Thursday, 1 January 2009

All Hail Stevie, Our Chief of Mice!: Part Two

Well, that's that. The God-fearing, clean-living folk of Stephen Harper's "Conservative" Party have celebrated the nativity of their saviour, the Prince of Peace, in traditional North American fashion--by gingerly stepping over hordes of homeless in the fevered pursuit of the most expensive, useless and inherently obsolescent pieces of trash for their over-privileged, entitlement-drunk spoiled brats (no doubt cursing Canada's Left-lib, Stalinist, "Euro-weenie" gun laws in the process, the lack of which makes American holiday shopping just that much more darn exciting).

Now that they've survived yet another degrading few days of having to pretend that their ethic of wretched hyper-consumption, nihilist relativism, free-market narcissism and seething xenophobia reflects something even vaguely detectable in even the minutest scintilla of the New Testament, the CPC's Christian soldiers are free to take up the task of pouring more gallons of raw partisan sewage into Canada's political waters, a task suspended earlier this month by their leader's decision to dissolve the company he works for after the majority of its shareholders made clear their legal and legitimate desire to fire his fat, arrogant ass (notice that, as a rare courtesy, I have put that parliamentary travesty in terms even the CPC's politically illiterate neo-liberals can understand).

I have recently come into possession of a CPC caucus memo, written and distributed by the PMO's Communications unit, which outlines in astounding detail the party's expectations for its caucus once the new session begins later this month. I offer it here as an exercise in the kind of transparency and accountability to which the CPC has committed itself since its whoreson Frankenstein conception in 2003.

Naturally, I cannot divulge the manner or source of my acquisition. I will say only that, in a city whose Chapters stores refuse to stock Mein Kampf, the Aryan, hard-core operatives of a certain government party with an interesting past can be easily bribed by anyone with an extensive and eclectic library. The memo follows:

Firstly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper (who really, really likes Canada, by the way!) hopes everyone had a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and whatever the Muslim thing is (if there is anything). Additionally, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wishes the best of the New Year to those of you who are atheists or who worship some worthless heathen idol, though you'll burn eternally in Hell.

To all of you, and especially to the 85% of you consigned to the backbenches for being precisely the kind of simian cretin whose higher public profile would devastate the party's electability everywhere south-east of Red Deer, Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants you to know that he will continue to save you the trouble of thinking, acting and voting on behalf of yourselves and your constituents by monopolising every aspect of party policy and parliamentary strategy, liberating you folks to gambol around Ottawa's golf courses, squash courts and wine bars and providing Canadian taxpayers with the kind of value for money they must expect from a government-hating government such as ours.

People, the need to maintain our discipline is more important now than ever. Now is not the time to gloat crassly and obnoxiously over our considerable accomplishments. Leave that to our leader. Rather, bend yourselves to the task of building on our achievements.

Yes, we've come far indeed. We've managed to convince Canada's angry rubes and lumpen-suburbia that we, a clutch of careerist lawyers with the civic ethos of the Medellin cartel, actually give a fuck about their issues.

We've managed to palm ourselves off as "small-government" conservatives while actually bloating the size of the state up to a magnitude that makes Enver Hoxha's Albania look like a paragon of managerial efficiency.

We've managed a viable impersonation of a "reform-minded" party while doling out metric tonnes of pork to partisan flunkies, while kicking up into the Upper Chamber more lazy, undeserving, patently unqualified hacks than any other ministry ever dared, and, most amazingly, while arbitrarily suspending the only one of our reforms that was actually blessed with cross-partisan support.

We've managed to persuade voters that the party that kept Canada's books balanced for over a decade and virtually eliminated its debt is less worthy of steering the nation through rough economic waters than a government whose front bench boasts the collective fiscal expertise of the Whitehorse Rotary Club and whose Finance Minister runs his own ministry like a private cut-price candy store for CPC lickspittles.

Really, one wonders how much of this sick farce we could have sustained without Canada's lapdog media. Now that we've made it a policy to reward brazenly biased journalism with lucrative, tax-funded emoluments, we can all look forward to watching even more journalists attaching their lips, barnacle-like, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ample, KFC-fed backside.

Nevertheless, all of this could be lost by the casual inadvertence of even the most negligible of you insignificant maggots. Therefore, the PMO has seen fit to supply you with a few modest tactical tips to help you be the best CPC lemming you can be.

Remember, the rewards are great: perform well, and the party will dunk you into the oceanic bliss of North America's wide and generous business élite, guaranteeing you years of lucrative, indolent corporate directorships and seats on the executive boards of farcical "think tanks" for the especially ambitious. Fuck up, and the party will heave your sorry carcass onto the most immediately available Greyhound bus en route to Beaver Dick, Saskatchewan, where you may resume representing trailer-park crack dealers at their parole hearings. It's your choice:

1. It appears that too many of you are unfamiliar with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's full title. This is unfortunate, as he requires it to be used by any and all commoners who wish to ask permission to address him. Using this title will help you avoid embarrassment. For your information, then, we provide you with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's full title, which we urge you to memorise and use as often as possible (making the Sign of the Cross after each iteration is, of course, totally optional). The title is thus: "His Most Serene Excellency, Dearest Leader of Canada's Eternally "New" Government and, By the Grace of God, Prime Minister for Life and Honorary Earl of Calgary-Upon-Petrol, Stephen Harper".

2. Be advised that, in these fiscally uncertain times, the PMO will insist that all CPC caucus members show solidarity with thrifty, hard-working Canadians by cutting outlays from their Parliamentary allowances to the bone. Frivolous expenditures will not be tolerated. This applies not just to you Members of Parliament, but also to your staffs, limousine drivers, psychic hairdressers, Cordon Bleu chefs, Thai masseuses, yoga instructors, lawyers on retainer in case the Liberals ever say nasty things about you, Governors General you've attached to your household to keep the old lady amused, and any private detectives you've engaged to dig up dirt on Opposition members.

3. For God's sake, remember that we're the geniuses who gave Canada the "Tackling Violent Crimes Act". Therefore, please refrain from any mention of Omar Khadr. The last thing we want to do is remind people that, while we hate the idea of a male adult having sex with a sixteen-year-old boy, we're perfectly happy with the idea of male adults torturing a sixteen-year-old boy.

4. We've had many inquiries concerning how best to handle the homeless people one encounters on the way to Parliament Hill. Of course, if you take your limousine, Humvee, or Cadillac Escalade to work, like civilised people, you will not need to encounter them.

If you insist on walking to work, however, please do not taunt the poor buggers by saying, "That's what you get for being an Indian," as has been reported of many of you (our Dear Leader has had the painful duty of correcting his learned friend Dr. Flanagan quite sharply on this point).

You would be spending your energy much more constructively if you simply invited the Indian in question to buy some stocks and bonds (available for a song in this bear market) and invest in his nation's wealth--just like our Dear Leader's mother--instead of leeching on it. When offering this free advice, be sure not to provide too many details, as spoon feeding the wretch too much helpful information may depress that spirit of enterprise which is so crucial in today's increasingly competitive market environment. Remember: the chap needs a hand up, not a hand out.

5. Please do more to advance our party's cultural programme. Yes, we're well on the way to snuffing out the weakly flickering flame of domestically produced art and entertainment, but some of you seem inadequately committed to ensuring that, soon, every adult Canadian will enjoy a cultural horizon defined by the current season of American Idol. There yet remain Canadian writers, producers, directors, actors and artists labouring away on projects designed specifically for Canadians with average to above-average IQ's rather than for the jaded, Budweiser-sodden denizens of the American Rust Belt. This cannot continue.

Clearly, we have not convinced enough Canadians that their artists, competing against foreigners who enjoy a domestic market ten times the size of their own, are the inert, slothful, loathsome parasites we know them to be. Many Canadians still seem to feel that spending a pittance to help a few Canadian artists live on the sunny side of poverty makes more sense than spending a billion dollars on a lost war that Canadians never wanted. Silly people. But what can you expect from a bunch of second-tier, "Northern European" socialists?

Anyways, just try to hate Canadian stuff a little more. We've asked Rob Anders to head up a task force on this issue, and we expect him to report back soon with a methodology by which we can all focus our hatred more effectively. For a start, Mr. Anders has drawn up a sweeping new re-design for the National Gallery: in Phase One, it shall be stripped of its obsolete, élitist European "art"; in Phase Two, Kindergarten children shall be asked to cover its walls with crudely drawn crayon sketches of Ronald Reagan, George Wallace, and P.W. Botha.

We'll keep you posted as things evolve.


Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

A good New Year's rant. Welcome to 2009. I'm glad you found that little CPC caucus memo.

I especially appreciated the extensive annotation, as it provides a sense of academia to the piece.

I like the PM's full title. Makes him seem vaguely Shah of Iran like.

"His Most Serene Excellency, Dearest Leader of Canada's Eternally "New" Government and, By the Grace of God, Prime Minister for Life and Honorary Earl of Calgary-Upon-Petrol, Stephen Harper"

I further am impressed that you have recognized how the CPC has fully engaged the public into believing that the previous Liberal ogvernment were incompetent money managers. It is truly a significant accomplishment.

I do have a quibble with a few things. Firstly, the attempt to make it seem the media has been bought and paid for is worth a snigger or ten. The media sees themselves as the opposition to the sitting government and under that mantle (is that martin or sable?) has tried to embarrass the government at every opportunity. How many tempests in teacups have their been? twisted stories and harsh lighting? The press conferences where the questions begin with some nasty innuendo are particularly precious and show (sarcasm on) the obvious media fauning over our PM. Clearly these snivelling journalists are all just Harper's boot lickers (sarcasm off).

Secondly, the business about the CPC shovelling out the pork to all their hangers on and supporters is a little short of facts. Once you withdraw the Senate appointments, which you MUST, there is very little evidence in comparison against previous governments which were notorious for their bloated, porky coat tails.

Your attempt to show how this governemnt is "snuffing out the weakly flickering flame of domestic art" is a little weak itself. However I am glad you support Margaret Atwood and other artistic millionaires in their character assassination of the PM and his party. You are showing excellent artistic taste. Unlike me, who likes to watch Corner Gas.

The last thing worth adding is that much of what you wrote would be worn just as snuggly by the previous Liberal government. I guess this makes political commentary to be about rhetoric more than substance.

Larry Gambone said...

I have often asked "What in earth is "conservative" about the Conservative Party?" I never get a reply from their ideologues. Certainly not the conservatism I grew up with - John Diefenbaker, W. A. C. Bennett etc.

Tomm said...


I had a discussion with Aeneas the Younger last year about this and it appears that "classical" Liberalism (re: John Stuart Mill and John Locke) is actually what we are calling both CPC and LPC these days. In fact, if you review their writings you will likely notice that the LPC (at least under Dion) might be too socialist than what would be considered classical Liberalism. However, our host is likely to comment on your post and my comments.

Is that helpful?

Sir Francis said...

I especially appreciated the extensive annotation, as it provides a sense of academia to the piece.

I believe you're referring to what the kids call "hotlinks" (clickable text) rather than to "annotations" in the strict sense. In fact, I think you really meant "citations".

In any case, if I ever do start using footnotes, it will be merely a self-consciously pedantic way to goad my pretend-populist readers into calling me "elitist", out of which I always get a kick.

The media sees themselves as the opposition to the sitting government and...has[sic] tried to embarrass the government at every opportunity.

Other than reporting occasions when the government has embarrassed itself, I cannot recall a recent media-inspired anti-Harper vendetta. Could you be more specific?

Perhaps you could find an equivalent of the embarrassing tape of Dion that CTV played, and re-played and re-played ad nauseam for a dozen news cycles during the last election.

How many tempests in teacups have their[sic] been?

Very few. The real question is, "How many real tempests have been ignored?". Why hasn't Harper been forced by the media to explain what he meant by "financial considerations"? Do we care whether a prime minister participated in bribery?

How hard have the media been on Harper's decision to drag political opponents into court, like some kind of dime-store ambulance chaser?

How hard were the media on Harper's decision to appoint as his first Minister of Public Safety a man who has had public, freely acknowledged ties to anti-Semites?

How hard was the media on Harper's decision to appoint an obvious moron as Minister for Foreign Affairs purely for political reasons, a man who was discovered to have left sensitive documents lying about the apartment of a former bikers' moll?

The fact, Tomm, is this: the media would have crucified Chretien or Martin if they had conducted any of their ministries as carelessly and amateurishly as Harper has. Why? Because the media would have expected more of the Liberals, Canada's "Natural Governing Party". Harper got a pass because the media had low expectations and thus have consistently treated his gaffes with nothing more virulent than patronising condescension, and certainly never with the exuberant derision they have often deserved.

Hell, Harper literally ran away from Parliament, and the media just shrugged and said, "Well, that's that Harper fella for ya! He's a slippery one, I tells ya". Diefenbaker, Pearson, Trudeau, Mulroney, or Chretien would have been verbally hung from a lamp post for doing such a thing.

Stevie's your boy, Tomm, and you flinch whenever he's roughly handled, even when the roughness is fair and deserved. You're like a mother watching her favourite boy play hockey: every check, no matter how legitimately applied, is going to seem penalty-worthy to you. Please take the negligible trouble of appearing to respect my intelligence by at least acknowledging that basic fact.

The press conferences where the questions begin with some nasty innuendo...

Harper holds press conferences? Since when? Do you mean the scripted, staged farces that are meant to pass for press conferences? Come on.

...the business about the CPC shovelling out the pork to all their hangers on and supporters is a little short of facts...

I'm sorry. Did you read the link I supplied? Harper made over a dozen purely partisan appointments to federal boards and commissions, on top of the Senate fiasco.

Once you withdraw the Senate appointments, which you MUST...

...and why MUST I? Apart from Duffy and Wallin, the other 16 new Senators were CPC operatives, bagmen and failed electoral candidates. Pure, cynical pork.

Bottom line: my take on this is that Duffy and Wallin got dunked into the public trough for skewing their journalism and thus whoring themselves. Is your take that Duffy and Wallin are among the best legal minds in the country and that Parliament just cannot do without their wisdom and expertise?

There is very little evidence in comparison against previous governments...

Precisely. The evidence strongly suggests that Harper is as corrupt and unprincipled as his predecessors. The real tragedy is that you don't mind.

I am glad you support Margaret Atwood and other artistic millionaires...

I couldn't give tuppence for Margaret Atwood; I'm not aware of her "character assassination of the PM" (unless that's your way to say, "expressing a critical opinion"); I've never met nor heard of an "artistic millionaire" (though Bill Gates may, for all I know, be a water-colour enthusiast); and those paltry few Canadian writers who have managed to make a living strictly through their work (like Atwood) have done so because they have produced something that millions of people have wished to buy, and I cannot understand why you resent the operation of basic business principles when they benefit someone who writes good books that will be relevant for centuries (like Atwood) rather than someone who makes cheap garbage that will break within months (like a typical electronics manufacturer). Is the process of gaining wealth through worthwhile means too "elitist" for you?

If I support anyone, I support the thousands of Canadian artists who work hard for painfully low remuneration (barely enough to be considered blue-collar, the class of folks you want us to think you care about), who get little help in competing against American products whose massive domestic demand provides a de facto unfair subsidy, and who now have to put up with the obnoxious scapegoating of Canada-hating Vandals who think Wall Street and Bay Street and their amoral, free-market vermin like Bernard Madoff are the only worthwhile generators of social wealth. That's whom I support. Whom do you support, Tomm?

The last thing worth adding is that much of what you wrote would be worn just as snuggly[sic] by the previous Liberal government.

I abominate both parties equally, the CPC slightly more so because they presume to wear and consistently violate the name of a political philosophy I happen to hold dear.

I guess this makes political commentary to be about rhetoric more than substance.

My dear Tomm, when our politicians start providing substance rather than mere rhetoric, the commentary shall follow suit. Trust me.

Larry Gambone said...

Not really, Tomm. J.S. Mill has no relation to the present CPC crowd, though some on the left of the LPC might find their roots there. Mill declared himself in favour of socialism, which I can't see little Stevie abiding. As for Locke, his philosophy - like that of Smith and Ricardo later, was to apply to INDIVIDUALS, and not the vast collectivities called corporations which the Harpocrits shill for. Furthermore, classical liberals like Gladstone and Bright were motivated by ethics and as such were the great reformers of their age. The modern "conservatives" are motivated by a desire not to improve the lives of the ordinary person, but to undermine their condition. Furthermore, the classical liberals were the great minds of their era, the CPC- a greater collection of mediocrities and ignoramuses one could not find anywhere. If the CPC is rooted in classical liberalism, it is one that is devoid of its ethics, intellect, historic practice and beliefs - a mere rhetoric of free markets with a huge dollop of Social Darwinism and fundamentalist "Christian" authoritarianism.

Ti-Guy said...

Happy New Year, Sir Francis. I'll always admire the care, patience and time you devote to responding to the distracted, confused, intellectually slothful liars who challenge your arguments with nothing more than gain-saying and belligerent stupidity.

You're a better person than I am.

Tomm said...


You clearly have information and a position. I was not as enamored with Gladstone, Cobden and Bright as you are. I am not sure there is much they represent that reflects on Canadian political labelling today.

If I may, there are some parallels with the CPC where the British liberals can be used to compare the CPC v. LPC. Firstly, Gladstone and Bright were both very strong Christians and also strongly in favor of promoting the church. Secondly, they were very much for the sharing of power and moving authority and responsibility away from London. Thirdly, they were reformers, looking to change the way things functioned. I believe all three of these big ticket areas of interest are more closely aligned with the CPC than the LPC.

I will leave that with you.

Personally, I would want Harper to be more like Margaret Thatcher.

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

You asked for examples of media inspired attacks and tempests in teacups. I must leave and will return later.

And although I will readily admit I find Harper to be Canada's Prague Spring, I am disappointed you don't realize you are also seeing him through colored lenses.

Sir Francis said...

Personally, I would want Harper to be more like Margaret Thatcher.

You mean a strike-breaker and riot-instigator? Yeah, that would be neat.

Of course, Harper would also need to find a two-bit banana republic to have a comic little war with; I guess the U.S. would do in a pinch, though I would hate to see our cousins lose three wars in a row.

I will readily admit I find Harper to be Canada's Prague Spring...

You mean Stevie is, like Dubcek was, a nationalist humanist struggling to offer "socialism with a human face"? That's an odd proposition, since Harper is not a nationalist, nor a humanist, nor a socialist, nor (in the broad sense) human. :)

[Tomm, the thing I find most charming about you (and I do find you quite charming, by the way) is your technique of digging yourself a deeper hole with each comment. I think that's what drives ATY to distraction every time you two chaps get into it.]

I am disappointed you don't realize you are also seeing him through colored[sic] lenses.

Oh, there's no need to be disappointed, for I do realise that I see Harper through coloured lenses. The colour is called "Conservatism" (more specifically, "Anglo-Canadian Toryism", to distinguish it from the rootless, crypto-American mongrel the CPC espouses).

As seen through those lenses, Harper appears to be what he is--a utopian globalist neo-liberal. He is clearly not interested in healing any of the Dominion's institutions--most of them established by Canadian Tories throughout the course of the last century--that have been under attack for decades, through both malice and hostile neglect, by our liberal/Liberal/neo-liberal and provincialist élites (for whom Harper is merely the latest head-waiter).

Larry Gambone said...

Tomm, having read bios of both Gladstone and Bright, I know they were Christians. I also know they were more of the Sermon On the Mount type Christians than the hate your neighbor-mammon-loving-power-worshiping, war-mongering fundi types who make up the core of the CPC. I should add, I do not consider these people to be Christian at all. Cults of hate, mammon, war and power worship another god entirely. Or as an obscure 1960's rock 'n roller put it, "Please to meet you, hope ya guess mah name."

As for reforms. Traditionally, say from the time at least of Charles Edward Fox - another great classical liberal) reform meant acts that improved the lives and increased the liberties of the average person. Such as pensions, the 8 hour work day, the right to vote etc. CPC "reforms" do the opposite, they seek to undermine us. They are not reforms but reaction.

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

I guess I'll dig myself a little deeper yet.

By "Prague Spring" I am referring to the fresh look at our societal needs, role of government and gear changing that's required. I think Harper has been responsible for a great deal of change and even if he were defeated tomorrow (heaven forbid!), we would still find ourselves in a Canada that has been better for his work. Alexander Dubcek attempted to grant additional rights to the citizens in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization (according to Wiki). Clearly, similar to Harper's efforts. If the LPC sweeps back to power, the fresh air will be expunged and the Parlimentary windows firmly closed to these new ways of thinking about our country.

Unlike Dubcek, Harper's reforms will live beyond his Prime Ministership. He has changed the direction and attitude around the military. He has properly provided financial resources to provincial jurisdictions. He has made sure that the Senate is known as an institution that requires reform and cannot be trusted to put appropriate checks on Parliament due to partisanship. He has apologized to Canadians, twice. He has made it clear that Canada can embrace a "nation"al Quebec. He has stood up to the David Suzuki Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund in their efforts to control Canadian environmental/economic policies. He has created a new found relationship with both the US and the rest of the world. We now treat our north with more ernestness and with greater commmitment. These are things that will live beyond his time.

He has shown the federal bureaucracy that they cannot manipulate the country, at their whim without consequences (read Linda Kean, or Environment Canada). He has made it clear to the media that he will not be cowed. These are items more of the moment and specific to his government.

In regards to Margaret Thatcher. She did much more than kick Argentina in the head and stomp a few Unions, although the latter was certainly necessary. She also changed the direction of the UK economy and how they were building future wealth. This served them very well (until the recent liquidity mess).

I promised you some teacut tempests and some media inspired attacks.

Teacup tempests include Coulliard, Kean, Cadman, linking Harper with Mulrooney,

Media inspired attacks includes Julie Van Dusen's little video-shopping, and commentary critical of our military in Afghanistan (until the Liberal's capitulated). Also, Pablo's question for Mulrooney, many pieces from CP and the Toronto Star pretty much anything political from Heather Mallick. Please keep in mind that Canada has an advertising Code that requires truthfulness, accuracy and fairness. Journalists require no such code in attacking political opponents. And YES journalists do see Harper as an opponent. If journalists had to respect the advertisers code with their opinion pieces and reporting; there would clearly be less criticism of our present government.

Aeneas the Younger said...


The only thing Harper has accomplished is to hasten our absorption into the American Empire.

He is the latest fulfillment of Grant's thesis from 1965 ...

Sir Francis said...


Glad to have you stop by! How has my one-man company of Loyalist Fencibles been faring in G.W. Bush-Occupied Territory?

By the way...I've been preparing a post on James Coyne (of the notorious Coyne Affair), and I found out that the man is actually still alive. He must be ancient, of course, but he's still in his mortal coil. I can't guess what he must make of the continentalist blitherings of his son, if he even bothers to read them.

Coyne was, in my view, the last true fiscal conservative (and perhaps the last influential non-political Establishment Tory), which is to be the gist of the post.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Happy New Year!

Things are fine. I've recently taken-up Hockey again, so I do have an outlet now! I relegate myself to Martin and Ryan's blogs these days, for the most part. Good to see you posting again.

I would agree with you on the elder Coyne to a great extent, although I must confess I cannot abide the progeny. The apple rolled down a steep hill in that case.

I do hope you are wintering well.

Sir Francis said...


I guess I'll dig myself a little deeper yet.

Yup. You started in a foxhole; now you're in a mineshaft. :)

I am referring to the fresh look at our societal needs, role of government and gear changing...

The ideology behind Harper's "fresh look" has been with us since William Lyon Mackenzie and the radical wing of Upper Canada's Reform Party. To borrow a phrase once used by Arthur Meighen, Harper is nailing wooden wings onto a dead bird and expecting it to fly again.

... we...find ourselves in a Canada that has been better for his work.

"Better"? Please. Ask your neighbours whether they feel better off now than they were in January 2006.

By the way, four homicides in Calgary on the first day of the year. Four! Yeah, we've clearly become better people.

Now, you wouldn't be so tactless as to pin this crime wave on the government, of course. If Dion were prime minister, then, naturally, such an event would be a clear symptom of Liberal soft-on-crime indulgence, but blame crime on the feds if they happen to be Alberta-friendly pseudo-Cons? Heaven forfend!

Dubcek attempted to grant additional rights to the citizens in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization...Clearly, similar to Harper's efforts.

The analogy is not at all clear to me. Where are my additional "rights"? Moreover, this Tory thinks our society needs fewer "rights" and more respect for social obligations. This obsession with abstract "rights" is a liberal preoccupation with which I've never had much patience.

I'm not sure what "partial decentralization of the economy" actually means to you. Our economy was not meaningfully "centralised" in January 2006. Equalisation is still the law of the land (the brunt of which is still being borne by Ontario), and I have detected no revolutionary changes to our basic economic infrastructure--except that we've lost our surplus and are staggering head-long into Trudeaupian deficit financing.

If the LPC sweeps back to power, the fresh air will be expunged and the Parliamentary windows firmly closed to these new ways of thinking about our country.

That's an unhappy metaphor for your purposes, Tomm, since it's precisely your hero who closed not just the windows but the doors of Parliament in order to keep his white-knuckled grip on power. That's not new politics; that's old politics of the worst kind.

He has changed the direction and attitude around the military.

This I grant you. Sadly, it's been done on behalf of a futile cause and has not materially enhanced our capacity to defend ourselves (unless you think thirty new second-hand tanks will help us ward off a determined ground attack).

Our navy and air force remain disgracefully under-funded, and this is unlikely to change unless we finally get a Defence Chief from either of those arms of the Forces.

He has made sure that the Senate is known as an institution that requires reform and cannot be trusted to put appropriate checks on Parliament due to partisanship

Ah ha! "Senate reform" is one of the dead birds Meighen spoke of. It's not a new idea; it's antediluvian.

Harper is not proposing a non-partisan Chamber, by the way; he's proposing another kind of partisan Chamber, one which would defeat its very purpose. On this file, total Senate abolition--advocated by the NDP--is far bolder and probably has more support across the Prairies than Harper's fuzzy gerrymandering project.

He has apologized to Canadians, twice.

More cynical, liberal "group-hug" nonsense that has had no effect whatever. You'll notice the Aboriginal Truth Commission (or whatever Orwellian thing it's called) has broken down into fiasco.

He has made it clear that Canada can embrace a "nation"al Quebec.

Well, we've been doing that implicitly since 1867. What's different is the Pariamentary recognition that ethnicity equates to nationhood--a thoroughly divisive and repugnant notion--and the official marginalisation and abandonment of Anglophone Quebecers, who are now spiritually stateless.

Meanwhile, Quebec separatism--which that stupid motion was meant to neutralise--is as strong as ever.

He has stood up to the David Suzuki Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund in their efforts to control Canadian environmental/economic policies

Well then, he stood up to a straw man. Canada's environmental policies, like most of its policies, are formulated according to the elite's interpretation of the popular mood, not David Suzuki. You may hate the guy, but he's not controlling the government from a green-baize-covered table in a Geneva office next door to the Elders of Zion and the Masons.

Ever seen the poll results on Canadians' environmental anxieties? That's what informs federal action, and that's why Harper has been at pains to look like he gives a shit--which, as you imply, he doesn't (i.e. he's a liar).

He has created a new found relationship with both the US and the rest of the world.

Nope. Our vassalage to the States, long nurtured by Liberal regimes, remains unchanged, and the rest of the world has forgotten we exist. Since 2006, we're established no meaningful multilateral agreements or partnerships--unless you can mention one. Today, we Canadians lead nothing, are at the forefront of nothing and inspire nobody--not even ourselves.

We now treat our north with more ernestness[sic] and with greater commmitment[sic].

No we don't. Harper's "northern sovereignty" announcement was empty rhetoric. We're as thin up there as we ever were. We haven't the money. Remember, your hero has put us deep in debt.

He has shown the federal bureaucracy that they cannot manipulate the country...

With the Linda Kean disgrace, Harper showed that civil servants cannot properly do their jobs without evil consequence. Harper has demoralised the service while bloating its size. Thus, as demoralised employees are always less productive than highly motivated ones, Harper has given us the worst of both worlds--a larger but less efficient bureaucracy.

Harper has merely attempted to politicise the civil service, to turn it from a professional arm into a partisan arm. This is profoundly undemocratic, unless you think regimes that have suborned the public service to party aims--like Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, and Castro's Cuba--reflect democratic principles.

He has made it clear to the media that he will not be cowed.

But he has been cowed, repeatedly. That's what running away is--being cowed. Harper has made clear that he expects the media to act like paid-up members of the CPC.

Teacup tempests include Coulliard, Kean, Cadman...

The fact that you think a probable breach of security as a result of astounding ministerial incompetence and partisan interference in the operation of an arm's-length Dominion institution constitute "tempests in teacups" speaks to your inability or refusal to consider the facts analytically. Again, you would have been gleeful to see Martin take a media roasting on any of those issues.

Finally, you adduce a few examples of isolated media personalities saying critical things about Harper and try to roll those into a monolithic sense of "media bias". You need to take a step back from what you're proposing to see how odd that is: you seem to be arguing that any media critique of governmental policy is inherently biased, that editorialists (to whom you've limited your attacks) have an obligation to parrot the government line.

I must point out the evident difference between editorialists and mere journalists (i.e. that editorialists need to have opinions in order to do their jobs), while admitting that I can't believe I'm hearing this invocation of editorial servitude from someone who claims to have a populist perspective; does "populist" now mean "desperately wanting to believe everything the government tells me"? Did this definition obtain during the Trudeau/Chretien/Martin eras?

If it did, I'm sure you were appalled, Tomm, when the Western media establishment excoriated the Liberals on the gun registry fiasco. How dare media elites take the government to task for one of its policies? Didn't the media know its place?

I trust you sent stern letters to the CRTC demanding that right-wing talk-show hosts who frothed at the mouth about "Liberal arrogance", "Eastern bastards", and so forth be disciplined and taken off the air if necessary. If you could produce the text of such a letter in your next comment, I would be much obliged.

You and I are likely going to have to agree to disagree on this question, Tomm. I do need to add, though, that only one of us can claim to have anything remotely resembling a non-partisan perspective on this--and we both know who that is.

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

Enjoyed your response.

Of course I agree with your assertions of things not being new often just a redo of previous thoughts and actions. I certainly accept your history lesson.

I think both apologies were significant and also ground breaking. I disagree with your sense of the north. Harper truly has created a new political presence in the north (that's where I live).

In regards to WWF and Suzuki/Gore/sky is falling kool aid drinkers; we will have to disagree. Certainly if Dion had won the last election we would be well on the way to having WWF telling us what our economic 5 year plan must look like (speaking of Stalin...). Harper saved us from that.

Harper has not politicized the civil service, it was already there. His actions have put the brakes on some of the central planning dogma that was the porridge of federal promotion.

The Linda Keen affair just shows how out of touch some Federal agencies had become. The dance between regulator and nuclear energy monopoly had become an Act in the Theatre of the Absurd (both at fault). Linda Keen was allowed to give her ruling. When the Minister reviewed it, he told her to consider the other aspects and she refused to do so. Who was taking liberaties? Not the Minister, but the Chair of the Commission. Despite the "Crown" she thinks she is wearing she is still a civil servant. Not the GG quite yet. She should throw her hat in the ring though.

In regards to us being pulled and pushed based on what the media decides to tell us and how it decides to tell us, please consider the ramifications of the media manipulating public opinion before you say any more. Did you elect these guys? because I sure didn't. They can choose to report a bomb explosion in Afghanistan, but not the hospital being built. They can report on the Supreme Court decision on EI, but do so to exonerate the previous government or to implicate the present one. The power is immense and you blow off my concerns too quickly. This is a huge problem and involves every country and their respective media options.

I notice you didn't comment on "fairness, accuracy, or truthfulness".

Sir Francis said...

I notice you didn't comment on "fairness, accuracy, or truthfulness".

...because what must be said about the media's approach to those is so obvious as to be beneath both of us--namely that, when human fallibility collides with the profit motive (as they do in any enterprise, media not excepted), one must expect things to go very hard on "fairness, accuracy, or truthfulness".

Ultimately, truth is a metaphysical entity, and I doubt if it can exist in any other way but sacramentally. I no more expect truth from the Calgary Herald or the Star than I would from a deodorant advertisement--principally because they all have the same object: to sell stuff. Taking any of it at face value would be self-abasing.

Telling the truth is hard enough to do in the act of living one's daily life (just you try to be totally truthful with everyone for a whole day!), but it's virtually impossible for journalists, who are trained to be radically sceptical, who must bend to the editorial biases of their employers, who understandably resent the secretive and "spin"-dominated nature of party politics and who know that a journalist's credibility rests in his perceived incorruptibility.

Also, it's hard to be objective when there's always a Senate seat waiting for good little boys and girls. :)

About the North, I was speaking to a student last month who had just returned from the N.W.T. He claims that our latest "sovereignty" efforts are a joke, consisting of little more than the recruiting of a few more Rangers, who are so cash-strapped as to be forced to train with WWII-era .303 Lee-Enfields. My first thought was, "My God! If the Russians ever attack, let's hope we can at least amuse them to death".

I also read that the ice-breaker refitting project has been put on hold, indefinitely it seems. None of this sounds promising to me. I will have to defer to your judgment on this, of course, and would be interested to know what you're seeing on the ground up there.

A little trivia: my grandfather, an RCMP constable, was asked to go on assignment up North in 1925 (during Canada's first real effort to establish a Mounted Police presence up there). He had just proposed to my grandmother and thus, as constables needed at least five years' seniority before marrying, was planning to leave the force. He had to decline, and another man was sent in his place.

Two years later, the body of that man was found on the ground; his rifle was beside it, and the remains of his head were found a few meters away. Loneliness can be a killer--literally.

Aeneas the Younger said...


What continues to exasperate us is that you seem to think that SF and I are partisans of some political party, or personality.

We are not.

I, for one, hate the Liberal Party - its men and its methods.

I also hate the "New" Conservative Party - its men and its methods.

In any two people out here are being somewhat objective about these two entities, it be us.

You obsession with David Suzuki and the WWF is laughable. Do you really think these two "influencers" trump the power and influence of "Big Oil" in Canada? Remember now, I live in Edmonton - so you cannot bullshit me.

Where do you live anyway? Grande Prairie? Peace River? Fort McMurray? Cold Lake?

If you do, then you must realise that YOU are the outlier, and not we.

Tomm said...

Sir Francis & Aeneas,

I think I can provide relevant comment to both of you.

Firstly, I guess I've got to keep apologizing to you for assuming you are apologizing for, or agreeing with, the LPC. Although you seem well on board with their attempt to regain control of Canada's parliament. Curiously, what are you suggesting as a government? Be pragmatic here.

Let's talk about the north. The Feds have substantially strengthened the military presence, and have begun supporting attempts to better understand the environment, both as a baseline and further as a stage for monitoring against climate change impacts. They have also been working to cut some regulatory red tape regarding developments (McCrank Report), and appear motivated to settle remaining land claims (Liard, Dehcho, Akaitcho). All of this since the CPC took over power. My area of expertise resides in the environment and natural resource management areas in the NWT. Aeneas, so I guess in many ways, I can be considered a Canadian outlier.

However let's talk briefly about the World Wildlife Fund. Despite having billions of dollars (2007 income reported as $US663M), and despite knowing full well they had opportunitities to save the Yangtse River Dolphin, they did not. They were approached by people from the UK looking to research and save the dolphin back in the 80's and 90's and refused to help fund the missions or any follow-up (As it Happens-2007 I guess politics, fund raising, and leverage trumps good work. Perhaps it would interfere with their needing China for new panda pictures.

Or perhaps they were too busy....

...shaking down LaFarge for millions of dollars so that at least one cement company could save itself from a media expose on cement life cycles. And of course the leverage available to someone who can get millions of people to do what they ask them to do, i.e. Earth Hour.

Don't blow off the power of the WWF. Move to Toronto and see who carries more authority, Exxon or WWF; (or Starbucks for that matter). The WWF has become something akin to big oil in the ENGO business. I frequently run across the tremendous lobbying power of ENGOs. Often with bad or twisted information.

Global environmental solutions are not possible without US, China and the rest of the non-Kyoto planet. We all knew that in our hearts but were afraid to be seen as dinosaurs. Harper weathered a storm of media and political derision to ensure we didn't jump off the Kyoto cliff like a bunch of lemmings. That being said, I would not have done it the way he did.

Sir Francis, you said:

" must expect things to go very hard on "fairness, accuracy, or truthfulness".


"Ultimately, truth is a metaphysical entity, and I doubt if it can exist in any other way but sacramentally. I no more expect truth from the Calgary Herald or the Star than I would from a deodorant advertisement"

I guess we agree that the media is an extremely powerful tool that is used to manipulate the views and opinions of its viewers, readers and listeners. I guess I should quit laughing at the conspiracy theorists.

I am old enough and become jaded enough to look at what's under the rocks and quite frankly have come to the conclusion that Canada needed a good spring cleaning. It's getting it.

Ti-Guy said...

In any two people out here are being somewhat objective about these two entities, it be us.

Oh, come on. You are far too emotional and prejudiced to be objective about the Liberal Party and Liberals in general.

The only reason I still vote Liberal is mostly random chance; I always seem to live in a riding where the alternatives are so pathetic that the only real option is not to vote at all (which I won't do) or to leave Canada (which I've done). Frankly, I think partisan democracy simply doesn't and won't work anymore.

Frankly, I've grown tired of you Tories bemoaning the loss of your beloved tradition and blaming it on the other or on historical events none of us were around to witness, let alone influence. You should have all realised long ago that demanding appreciation for its virtues wasn't going to be enough, least of all to Conservatives themselves.

Aeneas the Younger said...

"You should have all realised long ago that demanding appreciation for its virtues wasn't going to be enough, least of all to Conservatives themselves."

This would be fair if the realities of Canadian History were not whitewashed out of the Books over the last 40 years. Whether they were washed out as part of a conscious and applied programme is a matter of debate. Denying that a conscious teaching and recognition of our Political Culture was scrubbed-away cannot be denied - be it a crime of commission or omission. The deed was still done.

Canadians see the effigy of the Monarch on our currency everyday, and yet some still don't understand that she is our Head of State. That is only an example, Ti-Guy; I can find many other examples that do not touch on the Monarchy, or matters of British heritage.

I was part of the last generation that was taught Civics in High-School - and even then it was elective.

We can teach people to be Scientists, Writers, and Gym Teachers - but we can't teach them about Canada of how to be Citizens. That is a colossal failure.

In the end I do agree with you about partisan politics. And I suspect George Grant would have to.

Aeneas the Younger said...

The problem Ti-Guy is that you see a significant difference between the LPC and the CPC.

I don't. And I used to be a card-carrying member of the old PCP.

Sir Francis said...

I've grown tired of you Tories bemoaning the loss of your beloved tradition and blaming it on the "other"...

What other? Canadians? I've always seen them as the Same (though I often shudder at the fact).

You should have all realised long ago that demanding appreciation for its virtues wasn't going to be enough...

LOL! "Long ago" indeed. I'm 39 years old. Was I supposed to come to this realisation in 1982? I was too busy playing Axis and Allies to worry about Canada's political complexion.

You're right, though, Ti. It's far beyond the mandate of essentially political creatures (i.e. human beings) to "demand appreciation" for things they care deeply about. Far better to impose them by force.

Hey ATY: you get the manpower together, and I'll get some small-arms and armoured reconnaissance vehicles from a Serbian gun-runner I go club-hopping with. You're in a fortunate spot, as I hear there are plenty of idle and angry young men hanging about Alberta these days (I mean aside from the CPC caucus).

I figure a mechanised battalion is all we would need to take and hold Parliament Hill. I doubt we'll face much popular resistance. A few House of Commons Commissionaires might need to be bribed into submission with some warm milk and cookies (we'll need to bring along some extra Depends, just in case some of them get over-excited). What say you?

Aeneas the Younger said...

"England expects that every man will do his duty"

Aeneas the Younger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aeneas the Younger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aeneas the Younger said...

Canada: The land of "Please pass the chips."

Sir Francis said...


Sorry, lad. It seems we each deleted one of your double-posted comments simultaneously. Over-zealous (and "emotional") buggers that we are. Heh...

Ti-Guy said...

Well, at least I've got you both off enabling Tomm.

Seriously, there's something about your complaints I just don't get.

ATY: I learned civics (and many other things) through my politically engaged parents. I learned a different history than you did at school. C'est la vie, mon ami.

Sir Francis:

Was I supposed to come to this realisation in 1982? I was too busy playing Axis and Allies to worry about Canada's political complexion.

I thought you said you were dropping acid at that age?

Aeneas the Younger said...


So you are saying that you did not learn that Canada was a Constitutional Monarchy and a parliamentary democracy that achieved full legislative independence from the UK in 1931 and chose to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, prior to joining the United Nations and NATO?

And that you did not learn that the British North American colonies that would eventually come to comprise the Dominion of Canada were founded on the basis of a military conquest (at the Plains of Abraham) of France, and a military defeat (The American Revolution) of the British, and that 50,000+ former American colonists came to the Canadas to settle British lands in order to remain loyal to the King?

(And that over the next 100 years well over 3 millions would come to the Canadas from the UK alone?)

And that a significant minority of these Loyalists were neither British, or even English?

And did you not learn that Macdonald and Cartier were partners (as were Upper and Lower Canada) in creating a federal union under the British Crown?

And did you not learn that Canadians fought Americans in the War of 1812 and intermittently against Fenians in order that Canada could remain united and free under the Crown?

And did you not learn of "the Men who went to War" in 1899, 1914, and 1939?

And did you also not learn of "the Men who never Returned" in 1902, 1918, and 1945?

Did you not hear of Leliefontein, Paardeberg, Mont Sorrel, Hill 70, Festubert, Mons, Regina Trench, the Menin Gate, Hong Kong, Special Ops, Intepid, Liri, The Scheldt, Breskens Pocket, Caen, Falaise, and the SRU on the Irrawaddy ?

I guess I must be the deprived one then ...

Sir Francis said...

I thought you said you were dropping acid at that age?

The acid came a bit later--around 1986, I think. It's all a bit of a blur... :)

Aeneas the Younger said...

Ti-Guy mistakes Tories for people without appetites and scars. To RB Sheridan that is what we in fact were. School for Scandal anyone?

He confuses us with the low-church moralisers who occupy the pews at the First Church (School) of Calgary.

Aeneas the Younger said...

My deleted post dealt with Ortega's "The Revolt of the Masses" and its relevance to today's Canada.

Ti-Guy can figure it out from there ...

Ti-Guy said...

ATY: That's not what I consider civics. Civics is the pedagogy of the citizen of a participatory democracy: voting, the structure and operations of current levels of government, current political parties, etc. etc. That kind of stuff was mostly absent from the curriculum entirely. You got that at home or in "home room" which was a period at the beginning of the day where current affairs were discussed and government was explained as it was happening.

The things you mentionned I consider history which I was taught in high school, more or less. I didn't take history past high school.

Anyway, I could never confuse you with a low-Church moraliser because I don't even know what that means.

...although I should probably google it furiously right now and lie about it, lest I be accused of being unlettered.

Sir Francis said...

...lest I be accused of being unlettered.

Pshaw! Over at Red's one might risk being called "unlettered".

Over here, such a person would be invited to consider himself a "prognathic, pre-verbal, glebe-bred dungwit who's unsuccessfully negotiating his anal stage"...

I could never confuse you with a low-Church moraliser because I don't even know what that means.

It means (among other things) "Stephen Harper".

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

So, because Harper, and his family, are members of the Alliance Church you feel its OK to call him a "low church moralizer"?

How about if he were Catholic? Would he be a "high church moralizer?"

What if he were a member of the United Church of Canada, would he then be a "bleeding heart politically correct non-moralizer?" (that's my old church, so I'm feeling my oats here)

How about the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod? the Episcopalian's? Southern Baptists?

Perhaps if he were a Jehovah Witness, a Seventh Day Adventist, or a member of the LDS (Mormon), he might even be a bigger something.

My point is just that there are many sects of Christianity and even some borderline spinoffs that all contain highly moral, decent people that are highly respected and respectful social leaders.

The base set of moral rules are all pretty much the same. This is also true amongst other non-Chritisan religions.

You should not be too judgemental ...lest you be judged. Do you subscribe to a religious sect yourself?

Aeneas the Younger said...

Civics and History go hand-in-hand. You have to know your history to understand your Political System and Culture.

I would never accuse you of being "unlettered." I actually think you are a smart fellow, if a little lacking in an understanding of Canadian History and an appreciation for the Canadian Civitas ...

Oh-oh! That could be perceived as a little condescending - which means you will go on a rant for another few months. Sorry 'bout that.

Aeneas the Younger said...


There is no "Episcopalian" (formal name) Church in Canada. That is an Americanism. We are known as "Anglicans" (English Western-rite Christians who maintain a non-Roman, yet Catholic faith).

Sir Francis is a Roman Catholic, I believe.

"Low-Church" is an English-term which refers to any church or sect that is excessively liberal - in the structural and theological sense.

I guess I could have called Harper a "Latitudinarian moraliser", but that would only serve to confuse everybody more than they already are.

I am no fan of Evangelical Churches that take orders from Americans. Despite the Canadian roots of the C&MA's founder I view any Evangelical US "Church" with extreme distrust.

But then again, I am a bit of a High Church kinda guy.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Outside of my personal historical knowledge of Harper, here is one of the main reasons I dislike him so.

Here is the full text of Harper's 1997 Speech to The US Council for National Policy, an American right-wing "think tank."


Full text of Stephen Harper's 1997 speech
Updated Wed. Dec. 14 2005 9:20 PM ET

Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- The text from a speech made by Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, to a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing U.S. think tank, and taken from the council's website:

Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by giving you a big welcome to Canada. Let's start up with a compliment. You're here from the second greatest nation on earth. But seriously, your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.

Now, having given you a compliment, let me also give you an insult. I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.

But in any case, my speech will make that assumption. I'll talk fairly basic stuff. If it seems pedestrian to some of you who do know a lot about Canada, I apologize.

I'm going to look at three things. First of all, just some basic facts about Canada that are relevant to my talk, facts about the country and its political system, its civics. Second, I want to take a look at the party system that's developed in Canada from a conventional left/right, or liberal/conservative perspective. The third thing I'm going to do is look at the political system again, because it can't be looked at in this country simply from the conventional perspective.

First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States.

In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.

That is beginning to change. There have been some significant changes in our fiscal policies and our social welfare policies in the last three or four years. But nevertheless, they're still very generous compared to your country.

Let me just make a comment on language, which is so important in this country. I want to disabuse you of misimpressions you may have. If you've read any of the official propagandas, you've come over the border and entered a bilingual country. In this particular city, Montreal, you may well get that impression. But this city is extremely atypical of this country.

While it is a French-speaking city -- largely -- it has an enormous English-speaking minority and a large number of what are called ethnics: they who are largely immigrant communities, but who politically and culturally tend to identify with the English community.

This is unusual, because the rest of the province of Quebec is, by and large, almost entirely French-speaking. The English minority present here in Montreal is quite exceptional.

Furthermore, the fact that this province is largely French-speaking, except for Montreal, is quite exceptional with regard to the rest of the country. Outside of Quebec, the total population of francophones, depending on how you measure it, is only three to five per cent of the population. The rest of Canada is English speaking.

Even more important, the French-speaking people outside of Quebec live almost exclusively in the adjacent areas, in northern New Brunswick and in Eastern Ontario.

The rest of Canada is almost entirely English speaking. Where I come from, Western Canada, the population of francophones ranges around one to two per cent in some cases. So it's basically an English-speaking country, just as English-speaking as, I would guess, the northern part of the United States.

But the important point is that Canada is not a bilingual country. It is a country with two languages. And there is a big difference.

As you may know, historically and especially presently, there's been a lot of political tension between these two major language groups, and between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Let me take a moment for a humorous story. Now, I tell this with some trepidation, knowing that this is a largely Christian organization.

The National Citizens Coalition, by the way, is not. We're on the sort of libertarian side of the conservative spectrum. So I tell this joke with a little bit of trepidation. But nevertheless, this joke works with Canadian audiences of any kind, anywhere in Canada, both official languages, any kind of audience.

It's about a constitutional lawyer who dies and goes to heaven. There, he meets God and gets his questions answered about life. One of his questions is, "God, will this problem between Quebec and the rest of Canada ever be resolved?'' And God thinks very deeply about this, as God is wont to do. God replies, "Yes, but not in my lifetime.''

I'm glad to see you weren't offended by that. I've had the odd religious person who's been offended. I always tell them, "Don't be offended. The joke can't be taken seriously theologically. It is, after all, about a lawyer who goes to heaven.''

In any case. My apologies to Eugene Meyer of the Federalist Society.

Second, the civics, Canada's civics.

On the surface, you can make a comparison between our political system and yours. We have an executive, we have two legislative houses, and we have a Supreme Court.

However, our executive is the Queen, who doesn't live here. Her representative is the Governor General, who is an appointed buddy of the Prime Minister.

Of our two legislative houses, the Senate, our upper house, is appointed, also by the Prime Minister, where he puts buddies, fundraisers and the like. So the Senate also is not very important in our political system.

And we have a Supreme Court, like yours, which, since we put a charter of rights in our constitution in 1982, is becoming increasingly arbitrary and important. It is also appointed by the Prime Minister. Unlike your Supreme Court, we have no ratification process.

So if you sort of remove three of the four elements, what you see is a system of checks and balances which quickly becomes a system that's described as unpaid checks and political imbalances.

What we have is the House of Commons. The House of Commons, the bastion of the Prime Minister's power, the body that selects the Prime Minister, is an elected body. I really emphasize this to you as an American group: It's not like your House of Representatives. Don't make that comparison.

What the House of Commons is really like is the United States electoral college. Imagine if the electoral college which selects your president once every four years were to continue sitting in Washington for the next four years. And imagine its having the same vote on every issue. That is how our political system operates.

In our election last Monday, the Liberal party won a majority of seats. The four opposition parties divided up the rest, with some very, very rough parity.

But the important thing to know is that this is how it will be until the Prime Minister calls the next election. The same majority vote on every issue. So if you ask me, "What's the vote going to be on gun control?'' or on the budget, we know already.

If any member of these political parties votes differently from his party on a particular issue, well, that will be national headline news. It's really hard to believe. If any one member votes differently, it will be national headline news. I voted differently at least once from my party, and it was national headline news. It's a very different system.

Our party system consists today of five parties. There was a remark made yesterday at your youth conference about the fact that parties come and go in Canada every year. This is rather deceptive. I've written considerably on this subject.

We had a two-party system from the founding of our country, in 1867. That two-party system began to break up in the period from 1911 to 1935. Ever since then, five political elements have come and gone. We've always had at least three parties. But even when parties come back, they're not really new. They're just an older party re-appearing under a different name and different circumstances.

Let me take a conventional look at these five parties. I'll describe them in terms that fit your own party system, the left/right kind of terms.

Let's take the New Democratic Party, the NDP, which won 21 seats. The NDP could be described as basically a party of liberal Democrats, but it's actually worse than that, I have to say. And forgive me jesting again, but the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.

This party believes not just in large government and in massive redistributive programs, it's explicitly socialist. On social value issues, it believes the opposite on just about everything that anybody in this room believes. I think that's a pretty safe bet on all social-value kinds of questions.

Some people point out that there is a small element of clergy in the NDP. Yes, this is true. But these are clergy who, while very committed to the church, believe that it made a historic error in adopting Christian theology.

The NDP is also explicitly a branch of the Canadian Labour Congress, which is by far our largest labour group, and explicitly radical.

There are some moderate and conservative labour organizations. They don't belong to that particular organization.

The second party, the Liberal party, is by far the largest party. It won the election. It's also the only party that's competitive in all parts of the country. The Liberal party is our dominant party today, and has been for 100 years. It's governed almost all of the last hundred years, probably about 75 per cent of the time.

It's not what you would call conservative Democrat; I think that's a disappearing kind of breed. But it's certainly moderate Democrat, a type of Clinton-pragmatic Democrat. It's moved in the last few years very much to the right on fiscal and economic concerns, but still believes in government intrusion in the economy where possible, and does, in its majority, believe in fairly liberal social values.

In the last Parliament, it enacted comprehensive gun control, well beyond, I think, anything you have. Now we'll have a national firearms registration system, including all shotguns and rifles. Many other kinds of weapons have been banned. It believes in gay rights, although it's fairly cautious. It's put sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act and will let the courts do the rest.

There is an important caveat to its liberal social values. For historic reasons that I won't get into, the Liberal party gets the votes of most Catholics in the country, including many practising Catholics. It does have a significant Catholic, social-conservative element which occasionally disagrees with these kinds of policy directions. Although I caution you that even this Catholic social conservative element in the Liberal party is often quite liberal on economic issues.

Then there is the Progressive Conservative party, the PC party, which won only 20 seats. Now, the term Progressive Conservative will immediately raise suspicions in all of your minds. It should. It's obviously kind of an oxymoron. But actually, its origin is not progressive in the modern sense. The origin of the term "progressive'' in the name stems from the Progressive Movement in the 1920s, which was similar to that in your own country.

But the Progressive Conservative is very definitely liberal Republican. These are people who are moderately conservative on economic matters, and in the past have been moderately liberal, even sometimes quite liberal on social policy matters.

In fact, before the Reform Party really became a force in the late '80s, early '90s, the leadership of the Conservative party was running the largest deficits in Canadian history. They were in favour of gay rights officially, officially for abortion on demand. Officially -- what else can I say about them? Officially for the entrenchment of our universal, collectivized, health-care system and multicultural policies in the constitution of the country.

At the leadership level anyway, this was a pretty liberal group. This explains one of the reasons why the Reform party has become such a power.

The Reform party is much closer to what you would call conservative Republican, which I'll get to in a minute.

The Bloc Quebecois, which I won't spend much time on, is a strictly Quebec party, strictly among the French-speaking people of Quebec. It is an ethnic separatist party that seeks to make Quebec an independent, sovereign nation.

By and large, the Bloc Quebecois is centre-left in its approach. However, it is primarily an ethnic coalition. It's always had diverse elements. It does have an element that is more on the right of the political spectrum, but that's definitely a minority element.

Let me say a little bit about the Reform party because I want you to be very clear on what the Reform party is and is not.

The Reform party, although described by many of its members, and most of the media, as conservative, and conservative in the American sense, actually describes itself as populist. And that's the term its leader, Preston Manning, uses.

This term is not without significance. The Reform party does stand for direct democracy, which of course many American conservatives do, but also it sees itself as coming from a long tradition of populist parties of Western Canada, not all of which have been conservative.

It also is populist in the very real sense, if I can make American analogies to it -- populist in the sense that the term is sometimes used with Ross Perot.

The Reform party is very much a leader-driven party. It's much more a real party than Mr. Perot's party -- by the way, it existed before Mr. Perot's party. But it's very much leader-driven, very much organized as a personal political vehicle. Although it has much more of a real organization than Mr. Perot does.

But the Reform party only exists federally. It doesn't exist at the provincial level here in Canada. It really exists only because Mr. Manning is pursuing the position of prime minister. It doesn't have a broader political mandate than that yet. Most of its members feel it should, and, in their minds, actually it does.

It also has some Buchananist tendencies. I know there are probably many admirers of Mr. Buchanan here, but I mean that in the sense that there are some anti-market elements in the Reform Party. So far, they haven't been that important, because Mr. Manning is, himself, a fairly orthodox economic conservative.

The predecessor of the Reform party, the Social Credit party, was very much like this. Believing in funny money and control of banking, and a whole bunch of fairly non-conservative economic things.

So there are some non-conservative tendencies in the Reform party, but, that said, the party is clearly the most economically conservative party in the country. It's the closest thing we have to a neo-conservative party in that sense.

It's also the most conservative socially, but it's not a theocon party, to use the term. The Reform party does favour the use of referendums and free votes in Parliament on moral issues and social issues.

The party is led by Preston Manning, who is a committed, evangelical Christian. And the party in recent years has made some reference to family values and to family priorities. It has some policies that are definitely social-conservative, but it's not explicitly so.

Many members are not, the party officially is not, and, frankly, the party has had a great deal of trouble when it's tried to tackle those issues.

Last year, when we had the Liberal government putting the protection of sexual orientation in our Human Rights Act, the Reform Party was opposed to that, but made a terrible mess of the debate. In fact, discredited itself on that issue, not just with the conventional liberal media, but even with many social conservatives by the manner in which it mishandled that.

So the social conservative element exists. Mr. Manning is a Christian, as are most of the party's senior people. But it's not officially part of the party. The party hasn't quite come to terms with how that fits into it.

That's the conventional analysis of the party system.

Let me turn to the non-conventional analysis, because frankly, it's impossible, with just left/right terminology to explain why we would have five parties, or why we would have four parties on the conventional spectrum. Why not just two?

The reason is regional division, which you'll see if you carefully look at a map. Let me draw the United States comparison, a comparison with your history.

The party system that is developing here in Canada is a party system that replicates the antebellum period, the pre-Civil War period of the United States.

That's not to say -- and I would never be quoted as saying -- we're headed to a civil war. But we do have a major secession crisis, obviously of a very different nature than the secession crisis you had in the 1860s. But the dynamics, the political and partisan dynamics of this, are remarkably similar.

The Bloc Quebecois is equivalent to your Southern secessionists, Southern Democrats, states rights activists. The Bloc Quebecois, its 44 seats, come entirely from the province of Quebec. But even more strikingly, they come from ridings, or election districts, almost entirely populated by the descendants of the original European French settlers.

The Liberal party has 26 seats in Quebec. Most of these come from areas where there are heavy concentrations of English, aboriginal or ethnic votes. So the Bloc Quebecois is very much an ethnic party, but it's also a secession party.

In the referendum two years ago, the secessionists won 49 per cent of the vote, 49.5 per cent. So this is a very real crisis. We're looking at another referendum before the turn of the century.

The Progressive Conservative party is very much comparable to the Whigs of the 1850s and 1860s. What is happening to them is very similar to the Whigs. A moderate conservative party, increasingly under stress because of the secession movement, on the one hand, and the reaction to that movement from harder line English Canadians on the other hand.

You may recall that the Whigs, in their dying days, went through a series of metamorphoses. They ended up as what was called the Unionist movement that won some of the border states in your 1860 election.

If you look at the surviving PC support, it's very much concentrated in Atlantic Canada, in the provinces to the east of Quebec. These are very much equivalent to the United States border states. They're weak economically. They have very grim prospects if Quebec separates. These people want a solution at almost any cost. And some of the solutions they propose would be exactly that.

They also have a small percentage of seats in Quebec. These are French-speaking areas that are also more moderate and very concerned about what would happen in a secession crisis.

The Liberal party is very much your northern Democrat, or mainstream Democratic party, a party that is less concessionary to the secessionists than the PCs, but still somewhat concessionary. And they still occupy the mainstream of public opinion in Ontario, which is the big and powerful province, politically and economically, alongside Quebec.

The Reform party is very much a modern manifestation of the Republican movement in Western Canada; the U.S. Republicans started in the western United States. The Reform Party is very resistant to the agenda and the demands of the secessionists, and on a very deep philosophical level.

The goal of the secessionists is to transform our country into two nations, either into two explicitly sovereign countries, or in the case of weaker separatists, into some kind of federation of two equal partners.

The Reform party opposes this on all kinds of grounds, but most important, Reformers are highly resistant philosophically to the idea that we will have an open, modern, multi-ethnic society on one side of the line, and the other society will run on some set of ethnic-special-status principles. This is completely unacceptable, particularly to philosophical conservatives in the Reform party.

The Reform party's strength comes almost entirely from the West. It's become the dominant political force in Western Canada. And it is getting a substantial vote in Ontario. Twenty per cent of the vote in the last two elections. But it has not yet broken through in terms of the number of seats won in Ontario.

This is a very real political spectrum, lining up from the Bloc to reform. You may notice I didn't mention the New Democratic Party. The NDP obviously can't be compared to anything pre-Civil War. But the NDP is not an important player on this issue. Its views are somewhere between the liberals and conservatives. Its main concern, of course, is simply the left-wing agenda to basically disintegrate our society in all kinds of spectrums. So it really doesn't fit in.

But I don't use this comparison of the pre-Civil War lightly. Preston Manning, the leader of the Reform party has spent a lot of time reading about pre-Civil War politics. He compares the Reform party himself to the Republican party of that period. He is very well-read on Abraham Lincoln and a keen follower and admirer of Lincoln.

I know Mr. Manning very well. I would say that next to his own father, who is a prominent Western Canadian politician, Abraham Lincoln has probably had more effect on Mr. Manning's political philosophy than any individual politician.

Obviously, the issue here is not slavery, but the appeasement of ethnic nationalism. For years, we've had this Quebec separatist movement. For years, we elected Quebec prime ministers to deal with that, Quebec prime ministers who were committed federalists who would lead us out of the wilderness. For years, we have given concessions of various kinds of the province of Quebec, political and economic, to make them happier.

This has not worked. The sovereignty movement has continued to rise in prominence. And its demands have continued to increase. It began to hit the wall when what are called the soft separatists and the conventional political establishment got together to put in the constitution something called "a distinct society clause.'' Nobody really knows what it would mean, but it would give the Supreme Court, where Quebec would have a tremendous role in appointment, the power to interpret Quebec's special needs and powers, undefined elsewhere.

This has led to a firewall of resistance across the country. It fuelled the growth of the Reform party. I should even say that the early concessionary people, like Pierre Trudeau, have come out against this. So there's even now an element of the Quebec federalists themselves who will no longer accept this.

So you see the syndrome we're in. The separatists continue to make demands. They're a powerful force. They continue to have the bulk of the Canadian political establishment on their side. The two traditional parties, the Liberals and PCs, are both led by Quebecers who favour concessionary strategies. The Reform party is a bastion of resistance to this tendency.

To give you an idea of how divided the country is, not just in Quebec but how divided the country is outside Quebec on this, we had a phenomenon five years ago. This is a real phenomenon; I don't know how much you heard about it.

The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things.

What was significant about this was that this constitutional proposal was supported by the entire Canadian political establishment. By all of the major media. By the three largest traditional parties, the PC, Liberal party and NDP. At the time, the Bloc and Reform were very small.

It was supported by big business, very vocally by all of the major CEOs of the country. The leading labour unions all supported it. Complete consensus. And most academics.

And it was defeated. It literally lost the national referendum against a rag-tag opposition consisting of a few dissident conservatives and a few dissident socialists.

This gives you some idea of the split that's taking place in the country.

Canada is, however, a troubled country politically, not socially. This is a country that we like to say works in practice but not in theory.

You can walk around this country without running across very many of these political controversies.

I'll end there and take any of your questions. But let me conclude by saying, good luck in your own battles. Let me just remind you of something that's been talked about here. As long as there are exams, there will always be prayer in schools.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Sir Francis said...

How about if he were Catholic? Would he be a "high church moralizer?"

No. The expression "High Church" is intelligible only in an Anglican context.

If Harper were Catholic, I would call him an "ecclesially and theologically correct moraliser".

What if he were a member of the United Church of Canada, would he then be a "bleeding heart politically correct non-moralizer?"

You bet your sweet ass he would.

Why did you leave the church, by the way. Was it not Presbyterian enough or not Methodist enough?

The base set of moral rules are all pretty much the same.

Well, we all wish they were, alas.

[They] all contain highly moral, decent people that are highly respected and respectful social leaders.

True, but "respectability", the bane of the Edwardian era, is highly overrated. In fact, I believe it to be deeply inimical to the Christian ethos. I was respectable once. Almost killed me.

Do you subscribe to a religious sect yourself?

Heh. "Sect"! I like that. Cute.

I'm a reactionary Catholic. And when I say "reactionary", I mean that I pine for the days when the Pope was also a field marshal, that I'm prepared to only grudgingly deplore Mary Tudor's burning of Protestants, and that I consider James II to be the last truly legitimate Britannic majesty. Does that help?

Aeneas the Younger said...

Boy .... Stevie really loves those 'merikans don't he?!

Not only is his analysis American-centric, it is all fundamentally quite wrong.

Those things he doesn't extrapolate on? HISTORY. Well, History matters Stevie ...

Aeneas the Younger said...

Sir Francis you truly make me guffaw milk via my proboscis. Funny stuff!

Aeneas the Younger said...

And I am a High-Church Anglican with some strange reformist tendencies.

I worship (small "w") Queen Gloriana, and take Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker as my spiritual and political guides.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Despite the doctrinal and philosophical disconnects, I love this man we call the "Dred Tory."

I guess I am too much of a Restoration-type Tory.

Sir Francis said...

I am a High-Church Anglican...

Papists and High-Churchers have much in common (especially liturgically), which is why they used to hate each other so much. I'm re-watching Brideshead Revisited (the series, not the movie) for the upteenth time now, so this has been much on my mind lately.

My grandfather was High Church. In Lincolnshire, they were still celebrating Guy Fawkes Day by burning the Pope in effigy when he was growing up. He converted only because he became very friendly with his RCMP Division's chaplain, who happened to be a Catholic priest. He made the transition effortlessly. So there you go.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Thanks for the invitation, but I cannot accept!

Burning the Pope on Fawke's Day? Wow. Burning traitors is one thing, but that is a little Orthodox Orange for me ...

Aeneas the Younger said...

I loved both the Book and Telefilm treatment of BR.

It's actually the only TV Series DVD Set I own ...

Aeneas the Younger said...

AND I own the Soundtrack!

I am such a Hipster.

Ti-Guy said...


if a little lacking in an understanding of Canadian History and an appreciation for the Canadian Civitas ...

I don't agree with the accusation of lacking in appreciation of Canadian civitas, but I won't belabour it. As for an appreciation of Canadian history, I'm too often plagued with doubt and highly sceptical about any history I'm confronted with and unless I become a history buff (which I believe is about the only alternative to historical dilettantism), it's not something I want to be too pre-occupied with, since I firmly believe that although history tells us how we got here, it shouldn't tell us where we're going. When we see, all around us, history treated as faith and abused, you can appreciate the dangers of that.

I've got two favourite cousins who are Canadian history PhD's and teach university and neither one can bear each other because their disagreements on documented evidence are irresolvable. I can't even let either one know I've talked to one of them about a particular issue, since I'll invariably get a lecture on how unscholarly the other's interpretation was.

Aeneas the Younger said...


I own-up to the best and worst of our historical narrative. It is what has made us a people. Or did.

The problem with the lack of appreciation for History in Canada is not that it has been so complete and total, but that this eradication of a common and shared narrative takes place alongside the media colossus that is the United States.

It's not just that Canadians do not know or appreciate or respect their own past; it is that they have conflated the American experience in the process.

Most Canadians are like proverbial Pavlonian Dogs - if it is on TV (preferably American TV Stations) then it must be true! If there is so much American history out there in the mass media, then ours must be boring, or at least irrelevant.

Canada was founded as an conscious act of will. The Fathers of Confederation did not want to be Americans. They wanted to preserve Europe (at least England and France) in North America. We trumped their will by our desire for shiny baubles and plastic trinkets.

Sir Francis and I do not blame others - we blame all.

How do you get the genie back in the bottle?

I'm afraid you can't.

Ti-Guy said...

Sir Francis and I do not blame others - we blame all.

I don't. I blame the ruling elite. Most ordinary people make decisions based on the information they have at any given time.

I blame academics (of the boomer generation, mostly) most specifically and most consistently for abandoning their roles as educators and public intellectuals for the imperatives of publishing and career advancement. Most of them don't even know how to explain elements of their particular expertise to other academics outside their field, let alone journalists or the general public. It was never as bad as it has been in the last 50 years or so, particularly in the humanities.

I do believe that's about to change, however and that's the only thing that gives me the tiniest sliver of hope. However, the humanities will have to be resurrected from the ash-heap they are now in.

Aeneas the Younger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aeneas the Younger said...


George Grant left McMaster for Dalhousie because he wanted to teach and the Governors of MAC wanted Research and Research Dollars.

When I was in Grad School (at McMaster no less ...) it was this anti-academic environment that forced me out of academe after I attained my Master's Degree.

The thought of working another series of years on a PhD only to be forced into a role (if I could procure tenure) as a permanent "research & grant slave" was enough to turn me away forever.

So, I went into business. Like that provided any solace ...

Aeneas the Younger said...

By-the-way, the elite in English-speaking Canada after the war were liberal continentalists, drunk on the elixir of Thomas Dewey and other late 19th Century US Progressives.

The Great War killed-off any semblance of a "Conservative" elite.

Sir Francis said...

The Great War killed-off any semblance of a "Conservative" elite.

Actually, I think the Second World War was really the final straw. The continentalist consensus really kicked in then, buttressed by the de facto war-time absorption by the U.S. of Canada's industrial infrastructure.

It is the American-born C.D. Howe (not Pearson nor Trudeau) who is the true father of postmodern Canada, both economically and sociologically.

Aeneas the Younger said...

I certainly would accept that as the "final straw." The Great War and all its attendant emergencies certainly mortally wounded that elite - most obviously in Quebec.