“Canadian values shifting right” — really?? (then why do only one-third want Stephen Harper?)

Mar 12th, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief
Right-wing clichés have always played an important role in Canadian values, as these 2007 media-generalist themes from an earlier generation suggest. Right on Preston Manning and Canadian Club! (And thanks to Stacy May, at shameless: for girls who get it.)

Right-wing clichés have always played an important role in Canadian values, as these 2007 media-generalist themes from an earlier generation suggest. Right on Preston Manning and Canadian Club! (And thanks to Stacy May, at shameless: for girls who get it.)

The theory that consultants of any description will always at least try to give their clients what they want is nicely stiffened by a new “Harris-Decima survey for the [unabashedly right-wing] Manning Centre” (named after Preston and his father, etc, etc). This work of applied social science “conducted through phone interviews with 1,000 adult Canadians between Feb. 1-10” 2010, apparently suggests that “Conservatives now ‘own the centre,’ while the left ‘is a very lonely place to be’ in Canada.”

The crucial more or less hard numbers here appear to be that “five elections ago … 41% of self-described centrists voted Liberal. In 2008, 47% of centrists voted Conservative.” But just what (if anything) this means in the real world of Canadian politics today still seems obscure.

Even in the October 14, 2008 Canadian federal election, the Conservatives won less than 38% of the cross-Canada popular vote.  And for the second time in a row this was not even enough for a bare majority of seats in the unreformed first-past-the-post electoral system of the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa.

More recently, according to another “Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press,” which “surveyed 2,936 people by telephone between Feb. 25 and March 7” 2010, only 33% of Canadians would vote Conservative if a federal election were held today. And according to an EKOS poll for the CBC, based on “a random sample of 2,467 Canadians aged 18 and over” between “March 3 – March 9, 2010,” the Conservatives would attract less than 32% of Canadians, from coast to coast to coast.

Moreover, in the March 3–9 EKOS poll the federal Liberal and New Democratic parties combined attracted just under 46% of the cross-Canada popular vote (setting aside the Greens and the Bloc Québécois, both of which are more plausibly viewed as “left” than “right”). In the February 25–March 7 Harris-Decima poll the Liberals and New Democrats combined had 45% — also what the same two parties combined won even in the 2008 federal election.

 Sonia Brownell, George Orwell’s second wife, helped edit the posthumous collection of his essays, journalism, and letters which first appeared in 1968. The two people here are not the real George and Sonia, but just actors playing their parts in a play about Orwell’s last years in the late 1940s, that was performed in New Zealand last year. The real Sonia was attractive, but maybe not quite as attractive as the young lady playing her here.

Sonia Brownell, George Orwell’s second wife, helped edit the posthumous collection of his essays, journalism, and letters which first appeared in 1968. The two people here are not the real George and Sonia, but just actors playing their parts in a play about Orwell’s last years in the late 1940s, that was performed in New Zealand last year. The real Sonia was attractive, but maybe not quite as attractive as the young lady playing her here.

So, what kind of world is it where a party called Conservative gets from less than 38% to less than 32% of the vote, while parties called Liberal and New Democrat get 45%–46% (and other more or less left-wing parties get an additional 17%, or more), but hired consultants for a right-wing institute believe it is credible to report that “ the left ‘is a very lonely place to be’ in Canada”? Shurely (as Frank magazine used to say) this is a world that could only be seriously inhabited by Alice in Wonderland, or the Wizard of Oz?

Or, there is lately a lot of bullying — intellectual and otherwise — going on in what the academic community nowadays likes to call the “political discourse” of the true north. Those who actually believe in what the Canadian Constitution Act 1982 calls our “free and democratic society” will resist. (And for better or worse it is at least easier to ignore the bullying here, because the country does not cast such a giant shadow beyond its own borders.)

If you really want to know what’s going on politically, you just have to keep paying your closest attention to what is (to borrow the title of the fourth volume of the 1968 edition of Saint George Orwell’s collected essays, journalism, and letters) In Front of Your Nose.

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