The audacity of Canadians who have elected Stephen Harper throughout the entire Obama era appears to be as troubling for east coast American liberals as it is for the overwhelming majority in Canada’s media and cultural establishment.
This became evident early in our current election campaign when the legendary New York Times, newspaper of record for the American left, enlisted a young Toronto journalist to pen a stern warning for Canadians who might consider re-electing a Conservative government.
Reading “The Closing of the Canadian Mind” the NYT piece by Stephen Marche, one might have expected some tough-minded analysis of Canadian foreign policy and the Conservative Party’s record. But, what the Huffington Post described as a “scathing” attack amounted to nothing more than the predictable laundry list of anti-Harper allegations put forward by his ideological opponents since he began winning elections in 2006. As political attacks go, it didn’t rise to any higher standard of credibility than the daily outbreaks of Harper derangement syndrome appearing across the country.
“Closing of the Canadian mind?”
In fact: “The Closing of the Canadian Mind,” a somewhat disconnected play on Allan Bloom’s landmark examination of relativism in post-modern America, amounted to little more than 17 paragraphs of Facebook-style gossip. References to a “culture of secrecy – know-nothing conservatism – our country in ignorance – and a subtle darkening of Canadian life” stirred up the same familiar illusions shared daily in the faculty rooms, coffee houses and newsrooms of Canada’s central-eastern liberal establishment. As so often happens with anti-Harper invective,” said David Frum, a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, “the accusation combines intense outrage against the man with gaseous vagueness about the man’s offences. “You are supposed to just know. If you don’t know already, it won’t be explained to you.”
Real source of antipathy toward PM
So: Can we blame the New York Times for the daily anti-Harper outbreaks in the Canadian Press? Not really! The real source of our liberal establishment’s antipathy toward the Prime Minister goes much deeper than perceived personality traits or a single article in an American newspaper.
In 2003, as Leader of the western-based Canadian Alliance, Stephen Harper reached an historic agreement with Progressive-Conservative leader, Peter McKay to form a united Canadian political party in the classical-liberal tradition of Anglo-American conservatives like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. That act alone was sufficient to make him a pariah among the cohort of progressive elites who have captured the power centers of Canadian society in media, entertainment, education and government.
When Stephen Harper began forming governments he became an existential threat to those who reaped the rewards of special privilege, tenured careers, high salaries and generous pensions garnered from those risking their private resources and toiling in the wealth producing private sector of the nation’s economy.
Challenge to former ideological purity
In short, Stephen Harper challenged a lingering ideological purity that dated back to Trudeau-mania and the culture of the 1960’s. It was a vision for Canada as a democratic-socialist, non-aligned, anti-American, multi-cultural, bilingual, federal state led by philosopher-politicians and government bureaucrats who planned the nation’s business and shaped our culture from confident patrician homes in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.
In its place Harper posited the vision of a growth oriented, free-market economy with less regulation on business, lower taxes and reliance on individual initiative. Conservatives were to depend on the virtues of work, family and community as a basis for a renewed, people-driven, Canadian culture. For the still-dominant “progressive” status-quo this challenge was unpardonable.
All about Harper!
As a result, the Prime Minister has learned first-hand that an angry crowd has a terrible propensity to spill blood in order to restore the credibility of a crumbling consensus. Hence, our 2015 Canadian election has been made all about Harper. The scapegoat mechanism has been set in motion and it will take an extraordinary act of independence from sufficient numbers of ordinary Canadians to change the currently predicted outcome.
William Brooks is a freelance Canadian journalist and editor of Discourseonline.ca.