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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
New opposition leader in Canada
Stockwell Day rally
Stockwell Day got an ecstatic response
A conservative former preacher has been elected to head a new political party attempting to unify Canada's right-wing and topple the governing Liberal Party.
Stockwell Day
Stockwell Day won 60% of his party's vote

Stockwell Day, 49, received more than 60% support from members of the Canadian Alliance in his run-off election against former Reform Party leader Preston Manning.

Mr Day's convincing victory makes him the new head of the official opposition in parliament and the likely main challenger for the prime minister's office in the federal election, expected next year.

The result confirmed a rapid rise to national prominence by Mr Day, the former treasurer of the Alberta provincial government.

Leadership campaign

The Canadian Alliance, which was set up in March and immediately began its leadership campaign, hopes to unify the old Reform Party with the Conservative Party, which last governed Canada in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The alliance is hoping to build a centre-right block capable of beating the governing Liberals.

In the earlier round of voting, Stockwell Day won 44% and Preston Manning 36%.

But since neither got more than 50%, a run-off was held on Saturday, with more than 200,000 members of the Canadian Alliance eligible to vote.

Biggest party

On Saturday night, though, Manning supporters - sensing the outcome - called for unity and maintained their support for the party.

"Because we are family, no matter what ups and downs we had in this campaign, we are not fighting each other, we are fighting the Liberals," said party member, Deborah Grey.

New members recruited during the leadership campaign have made the Alliance the nation's largest party on paper, but it remains unclear whether that growth can translate into nationwide support in a federal election.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien of the Liberal Party has already said he intends to run for a third term of office.

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