03/06/2013 06:24 EST | Updated 03/07/2013 10:22 EST

11 Questions For Preston Manning


Preston Manning is considered by many the patriarch of modern Alberta, and by extension, Canadian conservatism.

He helped to chart the course that eventually dislodged the Liberals from their seat of power in Ottawa, concurrently solidifying Stephen Harper as the Prime Minister of Canada and turning a reunited right into the political juggernaut that it is today.

Manning's close working relationship with Harper goes back to the 1980s -- Harper was Manning's chief policy adviser during his 1988 federal election bid -- and is credited for founding two political parties, the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. Both parties became Official Opposition.

In January of 2013, the former MP, political strategist and former Leader of the Official Opposition, launched the new Manning Centre, a Conservative training ground in Calgary. The facility aims to train those involved in all aspects of politics and campaigning, such as candidates, volunteers, campaign managers and staff.

We caught up with him at the launch, where he candidly spoke about his fears, beliefs and some rather interesting campaign moves.

11 questions

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A right relationship with God and with people. In other words, relationships.

What is your greatest fear?

Running out of time. So many things to do, not enough time.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Getting consumed with ideas to the neglect of relationships.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Watching hockey and football games. Always feel regret afterwards spending that much time. Ties in with the running out of time thing.

On what occasion do you lie?

Well, I try not to. I can tell you a story.. I was door knocking in the town of Swan Hills up in northern Alberta once, when I was running against Joe Clark. I accidentally stepped on a puppy's foot. It started to howl and the owner grabbed the dog and ran inside. People started opening doors down the street and his wife came out. Now the challenge is, what do you say as a politician? So I said, "My name is Joe Clark and I'm running for.." Joe never forgave me for that.

What made you decide to run for elected office?

I was dissatisfied with the status quo back in the 80's, particularly how the West was represented in federation. I wanted to try to change it.

What is the one thing about politics you would change?

I'd try to raise the knowledge and skill levels of the participants. Even if you couldn't make structural process changes, if the players are better equipped, as in well-trained and well-motivated, people can make a bad system work better.

When and where were you happiest?

When I first met my wife Sandra and we got married in 1967.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I think demonstrating in the 90's that the tools of democracy still work. That a small group of people can take freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom to persuade people to do this and that, vote this way, vote that way, and actually change the national agenda.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Jesus of Nazareth, Abraham Lincoln and Ernest C. Manning from the great province of Alberta.

How would you like to die?

Well I never thought of that. I guess I'd like to get old and die, in that order. I actually heard that from a Newfoundland guy. He lost an election, he was a candidate advisor, and the CBC was interviewing him. They asked him about when he would die and he said, 'hopefully I'm going to get old and die, in that order.'

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