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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Patriot Games and the Federation of Founding Peoples

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada
"Reform is somewhat un-Canadian. It's about tidy numbers, self-righteous sanctimoniousness and western grievances. It cannot talk about the sea or about our reluctant fondness for Quebec, about our sorrow at the way our aboriginal people live, about the geographically diverse, bilingual, multicultural mess of a great country we are." — Vancouver Sun, April 8, 1994
After reading Peter Brimelow's The Patriot Game, a scathing attack on Canada's Liberal Party, because of their promotion of multiculturalism; Stephen Harper went out and bought ten copies of the book for friends.

He would then use many of the arguments presented in The Patriot Game, to draft policy for the Reform Party.

And remember, Brimelow is now calling himself a paleo-conservative, but in those days he preferred 'Anglo-Supremacist'.
Canadian neo-conservatives may not have a "Whites Only" sign posted over the doorways of their caucus rooms, but they might as well. Despite their growing sensitivity to criticism which they would have earlier ignored, and some half-hearted efforts to remedy the situation by recruiting more minority members, there have been few takers. Reform's transparent efforts to describe itself as more culturally diverse than it's mainstream opponents have fallen on disbelieving ears. Token evidence of cultural diversity and the party's exclusionary policies have simply not attracted members of minority groups. (1)
Today, Stephen Harper has been able to exploit minorities by creating divisive policies, pitting them against each other. It's the worst kind of prejudice.

In his book Brimelow is critical of Trudeau's repatriation of our constitution, suggesting that it "was not what the Fathers of Confederation had in mind. (2)

And Preston Manning, who considered himself a to be a history buff, shared Brimelow's views:

If subsequent generations of politicians had left the problem of French-English tension within the provincial confines to which the Fathers of Confederation had relegated it and expanded and built on the new foundation of Canada as a federation of provinces rather than a federation of founding peoples, Canada might not be in the dilemma it is today. But unfortunately this was not to be. As each new western province after British Columbia was added – Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta – there was a controversy as to whether the constitutions of those provinces should provide special status for the French minority in the areas of education and language. These provisions were promoted by federal politicians of the old two-nation school and provincial politicians from Quebec, and generally resisted by western politicians, who fully embraced the new vision of one nation from sea to sea.

Then, nearly a hundred years later, after the disintegration of the British Empire and the emergence of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, Lester Pearson established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and revived the concept of Canada as an equal partnership between two founding races, languages, and cultures – the English and the French ... Pearson 'nationalized' the very issue which the fathers of Confederation had 'provincialized' in 1867. This vision was pursued with vigour by Prime Minister Trudeau, and it continues to shape the thinking of the current prime minister [Mulroney]

Of course most Canadian historians would disagree with Manning's simplistic view of our history. Confederation did not occur based solely on English-French tensions. It was much more complex. And suggestion that had this conflict been settled, the rest of the country would have lived in harmony is nonsense.

If my father was alive today he could make mincemeat of Manning's logic, but we'll go to a man who has a PhD in history, and whose great-grandfather took part in the debates at the time, helping to bring Nova Scotia into Confederation.
We are a community forged by the primal experience of negotiating terms of settlement among three peoples: the English, the French, and the aboriginal First Nations. This gives us a particular rights culture and it is this rights culture that makes us different. No matter how violently Quebecers and English Canadians disagree, they do so within political cultures that are remarkably similar. So talking about rights is a way of identifying something all Canadians have in common.
Manning deliberately ignores Canada's First Nations.

Pierre Trudeau developed the Languages Act based on the findings of The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, that was established by the government of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. But instead of adopting a bicultural society, he opted for a multicultural society that accepted all peoples as equals.

Peter Brimelow saw things in black and white, literally; and Reform Party policy reflected this narrow view. He was an outsider and in many ways so is Stephen Harper. He views Canada in terms of what is "wrong" with us, instead of embracing everything that is so right.

In the following video, Brimelow (though hard to understand - not the best speaker) suggests that the Reform movement created a new party because the federal conservatives refused to curb immigration. He is threatening the same happening in the U.S., which could very well be the 'Tea Party'.

Brimelow is calling for zero immigration for at least a year, and perhaps extending 10-15 years. The anti-immigration rhetoric was certainly accelerated in the mid-term election campaigns.

It's frightening.

The Reformers may have been timid about putting a "Whites Only" sign over their caucus door, but there is definitely a metaphorical one at our border crossings.


1. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 388

2. The Patriot Game: National Dreams and Political Realities, By Peter Brimelow, Key Porter Books, 1986, ISBN: 1-55013-001-3, Pg. 32

3. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, Pg. 14

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