Stockwell Burt Day, Jr., PC, MP (born August 16, 1950 in Barrie, Ontario), is a Canadian politician and a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. He is a former cabinet minister in Alberta, and a former leader of the Canadian Alliance. Day is currently MP for the riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla in British Columbia and the Minister of Public Safety. This portfolio includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the National Parole Board and the Correctional Service of Canada. He is widely seen as a prominent voice for social conservatives within the Conservative Party.
His father, Stockwell Day, Sr., was long associated with the Social Credit Party of Canada. In the 1972 federal election he was the Social Credit candidate running against New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas in the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan—The Islands. Day, Sr., supported Doug Christie and was a member of the Western Canada Concept.
From 1978 to 1985, Day was assistant pastor and school administrator at the Bentley Christian Centre in Bentley, Alberta. His school taught the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, which caused some controversy for its alleged anti-semitism. Defending the curriculum publicly led to increased political involvement.
In his political career, Day has never campaigned on Sundays, choosing instead to set them aside as time for worship and to be with his family. This came under scrutiny in the 2000 election, when his religion became an election issue.
In January 2001, the Government of Alberta paid out $792,064 in taxpayer funds to settle a defamation lawsuit brought forward by Red Deer lawyer Lorne Goddard against Stockwell Day.
There was some controversy during his tenure as an Alberta MLA when Mr. Day, on religious grounds, opposed extending Alberta's human-rights code to protect homosexuals from discrimination. He also supported a pro-life group that wanted the province to cease funding abortions except when a woman's life was at risk.
In December 1992, newly elected Alberta premier Ralph Klein brought Day into cabinet as his Minister of Labour, a position in which he oversaw controversial changes in his ministry, including layoffs in the civil service. In October 1994 Government House Leader was added to his responsibility. In May 1996, Day was made Minister of Social Services, and in March 1997, he became Treasurer. As Treasurer, Day oversaw a continued paying down of Alberta's debt while he cut taxes, instituting a flat tax rate in 1999.
In 2000, Day decided to run for leader of the newly-formed Canadian Alliance party. After a heavily-publicized campaign, Day came in first on the June 24 first ballot of the leadership election with about 44% of the vote, in front of former Reform Party leader Preston Manning and Ontario PC strategist Tom Long. In the following runoff election against Manning, held on July 8 2000, Day received 63.4%.
In order to take a seat in Parliament, Day ran in a by-election in the riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla in British Columbia, vacated by Reform/CA MP Jim Hart. Day won the by-election on September 11 2000, arriving at his first news conference on a Jet Ski wearing a wetsuit.
A few weeks after Day entered the House of Commons, Jean Chrétien called a snap election for November 27, 2000, which would not give the newly formed Canadian Alliance time to consolidate itself. Nonetheless, the new party went into the election with high hopes, as Day was expected to appeal far more to the crucial Ontario voters than his predecessors.
There were few if any important issues when the election was called, nonetheless the Liberals frequently alleged that Day had a hidden agenda, by making a campaign issue out of Day's fundamentalist Christian beliefs (he is a devout Pentecostal), and past comments about homosexuality and abortion.
Liberal activist Warren Kinsella mocked Day's belief in Young Earth creationism by pulling out a Barney doll during a television interview and stating that "this was the only dinosaur ever to be on Earth with humans". Media covering the Day campaign bus, nicknamed "Prayer Force One", whistled the Flintstones theme song to mock the idea that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.
The Alliance's direct democracy proposals, which would have required a referendum on any proposal supported by a petition signed by 3% of Canadian voters, was also frequently targeted as a suggestion of a hidden agenda. Some asserted that "special interest" groups would use the low requirements to put contentious subjects to a national referendum. The proposal was satirized by Rick Mercer of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, where he proposed a national petition for a referendum to demand that Day change his first name to Doris.
Day was also a victim of an incident during the election. When making a "grand entrance" for a speech at Conestoga College, communist Julian Ichim splashed him from the front of the stage with two litres of chocolate milk, saying he did it to protest Day's "homophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-poor agenda". Afterward, again on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, actress Mary Walsh jokingly offered Day chocolate milk, saying: "All they had was homo, and I knew (Day) wouldn't like that."
Day stumbled during two campaign appearances in the first week. A photo-op at a technology firm meant to illustrate a "brain drain" to the US was undermined when the owner reported that he had moved to Canada from the United States eight years earlier. The next day, at Niagara Falls, Day remarked that Canadian jobs were flowing south "just like the Niagara River", when in fact the river flows north. In mid-campaign, the Alliance candidate in Winnipeg South Centre, Betty Granger, was quoted as voicing concerns about an "Asian invasion" in Canada. And in the televised leaders' debate, Day held up a handwritten sign saying "NO 2-TIER HEALTHCARE" in large letters to counter a Globe and Mail newspaper headline earlier in the campaign. As props were against the rules, he claimed it was his briefing notes.
At one point, the Alliance was at 30.5% in the polls, and some thought they could win a minority government. On election night, the Alliance increased their seats over Reform totals from 60 to 66, and kept Reform's strong representation in western Canada, but the hoped-for breakthrough in Ontario did not occur, with the party electing just two MPs in that province. The Liberals' attacks on Day ending up decimating the NDP and Progressive Conservatives, as many voters who would otherwise have supported those parties voted strategically for the Liberals to prevent an Alliance victory.
On election night, controversy arose when a CBC producer's gratuitously sexist comment about Day's daughter-in-law, Juliana Thiessen Day, was accidentally broadcast on the Canadian networks' pooled election feed from Day's riding.
In April it was reported that Day had approved the hiring of a private investigator to dig up dirt to smear the Liberals. After confirming that he had met the man on April 7, Day denied this on the 8th, claiming on the 9th that he had read of the meeting in The Globe and Mail and had assumed that it was correct.
Given the string of negative stories, many Alliance members became increasingly critical of Day's leadership. In late April, several members of Day's Shadow Cabinet, including deputy leader Deborah Grey, resigned their posts. In the following months, Gray and other MPs were ejected from the party for criticizing Day. Several of them, led by Chuck Strahl, formed the "Independent Alliance Caucus" during the summer. Day offered an amnesty, but seven of them turned it down and formed the Democratic Representative Caucus, led by Grey and Strahl. The DRC entered a short-lived coalition agreement with the Tories, which was seen as an attempt by PC leader Joe Clark to reunite the Canadian right on his terms.
In the fall of 2001 Day agreed to step aside and recontest the leadership, and in the March 2002 Alliance leadership election, Day was defeated by Stephen Harper on the first ballot. As a concession to Day, Harper appointed him as Foreign Affairs critic. Most of the DRC MPs, with the exception of Inky Mark and Jim Pankiw, rejoined the Alliance caucus on April 10.
In March 2003 Day and Harper co-wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal in which they condemned the Canadian government's unwillingness to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Day later appeared as a speaker at a "Canadians for Bush" rally in the Niagara region, organized by controversial right-wing minister Tristan Emmanuel.
In December 2003, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party merged to become the Conservative Party of Canada. Day did not run for the leadership of the new party, but became its Foreign Affairs critic. He was easily re-elected to Parliament in both the 2004 and 2006 federal elections.
In November 2004, Day provoked controversy by not offering condolences to Palestinians after the death of PLO leader Yasser Arafat. The controversy was heightened when it was leaked to the media that Day had attempted to justify his actions to his party colleagues by circulating an article by David Frum which suggested that Arafat had died of AIDS.
In March 2007, the federal Liberals accused former Alliance MP Jim Hart of having accepted a payment of $50,000 to step aside in favour of Day before the 2000 byelection. Contacted at his home in the Republic of Georgia, Hart - in a brief email statement to the CBC - did not deny the allegations or impeach the authenticity of the evidence the Liberals had obtained.
Profile: Stockwell Day, leader of right-wing Canadian Alliance Party, causing quite a stir with his religious beliefs
Nov 24, 2000; 00-00-0000 Profile: Stockwell Day, leader of right-wing Canadian Alliance Party, causing quite a stir with his religious beliefs...
Westview; Is there any real hope for Stockwell Day? Yes, and it's being offered by Jean Chretien.(Brief Article)
Mar 05, 2001; These are very dark hours for Stockwell Day. By his own lights he did everything right. He said the right prayers, he made the...