus mates. The populist policies of the Alliance simply allowed this rural view to have more exposure than it does in the Liberal party.

5. Mucho Debt: The Progressive Conservative Party is millions of dollars in debt, the Reform Party of Canada is doing fine. What possible fiscal advantages await the latter in a merger with the former? What's more, why would the former agree to any merger, if the latter isn't prepared to share in political pain as well as gain?

Perhaps the PC leadership fundraising and the membership drive cleared up this problem.

6. The Numbers Don't Add Up: Recent National Post polls of a few dozen Canadians notwithstanding, five years of more comprehensive public opinion data - and two elections - demonstrate, in spades, that even a unified right cannot beat Jean Chretien's Liberals. Period. The Prime Minister is competitive in every region, and has been for five years. Mr. Manning, meanwhile, could not get himself elected to an Ontario municipal council.

But Paul Martin's Liberals? No one knew (or did they?) that the Liberals were going to have a such a dramatic plunge in 2004 - it's a new ball game now.

7. Quebec Counts, Too: Preston Manning and his party don't get Quebec, to put a fine point on it, and seemingly never will. Their 1997 election ads defaming various political leaders from Quebec made this amply clear. No sensible Quebec Tory would give a moment's consideration to an alliance with a party that is anathema to their constituents.

Quebec was a huge issue for the PCs too - I think Warren was having trouble finding 10 reasons by this point. Harper says he is committed to providing a federalist alternative for Quebecers - will he be successful? - only time will tell.

8. Populism Is Passe As Newt Gingrich can easily testify to following this week's Congressional mid-terms, the anti-politician fervour is over. Polling shows that Canadians are quite comfortable, merci, with career politicians like Jean Chretien, Joe Clark, Ralph Klein, Mike Harris, Brian Tobin and Gary Filmon. Mr. Manning's populist/outsider schtick does not engender votes with the aforementioned OSMs, or any other voter who does not wear Wellies to work.

Well, times have certainly changed again. After 11 years in power the Liberals now decide to 'fundamentally' change the way government works - why do you think the electorate is having concerns about career politicians. Harper doesn't carry the baggage of fraud and scandal and personally conveys a very sincere image as opposed to the suddenly jumpy, unsure Martin.

9. Two Different Parties: Tories, rightly or wrongly, regard Reform as a regional party, bursting at the seams with red-necked mouth-breathers with a fondness for voodoo economics and policy statements that read better in the original German. Reformers, on the other hand, see Conservatives as Perrier-addicted Quebec lawyers who tried to inflict Meech Lake and One World Government on the West. Never shall the twain meet.

Much the same as reason number 2 (again - hard to come up with 10 real reasons!) The leaders changed and the parties had taken enough lumps to finally understand their own weaknesses. Harper has better presented the Alliance policies to Canadians and Mackay compared to Clark was a clean window to take a clear look at the PCs.

10. The Grits Are Watching: In the unlikely event that the United Alternative somehow gets aloft - and assuming that every one of the arguments noted above are proved wrong - one can count on Liberals to spare no effort in again driving the two uneasy camps apart (making use of policy hand grenades, for the most part). In politics, divide and conquer has always been preferable to plain old conquering.

No time to divide and conquer when you're busy dividing and conquering your own party.

The United Alternative - it is neither alternative, nor united.

The party is united. Is it a true alternative? Canadian's will judge that shortly.

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