December 12, 2005


Left, lefter and leftest (SALIM MANSUR, 12/12/05, Toronto Sun)

Recently in the online edition of the U.S. conservative magazine National Review, California-based Canadian Doug Gamble provided Americans with an astute analysis of Canada's upcoming winter election.

Gamble noted the three national parties -- the Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats -- could be "best described as left, more left and most left," relative to America's Republicans and Democrats. [...]

Liberalism in Canada -- the sort retailed by the Liberal party -- has been consistent with the country's founding theme of "peace, order and good government," in contrast with the republican liberalism of America, which promotes "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Canadian liberalism has been elite-driven and top-down.

"Peace, order and good government"? It's like a comedy sketch.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 12, 2005 7:06 PM

'Cept that it's not terribly peaceful or orderly, and the good government part is a joke.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 12, 2005 8:34 PM

--Canadian liberalism has been elite-driven and top-down. --

Monarchy. World hasn't changed, we got away and they hate US for it.

Posted by: Sandy P at December 12, 2005 8:59 PM

Considering it was a few elite who had the brainy idea of setting up a republic with three competing branches of government and regional representation, the U.S. could be considered elite-driven and top-down, too.

It is not the people who make America different than Canada -- we're selfish bastards (and corrupt, too), just like Americans.

That U.S. Constitution is a nice straight-jacket to have, but I don't doubt the Founders would lose an election in America today.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 12, 2005 9:12 PM

That analysis went out with the Beards. The Adamses, Hamilton, Franklin, Jefferson, etc. were hardly elite.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 9:17 PM

ask jimmy carter or ghwb if the u.s. is driven from the top.

Posted by: usa go go go at December 12, 2005 9:19 PM

Franklin and Jefferson at the least would easily get elected now. Franklin would be a hugh media hit.

Posted by: Bob at December 12, 2005 9:20 PM

Franklin Pierce? I don't think so!

Posted by: obc at December 12, 2005 9:26 PM

I specifically used the word "elite", not "elitist". If Franklin and Jefferson were not "elite", then there is no such word in the English language. I also said that the distinguishing characteristic of the Founder's legacy is the Constitution, not the people.

So, who are the equivalent men today?

John Kerry is the French-loving land owner who fought against the installed power base by opposing the war on Vietnam. He can't win a national election.

The only people I can think of selfless enough and inventive enough to be Franklin would be open source programmers. These guys can't even crawl out of their basements, much less get elected.

G.W. Bush can't even pass Social Security reform with a majority in both houses. You think he could pass something as ground-breaking as the Constitution? All he has accomplished (which is plenty) is due to the power he inherited from George Washington.

No. It was a special act of God that created the U.S.A. And I, for one, wish we had lost on the Plains of Abraham.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 12, 2005 9:42 PM

Ah, but they were relatively elitist. They weren't elite.

The Constitution passed on the basis of desperation -- due to the failure of Confederation -- and disinformation -- such as calling the anti-federalists the Federalists.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 10:39 PM

"Peace, order and good government" doesn't work for Canada?

Keeping their behavior prior to the Iraq war in mind, let me suggest "Work, Family, Country."

Posted by: Matt Murphy at December 12, 2005 10:39 PM

Interesting take, oj.

But I still wonder why you think Canadians are any different than Americans... I married an American and we are both grandchildren of immigrants who tilled the soil and invested every penny. Eventually, we may move south, but it won't be the people of Canada (at least Western Canada) who drive us there. It will be a parliamentary style of government that has no God, no King and no conscience.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 12, 2005 10:49 PM

You answer your own question.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 10:55 PM

Which is why I've never been able to figure out why when we clean up a country and help it establish a democratic system, be it Germany, Japan or Iraq, why do we use the parliamentary model? Why do we inflict a system which is ultimately going to fail them. (Is there any non-English speaking country with a gov't over a century old? Other than Sweden and Switzerland and the later is a Federal system, like ours) And even among the English speaking countries with parliamentary systems, will Canada's parliamentary system survive another half-century to celebrate its bicentennial? (Or England's survive its perversion by socialism, for that matter?)

Yet ours has worked fairly well over two centuries, adapted with techonological and societal changes (like abolition and suffrage) and still seems to work. Why is that? What is it about American elites that they still have faith in what is obviously not the superior system? The same elites who keep pushing such schemes like proportional voting here, too. Schemes, most of which have zero years of actual practical application. "If it's new, it must be better."

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 12, 2005 11:04 PM

Mr. Voth;

Because the elites don't value those things, but only systems in which their ilk can be in charge. I.e., a parlimentary system. In the view of the elites, they do not want to hobble their fellow members of the ruling class with the impediments they face.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 12, 2005 11:11 PM

Raoul: Because the political scientists all think that a parlimentary system is better in theory, and they don't care about practice.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 12, 2005 11:43 PM

oj -- Yes, the question was rhetorical and I am glad you agree that our only difference is our form of government.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 13, 2005 12:14 AM

(along with, of course, our fondness for black socks with khaki shorts ;-)

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 13, 2005 12:18 AM

I can't figure out why so many here think the Canadian system doesn't "work". In some ways, it works all too well despite the chronic regional dissentions. By and large the country is safe, free, prosperous, clean and orderly. We even go through regular bouts of fiscal prudence. The secular liberal ethos is corrosive, especially on social questions, but is tempered significantly by a well-known (and much-mocked) cultural reserve and decidedly American attitudes to work, entrepreneurialism (?), family and immigration. Hey, all you happiness-pursuers, what is wrong with "peace, order and good government" ? Don't you think it is a little inconsistent to be both painting us as a failed state on the edge of collapse and complaining about all those free rides those spoiled, ungrateful Canadians are getting.

For five years I've thought the problem has been how we have become self-absorbed and insular and forgotten how much of this was built on principles and peoples that transcend our privileged little bubble, and to and for which we owe. Then, I come here and find out the problem is we are near-starving and collapsing in political and social pathology. Do me a favour, guys, don't tell my wife.

I'll go with David and Raoul that that American system is better, mainly because it is more responsive to the democratic will. But it is hardly a case of darkness vs. light. The parliamentary system has its strengths, and you do pay a price through your sovereign, bureaucratic fiefdoms and turf wars and your imperial judiciary.

Posted by: Peter B at December 13, 2005 6:11 AM


No, just God.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2005 7:39 AM

Hey guys, did you forget? We're all elites here.

Posted by: erp at December 13, 2005 8:39 AM


"Fight on, my men", Sir William said,
"A little I'm hurt, but yet not slain.
I'll lay me down and bleed a while,
And then I'll rise and fight again."

Posted by: Peter B at December 13, 2005 9:06 AM


Yes, the Bartons were a family, Canada used to have such things too.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2005 9:39 AM

Hmmm. Don't you have some innocent car drivers you need to go harass?

Posted by: Peter B at December 13, 2005 2:38 PM