Canada – a country with an attenuated Right (Part One)
By Mark Wegierski
On October 15, 2003, the prospects of the broader Right in Canada brightened somewhat for the first time in decades. Overcoming years of negativity, the Canadian Alliance (which had emerged from the Reform Party of Canada in 1998-2000), and the federal Progressive Conservative party agreed to unite themselves (pending the approval of their memberships by December 12, 2003), as the Conservative Party of Canada (the former name of the Progressive Conservatives from several decades ago).
Under the leadership of Stephen Harper, this Conservative Party was able to reduce the Liberals to a minority government (a plurality of seats in the House of Commons) in the June 2004 federal election. Subsequently, the Conservative Party won a minority government in January 2006. Sticking mostly to centrist policies, the Conservative Party remained in power until 2008, when Stephen Harper himself called an election. Nevertheless, the majority still eluded him. The Conservative Party minority government was voted down in the federal Parliament in 2011, but they were able to win a majority in the ensuing federal election of May 2011. However, the centrist policies continued.
In the October 2015 federal election, the Liberals came roaring back to power, under the leadership of Justin Trudeau. Justin is the son of Canada’s long-serving Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It was apparent that whatever fragmentary conservative measures Harper had been able to undertake, were now going to be swept away in a great tide of progressivism.
The Conservative Party continues to face an uphill battle against the Liberal Party and the extra-parliamentary Left. And now, a more right-wing splinter group will be dividing the Conservative vote in the 2019 federal election, Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada.
It should be pointed out that Canada today may be seen as combining the most liberal aspects of America and Europe -- indeed, it may be world's most liberal society. Like some European countries such as the Netherlands, it is extremely socially-liberal, as demonstrated by the Canadian federal government's total acceptance of same-sex marriage. Although a vote on the issue took place in the Federal Parliament in 2005, it was with direct referral to the Canadian Supreme Court. What conservative critics call "judicial activism" is in Canada a comparatively late but now flourishing development, which only really got underway with the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) into the Canadian Constitution. The Charter, clearly a left-liberal rather than classical liberal document, essentially enshrined virtually the entire agenda of Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Canada's left-leaning Liberal Prime Minister from 1968-1984, except for nine months in 1979-1980) as the highest law of the land. After Brian Mulroney's huge Progressive Conservative majorities of 1984 and 1988 -- whose record in regard to social and cultural conservatism was indeed abysmal -- Canada's federal Liberal Party (headed by Jean Chretien) comfortably won the elections of 1993, 1997, and 2000.
On the other hand, unlike some European countries, Canada is characterized by very high rates of immigration, and has whole-heartedly embraced multiculturalism, affirmative action (called "employment equity" in Canada), and diversity with a startling degree of unidirectional intensity. Canada's official immigration numbers are more than twice as large as those of the United States -- per capita -- and are probably among the highest in the world. With a population of about 37 million persons as of late 2018, Canada has been receiving every year about a quarter-million immigrants. (The Liberals recently raised the numbers to 300,000, and then again to 350,000.)
At the same time, Canada has now embraced some of the more negative aspects of American society -- such as the excesses of pop-culture, the trend to political-correctness, and growing litigiousness. However, it lacks many aspects of America that may temper the aforementioned trends.
In Canada, for example, the government accounts for about half of the GDP. (In contrast to about a forty percent in the United States.) Taxes are very high, relative to the United States. The Canadian medical system is stringently socialized to an extent unheard of in the United States. Canada's gun control laws are also extremely strict. Unlike the United States, fundamentalist Christianity plays virtually no role in Canada. The debate about abortion and many other social issues is considered effectively closed.
In another extreme contrast to the United States, Canada has virtually no military (the entire armed forces, including army, navy, air force, and reserves, number about 92,600 personnel) and there is major disdain throughout much of Canadian society (and especially in elite opinion) towards the military.
Canada's security provisions, refugee-policy, and control of its borders are also extremely lackadaisical, relative to what now appears to be the emerging trend in the United States.
To be continued.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.