TORONTO, CANADA — Despite winning a solid majority in
the Canadian federal Parliament in May 2011, Stephen Harper, prime
minister of Canada, and the Conservatives face huge obstacles in their
efforts to turn around the ship of state. For long decades since the
1960s, left-liberals in Canada have been carrying out programs of sustained,
radical transformation of the Canadian polity, society, and culture.
In the process, they have attempted to stomp on, without compunction,
one tradition after another.
The Conservative Party victory was the culmination of a lengthy process.
In June 2004, the perennially ruling Liberals were reduced to a minority
government. In January 2006, Harper won a minority government (a plurality
of seats in the federal Parliament). Through deft political maneuvering,
he kept the minority government in power until he called an election
for October 2008, in which he won only a slightly strengthened minority.
He then faced the threat of a coalition of the three opposition parties
— the Liberals, the socialist New Democratic Party (NDP), and the
separatist Bloc Quebecois (BQ). However, because of adroit political
maneuvers (as well as the huge unpopularity of the coalition idea among
the general Canadian populace), Harper continued in power. Finally,
in 2011, the opposition parties combined to defeat the government in
Parliament — necessitating an election call for May 2011.
The Conservatives won 166 of 308 seats. Harper was only the third
Conservative or Progressive Conservative leader in Canadian history
to win a third term. The other two were Sir John A. Macdonald and John
Diefenbaker. The New Democratic Party surged, winning 103 seats —
including 59 seats from Quebec — to become the Official Opposition
and displace the Liberal Party.
The Liberal Party, which had held 77 seats in the previous Parliament,
won a mere 34 seats — its worst showing ever. It had never before
been the “third party” in the federal Parliament. Its leader,
Michael Ignatieff, lost his own seat and quit the leadership the next
The NDP annihilated the BQ, which had won most of the seats from Quebec
across the federal elections of 1993 to 2008. Even the BQ leader, Gilles
Duceppe, lost his own riding (election district) and quit immediately.
The leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, won in her riding, the
first seat won in an election by the Greens.
Harper and the Conservatives will require a tremendous amount of energy
to initiate what Ken McDonald, an earlier prominent critic, called
the necessary process of “recovery” from “the Trudeau
Harper’s Conservative majority, under a leader who — unlike
Brian Mulroney — may himself be a visceral conservative, is probably
the last opportunity for Canada to at least temper some of the worst
excesses of the so-called “Trudeaupia” that has increasing
enveloped the country. Brian Mulroney, the Progressive Conservative
Prime Minister from 1984 to 1993, won huge parliamentary majorities
in 1984 and 1988. However, he spent a lot of his energies fighting
any expressions of substantive conservatism within the Progressive
Conservative (PC) Party, thereby leading to the rise of Preston Manning’s
Reform Party in 1987. In the 1993 federal election, the PCs were reduced
to two seats!
Various phenomena suggest that the prospects for conservative restoration
in Canada are not good. On August 22, 2011, Jack Layton, the leader
of the federal NDP, passed away after a battle with cancer. There was
such a huge outpouring of grief that it seemed that the whole country
was, in fact, aching for socialism. A week of general mourning was
followed by the massive state funeral, attended by virtually every
important Canadian politician, including Harper.
Shortly thereafter, discussions of a possible merger of the NDP and
the Liberals began. Such a merger would bode disaster for the Conservatives
in the next federal election.
Even if the left-liberals fail to regain the elected government, multifarious
left-leaning infrastructures loom. These include most of the media
and government bureaucracies; the highly-politicized judiciary, which
some critics have called “the Court Party”; nearly all
of the academy and mass-education system; nearly all of the so-called
cultural industries, whose combined resources outweigh those that could
be called right-leaning, by astronomical factors. Ironically, much
of these left-leaning infrastructures, most notably the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation (CBC), are funded by taxpayers.
Insofar as Harper tries to blithely ignore the dynamic of ferocious
left-liberal opposition to him and his party — which is likely to
rise to crescendo no matter what he actually does — he is likely to
fail in a fashion similar to Mulroney.
To achieve anything, Harper must give attention to “governing
strategically” by fighting with great determination and cunning
for substantive principles.
View From The North is copyright © 2011
by Mark Wegierski and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Please forward this copyright info and links when sending to friends
Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer, social critic, and historical
researcher and is published in major Canadian newspapers, as well as
in U.S. scholarly journals such as Humanitas,
Review of Metaphysics, and Telos, and in U.S. magazines such as Chronicles
and The World & I. His writing has also appeared in Polish, British, and German publications.
See author's bio and other articles.
To subscribe, renew, or contribute, please send a tax-deductible donation
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
or donate online.