Dalton Camp

From Academic Kids

Dalton Kingsley Camp, PC, OC (September 11, 1920 - March 18, 2002) was a Canadian journalist, politician, political strategist and commentator and supporter of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Despite having never been elected to a seat in the House of Commons, he was a prominent and influential politician and a popular commentator for decades. He is a central figure in Red Toryism.

Camp was born in Woodstock, New Brunswick. His father was a Baptist minister whose work took his family to Connecticut and later California. Upon his father's death in 1937, Camp's mother and her children returned to their hometown of Woodstock. Camp soon enrolled in undergraduate studies at Acadia University; however, his tenure was interupted by enlistment in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. Following the war, Camp finished his undergraduate studies in the liberal arts at the University of New Brunswick, followed by graduate studies in journalism at Columbia University and political science at the London School of Economics.

While involved in studies at UNB, Camp worked briefly for the Liberal Party of Canada and its provincial wing, the New Brunswick Liberal Association. Camp was heavily influenced by his studies at LSE and upon his return to Canada, sought to remove his ties to what he felt was the arrogance of "Canada's Ruling Party". Camp had socialist beliefs but was attracted to the traditions of Canadian conservatism, bringing a new focus to the party, which came to be referred to as Red Toryism. During the 1950s, Camp worked out of Toronto, Ontario with several advertising firms and was influential in his speaking, organizational, and political abilities during several provincial elections which saw Progressive Conservative governments elected for the first time in over a generation. Camp was also instrumental in helping John Diefenbaker's federal Tories win election in 1957 and 1958, however, he personally mistrusted Diefenbaker. Following the PC defeat to Lester Pearson's Liberals, Camp sought to reorganize the Tories and subsequently became president of the national party in 1964.

Faced with evidence that a majority of Tories were unhappy with the increasingly eccentric and autocratic policies of their leader John Diefenbaker, Camp eventually led a grassroots upsurgence within the party for a leadership review. After the decision was made to have a leadership convention in 1967, Camp left the presidency of the party and briefly considered campaigning for leadership of the party; however, when Robert Stanfield decided to run, Camp lent his organizational support to Stanfield's campaign. Media savvy and an intellectual, Camp was considered by many Tories to have been a potential match to Pierre Trudeau, who would lead the Liberals throughout the 1970s.

Camp ran as an MP for the Tories in the 1963 and 1968 elections, however, after personally failing to be elected, Camp retired as a politician and pursued interests in advertising, political commentary, and journalism. During the 1980s and 1990s, he became a regular political commentator on CBC's Morningside (http://calgary.cbc.ca/features/gzowski.html) (along with Stephen Lewis and Eric Kierans) and he was a bi-weekly political writer for the Toronto Star newspaper. He also wrote columns for the Toronto Sun and Telegraph-Journal newspapers for several years.

Camp returned briefly to active politics when he was named a senior advisor to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's staff from 1986-1989, including consulting on the 1988 election which saw Mulroney's government campaign for a free trade agreement with the United States. Camp left politics in 1989 with some disillusionment toward the increasingly Blue Tory policies of Mulroney's government, as well as several decisions which were leading to western disillusionment in the caucus (this would later become evident when the Reform Party was established). In 1993, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Camp underwent a heart transplant in 1993 (the oldest person in Canada to do so at the time) and continued to write and give political commentary from his home in Jemseg, New Brunswick. He experienced a stroke in February 2002, which led to his passing a month later at a hospital in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Quotations

  • "Politics is made up largely of irrelevancies."
  • "Little of signal importance in the global scene of things has ever been at issue, much less determined, as a result of the Canadian political process."

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