Well, I have finally got up off the floor after the election, and many readers have asked me to write a little something about what happened. And I will. Soon.
But first, I want to review just a little of what happened to us as a nation in the decades prior to the Harper regime, and so, what I think he went into politics attempting to reverse, with partial success.
At my age – 75 two weeks ago! – re-writing a story already told is not so appealing. So I am re-publising here the Preface to The Trouble With Canada … Still! (2010), because I can’t say it any better now. It is about what Father Trudeau did to our country (or, to be more truthful, what we did to ourselves by failing to recognize what was happening, and stopping him). Forgive me for italicizing some of the key passages. I don’t like to shout, but I am frustrated enough to want to raise my voice!.
In the coming days I will add comment on what Son Trudeau is up to.
The First Warnings: When I Voted for Trudeau
My first sense there was trouble with Canada began during the Trudeau era
(1968–1984) when I saw this fine country falling into the clutches of what I was
quite certain were sweet-sounding but inherently destructive political, economic,
and social policies. Until then, I was a completely non-political person who
had actually voted once for the bright-sounding man with the rose in his lapel. I
always admired Trudeau’s strength of character, political savvy, passion, and
decisiveness. In retrospect, I still do. But my instinct told me he was instigating a
one-man regime change for the worse in the country I knew and loved. In all the
most important political, economic, social, and legal aspects of Canadian life he
was turning the country upside down. And by what right? Political and legislative
change of the ordinary sort is one thing; that can be reversed by a free people.
But changes to the fundamental moral, legal, economic, and even linguistic foundations
and understandings of an entire people ought to require more than a
slim majority in Parliament.
So, entirely new feelings began to arise, along with a pervasive sense of
helplessness. For how do you fight back when the political parties among which
we must choose are so identical in their thinking? No party back then was complaining—
or has since complained—about the sudden transformation of
Canada from a free, common law–based constitutional democracy in which the
will of the people as voiced in Parliament was “supreme,” into a new, constitutionally
mandated welfare state far too often directed by the rule of unelected
judges who cannot be removed by any power in the land. Trudeau plopped his
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on top of us in 1982, and it states
(sec. 52) that to the extent that any (existing or future) law of Canada is “inconsistent”
with the Charter, it is “of no force or effect.”
As I saw it, with the stroke of his pen, the will of the Canadian people was subjected forevermore to an alien form of entrenched, judge-dictated Statism. The Trouble With Canada … Still! is one man’s best
effort to lay bare the details of this regime change and to suggest ways to reverse
it and regain our true freedoms and rights.
It is not a book about Trudeau. But I am very critical of Trudeau and his
socialist fellow-travellers of that time, for I saw him then, and still do, rather as
Tolstoy saw Napoleon. The dictator, he said, was an actor in the tide of time, a
man riding inside the carriage of history, holding ribbons that he thought were
the reins. In the same vein, and with lots of personal flourish, Trudeau was a
kind of flamboyant actor on the stage of Canadian history, reading his lines and
cues from a script written mostly by influential French social planners of the
seventeenth century and forward. So although Trudeau often comes under
attack in this book, its main thrust is not personal. Rather, it is a critique of an
entire style of continental rationalism of which his whole life (his lifelong
motto was “Reason before Passion”) was an expression. I argue that even
though this style of rational social planning gave rise to a politics alien to our
founding ideals and to our roots in British liberty, he nevertheless almost singlehandedly
managed to impose it on an entire nation, and for that we continue
to pay the price detailed in this book.
In the twenty years since 1990, in many unexpected ways, Canada and the
world have changed a lot. As if in an impossible dream, we witnessed the astonishingly
rapid demise of international communism and the Soviet bloc, the
crumbling of the Berlin Wall, the end of “the Evil Empire.” Many of us hoped
this would be a final and definitive lesson to the West that socialism doesn’t
work, except in heaven where you don’t need it, and in hell where you already
have it. But we can see now that the Evil Empire served a beneficial purpose,
too. It was America’s—and the West’s—definitive ideological enemy, and by
dint of sheer opposition it provoked us to hang on to the fragments and tatters
of our founding belief in liberty. But there has not been a totalitarian “enemy
on the Left” for some time now against which to contrast and defend those
beliefs. And with the ascension of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency—an
office that a tyranny-fearing American founder, in a wonderfully memorable
expression, condemned as “the fetus of Monarchy”—we are at this very moment
watching our once freedom-loving neighbours charge full steam into the
arms of the State.
This still feels rather strange to anyone who recalls that in the aftermath of
World War II, to call someone “a socialist”—let alone “a Red,” or “a communist,”
or “a pinko”—was tantamount to the worst of insults, both in Canada and the
United States. After all, people such as my godfather, who died at twenty-two
when his Bomber was shot down south of Paris with a 500-pound bomb on
board, were convinced they were fighting to prevent the spread of Statism,
whether national socialist (Nazism), or international socialist (communism).
But now the word “socialist” has come into common parlance as a normal and
acceptable descriptive term for . . . what we have become. I am certain if my godfather
could return to see what we have done with the freedoms for which he gave
his life, he would say he died in vain. [Note: in my latest book, The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree (2015), I describe how this growth in public Statism, taxation, and control of so many aspects of life has been enabled by a parallel seduction of the people through a private and historically unprecedented sexual and bodily freedom].
It was pretty clear that by 1990, a lot of citizens had fundamental objections to,
and felt tremendous frustration over, Canada’s regime change, primarily
because until the now-defunct Reform Party arose there was not a single
political party to which they could turn in protest. All were embracing some
form of Statism. The whole country seemed to have undergone a kind of historical
amnesia, forgetting our root beliefs in limited government, our many
safeguards—constitutional, legal, and cultural—against political tyranny, our
long, bloodied, and halting history from Magna Carta forward in defence of
British liberty. In the end, a single vote seemed useless as a protest. But might
the country be brought to its senses by a book explaining the trouble with
The story I wanted to tell was, and still is, aimed at all concerned citizens
searching for answers to our troubles. Once empowered with a little knowledge
of the political and moral contradictions and paradoxes of the turn we had just
taken, would we, could we, reverse our course? In this respect I depart from the general
view that we are a calm, compromising, pragmatic people. I have always felt that this notion is a self-congratulation that to our national detriment might very well camouflage a spiritual dullness and a certain lack of intellectual and moral vigour. Perhaps a tell-it-like-it-is book—a cavalry charge
from an unexpected quarter—would stir us from our slumber?
I remain convinced that any whole truth sincerely expressed will eventually
find its readers, despite how severely that truth is initially suppressed or
discouraged by those whom it makes uncomfortable. We still live in a free country.
But it is mostly books that keep it free.