Canada`s Stephen Harper: My Part In His 2011 Election Triumph

I had
no idea I was so influential. Two of Canada`s leading
political reporters recently claimed that an essay I
wrote for a Western Canadian magazine nine years ago,

A self-hating

Report Magazine,
March 4, 2002,
“badly rattled”

Conservative leader Stephen Harper

and his staff that they were forced to
carve out an entirely new
patriotic vocabulary”.
you don`t know about Stephen Harper,
by Paul
Wells and John Geddes
on Monday, January 31, 2011]

My article was a heartfelt and
rather despairing examination of whether a genuine
Canadian patriotism was possible in view of the
alienation of the political right. I

quoted`s Jamie ("Canada`s
destiny–being absorbed into the American empire–is
much closer than we think. As a Canadian, I can hardly
wait. I must admit: the supremacy of globalization and
free trade fills me with an intoxicating sense of glee”)
Glazov, brought to Canada with his Soviet dissident
father in 1975. (He hosted a colloquy with`s
Peter Brimelow
I quoted

“When [then]
Forbes senior
editor Peter Brimelow (
is asked whether the Right hates Canada, he replies, `I
think they hate the Trudeauvian state. It would be hard
to exaggerate just how much damage Trudeau did to
Canada.` But have Canadian right-wingers succumbed to
the temptation to conflate hatred of the government with
hatred of the homeland? `I`d have to think about that,"
he says. Mr. Brimelow,

a native of

wrote The Patriot Game: National Dreams and Political
, a landmark study of Canadian nationalism,
before leaving Canada and settling permanently in the
United States. He argues that the implosion of Canada`s
British connection left the Canadian Right

According to W and Geddes,
“Th[e] business of changing the culture of the country obsesses the
group around Harper.”
The anonymous strategist who
tipped them to my essay (probably

Ken Boessenkool
, my anonymous Conservative source at
the time) complained:

“We had gotten to a point in Canada where the conservative side of
politics had been marginalized—where we

weren`t even
recognized as legitimately Canadian

Nobody believes that the Democratic Party in the U.S. is
not an American party. In Australia, both of the major
parties are recognized as legitimate parts of the

“So almost from
the beginning,”
Wells and Geddes argued,
“Harper started
building a distinct right-of-centre, patriotic new
vocabulary. `It`s the Arctic,` this strategist said.
`It`s the military. It`s the RCMP. It`s the embrace of
hockey and lacrosse and curling.`”

? Seriously? It was disappearing here when I
was a child in the 1960s. How very PC of you, Mr.
Anonymous. Lacrosse is a
invention, and remains to a

dwindling band of pedants
national pastime. That`s why
“this strategist”
mentioned it.

What Harper apparently took from my
critique was, paradoxically, an audacious idea cribbed
from Karl
—who cribbed it from Samuel Johnson`s


Lord Bolingbroke
“Patriotism is
the last refuge of a scoundrel”
. Just shout the
loudest about hockey and
Tim Horton`s coffee—the
two sacraments of the new Canadian religion.

Well, Harper rolled out the
final version of that new
this year, and on May 2 he finally won a majority, on
his fourth attempt. Accept this victory as a gift,
The Godfather
: someday, and that day may never come, I`ll call
upon you to do a service for me.



  • Conservatives 167 (of 308
    seats), up 24; popular vote 39.6%, up 2.3%

  • New Democratic Party
    (socialist) 102, up 65; 33.1%, up 14.9%

  • Liberals 34, down 42;
    18.9%, down 7.3%

  • Bloc Québécois
    (Quebec-only and
    a.k.a. camouflaged separatists) 4
    (of 75), down 45; 6.0%, down 4%

  • Green Party 1, up 1;
    same; 3.9%, down 2.9%

  • Independents 0, down 2

These results contain many
surprises and some genuine shocks.

  • The big surprise: Harper
    got his majority. The polls predicted another Harper
    minority, and almost all the pundits agreed.

  • Shock #1: for the first
    time in Canadian history, the federal Liberal Party—the
    party of
    Pierre Trudeau
    —did not finish either first or
    second. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff resigned the
    day after the vote.

  • Shock #2: the

    francophone nationalist
    Bloc Québécois, which had
    won a majority of Quebec seats in every election since
    1993, was annihilated. BQ leader Gilles Duceppe resigned
    election night.

  • Shock #3: the
    heavily-nationalist Francophone vote in Quebec fell
    swooning into the arms of Jack Layton, leader of the
    NDP, an English Canadian party with neither history nor
    organization in the province.
    The NDP is now the Official

Most of the victorious NDP
candidates in Quebec are still stunned. Appropriate to
their status as the fourth party, the NDP nominated a
slate of weirdoes, no-hopers and several who couldn`t be
bothered to campaign. But
fifty-eight (of 75)
won anyway, including the
19 year old, the 20
year old and
Ruth Ellen Brosseau,
the Ottawa barmaid who doesn`t
speak French and who thought so little of her chances
that she

didn`t cancel the Las Vegas vacation
she`d booked in
the middle of a 35-day race.

Who said Canadian politics are

French Quebec`s sudden embrace of
an Anglophone federal party is being interpreted

as evidence that Quebec separatism is dead
—a death
that has been proclaimed regularly in Canada over the
last fifty years.

But in fact Quebec`s lurch is not
unprecedented. The province voted equally unexpectedly
for John Diefenbaker`s Progressive Conservatives in
1958, and for the
same party
under Brian Mulroney

. On

closer inspection, these spasms usually have something
to do with the internal workings of Francophone politics
Thus the NDP`s breakthrough followed
Layton`s hint that Canada`s

Constitution could be reopened for discussion
which inevitably raises the issue of Quebec`s status.
When Mulroney

this and failed in 1987,

Quebec came within

50,000 votes of leaving in

the 1995 referendum. Having put the issue on the table
again, how can the NDP, avoid the demands of a caucus
that is now dominated by Quebec?

little noticed in the U.S., the Quebec provincial
government of Premier Jean Charest—nominally a Liberal,
although the provincial and federal parties are actually
very different entities—is

deep trouble
It is generally agreed in Canada that only a miracle
will save him from a massive defeat by the separatist
Parti Québécois in the next provincial election, which
must be held by 2013. And you can be certain that a PQ
government will be quick to claim Jack Layton`s tease as
yet another

Quebec separatism never disappears; it just reappears in
different guises.

Nevertheless, this election did
disprove former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney`s alleged
iron law: you can`t win a federal majority in Canada
when you start 75 seats behind—i.e. you need Quebec

This was the direct equivalent of
Rove`s claim
that the GOP needs minority support to
win, and was equally

. As the
National Post`s
Tasha Kheiriddin

recently, the

Conservative win came from English Canada alone
Canadian equivalent of what calls the

Sailer Strategy
, and (by an amazing coincidence) an
option that Editor Peter Brimelow noted in his
much-denounced 1995 book on Canadian politics,

The Patriot Game
 The Conservatives
fell to 16.5% in Quebec (from 21.7% in 2008) and dropped
four seats to six. Their

support is now nominal. But it didn`t

On the other hand, the Liberal
collapse in Francophone Quebec certainly sealed their
doom. Before the arrival of the BQ, the Liberals with
only a couple of exceptions dominated Quebec since
Canada`s founding in 1867. Indeed, their historical role
was that of a broker—the party of

Permanent Government
, balancing Quebec against
English Canada like a circus acrobat riding two horses
at once.

The Liberals have now lost their
raison d`être. It is hard to imagine how they will survive. Even
before the election there was talk of a merger with the
NDP. Now, there is no reason to believe Jack Layton will
care to hitch his wagon to their falling star.

Keep in mind, however, that the
Progressive Conservative party was given up for dead in
1993, after they were reduced to two seats. A decade
later, it had pulled off a reverse takeover of the

Canadian Alliance
—the Western-based insurrectionary
party that held the knife to its throat. In my opinion
as a Western Canadian, it was the Alliance that

Who is Jack Layton? A former
Toronto city councilor, he is a

of the lowest order. Politics have been a
lucrative occupation for him and his second wife,
Olivia Chow, a

Chinese immigrant
and also an NDP MP.

Layton had the misfortune of being
struck by prostate cancer a couple of years ago. Rumors
abound that he is dying and there was considerable doubt
as to his fitness to campaign. No one took him seriously
before this spring. But in the absence of likable
rivals, his popularity soared, even above Steven

Such is the newfound love for
Layton that he was not wounded when it was

—three days before the election—that he
narrowly escaped being arrested in 1996 after being

naked and discomfited
in a

massage parlor
, shortly after an anonymous Chinese
immigrant comfort woman had given him his happy ending.

No one paid any attention to his
platform, which consisted of handouts on a scale that
would have bankrupted the country within months. But it
didn`t matter. Canadian politics is now all about
personality. Layton has it. Liberal leader Michael
Ignatieff doesn`t.

Ignatieff bore

the curious distinction
of being better known, as an
academic, author and TV pundit, in England than in the
country of his birth. In fairly obvious hindsight,
especially given Harper`s new
it was inexplicable that the Liberals chose

a leader who spent the better part of three decades
—a man neither of whose two

have been Canadian, whose father was a Russian
count and whose grandfather was a Tsarist cabinet

Harper`s official campaign slogan

"Here for
His unofficial slogan was “I`m
Canadian, and

Ignatieff isn`t
. Harper made sure to appear behind podiums emblazoned CANADA. His
campaign apparel was invariably an

Olympic jacket with CANADA printed across the torso

Harper has an unmistakable streak

Dubya-style arrogant authoritarianism.
The election
was precipitated after Harper`s government was cited for
contempt by the Speaker of the House of Commons because
it concealed documents and because Minister Bev Oda, a
professional ethnic, had

altered a document then lied about it to the House.

These citations were a first in Canadian history. But
Harper dismissed them as partisan “bickering“.
In the end they did not figure in the election, because
attacking a professional ethnic is Politically
Incorrect. (For details, read


of Harper by Lawrence Martin, a
journalist whose attacks on former Liberal Prime
Minister Jean Chretien were so fierce that Chretien`s
office got him

from the Ottawa Citizen.

the end, Canadians decided they preferred a


to a weakling. Harper kicked sand in
Ignatieff`s face for two years, questioning his
patriotism without respite, while Ignatieff, unlike the

98-pound weakling


Charles Atlas ads
lacked the courage (and the campaign funds) to fight

Harper`s campaign platform was the same as Charlie

He had something for everyone.

Unless you were an

English Canadian patriot
In that area, Harper went unreservedly for Rovean
minority outreach. He actually boasted during the

English-language debate

that he was the first Prime Minister
to boost
immigration during a recession

Harper`s Immigration Minister, the

odious Jason Kenney,


boasted of the temporary workers flooding into Canada

to take lowing-paying jobs from
Canadians. Kenney enlisted the radical gay-rights group
EGALE to crow in a

release that foreign drag queens

now had

refugee priority
And the famous Canadian?-American? Conservative?


weighed in to


that the Liberals were anti-Israel. [Ignatieff
signals a return to duplicity on Israel
, By
David Frum, National Post, 
April 16, 2011]

the Conservative War on Terror? Inoperative during
election time because of Conservative pandering to
minority bloc votes. The Conservative candidate in

Vancouver South

(who won), was linked to Sikh terrorists. A Conservative
candidate in Metro Toronto (who finished second) called

Tiger terrorists

Canadian left has long claimed that Stephen Harper has a

secret agenda
to be unveiled now that he has a majority. But it`s
actually no secret. He merely wants to replace the
Liberals as the natural governing party by imitating the
Liberals in almost every particular (except in,
perforce, its Quebec obsession) and insisting that only
the Conservatives are legitimately Canadian.

give Harper credit for the historic feat of winning a
majority with minimal Quebec support. It may be the
beginning of the end of Canada`s first
—Can the
Canadian Nation Include Quebec? (Answer: no).

under Harper, the Conservative Party, the natural party
of the Canadian majority, has

become explicitly and aggressively minoritarian.

second National Question
it survive as a nation in the face of

massive, non-traditional


immigration?—must now inevitably move to center stage.

Kevin Michael Grace (send him

) lives in Victoria, British Columbia.