Canadian Consensus

Canadian Consensus

By David Warren - September 8, 2008

The prospect of a Canadian general election leaves me, and I would guess most of my countrymen, bored.

Now, boredom comes in slightly different flavours, and I will admit that the emotions associated with betrayal enter into mine. But it is like the vanilla in the ice cream; one is so used to it. We have about five parties representing five slightly different grades of vanilla. The Tories perhaps anger me the most, because they promise chocolate chips, and don't deliver. Well, maybe a couple of chocolate chips, but the irritation value of the false packaging more than compensates for them.

The chocolate chips in my analogy correspond to the "faith and freedom" values that are baldly presented in any Republican manifesto, and more timidly even in Democrat ones, in the republic to our south and north-west.

Regardless of his political persuasions, I doubt any reader is himself in doubt about the views of McCain and Palin on, say, abortion, or same-sex marriage, or the ramifications of the U.S. First Amendment. Messrs Obama and Biden have more "nuanced" views -- i.e. more likely to say one thing and do another -- and yet their own positions are clear enough, when the lights are trained on them.

If I were a woman, and the most important issue to me were the preservation of my unfettered legal right to kill my unborn children, I would have no difficulty in choosing the Democrat ticket. Whereas, up here in Canada, it really wouldn't matter if I voted Conservative, Liberal, New Democrat, Bloc, or Green.

That is an extreme case, but the same goes for every other issue I can think of, including all the routine ones touching our daily lives.

For instance, all parties are committed to preserving Canada's dysfunctional socialist health care system. All are committed to the continued heavy regulation of private enterprise generally, and to choking small business in particular with red tape. All are committed to maintaining a crippling tax burden, and a tax collection system with arbitrary and unaccountable powers of search and seizure. Moreover, in the name of the "global warming" imposture, all are committed to significantly extending the leaden hand of government micro-mismanagement into every aspect of our daily lives that may touch even tangentially on "the environment."

And to take a subject of special interest to me, none is prepared to defend our country's common-law heritage, and due process in our courts (especially our family courts). None will vindicate the most elementary rights of free speech and free press. None will lift a finger when journalists and many others are hauled before "human rights" kangaroo courts, and put under star chamber inquisitions, as if Canada were exactly the sort of country our fathers fought in two World Wars.

The debates are seldom if ever about which direction we should be going, but rather, how far and how fast we should proceed along the pre-determined highway. This is the "Canadian consensus," shared by the various self-appointing and self-regulating elites in government, law, media, and academia. And it is a "consensus" they enforce, with ever-increasing restrictions on our ability to discuss, publicly, the various activist agendas they are pushing.

To be fair to many who hold all the conventional "Canadian consensus" views, there is seldom much malice in them. As products of our ideologized schools and universities, living all their lives deep within urban conurbations, in spiritually "gated" communities where they mix only with their own kind, they have never been exposed to contrary ideas. And they are sincerely aghast when anything that challenges their profoundly settled views is set before them. The notion that deviation must be suppressed comes as naturally to them, as the notion that anything unIslamic must be suppressed, to a Wahabi fundamentalist in Arabia.

The idea that, for instance, a man could own a gun for any other purpose than to commit violent crimes, is not easily communicated to a person who has no ability whatever to visualize life outside the confines of an urban neighbourhood.

More subtly, the dweller in an urban apartment complex cannot imagine a life in which everything he does is not bound by fussy rules and regulations, and in which any act of non-conformity (lighting a cigarette, for instance) must be greeted with hysterical alarm. In this sense, our vast modern cities, not only in Canada but everywhere, breed Pavlovian conformity to their own physical requirements, and systematically replace moral imperatives with bureaucratic ones.

The reason Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican convention in Minneapolis this last week was so very explosive -- not only to Americans with the chance to vote for or against her party, but to Canadians, with no chance at all -- had only indirectly to do with the fact that she is a remarkable woman. It was the sudden raw exposure to a well-articulated worldview completely opposed to our "Canadian consensus" that we found so horrifying -- or exhilarating.

Millions of Canadians long to hear something like that from a politician up here. But millions more remain convinced that they must never, ever, be given the chance.

© Ottawa Citizen

David Warren

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