The passing away of traditional Canada (Part Three)
By Mark Wegierski
In the October 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau (Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s son) won a strong majority. Actually, the number of persons who voted Conservative diminished only slightly from the 2011 election, but a massive number of young people and minorities (many of whom had never voted before) delivered the majority to Trudeau. Among Justin’s signature policies was the full legalization of cannabis. Some of Justin’s most important pronouncements were his declarations that “Canada is a post-national state” and that there is no “core Canadian identity”. In 2019, Justin Trudeau won a strong minority government, but it will probably be largely beholden to the NDP, which is even further left.
The Conservative leader Andrew Scheer notably failed to win the support of Ontario and Atlantic Canada. One of the main reasons for his failure was Liberal scaremongering about his “social conservatism”, i.e., that he would try to introduce restrictions on abortion, and try to rollback gay rights. Scheer repeatedly said he would not try to introduce restrictions on abortion, and that he fully supported same-sex marriage. He was also accused of cozying up to racists. He made a strong address to his party condemning racism. His campaign was also hurt by the allegations that he misrepresented himself as an insurance agent in his resume, as well as by the revelation that he was still a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen. (His father was an American.) Scheer also clearly lacked charisma.
It is interesting to consider what might have happened had Maxime Bernier won the leadership of the Conservative Party, back in 2017. Indeed, Scheer had won the leadership by a very slim margin at that time. Subsequently, he managed to alienate Bernier to the extent that the Quebec MP decided to form his own party – the PPC. One could speculate that Bernier would have done better than Scheer against Justin Trudeau.
It could be argued that one of the central reasons for the continuing failure of the Canadian Right since the 1960s is the operation of vast liberal-leaning media, juridical, academic, educational, bureaucratic, and corporate structures. This is a nexus of interests which certain American and European critics have called “the managerial-therapeutic regime” – which could be characterized as socially liberal and economically conservative. There is also the fact that “North American” pop-culture is the primary “lived cultural reality” for most people in Canada, which tends to reinforce socially liberal, consumerist/consumptionist, and antinomian attitudes, especially among the young. Unlike in most other Western countries, where various countervailing factors to the hegemony of the managerial-therapeutic regime are still in play, Canada exemplifies a managerial-therapeutic system in its “purest” form. Some of these countervailing factors in the United States which Canadians lack are the saliency of the military, the major presence of organized religion (both in regard to fundamentalist Protestants and traditionalist Catholics), homeschooling as a major social trend, the existence of probably hundreds of more traditional-leaning private colleges, and a large network of right-leaning think-tanks and publications. Together, these are part of what some have called the “Right Nation.” At the same time, the United States has a more robust tradition of independent-minded, left-wing, anti-corporate, ecological, or agrarian dissent, such as that typified by Ralph Nader, Christopher Lasch, Rachel Carson, Helen and Scott Nearing, and Wendell Berry. It could be argued that social, political, cultural, and economic life in Canada – lacking, in fact, either an authentic Right or Left -- has therefore become the least subject to popular will and democratic input, indeed, it could be called “post-democratic.” The lack of robust democratic participation and input in Canada should be of concern to theorists across the political spectrum. Insofar as the system maintains itself through massive “prior constraint” against a very broad array of ideas, beliefs, and opinions, its pretense to be upholding democracy is questionable. Such a profound lack of equilibrium is profoundly harmful to a more “ideal-typical” form and exercise of democracy.
There are also a number of structural and cultural political problems in which the Canadian Right has been and is embroiled, most notably, their lack of appeal in 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 the Right. Canadian conservatives clearly have a small appeal to newer immigrant groups (the so-called “visible minorities”). However, there is probably comparatively little they could do to increase this appeal to groups that view themselves and mobilize politically as outsiders. The Canadian situation is markedly different than the situation in the United States, especially in regard to the extent of highly principled “minority conservatives” in both countries.
Given the direction of development of historical, social, cultural, and economic processes in Canada over the last five-and-a-half decades, it could be seen that the Canadian Right is approaching extinction in Canada. As a result of the “Trudeau revolution” which has created the so-called “Trudeaupia”, Canada is one of the most “politically-correct” countries on the planet.
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 but occasionally show efforts at fiscal belt-tightening. There are indeed discernible plutocratic aspects to the current-day Canada, and quite a few persons who are unemployed or under-employed in what is to a considerable number of unlucky individuals a “hyper-competitive” environment.
The only realistic hope for resistance to the Left in Canada may be the building up of regionalist alternatives, which still seems possible in Western Canada. The recent federal election reveals a clear regional divide, and there is now talk of a so-called “Wexit” (Western exit). Also, Quebec separatism appears to be surging, given the 2019 federal election result. Perhaps the only way the country could be made more tolerable to social traditionalists is through the success of massive decentralization initiatives.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.