A comparison of the prospects of the "broader right" in Canada and the United States (Part One)
By Mark Wegierski
Canada today, despite its great over-all wealth, is a society of contrasts. While the problem of Quebec separatism which was so central in Canadian history since the 1960s may appear to be fading, there are many new challenges arising. While Canada is still, to a large extent, a more pleasant place to live than the United States (especially when one compares life in the two countries' large cities), there are many issues looming on the horizon which can prove severe challenges to a safe, civil, prosperous life – the permanence of which all too many Canadians today take for granted. There are a number of substantial differences between the Canadian and American societies today, which may indeed have a profound impact on the type of future the countries will have.
In contrast to the situation before 2006, Canada now has a federal Conservative majority parliament, while Obama is President of the United States. We are thus seeing a fairly unusual situation where the U.S. may have a more left-liberal government than Canada. The comparative fiscal discipline of the Harper Conservatives is breathtaking to contemplate, when viewed against the almost unbelievable fiscal profligacy of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party.
It should also be remembered that holding a majority in the federal Parliament (which conjoins executive and legislative authority) is putatively more effective than, for example, just the holding of the U.S. Presidency. However, there are other differences between Canada and the U.S. that point to the fact that the Conservative majority may not be as powerful and effective in Canada as might putatively appear to be the case. Several days ago, for example, the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) had carried out the longest filibuster in Canadian history, to try to block back-to-work legislation in regard to the labor dispute at Canada Post (the Canadian postal corporation).
On the other hand, while Obama wields great power in the U.S. today, it is quite possible to imagine that he might well be swept from office in 2012.
One important difference between Canada and the U.S. is the absence of a more organized, coherent, political Right in Canada. While there are many similarities between the left-liberal media, academic, cultural, juridical, and governmental establishments in Canada and the U.S., Canada manifestly lacks a rambunctious right-wing. In the U.S., there is a wide-ranging and extensive debate among various groupings of the broader (and far more dynamic) right-wing, including paleoconservatives, neoconservatives, right-wing Greens, libertarians, paleolibertarians, classical liberals, "social conservatives of the Left" (such as Christopher Lasch), and religious conservatives (sometimes called "theo-cons").
There at least two major factors that contribute to a more politically conservative U.S. – the first being that, as "the one remaining superpower," the United States cherishes and effectively maintains its military; and secondly, the large presence of Christian religion in the U.S. (including both Protestant fundamentalists and tradition-minded Catholics).
It should also be remembered that taxation is low in the U.S., relative to Canada; that U.S. gun-control legislation is minimal, relative to Canada; and that the U.S. medical system has (until very recently) been largely driven by free-enterprise, relative to Canada.
In regard to immigration, Canada has received about a quarter-million immigrants a year – about 75% of them from non-traditional sources -- since 1988. (The population of Canada is now about 35 million.) Unlike the U.S., where there is some degree of criticism of mass, dissimilar immigration permitted, this is virtually a closed issue in Canada.
To be continued.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.