In recent years "Red Tories" clashed with neoconservatives within the Progressive Conservative Party, and within Canada's socially conservative party, the Canadian Alliance. One of the most important issues facing the newly created Conservative Party is what will happen with the Red Tories. Some such as Joe Clark, Sinclair Stevens and Flora MacDonald had opposed the merger and will not support the new party. Stevens and a number of others have applied to re-register the old Progressive Conservative Party, but Elections Canada has not yet announced whether the attempt will succeed.
The origin of the adjective "red" is not known. The reference may be to socialist aspects of Red Tory principles, or to the British roots of the Tory old guard.
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has held power in that province for most of the time since Confederation. The Ontario PCs were often labelled Red Tory, for example under the leadership of William Davis from 1971 to 1985. Throughout the Maritimes Red Tories are the dominant force in the Conservative Party. This tends to explain why Canadian provinces are often ruled at the provinical level by a party that may be "Conservative" yet at the same time elect "Liberal" members of parliament to Ottawa. Outsiders may not understand the large amount of ideological common ground shared by the two nominally different parties.