"Inter-not" -- Has a Canadian right-wing "blogosphere" had an impact on politics, society, and culture in Canada? (Part Two)
Partially based on research done with Mike Krupa, M.A., for a paper accepted for the August 28-August 31 2014 American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting and Exhibition (110th APSA Annual Meeting)(Politics after the Digital Revolution) (Washington, D.C.), from which we had to withdraw because of unforeseen personal circumstances.
Various right-leaning think-tanks maintain a substantial Internet presence, notably, the Fraser Institute, Canadian Taxpayers' Federation (CTF), and National Citizens' Coalition (NCC) – all of which are almost entirely economically focused. In Western Canada, there are also the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP); and the Citizens' Centre for Freedom and Democracy (CCFD) -- all that remains of the old Report newsmagazines. In Atlantic Canada, there is the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS). The well-known right-leaning economist, Brian Lee Crowley, has helped establish the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa. The Manning Centre for Building Democracy (MCBD) exists both inside and outside the Conservative Party. In 2010, the Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada was established.
There are two main outfits dedicated to legal issues, especially property rights and freedom of speech – the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).
Two other think-tanks are the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute, devoted to security matters, and the Arthur Meighen Institute for Public Affairs.
One of only a few social conservative think-tanks is the Institute for Marriage and Family in Ottawa. The most prominent pro-life, pro-family association is the Campaign Life Coalition.
Any putative impetus for conservatism in Canada today comes mainly from the 2011 election of a federal Conservative majority government. It could be argued that, ironically, it may have been precisely the minor role played by right-wing political online commentary that was one of the factors that made such a victory possible. Indeed, the election of a majority government may have been possible only by downplaying numerous aspects of conservatism, or, in fact, setting oneself at the head of "progressive" trends such as high immigration policies (as has been argued, for example, in The Big Shift by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson). The federal Conservatives had to downplay their conservatism in response to left-liberal hegemony in opinion-generating and -propagating institutions.
Also, unlike in the U.S., more of the political debate in Canada is, in general, channeled "top-down" through the leaderships of major political parties, rather than upward from the so-called "grassroots" through independent commentary. Furthermore, in Canada, the infrastructural weight of such institutions as "the main stream media", government bureaucracies, and the juridical apparatus far outweighs any Internet-based resisters.
There is also the fact that websites and blogs of whatever outlooks are more likely to be replacing print newspapers than television – which leaves a huge and more immediately impactful medium unaffected. A more text-based vehicle such as blogs affects fewer of the general voting population.
It could be concluded that the Internet in Canada is unlikely to provide conservatism with enough societal "authority" and financial resources needed towards re-introducing a more robust pluralism of ideas into the Canadian political system. But without the possible efficacy of dissent on the Internet, what else remains?
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.