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View From The North
December 9, 2011

Harper’s 2011 Victory in Canada May Prove Hollow
by Mark Wegierski
fitzgerald griffin foundation

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 day.

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 revolution.”

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 and colleagues.

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.

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