Thursday, 27 March 2008

Amazing Grace

One of the privileges of being enrolled on Canada's "Politically Endangered Species" list is the right to submit nominations for membership. I therefore nominate Kevin Michael Grace as a worthy addition to the ranks of those conservatives who understand that current Canadian conservatism has become the ideological equivalent of chronic uremia.

Grace, a Toronto-born, Victoria-based freelance journalist, maintains the Ambler, a blog-like archive of musings on Canadian culture and politics. Many of the entries are devoted to a stylish and devastating deconstruction of neo-Con pretence. In his 2002 piece, "Fear and (Self)Loathing on the Canadian Right", he quotes right-wing Canadian Jamie Glazov's representative neo-Con virulence:

"Canada's destiny--being absorbed into the American empire--is much closer than we think. As a Canadian, I can hardly wait. I must admit: the supremacy of globalization and free trade fills me with an intoxicating sense of glee. After all, the victory of unrestrained international capitalism translates into market forces running unhindered in Canada, which, in turn, translates into a diminishment of Canadian 'sovereignty'--that absurd joke that has imposed socialized health care, federal funding of bilingualism and multiculturalism, and other intellectually-bankrupt policies, onto heavily-burdened Canadian taxpayers."

Grace later relays the reaction to Canada's post-9/11 debasement of Dr. William Christian, Tory historian and George Grant biographer:

Prof. Christian laughed when he was asked about the future of Canada because "I'm much more pessimistic after the World Trade Center bombings than I've ever been. The process of assimilating the two countries is accelerating far more rapidly than I ever thought possible: in the military, in the customs union, in economics, dollarization. When Chretien led the other four leaders to the WTC site, I thought it was almost a political abasement. And never has the Canadian media been so servile."

Grace then quotes Dr. William Gairdner, old-school conservative and passionate anti-Trudeau militant:

Mr. Gairdner argues that the Canadian Right is not conservative. "It is now outrè to suggest there is such a thing as the 'good life,' that a common vision of it is even possible and that civil society and all its institutions should be conscious of that. Autonomous individualism has replaced conservatism."

Grace ends with a reflection from B.C. publisher Karl Siegler:

[Siegler] argues that Canada's disappearing sovereignty is not the fault of the Right. Rather, it is "the fault of the liberals, and I mean that in every sense of the word, and both small and large 'L.'" The Canadian Alliance, he contends, is just as liberal as the Liberals...Liberals are flexible, 'forward-looking' and 'progressive.' They are historical positivists. They believe in inevitability, like the 'inevitability' of Canada merging with the United States."

As engaging as his real journalism is Grace's more "gonzo", first-person mode. This from a 2005 skewering of Rachel Marsden:

My question for members of the "conservative movement" in America or Canada is this: What are the benefits of membership? If tribal solidarity ("us vs them") is your thing, there are other, far more rewarding binary divisions: Yankees vs Red Sox, Eskimos vs Stampeders, Celtics vs Rangers, Coke vs Pepsi, dogs vs cats... Conservative movementarians will reply that their membership demonstrates they are on the side of prudence vs recklessness, right vs wrong and even good vs evil, but I remain unpersuaded. What has the conservative movement ever done to make America and Canada better places? And no, I don't mean the phantom accomplishment of growing the Gross Domestic Product, whatever that might be.

Grace and I are not always in harmony (for instance, a recent offering suggests that he is a modest admirer of the late Enoch Powell; I am not), and his output seems to have slowed considerably of late. His site is richly and deeply archived, though, and so much of what he says desperately needs saying. Ultimately, Grace manages to make this lonely Tory feel just a little less alone.


Red Tory said...

I have to say, that selection of quotes certainly brought a smile to my face and warmed my cold heart just a little.

I feel ashamed for being unaware of this person. But I'll quickly remedy that situation...

Thanks for bringing him to light.

Sir Francis said...

...that selection of quotes certainly brought a smile to my face and warmed my cold heart just a little.

Cheaper than Glenfiddich, and better for ye. Cheers!

Aeneas the Younger said...

I've linked to "The Ambler" as well. He's a crusty bugger for sure, but his instincts are very well-honed ... so far.


Did you ever read the "The Idler" back in the late '80's and early '90's? That was the last Periodical with a vestigal connection to toryism - that I can recall anyway ...

Sir Francis said...


I've heard of it, but I've never read it. Wasn't David Warren its editor (or was he just one of its main writers)? Warren is fully neo-Con now, of course...