More than ever it appears that Canadians out of step with our progressive-liberal establishment continue to be reminded that conservatism, in almost any form, is at best inappropriate and at worst an affliction.
In fact, those who voted for Stephen Harper in the last election are generally left to conclude that: for the foreseeable future they can expect to be marginalized by our established opinion-makers.
Sure, conservatives can find support for their convictions in The Rebel Media, The Prince Arthur Herald or the occasional opinion piece in the National Post; but with the collapse of Sun TV, almost all of Canada’s most accessible broadcasting and press outlets are, once again, in the hands of their opponents. In the mid-nineteen sixties, the late, Lionel Trilling described the Left as our “adversary culture.” In 2016 it’s the other way around.
A predictable start to 2016
Consider this early 2016 Atlantic Canadian example of the prevailing anti-conservative bias in both our press and its formative educational institutions:
Writing on January 4th in the Halifax Metro, Stephen Kimber, award winning writer, editor, broadcaster and distinguished professor of journalism at the prestigious University of King’s College got off to an early new year start as a dutiful syndicalist, journalist, educator and purveyor of Canada’s ideological status-quo.
This time the target was The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. AIMS is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan, research organization that brings a free-market perspective to economic, political and social issues. It is a small but well-respected Atlantic Canadian think tank that can be relied on to apply fiscally sound principles to the process of public policy development.
But from the lofty perches of six-figure salaried journalism professors at venerable institutions like the University of King’s College, award winning writers seldom feel compelled to engage in civil discourse with the likes of AIMS.
It appears that Professor Kimber was particularly miffed by the institute’s support for the Nova Scotia Liberal Government’s decision to legislate wage patterns in the public sector. In the wake of news that the Province’s deficit forecast had jumped from 118.6 million to 241.1 million between September and December of last year, AIMS President, Marco Navarro-Genie, had expressed the hope that unions would see the legislation for what it is: “an attempt to restore a measure of stability in an otherwise unstable economic climate.”
In the same December press release Navarro-Genie went on to point out that, given the stark economic realities facing Nova Scotia, “the Premier’s position on arbitrated public service contracts that fail to factor an employer’s ability to meet its compensation commitments represents an important and responsible step in realigning the province’s fiscal priorities.”In response; the rapier witted Kimber got the year off to a predictable start by dismissing AIMS as “a.k.a. the Atlantic Institute to Comfort Its Affluent Corporate Sponsors While Afflicting the Rest of Us with Neoconservative Nonsense.”
To some Canadians, specifically the 31.9% who voted Conservative in October, the Nova Scotia Liberal Government’s position may have appeared quite reasonable. Dare we say it was a “classical liberal – a.k.a. neoconservative” response to a situation in which an over-market-compensated public sector has become a serious obstacle to the recovery of the wealth producing private sector of the Province’s economy. To Prof. Kimber, however, this was all nonsense. The Government, he said, didn’t have a “spending problem.” It had a “revenue problem.”
No truck or trade with conservative ideas
There may well be good arguments and room for compromise on both sides of issues like public sector compensation but we are unlikely to hear balanced debate on such matters from most journalists who have been almost entirely informed by the general corpus of liberal-progressive thought that dominates our schools and universities. From Stephen Marche’s 2015, pre-election, Harper hit-piece in the New York Times to Stephen Kimber’s early 2016 assault on AIMS in the Halifax Metro, the disposition of our media elite is always clear. There can be no truck or trade with conservative ideas.
Conservatives must resist being pushed to the margins
The Conservative Party should be encouraged by the independent thinking of close to one-third of Canadians who supported them in the last election, but after ten years of power in Ottawa, the conservative movement is still being pushed to the margins of our national public square.
Independent think tanks like AIMS, along with like-minded writers, academics and journalists must continue to seek bold new ways of breeching Canada’s establishment media firewall. The free flow of ideas they generate remain Canada’s last best hope to reorder our national priorities and return to a prosperous, job producing, free-market economy.
(William Brooks is a freelance Nova Scotia journalist and editor of DiscourseOnline.ca)