During the next three years, Day also became a prominent figure in efforts to transform the REFORM PARTY OF CANADA into a broader conservative alliance to defeat the federal LIBERAL PARTY. These efforts were played out in a series of meetings and two major conventions held in 1999 and 2000, during which Day's youthful good looks, quick wit and apparent command of the French language, combined with his record in provincial politics, appealed to many delegates.
The second of these conventions in January 2000 saw the creation of the CANADIAN ALLIANCE Party. A few months later, on 8 July, Day confirmed a stunning upset over the previous Reform Party leader, Preston MANNING, to become the Alliance's first leader. On 11 September, Day won a federal by-election in Okanagan-Coquihalla to secure a seat in the House of Commons. Shortly thereafter, a federal election was called.
The election results of 27 November saw the Canadian Alliance take 66 seats and nearly 26 percent of the popular vote in becoming Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to the victorious Liberal Party. For many Alliance supporters, however, the party's success had fallen short of expectations. Day's performance during the election came under particular criticism for being unfocused and lacking substance.
The months following brought renewed criticisms of Day. A libel suit launched against Day for a letter he had written while a provincial politician was particularly damaging, raising questions of his political acumen, especially when it was found to cost the Alberta government nearly $800 000. A series of other gaffes followed, further undermining Day's ability to lead and diminishing the party's public support. In the spring of 2000, several prominent MPs resigned from the Alliance caucus, calling for Day to step down as leader. Amidst escalating hostility and division, Day in late July announced his intention to do so. His formal resignation was given in mid-December. In January 2002, however, he announced he was running again to be leader. For a time, it seemed he might succeed in replacing himself, but these hopes were dashed on 20 March 2002 with the election of Stephen HARPER as the Alliance Party's new leader.
Day became the new party's foreign affairs critic, a position he continued to hold following a merger in late 2003 of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance, which resulted in the formation of the CONSERVATIVE PARTY. Day was re-elected to the House of Commons in the federal election of 28 June 2004, capturing a seat in Okanagan-Coquihalla.
Author TREVOR W. HARRISON
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