TORONTO, CANADA — In some countries, the perennial dominance of one party or political orientation has led to fundamental distortions of social outlooks and political cultures. It has become clear to considerable numbers of Canadians that Canada — now dominated by various forms of liberalism and left-liberalism — is such a country. Indeed, Canada — once called "the peaceable kingdom" — has become an increasingly fragmented country, with a very uncertain and tenuous identity.
As of January 23, 2014, it has been eight years since Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party came to power in Canada. The Harper era continues to be one of increasing disappointment for small-c conservatives — especially so since the election of a Conservative majority government on May 2, 2011. From 2006 to 2011, when the Harper Conservatives held a minority government (a plurality of seats in the House of Commons), the "incremental" approach might have been justified. But after 2011, when the Conservatives finally won a majority in the House of Commons, small-c conservatives could have expected some truly bold new initiatives.
|However, in the past year or so, the Harper government has undermined itself over some incredibly petty matters involving mere administration rather than policy. To a large extent, the government has thrown away its freedom to act decisively because it is perceived as engaging in blatant partisanship and feather-bedding — while not accomplishing anything truly substantial.
Canada — once called "the peaceable kingdom" — has become an increasingly fragmented country, with a very uncertain and tenuous identity.
Two important things to note are that the abortion and same-sex marriage issues — which generate such political fireworks in the United States — are generally viewed as resolved and closed for debate in Canada. The only real question is what Harper could have delivered to social conservatives apart from these issues.
... the abortion and same-sex marriage issues ... are generally viewed as resolved and closed for debate in Canada.
Having largely abandoned social conservatism in earlier years, some critics argue that what amounts to Harper's subsequent repudiation of fiscal conservatism may be the final blow against conservatism in general in Canada. Nevertheless, he has been holding the economy somewhat steady, resisting the various "tax-and-spend" excesses seen in the United States.
Harper's wavering on fiscal conservatism might create a context where he must turn to some elements of social conservatism to avoid completely alienating his core supporters. While Harper has gone so far as to prevent any reopening of the discussion on abortion and same-sex marriage in the federal Parliament, there is surely some room for creative maneuvering in the social and cultural arenas.
Examples of this room to maneuver include the following:
• Enhancing "affordable family formation" — such as the ending of the tax penalty on stable marriage (for example, where one spouse stays at home to take care of the children, the income of the other spouse is taxed at a much higher rate than when both spouses are working; taxes could be assessed against a household of two people)
• Attempting to re-create a genuine sense of Canadian polity in the government's cultural policies, through a subtly increasing emphasis on a Canadian identity rather than multiculturalism
• Paying more attention to "white ethnics," such as Eastern and Southern European groups, in official multiculturalism
• Bringing some serious conservatives into the federal civil service and its cultural granting bodies, such as the Canada Council for the Arts.
In addition, some attempt could have been made to hold the typically very left-wing Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) more accountable to the general public, considering that its huge budget comes directly from Canadian taxpayers.
Since the current American administration is arguably more left-leaning than that of Canada, Harper has had an opening (should he have wished to take it) to play the anti-American card on some issues while invoking a more genuine Canadian patriotism, such as that once represented by the staunch Tory Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker.
What is outlined is a strategy of broadening cultural influences without trespassing on the territory of unrestricted abortion and same-sex marriage — the very centerpieces of today's culturally liberal Canada. This approach would fit in well with the strategy of incremental change that has been the watchword for Conservatives since 2006.
|It is important to remember that the preconditions for eventual political success are social and cultural. The eventual result of increasing an infrastructure for "small-c conservatives" would be a societal shift toward a more conservative-leaning society.
Perhaps after more than four decades of a massive, unrelenting, roaring tide of social and cultural revolution in Canada ... the time has finally arrived for a counter-revolution.
Perhaps after more than four decades of a massive, unrelenting, roaring tide of social and cultural revolution in Canada — if for no other reason than balance -— the time has finally arrived for a counter-revolution.
View From The North is copyright © 2014
by Mark Wegierski and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
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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.
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