Preston Manning is the founder and the only leader of the Reform Party of Canada, a Canadian federal political party that evolved into the Canadian Alliance which in turn merged with the federal Progressive Conservative Party to form today’s Conservative Party of Canada. Mr. Manning represented the federal constituency of Calgary Southwest in the Canadian House of Commons from 1993 until 2002 and served as Leader of the Official Opposition from 1997 to 2000.
Mr. Manning has made major contributions to the intellectual and operational underpinnings of democracy and conservatism in Canada primarily through:
- Speeches in the House of Commons (as recorded in Hansard) and addresses to numerous public meetings and conferences across Canada;
- Opinion pieces primarily published by The Globe and Mail and interviews with various other print and electronic media;
- Serving as a Fellow of the Canada West Foundation, the Fraser Institute, the Marketplace Institute of Regent College and as a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary;
- Participation in the conduct and publication of various studies and reports on public policy issues such as a six volume study, co-authored with former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, entitled Vision for a Canada Strong and Free, and more recently (2020), the Report of the Fair Deal Panel commissioned by the Alberta government; and
- The authoring and publication of four major books: The New Canada (1990); Think Big: My Adventures in Life and Politics (2003); Faith, Leadership, and Public Life (2017); and Do Something: 365 Ways You Can Strengthen Canada (2020).
Mr. Manning is the recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Toronto, York University, McMaster Divinity School, Tyndale University, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia and Trinity Western University. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2007, made a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2012 and appointed to the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada in 2013.
Upon his retirement from elected office Mr. Manning founded two not-for-profit organizations: The Manning Foundation for Democratic Education and the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. The purpose of these organizations was to strengthen democracy and the conservative movement in Canada by supporting and facilitating:
- The generation of democratic and conservative intellectual capital through the support of think tanks and idea generators;
- The development of human resources for democratic political institutions and processes through education and training; and
- Networking and relationship building among the various components of the conservative movement through communications and conferencing, including organization of the Manning Networking Conference held each year in Ottawa.
In July 2016, Mr. Manning resigned from his executive functions with the Foundation and Centre, and in June 2020 fully retired from the organizations although he continues to contribute to advancing and enriching democratic engagement in Canada though his media appearances, speaking engagements, writing, and contributions to various public policy development initiatives.
Leading up to his retirement, Mr. Manning explicitly requested that, going forward, the Manning Centre for Building Democracy focus exclusively on networking and relationship building among the various components of the conservative movement and that it change its name to better reflect this focus. The Centre’s name was changed to Canada Strong and Free Network July 1, 2020.
No description of the public life and work of Mr. Manning would be complete without full acknowledgment of the enormously supportive and inspirational role played, usually behind the scene, by his wife Sandra, their five grown children, and twelve grandchildren. Preston and Sandra continue to divide their time between Calgary, Vancouver, and a family ranching operation in central Saskatchewan.