January 25, 2006
JIM BENNETT offers advice for new Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
His legislative agenda probably needs to focus on government process -- transparency primarily, to decouple the Liberals' cash machine, and secondly disintermediation, to finish the end run around the CBC and the press oligopoly. The Bloc Quebecois and to some extent the New Democratic Party can get behind that agenda, even if as leftists they cannot support much of the Conservative substance.
But aside from that, the Prime Minister's office is a pretty good bully pulpit, and he would be smart to use it to start deconstructing the Trudeavean deconstruction of the old Canada. He should make sure the Canadian troops in Afghanistan are decorated in a visible and public ceremony, exactly what has been denied to them to date. He should make a show of honoring the Canadian WWII veterans conspicuously and repeatedly, and having a substantial ceremony on every one of the big Canadian military anniversaries: Vimy, Dieppe, D-Day, etc. He might bring back the Red Ensign in a historical context -- ordering it flown as a "veteran's memorial flag" on select days like D-Day, and for Canadian ships to fly the Blue Ensign on a suitable day as well, maybe November 11th. It would be very hard for people to criticize him for remembering the veterans more conspicuously. And perhaps he might even consider a surprise visit to the forces in Afghanistan. . . .
The Liberals and the media are waiting for him to become a "clone of America" -- but by taking an Anglospherist tack he can throw them off balance and turn the negative Canadian nationalism (in the form of anti-Americanism) into positive Canadian patriotism. America (and the Anglosphere) doesn't need a lackey of America on its northern border -- it needs a neighbor that has abandoned its touchy defensiveness and can take its proper place in the English-speaking community, of which it used to be a leading member.
I'm certainly no expert on Canadian politics -- though I think that increased transparency has already helped matters -- but I encourage interested parties to read the whole thing.