Alliance fortunes on the rise, Mills says

Its members scattered and its coffers empty, the Canadian Alliance limped into 2013 after an unprecedented political bloodbath.
But almost one year to the day after York MP Bob Mills threw his support behind Stephen Harper during the party’s leadership race, its fortunes have improved dramatically.
The Alliance’s resurgence this year has made the weekly flights to and from Ottawa easier for Mills, who spent most of 2013 embroiled in a very public dispute with then leader Stockwell Day about his handling of the party.
Mills said the party’s turnaround was one of the most important events in 2013.
He credited Diane Ablonczy, Grant Hill, Harper and Day for rebuilding the party’s team spirit after the March leadership vote, which decisively handed the reigns to Harper.
“It’s such a contrast from where we were at, it’s hard to believe it’s possible,” said Mills. “I kind of look forward to going to work in the morning. This time last year, I hated the trip.”
Mills said Harper demonstrated he was a team player during the debate on the Kyoto protocol in the House of Commons in November.
As leader of the Official Opposition, Harper was entitled to speak indefinitely or until the Liberal majority invoked closure on the debate.
Harper handed that job to Mills, who conducted a one-man filibuster on the climate change accord, speaking for 11 hour and 10 minutes.
The verbal marathon propelled Mills into the national spotlight, earning him the moniker Kyoto Killer.
“(Harper) gave me the ball to carry. I certainly appreciate that,” said Mills.
Mills said the Liberals may have formally ratified the Kyoto protocol, but the real work begins when Parliament reconvenes in the New Year.
The filibuster has made many Canadians more aware of the Alliance’s position on the accord, said Mills.
The party will be closely watching how much the government spends on implementing the protocol, which is not promising given how much it money it has wasted on the HRDC boondoggle, the ad contract scam and the gun registry fiasco, he added.
The Opposition’s environment critic will also be busy in the New Year ensuring Lisa’s Law becomes a reality.
Mills had hoped his private members bill, which would prevent sex offenders from using the legal system to force their children to visit them in prison, would have been passed by the House of Commons before the Christmas break, but Kyoto intervened.
Mills will meet with lawyers from the Justice Department in January to address some issues raised by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights before the bill heads back to Parliament for a final vote.
The Liberal leadership race is also expected to heat up in the New Year, which could affect the timing of the next election, said Mills.
Most of Paul Martin’s supporters suggest their man has the leadership race in the bag. But Chretien and his supporters would prefer anybody but Martin, he said.
If Martin wins the leadership in November, he might call a federal election as early as the spring of 2014, said Mills.
That would mean York’s electoral boundaries, which are currently under review, would remain as they are, he added.
“The level of unhappiness in the (leadership) camps is quite a bit more severe than we had. I never believed that would be possible,” said Mills. “It’s good to be on the sidelines watching this scrap. We just need to take advantage of it.”
Mills will resume his weekly flights to Ottawa to attend an Alliance caucus meeting Jan. 24-25. Parliament resumes business on Jan. 27.
“I want to thank the constituents of this riding for how they have treated me,” said Mills. “If they were jumping all over me when I got home, it would make the job pretty tough.”