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The long defeat -- Where the Canadian Right went wrong (Part Four)

By Mark Wegierski
web posted August 9, 2021

A Lack of Articulation

Over the last five-and-half decades, the Canadian Right has conclusively failed to articulate a “counter-ethic” to the now-prevalent “Liberal idea of Canada” and is now seemingly on the fast track to extinction in the Canadian polity. There are a number of structural and cultural political problems in which the Canadian Right has been and is embroiled, most notably, their lack of appeal to Quebec. There is the long-term “Quebec problem” of the Canadian Right. There is also the lack of appeal to older immigrant groups (the so-called “white ethnics”) – who might have been a natural constituency for them. There is also their lack of appeal to newer immigrant groups (the so-called “visible minorities”) – although there is probably little they could do to increase their appeal there. The Canadian situation is markedly different from the situation in the United States, especially in regard to the extent of highly-principled “minority conservatives” in both countries.

Because of the ongoing decline of conservative thought in Canada, there are only sporadic attempts to ever articulate a “counter-ethic” to the prevalent “Liberal idea of Canada.”  Such attempts are especially rare among currently-active conservative politicians.

There is clearly, furthermore, an astronomical inequality of financial resources as between left-liberals and substantive conservatives in Canada. Given the direction of development of historical, social, cultural, and economic processes in Canada over the last five-and-a-half decades, and the various factors mentioned above – the incoherence of the articulation of a “counter-ethic”, the hardening of a once-robust parliamentary democracy into a “managerial-therapeutic regime,” the very low profile of any possibly competing counter-valent power-centres such as the military and churches, the increasing centralization of the polity in the federal government, the prevalence of “North American” pop-culture with its amplification of socially-liberal, consumerist, and antinomian attitudes, and the various structural and cultural political problems for the Canadian Right -- notably their lack of appeal to Quebec and “white ethnics”, and the fewness of highly-principled “minority conservatives” in Canada  – it could be concluded that the Canadian Right is approaching extinction in Canada. The future of Canadian politics is therefore very likely to move in the direction of a “post-democratic” and de facto “one-party” system – which will be overwhelmingly socially liberal and economically conservative.

Just How Liberal is Canada Today?

It should be pointed out that Canada today may be seen as combining the most liberal aspects of America and Europe -- indeed, it may be world's most liberal society. Like some European countries such as the Netherlands, it is extremely socially-liberal, as demonstrated by the Canadian federal government's total acceptance of "same-sex marriage."  Although a vote on the issue took place in the Federal Parliament in 2005, it was with direct referral to the Canadian Supreme Court. What conservative critics call "judicial activism" is in Canada a comparatively late but now flourishing development, which only really got underway with the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) into the Canadian Constitution. The Charter, clearly a left-liberal rather than classical liberal document, essentially enshrined virtually the entire agenda of Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Canada's left-leaning Liberal Prime Minister from 1968-1984, except for nine months in 1979-1980) as the highest law of the land. After Brian Mulroney's huge Progressive Conservative majorities of 1984 and 1988 -- whose record in regard to social and cultural conservatism was indeed abysmal -- Canada's federal Liberal Party (headed by Jean Chretien) comfortably won the elections of 1993, 1997, and 2000. On the other hand, unlike some European countries, Canada is characterized by very high rates of immigration, and it has whole-heartedly embraced multiculturalism, affirmative action (called "employment equity" in Canada), and diversity with a startling degree of unidirectional intensity. Canada's official immigration numbers are more than twice as large as those of the United States -- per capita -- and are probably among the highest in the world. With a population now reaching about 38 million persons, Canada had been receiving every year about a quarter-million immigrants. (The Liberals have recently raised the numbers to 300,000, and, in coming years, to over 400,000 a year.) 

At the same time, Canada has now embraced some of the more negative aspects of American society -- such as the excesses of pop-culture, the trend to political-correctness, and growing litigiousness. However, it lacks many aspects of America that may temper the aforementioned trends. In Canada, for example, the government accounts for about half of the GDP. (In contrast to about forty percent in the United States.) Taxes are very high, relative to the United States. The Canadian medical system is stringently socialized to an extent unheard of in the United States. Canada's gun control laws are also extremely strict. Unlike the United States, fundamentalist Christianity plays virtually no role in Canada. The debate about abortion and many other social issues is considered effectively closed. In another extreme contrast to the United States, Canada has virtually no military (the entire armed forces, including army, navy, air force, and reserves, number about 92,600 men and women) and there is major disdain throughout much of Canadian society (and especially in elite opinion) towards the military. Canada's security provisions, refugee-policy, and control of its borders are also extremely lackadaisical.

Canadians appear to be characterized both today and in their earlier history by an unusual deference to governmental authority. Before 1965, Canada was probably a substantively more conservative society than the United States, but now, when the paradigm at the top has been fundamentally altered -- in the wake of the "Trudeau revolution" -- most Canadians are willing to follow the new, politically-correct line from Ottawa. There is virtually no heritage of independence, self-reliance, or belief in rambunctious free speech in Canada. Indeed, Canadian officials point proudly to their laws against "hate-speech" as highly necessary. They say they do not have "the American hang-ups" about restricting freedom of speech.

What may be concluded from the combination of points made above is that right-of-centre positions are rather rarely seen or heard in Canada (except perhaps in the Western province of Alberta). It could be argued that, given the left-liberal predominance in the Canadian media (especially in the taxpayer-funded CBC), in the education system (from daycare to universities), in the judiciary and justice system, in the government bureaucracies, in so-called high culture (typified by government-subsidized "CanLit"), in North American pop-culture and "youth culture," in the big Canadian banks and corporations, and (on most issues) in the leaderships of the main churches in Canada, any existing right-of-centre tendencies are being continually ground down. There is also the panoply of special interest groups, who receive extensive government and corporate funding.

To be continued. ESR

Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.

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