Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber may have been tactless when he spoke of the “stupidity of the American voter,” but I suspect he might have trotted out the same insult had he surveyed the West in general or the Canadian electoral scene in particular. After all, Canada, a comparatively peaceable country that regards itself as an “honest broker” in international affairs and a beacon of cultural—and multicultural—enlightenment, is fundamentally no different from other Western countries marching down the Hayek Highway. I have written before of the collective foolishness of a presumably educated nation installing a majority Liberal government to manage its affairs despite the readily available evidence of the social and economic malaise that left/liberal politics have inflicted on Western democracies. A cursory reconnaissance of the U.S., the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Scandinavian countries and others should have sounded a clear warning to Canadians, or at any rate to anyone still capable of cerebral functioning.
But no. We fell for the media hatefest against the Conservative party and its leader Stephen Harper, while subscribing to our own version of “hope and change” as represented by the jejune and deceptive Justin Trudeau and his troupe of trendy mediocrities strutting on the national stage. How could we have travelled this route? As David Mamet points out in The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, we “reject any request for information about the actual mechanics of this ‘Change,’ by referring to ‘Hope’.” Unfortunately, hope is not a policy or a platform, and it is certainly not an expression of a practicable future. It should come as no surprise, then, that electoral promises have been duly and rapidly broken in favor of vanity projects and that a host of destructive policies have been legislated, or are about to be legislated. To take a number of examples:
- By introducing Bill C-14, the Liberals have reified their advocacy for physician-assisted dying, depriving doctors and health professionals of moral choice on the issue. Claiming a “deep respect” for Parliament, they have nevertheless imposed substantial limits on debating time.
- Trudeau is eager to engineer a change to our “first past the post” electoral system, replacing it with one of a wide variety of possible reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation and online voting. The proposed reforms, based on vote transferability and leftist coalitions, would both introduce an element of needless complexity into the electoral process and, in Canada’s multiparty system, which leans collectively to the left, virtually ensure a permanent Liberal majority. A transformation this vast should require a national referendum, but Trudeau’s minister of Democratic Institutions—a label straight out of Orwell—cites a Twitter hashtag #electoralreform as sufficient reason to sidestep a plebiscite. The 30-year-old, out-of-her-depth, Afghan-born, newly created Minister Maryam Monsef is hostile to referenda because they supposedly exclude the “marginalized.” As National Post columnist Rex Murphy comments, “Evidently, women, people of color, the disabled—build your own list—are allergic to voting in a referendum.” But she is merely doing the bidding of her leader, who intends to strike a committee, in which Canada’s one conservative party will be outnumbered 9 to 3 by left-oriented parties, to determine the best way to implement what is nothing less than a political coup. The Liberals have recently shown signs of relenting on the referendum issue, but the situation reveals their arrogant disregard of the people they presumably answer to.
- The Liberals deny that they inherited a balanced budget from the previous Conservative government and have now projected a $30 billion debt, sure to increase in the future, that will serve not only as a fiscal drain on the present but as an economic drogue on generations to come.
- Trudeau eliminated selective income splitting for families, a measure ostensibly intended to deprivilege the “wealthy” and thus burnish the party’s popular image, but obviously designed to work against the traditional family structure by making it more costly to sustain the stay-at-home wife/mother arrangement. Cost, however, is not a personal consideration for Trudeau, as it happens, heir to a multi-million dollar trust fund. The nannies looking after his children will soak the Canadian taxpayer $100,000 per annum. Indeed, when he visited Washington to confer with Obama, he was accompanied by a 44-member entourage consisting of celebrities, fundraisers, in-laws and, of course, the nannies, at taxpayers’ expense.
- Trudeau has enthusiastically endorsed the feminist agenda and established a gender-balanced cabinet, irrespective of merit or competence. The embarrassing spectacle that Chrystia Freeland, minister of International Trade, made of herself on Bill Maher's show is no accident. We can expect more of such sophomoric ineptitude in the years ahead. A government that eschews proven or demonstrable talent in favor of gender parity, much like our current universities, and hires or appoints on the basis of sex is monstrously irresponsible.
- To strengthen their “social justice” credentials as the party for the times, the Liberals, who long ago jumped on the same-sex marriage bandwagon, have, additionally, projected Bill C-16 providing for an up to two-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of fomenting “hate propaganda” against transgenders. The word “hate” clearly furnishes enormous latitude for interpretation and renders critical discourse problematic and even dangerous, now that the Criminal Code is about to be amended. It seems that freedom of expression contracts with every new piece of social legislation, by no means astonishing in a country whose left/liberal Supreme Court has already pronounced that truth is no defense in cases where offense is given to marginalized groups or individuals.
- No less damaging, Trudeau’s well-documented sympathy for Islam has resulted in the importation of many thousands of so-called “Syrian” refugees, all improperly vetted, who will swell the welfare rolls, glut an already grossly dysfunctional single-payer medical network, further disrupt a progressively concessionary educational system, and create more social havoc in the form of Sharia ghettoes and eruptions of Muslim-inspired violence. Bet on it. As Muslim reformer Tarek Fatah reports in the Toronto Sun, Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell accused him of lying and of Islamophobia (!) when Fatah testified to the Senate about Canadian mosques that feature seditious preaching against secular democracy, about Israel as “useless garbage,” and about the necessity of spilling blood. “While this was unfolding,” he continues, the Trudeau government “had authorized a $200,000 grant to a southern Ontario mosque with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
In moving decisively to the left and bringing in programs that will inevitably fray the economic fabric of the country while diluting its traditional substance, Trudeau boasts that “Canada is back”—a slogan, Murphy writes, “that’s saccharine and weirdly jingoistic at the same time,” as if his election were “a victory, not for [the] party—which it was—but for the country itself.” Such hubris is both typical and unforgivable.
Perhaps what is no less troubling is that the cultural sycophancy practiced by the Liberals has now infected the Conservative party, which, despite its objection to Liberal spending and dubious policy initiatives, has, under interim leader Rona Ambrose, slotted the same-sex marriage plank into its party platform. “I think our party got a little more Canadian today,’ Calgary MP Michelle Rempel said after the convention vote. Indeed it did, and that’s a real shame. The Conservatives didn’t stop there. Ambrose has suddenly discovered that she too is a fan of legislation to prohibit criticism of transgenderism; “who you love, how you identify,” she pontificates, “should never be cause for fear or anxiety.” Interestingly, when the Daily Caller asked if she would then support or approve of pedophilia, no reply was forthcoming. By striving to emulate the Liberals as a matter of crass and misguided expedience—as if the Liberal base comprising the general run of leftists, Muslims, aboriginals, journalists, talking heads, environmentalists and global warmists, colonies of indoctrinated students and the entitlement crowd will gratefully change their voting habits—the Conservative party has betrayed its principles and its core constituency.
The real problem, however, is not the political party or the leader in question, but the intellectual laxity of the electorate. Canadians, who have always preened themselves on their moral and intellectual superiority to Americans, in reality merely ape the customs and usages of their neighbors to the south, generally a decade or so later. Mutatis mutandis, we would have flocked to the polling stations to vote for an Obama, a Hillary or a Bernie. The Donald would have been anathema.
Admittedly, there is a rather more modest Trump-like figure on the conservative scene who seems interested in running for the leadership of the party with a view to the 2019 federal election, namely, successful businessman and TV personality Kevin O’Leary. (See CBC’s Dragons’ Den and ABC’s Shark Tank.) Responding to questions about a potential leadership bid, O’Leary said he was not prepared to sit in perpetual Opposition, preferring to wait until he sees whether the party is willing to jettison the political hacks who led it to defeat. “I'm proud of the country,” he continued, but “I'm depressed that it's not competitive and I see so much incompetence, mediocrity and stupidity when it comes to managing it and I'm just tired of it.” Like Trump, O’Leary is nothing if not confident. “One way or another,” he says, “I'm going to figure out how to fix it.” But in the present narcoleptic milieu his prospects are probably slight.
Ten years hence the country may wake up, as innumerable U.S. citizens appear to be doing today. This is assuming we still have a country that is anything like the country we used to have. Given an oppressive direct and indirect tax structure, the proliferation of “hate speech” laws, the discursive ravages of political correctness, the faux “social justice” agenda, the malignant influence of feminism on business, government, the courts and the academy, the ongoing inroads of Islam into the body politic and the culture at large, the faddish convictions of the intellectual and artistic communities swimming with the brackish tides, and the flaccid surrender of the public to these toxic developments—including the reluctance to seek out and process reliable information, as Mamet intimated—the issue is alarmingly moot.
To arrive at reasonably dependable insights for one’s political thinking, one needs to distrust any single media outlet and take the time to review multiple sources in order to factor out feasible assumptions in making political choices. It takes work, civic dedication and the willingness to pay attention. Laziness is not an option. A rudimentary knowledge of history is also essential. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in a January 6, 1816 letter to Colonel Charles Yancey: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free…it expects what never was and never will be.” This is true not only of the American republic but of any democratic nation, and Canada is no exception. Lacking a vigilant and enlightened citizenry, there can only be worse to come.
Decree by government decree, the ship of state is listing ever further portside, abetted by the shifting weight to the left of a lumpen public. This is how a once-proud nation must eventually founder. Captivated by a liberal/socialist media consortium and unwilling to do our homework, we have become increasingly sanctimonious and uninformed, denizens of Gruberland. Even hockey may not save us.