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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 09:27 GMT
Stockwell Day: Preaching politician
on the campaign trail
The Alliance leader has massive support in the West
Stockwell Day, a telegenic former preacher, has only been in national politics for a few months.

The former finance minister from Alberta is an evangelical Christian, who does not campaign on Sundays, election or no election.

Early in the recent campaign he was forced to defend his belief in a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Jean Chretien accused the Alliance leader of having a hidden agenda
He has said there is scientific proof that the world is about 6,000-years-old and that early man co-existed with dinosaurs.

Stockwell Day received a big vote in the farming west, consolidating the position of his Canadian Alliance party. But in Ontario, where most of the votes are, he had difficulty selling his message.

He spent most of the election campaign on the defensive, trying to counter suggestions that he and his allies are right-wing zealots.

No dinosaur

Journalists onboard the Day campaign bus, nicknamed Prayer Force One, took to humming the theme tune to the cartoon series The Flintstones which had Fred and Wilma living with dinosaurs.

But the former preacher hit back: "If you're looking for dinosaur politics, you need to look at the Liberals."

From an early age Stockwell Day has had strong ties with the Evangelical Church.

If you're looking for dinosaur politics, you need to look at the Liberals

Canadian Alliance leader, Stockwell Day
Between 1978-85 he was assistant Pastor at a church in Alberta.

He then joined the Alberta legislature in 1986, holding a number of jobs until he was voted in as opposition party leader in July this year.

The Canadian Alliance was created from the Reform party with elements of the minority Conservatives in a bid to make a breakthrough in the east.

Mr Day is said by analysts to have charmed most of the press and used television well. A young-looking 50-year-old, he made the Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, 66, look old.

'Hidden agenda'

But in highly populated areas around Ottawa and Toronto Mr Day's evangelical nature was a bit too strong for the voters.

On the campaign trail
Mr Day did not convince Ontario voters
In opinion polls, many eastern voters expressed concern over his personal views on issues such as abortion and allowing private ownership in the country's healthcare system.

The Liberals accused him of harbouring a hidden agenda to introduce a US-style "winner-take-all" society.

He promotes the traditional conservative policies of tax cuts, with increased military spending and tougher law and order measures.

But Prime Minister Chretien accused Mr Day of having a hidden agenda to re-open the debate on abortion.

Before becoming Alliance leader, he had sharpened his skills in Alberta, where he became known for a tough, no-nonsense brand of social conservatism and made little secret of his religious views.

The message to us is not yet. Not this time

Stockwell Day
Alliance strategists felt the combination would not help the party break through in the voter-rich province of Ontario, so he muzzled his combative skills, deflected questions about his beliefs.

It was not enough.

After acknowledging defeat, Stockwell Day said he would continue to fight for what he believed.

"I will continue as a leader of the opposition to work with the government of Canada on those items which I feel will be good for the country and to oppose those things which I do not feel will be good," he said.

"The message to us is not yet. Not this time."

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28 Nov 00 | Americas
Canadians give Chretien third term
22 Oct 00 | Americas
Canada faces early elections
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