The Palpatine of the West announced his retirement, after a long career of spreading western separatism and advocating ultra-capitalist policies, at the ripe old age of 78.
Preston Manning played a key role in the resurgence of Canada's nationalist right wing and is the grandfather of the 'modern' Conservative Party of Canada. Born into a family at the center of Albertan political power, Preston had big ambitions that saw him build an Alberta-centric party of his own – on a federal level.
Preston Manning dreamed of a powerful west and a Canada that 'lived within its means'. Though he ran as Social Credit in '68, his ultimate answer was to build his own party, which he dubbed the Reform Party, launched in 1987. He positioned it as an opponent of separatism, but his party was soon plagued with bozo eruptions of the white nationalist kind.
(Accusations of white nationalism only grew louder when the Reform party slipped a statement opposing "any immigration based on race or creed or designed to radically alter the ethnic makeup of Canada" into their policy pamphlet in '91. The statement would not appear in the next year's edition, replaced with a policy goal of restricting immigration.)
Manning's organizational abilities – and key missteps by his political opponent, then Prime Minister Mulroney – led to a meteoric rise of the Reform Party and the near-elimination of the Progressive Conservative party when the PCs went from 151 seats to just two in the 1993 parliamentary election. Manning's Reform Party came tantalizingly close to attaining full power.
But Manning never attained the crown.
After failing to defeat the Liberal Party again, Manning merged with Stockwell Day's Canadian Alliance, another right wing party with similar policies.
It was his student and right hand, Stephen Harper, who merged the further-right Canadian Alliance with (Peter Mackay's) Progressive Conservative party to form today's Conservative Party back in 2003. Harper would prove to be a cannier operative than Manning, controlling the Conservative Party with an iron fist and carrying them to a decade of unrivaled power.
Manning's true successes are his political heirs: Stephen Harper, now a former Prime Minister, and Stephen's own pupils, Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney, who have taken Manning's old Western Political Agenda and ran with it.
(That Agenda: privatization, dismantling unions, dismantling social assistance programs, increasing gun ownership, 'balanced budget', opposition to federal equalization programs, 'flat tax', 'a punishment-centric jduicial system, restricting immigration, ending Jus Soli citizenship, opposing prisoner voting rights, opposition to funding child care, and opposition to LGBTQ rights)
Old Man Preston has not exactly been sleeping these past few years: he's directed funds (via his Manning Centre) to support the petro-nationalist group "Canada Strong and Proud", hosted multiple annual conferences for 'thought leaders', and drummed up support for Conservative candidates. His noted support of the petro-nationalists is weird, given his self-branding as being a 'green conservative'.
Manning's an avid fan of recycling and waste management.
Which explains why his ideological descendants keep dusting off old, bad ideas.
Andrew Scheer, anointed student of Harper, turned out to be a dud at the ballot. While prairie nationalists turned out in droves, Scheer's Conservatives failed to topple the Liberal party's grip on power. It was little surprise that the man accused of stealing party leadership (by his salty rival, Bernier, who lost by the thinnest of margins) was caught with his hand in the cookie jar – literally using party funds to pay for his kids to attend a posh private school. A leadership race is scheduled for this year to replace him.
As for Jason Kenney – Kenney is currently running Alberta into the ground with corporate giveaways, spending cuts to hospitals and services, cuts to infrastructure, a grab for the pensions of Alberta workers, and taking the federal government to court over the federal Carbon Levy. Kenney's also exploring replacing the RCMP with his own set of police while Kenney is currently under investigation for election shenanigans.
Preston Manning's shadow will long haunt politics, like a lingering fart in a crowded express elevator.
The right wing in Canada has an immense, understated amount of power; with PostMedia's 80% control of dailies – nearly 100% in the prairie provinces – and the Irvings' total control over Nova Scotia, the ingredients for a replay of Trump's rise are all set.
Preston Manning may be retiring from the controls.
But the machine he built will continue to run – just not with his name on it.
What comes next is the federal Conservative Party race. Already, camps have been pitched and lines drawn, even though the leadership race is many months away. Regardless of who wins the race, they'll be campaigning on policy that Old Man Preston wrote decades ago, holding the reigns of power that were passed on from teacher to student, channeling the dread forces of nationalism and ultra-capitalism as if they sat on the throne of Exegol.