The long defeat -- where the Canadian Right went wrong (Part Five)
By Mark Wegierski
Routes to Revival
The Canadian Right will make little headway in the teeth of a hostile social, cultural, and political climate, unless it endeavours to give encouragement to the creation of some kind of infrastructures where more intellectual explorations of right-wing ideas and philosophies can take place in Canada. What is especially needed in Canada for conservatives is a broadly right-of-centre magazine which could serve a mobilizing role similar to the early years of National Review in the United States, as well as an academic outreach body along the lines of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in the United States (which publishes scholarly quarterlies and books, as well as offering substantial scholarships). The ISI embodies a very reflective and serious conservatism that moves far beyond day-to-day policy issues and merely fiscal and economic conservatism (while not being explicitly tied to any one religion or denomination). Perhaps the social conservative think-tank Cardus could eventually evolve into serving a similar role in Canada. Today in Canada, there are numerous, left-wing, extra-parliamentary infrastructures, whose funding (most of which comes from the federal government) outweighs that of putatively right-wing infrastructures such as the National Citizens' Coalition and the Fraser Institute (who rely strictly on private donations -- and are almost entirely focused on economic and fiscal issues) by astronomical factors. The effectiveness of these left-wing infrastructures has contributed to the huge intellectual influence of the New Democratic Party (Canada's social democratic party) particularly on the Liberal Party. It may be remembered that Trudeau was a former NDP member, and some have indeed suggested that he "hijacked" a somewhat more traditionalist and centrist Liberal Party and moved it in a radical direction. The extent to which large numbers of persons in Canadian society (especially in the intellectual classes) are utterly captivated by and beholden to ideas of left-wing provenance cannot be overestimated. It is only the building up of infrastructures of a serious intellectual Right in Canada that could make a difference in this regard.
It is suggested that the Canadian Right look forward to a so-called “Canada Three”, i.e., a synthesis of the best aspects of Canada One (traditional Canada), and Canada Two (liberal Canada). Some of the possible contours of “Canada Three” would be a more decentralized federalism – which will also make it easier for Quebec to remain in Canada.
Balance: Why Canada Needs a Right
The current-day Canadian situation -- of near-total left-liberal intellectual hegemony, of very little authentic academic or journalistic debate, and of little hope that a substantively conservative party will ever unseat the Liberals at the federal level -- cannot be described as offering prospects for a truly humane future for Canada. There is certainly no intellectual balancing of Left and Right, and very little possibility of alternation at the federal level between left-leaning and substantively conservative parties, in Canada today. A Conservative electoral triumph – should it ever occur in such a difficult environment – is likely to be overwhelmed by ferocious infrastructural opposition – much in the same way that Mulroney’s huge majority in 1984 was sandbagged. The ongoing, decades-long, “prior constraint” against the so-called Centre-Right Opposition coming to or ever exercising any meaningful degree of power in Canada – fundamentally contradicts Canada’s parliamentary and democratic ideals, as well as betraying its history.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.