The passing away of traditional Canada (Part One)
By Mark Wegierski
On November 2, 2019, I attended the Annual Alumni Dinner of the University of Toronto Schools (UTS), which I had attended for six years in 1973-1979 (Grades 7 and 8, and four enriched /intensive years of high school). (Four years at that time was clearly also an accelerated program, as Grades 9-13 were then standard in Ontario.) UTS had been founded in 1910 as a “model” school for gifted male students. (The plural in the name refers to the fact that a separate school for girls had originally been planned, but actually didn’t materialize.) UTS became a co-educational school in 1973. Entrance to UTS is determined by competitive examinations, for which there are usually ten times more applicants writing than places available. In 1973, it was even more competitive, as 50% of the places had been reserved for girls. The incoming year at that time consisted of about 70 persons. The tuition fees in the 1970s were about $300 (Canadian) a year. The tuition fees now are about $27,000 (Canadian) a year. One of the reasons for this is that, in the early 1990s, the socialist New Democratic Party government of Ontario withdrew all public funding to the school, because of accusations of “elitism”. Actually, UTS now could be seen as just another expensive private school. The student body now consists of about half East Asians, and a quarter South Asians, in marked contrast to the 1970s, when it was mainly white. The Alumni Dinner brought forth in me gloomy reflections on how everything traditional is passing away in the current-day Canada. This passing away is certainly reflected in the recent federal election.
The October 21, 2019, Canadian federal election (conducted under the “first-past-the-post” system) brought to power a still strong minority Liberal government. The Liberals won 157 out of 338 seats mostly from Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces (which amounted to 33.1% of the country’s popular vote). The Conservatives won 121 seats (34.4% of the popular vote) based mainly on truly overwhelming support from Western Canada, particularly from the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The sovereigntist/separatist Bloc Quebecois won 32 seats in Quebec (running candidates only in that mostly French-speaking province of Quebec), which was 7.7% of the countrywide popular vote. The New Democratic Party (NDP), Canada’s social democrats, won 24 seats (15.9 % of the popular vote) – and their support is expected to be crucial for the continuation of the Liberal minority government. The Green Party won three seats (6.5 % of the popular vote). There was one independent MP elected – Jody Wilson-Raybould – who had been kicked out of the Liberal caucus as a consequence of the SNC-Lavalin scandal. She claimed she had been unduly pressured as the Attorney-General to intervene preferentially on behalf of that firm. Also, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), Maxime Bernier, who had formed the PPC as a decidedly more conservative alternative to the Conservatives, was defeated by a Conservative in the Quebec riding of Beauce. Bernier had been the sole MP for that party, and, given the fact that no other PPC MPs were elected, that party now has no representation in Parliament, while winning only 1.64% of the countrywide popular vote. The over-all turnout in the federal election was 66% of eligible Canadian voters.
The 2019 federal election could be read as a confirmation of the long-term left-leaning trend in Canada. Although Justin Trudeau was caught in a blackface/brownface scandal (from his earlier days), it had comparatively little impact on the election. Justin Trudeau is the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who was Canada’s Prime Minister from 1968-1984 (except for the Progressive Conservative Joe Clark’s nine months in 1979-1980). Pierre Trudeau was clearly the architect of the present left-liberal Canada, especially through the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982), into the Canadian constitutional structure, which essentially set in stone Trudeau’s most cherished principles as the highest law of the land. Pierre Trudeau enacted such policies as multiculturalism, high immigration policies, and bilingualism (the promotion of French), which no succeeding Prime Minister has challenged. Pierre Trudeau had been a Communist sympathizer, but ended up being an exemplary left-liberal and “cultural Marxist” – thoroughly re-shaping Canada according to his political preferences. Pierre Trudeau used the near-dictatorial power of the Canadian Prime Ministership to effect decisive, transformational change to the Canadian polity. Much of his success was based on the rock-solid support from Quebec in all of his federal elections.
It could be argued that, over the last five-and-a-half decades, the Canadian Right has failed to articulate a “counter-ethic” to the now-prevalent “Liberal idea of Canada” and is therefore on the road to extinction as a political power. The origins of the decline of the Canadian Right can be traced to the battles from 1963 to 1968 between Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and the staunch Tory John Diefenbaker (who was Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963), and the initial burst of “Trudeaumania” in 1968 to 1972.
The crucial 1963 election was a conflict between a more traditional vision of Canada represented by Diefenbaker, and the “modernizing” tendencies represented by Pearson. It was, as George Parkin Grant, Canada’s leading traditionalist philosopher called it in the subtitle of his famous book, Lament for a Nation (1965), a “defeat of Canadian nationalism”. Pearson, for example, brought in the so-called “points” immigration system, which was a stepping away from a European origins focused immigration system. He also enacted Canada’s first bilingualism policies. Trudeau continued and expanded these “modernizing” tendencies, winning a huge majority in the 1968 federal election.
It was in those years that a more traditional Canada was fundamentally overturned, especially as symbolized by the adoption of the new flag, dubbed the “Pearson Pennant”, in 1965 – and with attendant, vast social engineering initiatives.
The culmination of “the Trudeau revolution” was the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982), which, for example, entrenched multiculturalism as a central Canadian principle, and embraced the idea of government initiatives on behalf of “historically disadvantaged” groups. The social framework of Canada had been changed so drastically by that time that Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative majorities of 1984 and 1988 mostly ended up implementing what the Left advocated, such as affirmative action policies (called “employment equity” in Canada), and a strengthened Multiculturalism Act. Mulroney also raised immigration levels to a quarter-million persons a year, whereas they had actually fallen to 54,000 persons in Pierre Trudeau’s last year in office (1983-1984). The immigration levels were never subsequently lowered below a quarter-million persons a year, and now the Liberals are promising to accept a million immigrants in three years (or roughly 330,000 per year). Canada’s current population is around 37.6 million.
To be continued.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.