“An object lesson to the whole world … … ‘If Canada could exist, what couldn’t?'”, 2006–2021

May 7th, 2022 | By | Category: Heritage Now

The very last 15 years of the history of democracy in Canada since 1497 sketched in this book are still too close for altogether realistic assessment. The most recent past from which we might hope to gain the most in confronting the present is also the most difficult to understand.

The main Canadian federal political story here is about six elections, in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2021. Can anything already be said about their consequences for the longer future of what the Constitution Act, 1982 alludes to as the “free and democratic society” in Canada today — in Kenneth Boulding’s largely optimistic “object lesson to the whole world … If Canada could exist, what couldn’t?”

The first three of these six elections were dominated by Stephen Harper and his new but also old Conservative Party of Canada. He won increasingly stronger minority governments in 2006 and 2008, and then a majority government at last in 2011.

In the following few years Prime Minister Harper (contrary to certain legends) acquired some international profile as well. In the fall of 2014 David Runciman,“professor of politics and a fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge,” opined in the pages of the venerable UK magazine New Statesman that the “two most successful leaders in contemporary western politics are Angela Merkel and Stephen Harper.”

By the election of October 19, 2015, however, the biggest dreams of the new Conservatives (“A Harper dynasty and the end of the Liberals”) had proved ephemeral. Stephen Harper’s party went from 166 seats in a 308-seat House with 40% of the cross-Canada vote in 2011, to 99 seats in a 338-seat House with 32% of the vote in 2015.

The New Democrats went from 103 seats with 31% in 2011 (a historic high for the party federally), to 44 seats with 20% in 2015. And the resurgent natural-governing-party Liberals, contrary to various dreams, went from only 34 seats with 19% of the popular vote in 2011 (under former Harvard Kennedy School professor Michael Ignatieff) to a new muscular majority government of 184 seats with 39% of the cross-Canada vote in 2015 (under Justin Pierre James Trudeau, eldest son of former Liberal Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliott Trudeau).

Canadian democracy in The Age of Stephen Harper

Some of his most resolute opponents will think it too much to say that Stephen Harper’s almost 10 years in office as Conservative Prime Minister of Canada (nine years and 271 days exactly) were not without some bright moments for the long future of Canadian democracy.

Yet just by the arguably most narrowly objective democratic measure of time in office, PM Harper ranks sixth among the 23 Canadian prime ministers since 1867 so far — just after Chrétien, Laurier, Pierre Trudeau, Macdonald, and Mackenzie King. (Where the tragically flawed but politically brilliant Mr. King, Bruce Hutchison’s Incredible Canadian, is still the federal record holder by far, at 21 years, 154 days. Macdonald follows at 18 years+, after which come Pierre Trudeau and Laurier at 15 Years+, and then Chrétien and Harper at approximately 10 years, more or less.)

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Another modern Canadian democratic virtue of Prime Minister Stephen Harper — especially as a Conservative from Alberta (“Canada’s Texas,” on a far-too-simplistic view) — was his almost faultless honouring of Canada’s two official languages in the 21st century.

Stephen Harper the young conservative activist from Western Canada (who grew up in the Toronto suburbs) had expressed some old-school-Anglo doubts about official bilingualism. But PM Harper believed that anyone who aspired to what he saw as national leadership must be able to at least survive a public debate in French as well as English.

Harper himself had taken the trouble to learn a version of Québécois/Canadien French. He often began public statements in French. As already alluded to, his Conservative Party was rewarded with 10 Quebec seats in 2006 and 2008— and only 5 in 2011, but 12 in 2015. (Conservatives had won an average of 1.75 Quebec seats in the previous four elections.)

Even beyond official bilingualism Stephen Harper proved a smart, Quebec-savvy conservative in office, with strategic survival instincts. The future historian of the early 20th century Rise of Professional Hockey must also have been aware that PM Robert Borden’s Conservative (and other) supporters in the First World War era had leaned on votes in the federal parliament from French Canadian nationalists in Quebec.

One of the similarly logical parliamentary supporters of the first Harper minority government quite narrowly elected on January 23, 2006 was Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Québécois. And in the interests of his minority government’s survival PM Harper was (at least at first) more willing to lean further in M. Duceppe’s direction than many of his fellow Conservatives.

All this soon enough led to the Canadian House of Commons’ motion “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada” — passed by 266 to 16, on November 27, 2006.

This motion by Stephen Harper anticipated a motion by BQ leader Duceppe which read (in its English translation) : “That this House recognize that Quebecers form a nation currently within Canada.” Changing the “currently within Canada” to just “within Canada,” as in Harper’s motion that passed in the federal House 266–16, made a world of difference.

It was not the kind of “sovereignty” fought over in the 1980 and 1995 Quebec referendums. But it at least sounded a lot like the “distinct society” that had not been achieved in the Meech Lake Accord.

* * * *

The Harper Conservatives were less solicitous about the other side of the 17th and 18th century alliance between French-speaking settlers and fur traders and Indigenous peoples, that had “preserved Canada” in Richard White’s more ancient (but now freshly relevant) Middle Ground.

The Harper government abandoned the Kelowna Accord into which the Martin government had poured so much energy. The Conservative Party of Canada was more sceptical about and less involved with the growing early 21st century Indigenous leadership, and related activists, consultants, lawyers, and policy analysts than the Liberals and New Democrats.

No Canadian government, however, could altogether escape the increasing significance of Indigenous issues in the new century. What Statistics Canada was still calling the “Aboriginal Identity” population was already at 3.8% of the Canada-wide total in 2006. (Just 2.2% were “First Nations” or “North American Indian.” The other 1.6% were “Métis” or “Inuk” or “Inuit.”) And this Aboriginal Identity population increased to 4.3% of the Canada-wide total in 2011, and 4.9% in 2016.

The Indian Act that dated back to 1876 was obsolete at best, but hard to replace even from the immediate standpoint of many Indigenous leaders. (It at least guaranteed the “Indian status” from which such ancient British “Crown” and now Canadian federal government obligations as the old “Treaty money” flowed. And it underpinned the more than 600 First Nation reserves across the country, where most of the Indigenous leadership was still based — even if more and more of the total “Aboriginal Identity” population lived “off reserve” like all other Canadians.)

More or less just as the Harper government took office in 2006, the rising tide of Indigenous political and judicial activism in Canada since the 1960s had a particular dramatic culmination. (The process could be said to have begun when a federal vote was at long last granted to on-reserve Indigenous Canadians in 1960, by John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative government.) Finally known as the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), the deal was negotiated in the spring of 2006, and came into effect in September 2007.

This agreement flowed from a long struggle in the courts over the now recognized as appalling legacy of the residential schools in the 19th and 20th centuries. IRSSA was the “largest class action settlement in Canadian history to date” (Canadian Encyclopedia). It “resulted from discussions between representatives of former students, the Assembly of First Nations and other Indigenous organizations, the involved churches, and the federal government.” It provided compensation for former residential school students, and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the school experience that would issue a final report in 2015.

On a parallel wave of undeniable evolution, on June 11, 2008 Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a “full apology on behalf of Canadians for the Indian Residential Schools system.”

The apology began with : “The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history … For more than a century” these schools “separated over 150,000 Aboriginal children from their families and communities … Two primary objectives … were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, ‘to kill the Indian in the child’. Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s almost 10 years of Conservative government in Canada also experimented with two branches of democratic reform focused on the electorate (or Canadian people) at large — and a third involving at least the “de facto” Canadian head of state.

The first branch took shape with the May 2007 proclamation of An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act, which (under some circumstances) ultimately fixed election dates in Canada as the third Monday in October, in the fourth calendar year after the preceding election.

This reflected a broader trend of “Westminster” (or British-style) parliamentary democratic reforms modelled on the original presidential and congressional Democracy in America (ie the USA). In Canada the trend toward four-year fixed election dates began with the provincial government of British Columbia in 2001 (when American democracy may have seemed more cohesive and attractive than later, especially during and after the months that followed the 2020 US presidential election).

One trouble with fixed election dates in Canada’s kind of parliamentary democracy is that a defining characteristic of this form of government is some flexibility in election timing. This flows from the crucial convention that the executive (or cabinet) must command a democratic majority in the elected legislature (or parliament) to endure. And if no one can maintain or form such a government the only resolution is a return to the wisdom of the practically sovereign people, in a fresh election.

So in the archaic language of the Constitution Act, 1867 the Harper government’s 2007 federal legislation spelled out that : “Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion.” And as the anonymous Wikipedia experts explain, the resulting “change effectively altered only the maximum duration of a parliament [formerly five years] by ensuring that it ends no later than October of the fourth calendar year after its commencement … leaving the possibility of an earlier end unaffected.”

As it happened this necessary but somewhat compromising loophole (of particular relevance for minority as opposed to majority governments) was immediately used twice by PM Stephen Harper — in 2008 and then again in 2011. It was not until the Canadian election of 2015 (which the Harper Conservatives lost) that an actual fixed-date federal election as generally prescribed by the 2007 legislation finally took place!

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Especially after the Harper Conservatives won their majority government in 2011, they also made some serious effort to advance another federal government reform that had come to be identified with Western Canada, and especially with the provincial government and some popular feeling in Alberta : Meaningful, regionally representative change at last in what Robert A. MacKay’s classic book of as long ago as 1926 had aptly called The Unreformed Senate of Canada.

Alberta’s preferred Senate reform model was a so-called “Triple E” upper house, like the Senates in the federal systems of the United States and Australia — Elected, Equal (the same number of members for each province), and Effective. And something more or less like this (if arguably not altogether “Effective”) had made it into the 1992 Charlottetown Accord, that ultimately failed in a Canada-wide popular referendum.

In office even the gradualist Harper majority government of 2011–2015 did not rush into anything like a full–blown Triple E Senate reform proposal. But it did entertain federal legislation extending to other provinces Alberta’s recent practice of holding federal Senate elections (for candidates the prime minister of the day may or may not actually appoint).

The federal government by itself also envisioned setting Senate term limits, and abolishing the property qualifications for Senators in the Constitution Act, 1867. Controversy over even such limited federal action (especially in Quebec) finally prompted the Harper Conservatives to send a reference on Senate reform to the Supreme Court of Canada.

As explained by Lorraine Snyder at the University of Alberta’s Centre for Constitutional Studies : “On April 25, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada advised in Reference re Senate Reform” that : “At least seven provinces representing at least half of Canada’s population … must agree to any reform dealing with the selection or length of senatorial terms.”

Meanwhile, actually abolishing the Senate of Canada altogether “requires the unanimous consent of the Senate, the House of Commons, and the legislative assemblies of all Canadian provinces.” And the “only changes that” the federal “Parliament may unilaterally make with respect to the Senate are the requirements of property ownership and net worth.”

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Finally, PM Harper’s leaning on the Governor General’s “power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion” (and on the advice of the prime minister), in the elections of 2008 and 2011, quietly raised the underlying implausibility of the appointment process for Governor General that had somewhat haphazardly evolved since 1867.

Theoretically representing the Queen as head of state, the Governor General of Canada was at first appointed by the British prime ministers who advised Queen Victoria (and then Kings Edward VII and George V).

It was part of Canada’s democratic evolution, much aided and abetted by the 1837 rebel’s flawed grandson William Lyon Mackenzie King — in and out of and in office again 1921–1948 — that the effective power to appoint the Governor General of Canada was quietly transferred from the British to the Canadian prime minister. The process apparently began with the 1931 Statute of Westminster. It was stiffened by new “Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada” from George VI in 1947. (The Letters conclude with “By His Majesty’s Command, W.L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada.”And it was no accident that Canada’s first independent Citizenship Act also took effect in 1947. But this did not lead to an actual Canadian citizen as Canadian governor general until 1952.)

In calling the October 14, 2008 election, contrary to his own government’s four-year fixed-date reform of 2007, and in proroguing parliament in the wake of the election, PM Harper was advising Governor General Michaëlle Jean, appointed by former Liberal PM Paul Martin to serve 2005-2010. In calling the May 2, 2011 election (also contrary to the 2007 fixed-date reform), PM Harper was advising Governor General David Johnston, appointed by PM Harper himself in 2010.

In all cases there was something fundamentally dubious in having a prime minister ask someone he or she (or another prime minister) had effectively appointed for a dissolution of Parliament that might be quite controversial in Parliament itself. (As was PM Harper’s December 4, 2008 prorogation of Parliament — to avoid being defeated in the House by an opposition coalition, prepared to establish a new government with a parliamentary majority. Harper did not appoint the Governor General here. But how could someone appointed by a predecessor from another party credibly refuse any request an elected prime minister might make?)

In response to gentle but growing criticism of the appointment process (and having already appointed David Johnston in any case), the Harper government established something called the Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments early in November 2012. Its purpose was to advise the prime minister on candidates for appointment as Governor General (or Lieutenant Governor of a province). The effective power to make the appointment, however, remained in the prime minister’s hands. The Advisory Committee was also not binding on successors. And it was abandoned by Justin Trudeau when he became prime minister (albeit arguably revived in a different form somewhat further down the road).

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To conclude on the Harper approach to Canadian democracy, there may be some agreement that at least Prime Minister Stephen Harper was finally more of a clever political strategist than any kind of ideologue. Out of office, before 2006 and after 2015, his public comments and actions often had (and still have) more of a right-wing ideological edge. But in office he was first and foremost a strategist, who for longer than many often seemed to win.

It was largely as a strategist and not an ideologue, in particular, that Prime Minister Stephen Harper approached Canadian economic policy. In the spring of his last year in office John Geddes at Maclean’s reported that : “An exhaustive audit of Stephen Harper’s nine years in power reveals a surprisingly (gasp) liberal economic record.”

PM Harper fell into line with a government-interventionist response to the international financial crisis of 2008, crafted by Barack Obama’s new Democratic administration in Washington in 2009, because that made sense strategically. He arguably soon discovered that the range of economic policy possible in Canada is typically small, if a country separate from the friendly giant next door is to survive. And the smart new leader of the new Conservative Party almost seems to have quickly concluded that many realistic Canadian economic policies bear a strong resemblance to diffuse models pursued for generations by the old natural governing party.

Stephen Harper was also a Canadian politician who believed that no Canadian government could stray far from US foreign policy in the global village. Back in 2003, when Liberal PM Jean Chrétien made clear that Canada would not be joining the US-led War on Iraq (which was not endorsed by the United Nations), Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day wrote a pro-war article in the Wall Street Journal, claiming the real Canada stood with President George W. Bush. Harper himself told Fox TV News that a “silent majority” of Canadians supported the Iraq War.

For the largest share of Harper’s time as prime minister, however, Barack Obama not George W. Bush presided over Pierre Trudeau’s American elephant next door. (“Living next to you,” the elder Trudeau had told the Washington Press Club in 1969, “is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”) In many subtle ways this had some bearing on what PM Harper could do in Canada. And again Harper’s strategic wisdom explains his appointment of former New Democratic premier of Manitoba Gary Doer as Canadian ambassador to the United States, in the summer of 2009 — Obama’s first year in office.

That an NDP “social democrat” would accept such an appointment from a “non-progressive conservative” says something as well about how at least some of his fellow politicians did not see Mr. Harper in aggressively ideological colours. When pressed publicly on this by a journalist Gary Doer stressed what he shared with Prime Minister Harper regionally, as a politician from Western Canada. And that marks another of Stephen Harper’s Canadian democratic virtues : He was the first prime minister from the old North West since John Diefenbaker in the late 1950s and early 1960s (except for the very brief reign of Kim Campbell in 1993).

The true and false Conservative (and conservative) side
of The Age of Stephen Harper

Even in Canada the world is a complex place. Along with his strategic and sometimes at least mildly democratic achievements (and failures), over his almost 10 years as Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper also set new conservative (and Conservative) public projects in motion, stiffened older ones, and generally pushed Canadian public life further right.

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While sincerely enough calling himself a democrat, Harper’s government also intermittently indulged in what might reasonably be called anti-democratic actions, in the interests of conservative political strategy. A few months before the 2015 federal election David Beers and other contributors to the online BC news magazine called The Tyee published a “full, updated list of 70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law.”

The Tyee list was divided into three “sections.” The first was called “ABUSING PARLIAMENT : SABOTAGE, SCANDALS, CORRUPTION, AND CONTEMPT.” It included such specific offences as : “Harper government became the first in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament” ; “Harper’s party pushed legislation through Parliament via omnibus bills, the scale of which Parliament had never seen” ; “Harper Minister Caught in Advertising Scam with Public Funds” (the kind of thing the Harper Conservatives had earlier attacked the Chrétien and Martin Liberals for) ; and “Illegitimate Prorogation of Parliament, Twice.”

The list’s second section, under “‘HARPER BRAND ABUSES : LIES, SPIES, AND THIS PORK SMELLS REALLY BAD,” included : “Conservatives Place Party Logos on Government of Canada Cheques” ; “Conservatives Stack Their Own Ridings with Infrastructure Funds” (albeit following ancient Canadian traditions, in Ottawa and the provinces and both official languages) ; “After promising a new way, the prime minister dismantled his newly created Public Appointments Commission and reverted to old-styled patronage by the barrel” ; and “Revenue Canada Loosed to Attack Charities … Not all charities, just the ones that don’t seem adequately aligned with the Harper brand.”

Finally, the third section of the 2015 Tyee list of “Harper government assaults on democracy and the law,” entitled “ELECTION ABUSES, SCAMS, STINGS, AND CROOKED SPENDING,” included : “Conservative Convicted on Robocalls Scam” ; “Harper’s Ex-Parliamentary Secretary Jailed for Breaking Election Law” ; “Conservatives Attempt Election Campaign Frame-up” ; “Harper’s Office Deploys Interns for Dirty Tricks” ; “Cons’ Elections Bill Strips Power from Elections Canada” ; and “Record Use of Personal Attack Ads.”

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Some part of the conservatism in Stephen Harper’s new Conservative Party of Canada had a more philosophical edge. And some of this endured long enough after PM Harper left office on November 4, 2015. Late in December 2021 the highly awarded journalist Michael Harris was still complaining in The Tyee about “Undoing Harper’s ‘Tough on Crime’ Legacy … Independent Sen. Kim Pate calls for updates to mandatory minimums, record suspensions and more.”

On any conservative view there was and still is some liberal bias in the Canadian federal justice system. (Partly because for more than a century Liberals have been in office more often than Conservatives.) The Harper Conservatives believed in being “tough on crime” as a point of political philosophy. And Canada developed a tougher federal regime against crime during Stephen Harper’s almost 10 years in office.

* * * *

On a more strictly symbolic wave of conservative political philosophy, the Harper government revived Canada’s traditional attachment to the monarchy in the United Kingdom, somewhat updated for the 21st century.

Uniquely among its main party rivals, the constitution of the new Conservative Party that Stephen Harper had played such a large role in creating in 2003 explicitly spelled out, as one of its founding principles : “A belief in our constitutional monarchy, the institutions of Parliament and the democratic process.”

In one respect this hearkened all the way back to both Sir John A. Macdonald’s and Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s 1867 enthusiasm for the “Kingdom of Canada” (Macdonald), and “a distinct form of government in which the monarchical spirit will be found” (Cartier).

At the same time, in its 2003 incarnation Canadian Conservative enthusiasm for “our constitutional monarchy” is part of a broader principle of government that includes “the institutions of Parliament and the democratic process.” And in office the Harper Conservatives were somewhat solicitous towards the third democratic term.

As first noted in Part Two of this book, in the Harper government’s first throne speech in 2006 “Governor General Michaelle Jean made one ritual bow to the … British monarchy in Canada. Then the speech appealed to the higher wisdom of ‘the Canadian people’ four times.”The address which Mme Jean gave for the second Harper minority government in 2008 enthused about the “women and men … who established democracy in this country,” the “ideal of democracy that we embody in the world,” and the “people [who] spoke once again in a general election.”

In this respect the Harper government agreed that (again as noted earlier here, in Part Two) : “In Canada today there is no doubt that ‘the Canadian people,’ especially as they speak in federal, provincial, and municipal elections, are the practical sovereign force in what section 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982 quietly alludes to as ‘a free and democratic society.’” The new/old Conservative attachment to “our monarchy” nonetheless reflected a view of the Canadian people’s democratic commitments that included an abiding respect for traditional hierarchies of “peace, order, and good government” (as alluded to in section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867). It also reflected an abiding respect for the British side of Canada’s extended British North American colonial interlude.

* * * *

The Harper government’s approach to Canada’s British American colonial heritage put some emphasis on “American” as well. As one case in point the business and economic historian (and dual citizen of the UK and Canada), Andrew Smith, complained that soon enough the new conservative Canadian prime minister “changed his mind on colonialism.”

In his early days in office in the summer of 2006, Mr. Smith urged, “Stephen Harper [in a speech given in London in the UK] praised the British Empire and associated himself with the ‘unfashionable’ view that colonialism could be a good thing.”

But in 2009, Mr. Smith went on, PM Harper was telling a press conference in Pittsburgh, PA, USA that “Canada had no history of colonialism” — in remarks which “clearly imply that colonialism is a bad thing, which is the mainstream view.” And this “shows the extent to which he and his party have moved to the political centre since 2006.”

Even so the Harper regime continued to work at shifting the Canadian political centre to the right. In February 2013 the philosopher Scott Staring complained about the Conservative government’s “veneration of Canada’s warfighting past” — reflected in the “commitment to spend $28 million to commemorate the War of 1812” (on its 200th anniversary in 2012). All this went hand in hand with “a new citizenship guide (updated last year with more doting references to the monarchy and military).” And then “Harper has ordered portraits of the Queen to be displayed in all of Canada’s embassies abroad and, more controversially, moved to restore the ‘royal’ prefix to Canada’s army and navy.” (To be altogether exact, it was the navy and air force that were so honoured.)

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In the late 1950s the ultimately troubled but brilliant European historian George Lichtheim — a “native of Germany who settled in Britain with the advent of Hitlerism” and “a Berliner who has taken fond root in England” — had argued that traditional English “Toryism … is simply defined : loyalty to Crown and Church ; landed possessions ; a patriarchal relationship towards one’s tenants ; dislike of foreigners, Dissenters, and Roman Catholics ; belief in the Army and the Empire.”

This old-world Toryism had long been imitated in some degree by conservatives in Anglo North America, and especially by successive Conservative parties in Canada. But in this respect at least there was a real new world on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, and the old world did not transplant exactly. Then, closer to the present, the 1960s brought the new conservatism of Barry Goldwater in the USA, and the 1980s brought different-again new “free market” right-wing pressures from Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, in the UK and USA.

Lichtheim’s old English Tory “dislike of foreigners” nonetheless still often enough translated into a new-world conservative dislike of or at least ambivalence about immigration, especially in an age when new immigrants increasingly came from the old worlds of Asia and Africa. But the increasingly diverse global migration to Canada in the late 20th and early 21st centuries may have helped the Harper Conservative government of 2006–2015 transcend the oldest-school old-world Tory instincts about especially culturally diverse immigration.

Canada’s continuing French fact and the growing political role of First Nations and other Indigenous peoples may also have meant something here. But, more importantly for the main story, the traditional conservatism of some increasingly diverse global migrants arriving on airplanes had not escaped Stephen Harper’s strategic mind. In 2007 he appointed his fellow Calgary Conservative Jason Kenney “secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity.” And, as explained by the Canadian Encyclopedia, Mr. Kenney “developed a strategy to expand the Conservative Party base by reaching out to immigrant voters from Africa and Asia.”

The Canadian Encyclopedia concludes that the “impact of this strategy has been debated.” And there is probably still some degree to which new 21st century settlers in Canada tend to identify more strongly with Liberals and New Democrats than Conservatives.

Yet, for example, from the 2008 election on a new Canadian citizen who began as a Muslim from Asia taking religion seriously, and grew up with traditional conservative instincts about human society, may quite rationally have found more to like in the Harper Conservative minister for multiculturalism Jason Kenney than in less conservative (and sometimes even aggressively anti-conservative) Liberal or New Democratic (or Green) Members of Parliament in Ottawa. And the local electoral roots of both Harper’s and Kenney’s Conservatism were in a Calgary, Alberta that elected Naheed Nenshi “the first Muslim mayor of a large North American city” in 2010 (and would keep on electing him until his retirement in 2021).

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The most aggressively non-conservative critics of the Harper government would also urge that — even with the strategic liberalism in broad economic management — the conservative political philosophy as more diffusely implemented in the corridors of power had its inevitable harsh economic results for too many Canadians. (“The only trouble with rugged individualism,” the first federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas said more than once in the 1960s, “is that it creates so many ragged individuals.”)

Mid way through 2017, Statistics Canada data became available for initial judgement. As reported by Daniel Tencer, Business Editor at the old Huffington Post Canada : “Poverty and income inequality increased in Canada during the Harper era — but whether or not the policies of the previous Conservative government are to blame remains an open question.”

What seems clear is that between “2006 and 2015, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in power,” Canadian incomes increased on average by about 10%. But “the top 20 per cent of earners were the only people whose share of total income rose.” Or as the labour economist Andrew Jackson explained, the share of “all income groups in the bottom 80 per cent fell under Harper.”

About a month before the 2015 election the labour economist Jim Stanford had been telling similar tales to the Toronto Star. The headline was : “Harper’s economic record the worst in Canada’s postwar history.” By this point The Harper Record 2008-2015 from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in Ottawa had been published as well. It was a collection of policy essays from many hands, edited by Teresa Healy and Stuart Trew — a heavyweight critique of a landscape not unlike the one attacked in David Beers and company’s contemporaneous Tyee list of “70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law.”

In the middle of all this it is easy to lose sight of the extent to which the major success story of the Harper Conservatives in the 2006, 2008, and 2011 elections was parallelled by the more minor but still notable success story of the Jack Layton New Democrats, in the same three consultations with the Canadian people.

It was the Layton New Democrats’ decision to join the Harper Conservatives (and the BQ) to defeat the Liberals in the House that brought the January 23, 2006 election, and the first Harper minority government.

A few months after the 2006 election veteran NDP guru Jim Laxer published a piece in The Walrus magazine, entitled “Fake Left, Go Right … An insider’s take on Jack Layton’s game of chance.” More bluntly, the Layton New Democrats and the Harper Conservatives shared a dream of abolishing the Liberals. And for a while it almost seemed to be working.

Though far from entirely dependent on some creative symbiosis with the Harper Conservatives (and the NDP’s Sherbrooke Declaration, embracing 50% + 1 for a sovereign Quebec, was arguably growing better known), the rise of the Layton New Democrats from fourth party to Official Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons is altogether striking. They won 19 seats with 15.7% of the Canada-wide popular vote in 2004, 29 seats with 17.5% in 2006, 37 seats with 18.2% in 2008, and an almost stunning 103 seats with 30.6% in 2011 — second only to the at-last-majority-governing Conservatives led by the crafty and cunning Stephen Harper.

New Global and Canadian Economic Orders

By way of short interlude between the recent Canadian federal regimes of the Conservative Stephen Harper and the Liberal Justin Trudeau, it is not just some Marxian or even broader left-wing prejudice to quickly suggest that the reign of the Harper Conservatives from 2006 to 2015 had at least some intriguing coincidences with (ultimately global) economic history.

To start with, like its leader the new Conservative Party of Canada had deep roots in the Western Canadian oil and gas industry, with special reference to the province of Alberta — and the province of Saskatchewan. (“As of December 2013, there were 29,885 producing oil wells, and 23,081 producing gas wells, in Saskatchewan … compared to 41,601 producing oil wells and 104,046 producing gas wells in Alberta in 2014.”).

Like so much else in the early 21st century world economy, the price of Western Canada Select (WCS) oil rose from $29.42 US a barrel in January 2005, to $38.80 in January 2006, and $68.72 in January 2008. It peaked at $114.95 US in July 2008. Like too much else again, it then crashed to $23.18 in December 2008. With some significant help from governments in the United States, Canada, and similar places elsewhere, however, a recovery soon set in.

WCS oil rose back as high as $89.69 in April 2011 (just before the May 2 federal election in which Stephen Harper finally won a majority government). It peaked again at $90.97 in August 2013, and then at $86.56 in June 2014. But from here it fell to $30.43 in January 2015.

It rose back up to $51.29 in June 2015 as the October 19, 2015 Canadian federal election drew near. Then it fell again, all the way down to $26.50 in September 2015. And Stephen Harper lost the October 19 election (but 29 of 34 Alberta ridings still returned a Conservative MP).

It would of course be foolish to propose direct connections here. But the data do suggest intriguing correlations between the rise and fall of the Harper Conservatives in Canadian federal politics, and the early 21st century rise and fall in the international market price of Western Canada Select oil. (Perhaps Mr. Harper’s party was most attractive across the country when the Western Canadian oil and gas economy was booming.)

* * * *

Even in 2021 the two “central” provinces of Ontario and Quebec had more than 61% of the total Canadian population. The next two most populous (and westerly) provinces of BC and Alberta had 25%. (The most populous province of Ontario by itself had almost 39% of the total, Quebec 23%, BC almost 14%, and Alberta almost 12%. The other six least populous provinces taken together had only 14% of the Canada-wide total, even though each in itself is deeply fascinating, from the endless intrigue of the sea-bound coasts in Atlantic Canada, to the seriously cold winters and brilliant summers of the two more easterly Prairie Provinces.)

Inevitably the weight of the domestic economy fell into similar regional proportions, from the standpoint of the human beings who lived and worked in Canada. International financial markets, however, had never been too interested in the “Canadian-American branch-plant” manufacturing sector that had arisen particularly in Quebec and (especially) Ontario in the first half of the 20th century (right next door geographically to analogous home-office developments in the USA).

It had always been the export-oriented Canadian resource economy that intrigued financial markets. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the height of that economy was the oil and gas industry in Alberta (and Saskatchewan). To some extent in the early 21st century the value of the Canadian dollar tended to rise and fall with the international price for oil. Many saw Canada’s money as a “petrocurrency.” And, here again, there are parallels between the evolution of the Canadian dollar and the rise and fall of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada.

On January 21, 2002, Canada’s currency had hit an all-time low against the US dollar (1 Canadian dollar = 61.79 cents US). Then from 2003 to 2006 (when Harper won his first minority government early in the year) the Canadian dollar appreciated sharply. On September 20, 2007 (a year and a half into the first Harper minority government), it reached parity with the US dollar for the first time in almost 31 years (“driven in part by record high prices for oil and other commodities”).

The Canadian dollar started to fall in the second half of 2008 (holding Harper to a second minority government on October 14, 2008?? — well of course not, but … ). Then it started to rise again, reaching parity with the US dollar once more in April 2010. It was going still higher by the time of the May 2, 2011 Canadian federal election, when the Harper Conservatives finally won a majority government (followed by a peak in the Canadian dollar at $1.06 US on July 21, 2011).

Then Canada’s currency “experienced its fastest decline in modern-day history as commodity prices rapidly deteriorated.” On October 19, 2015 — when the Harper Conservatives lost at last to the Trudeau Liberals — the Canadian dollar closed at 76.81 cents US.

* * * *

The Harper government tended to promote the high value of the dollar during much of its time in office as a mark of its superior economic management, and something that made all Canadians more wealthy. (At least the last part of which was true in one sense.)

The Liberal Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty had his doubts. The still large enough central Canadian manufacturing sector (and the new movie industry in Toronto, eg) liked a lower-valued Canadian dollar, that gave a sharper Canadian competitive edge in key US markets (and brought more revenue and jobs to Canada in the age of Canada-US free trade).

To some observers (especially from the West) this just underlined longstanding antagonisms between old “Laurentian” elites back east in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto (named after the St. Lawrence River), and rising new Canadian resource sector elites in the west — and especially in the glittering new city regions of Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

Since at least the late 20th century there was some recognition back east of new power and influence out west. Canadian Pacific Railway had moved its downsized head office from Montreal to Calgary in 1996.

By the early 21st century Canadian National Railway had expanded its east-west northern North American routes to include north-south routes down the Mississippi valley, vaguely reminiscent of the vanished French American Louisiana. In 2021 Canadian Pacific finally bought Kansas City Southern (if US regulators approve in 2022), with routes deep into Mexico.

It is hard to know just what to make of Pierre Berton’s railway-based Canadian national dreaming of the 1970s in this context.

Whatever else, the Stephen Harper Conservative governments from 2006 to 2015 did bring some fresh Western-based power and human energy to Ottawa, in the ongoing story of the Canadian confederation of 1867.

The trouble here was that the Harper era ended too soon. In October 2021 municipal elections 62% of Albertans who voted supported a vague referendum on changing the federal-provincial financial equalization formula (that the Harper government had helped devise). Albertans, many believed, paid a lot more into the federal equalization program than they ever got back. (Even when the price of oil was falling.) And the Justin Trudeau whose Liberals won their own majority government on October 19, 2015 proved to be no Stephen Harper, to almost no one’s surprise.

The Justin Trudeau Re-Incarnation of the Natural Governing Party

In their own different ways both immediate Liberal leadership successors of Paul Martin, Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, had been high-wattage intellectuals, somewhat remote from anything approaching a Canadian social and political mainstream.

Part of Stephen Harper’s success was that, after Paul Martin, he faced two Liberal leaders who did not connect with a broad enough section of the electorate in any region (including Quebec and downtown Toronto).

* * * *

From the start Justin Trudeau — eldest son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau from Quebec and the beautiful Margaret Sinclair from BC — was something else. Almost immediately after he became Liberal leader in April 2013 his old natural governing party took a sudden lead in opinion polls. And this remained the dominant trend until the end of 2014.

With the first actual fixed date Canadian federal election in the new year of 2015 looming, the Harper Conservatives started finishing ahead in some polls. Then Conservatives and Liberals traded the lead. Then in April and May 2015 Conservatives were mostly ahead. Then something remarkable happened in June. The New Democrats jumped into a surprising opinion poll lead. And with intermittent challenges this NDP lead lasted until the middle of September!

The lead reminded some that Jack Layton’s tragic early death from cancer had meant he never seriously enjoyed the almost stunning New Democrat performance in the May 2, 2011 election. He had led the party to a dramatic finish as Official Opposition with 103 seats and 31% of the cross-Canada vote (again, a historic high for the federal NDP).

Still more dramatically, Layton had moved to Toronto in 1970. But his Quebec family ties, including a grandfather in a Duplessis cabinet (and at last the Sherbrooke Declaration for a simple majority vote on Quebec sovereignty?), helped put 59 of the 103 seats the NDP won in 2011 (some 57%) in le Québec libre — another unprecedented first for the party.

Going with what seemed this winning flow, after Jack Layton’s death in late August 2011, he was succeeded as federal New Democrat leader at a March 2012 convention by his former “Quebec lieutenant,” Thomas “Tom” Mulcair. And for several wild weeks in the summer of 2015 it almost seemed that Tom Mulcair from Quebec (whose wife Catherine Pinhas was born in France) might finally realize Jack Layton’s dream, and bring a federal New Democratic Party with a strong base in Quebec (the old Liberal trick) to power in Ottawa at last!

For better or worse, an NDP government on Parliament Hill in Ottawa would finally remain a Canadian dream (or some would no doubt say nightmare). The Mulcair New Democrats reached their polling peak in late August 2015 (with 40% of the vote in a Forum Research poll and 36% according to Angus Reid). By mid September summer holidays were over and so was Tom Mulcair’s NDP lead.

The Conservatives and Liberals now jousted for first place — until just eight days before the election. Then on October 11 the Justin Trudeau Grits took a lead that lasted over 21 subsequent polls, all the way to the actual vote. On October 19 the Liberals won a majority government of 184 seats in a 338-seat House, with 39.5% of the cross-Canada popular vote.

(As also noted earlier, the Harper Conservatives won only 99 seats with 29% of the vote, and in the end the New Democrats led by Tom Mulcair from Quebec managed only 44 seats, with 19.7%. And to report again on everything, the BQ took 10 seats and the Green Party one!)

* * * *

The 2015 Canadian federal election that first brought Justin Trudeau’s innovative half male/half female Liberal cabinet to office also marked a somewhat hopeful fresh trend in voter turnout.

The 60.9% turnout in the 28 June 2004 election that gave Paul Martin his comparatively short-lived Liberal minority government was an all-time record low since 1867.

The rate subsequently fell to a still lower all-time low of 58.8% in the 14 October 2008 election that gave Stephen Harper his second Conservative minority government.

It had risen somewhat to 61.1% in the 2 May 2011 contest that finally gave the Harper Conservatives a majority government. But it rose still higher to 68.3% in the 19 October 2015 election that gave the Trudeau Liberals their majority government — the highest Canadian federal voter turnout since the 25 October 1993 election that first brought the Jean Chrétien Liberals to office.

* * * *

The first Justin Trudeau cabinet of 15 men and 15 women (and the prime minister), sworn in on November 4, 2015, was genuinely innovative in some respects — beyond its equal male and female proportions.

Three particular cases in point illustrate the broader diversity of Trudeau-the-Younger Liberalism in its original governing form (at least the initial appearances of which and sometimes more did not always last).

* * * *

For Minister of Canadian Heritage Justin Trudeau and his advisors first chose the quietly glamorous 36-year-old Mélanie Joly, MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville in Montreal, with law degrees from Université de Montréal and Oxford.

According to CBC News, Ms Joly was “a former litigation lawyer and public relations executive,” who “worked on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s leadership campaign.” In 2013 she had placed a strong second to winner Denis Coderre in the Montreal mayoral race. And in 2014 she had published “her first book, a political treatise entitled Changer les régles de jeu (Changing the Rules of the Game).”

As CBC News also explained, however : “The heritage portfolio comprises Canada’s arts, culture, sport and media industries, including agencies such as the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, Library and Archives Canada, the National Film Board of Canada and the CBC.” The role of government in these industries in Canada is unusually important (and sensitive). By the summer of 2018 Heritage Minister Joly was facing especially heavy criticism in her home province of Quebec, over a “$500M investment agreement with Netflix that contained no guaranteed funding for French-language content.”

The prime minister, with 40 of Quebec’s 78 seats in his Liberal caucus, apparently felt obliged to replace Mélanie Joly as heritage minister. She was widely perceived as “demoted” to Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie. She nonetheless remained in the cabinet. And not too much later she was seen as promoted again to Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages after the 2019 election, and then yet again, after a second minority “snap” election in 2021, to Minister of Foreign Affairs (where many who watched felt she performed well during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022).

* * * *

The case of the 45-year-old turban-wearing Lt. Col. Harjit Singh Sajjan from Canada’s Pacific coast was only somewhat different. He was the former commanding officer of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), who became Canada’s Minister of National Defence.

As viewed by CBC News here, Harjit Sajjan was “the newly elected Liberal MP for Vancouver South.” A Sikh of Punjabi descent, he “grew up in his riding and later walked the streets of Vancouver as a detective with the Vancouver Police Department’s gang crime unit.” He had a career in the Canadian Armed Forces overseas as well, serving “one tour in Bosnia” and three times in “Afghanistan.” He had been awarded “several military honours, including the Meritorious Service Medal in 2013 for reducing the Taliban’s influence in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, and a Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal.”

As CBC News further explained : “Mr. Sajjan is just one of four Sikhs in Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet … Two of them wear turbans and hold powerful ministries, most notably Minister of Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan … Sajjan’s appointment is widely seen as the most symbolically powerful, according to Bupinder Hundal, a Vancouver journalist who covers the Sikh community … ‘A man in a turban and a beard responsible for a Western country’s military — that sends a real strong message, and in the community that’s a real sense of pride,’ he said.”

Harjitt Sajjan’s subsequent performance as defence minister was strong enough to keep him in the office until the September 20, 2021 snap election. In the re-evaluation of everything that followed what even PM Trudeau might have acknowledged as a mistaken decision to go to the people for a second majority government (that only brought a second minority government), Lt. Col. Sajjan was apparently judged the wrong person to lead what was seen as an increasingly urgent quest to reform the toxically masculine culture of the Canadian Armed Forces. On October 26, 2021 he was replaced as Minister of National Defence by Ms Anita Anand, the lawyer MP for Oakville in the Greater Toronto Area, who had already done well as Receiver General for Canada and Minister of Public Services and Procurement. Again, however, Lt. Col. Sajjan remained in cabinet as Minister of International Development.

* * * *

What seemed at the time another innovative and even unusually important appointment to Justin Trudeau’s original cabinet sworn in on November 4, 2015 finally just foreshadowed the troubles that — by early 2022 — had given him the reverse of Stephen Harper’s two minority governments leading uphill to a final majority government. (Trudeau’s three elections of 2015, 2019, and 2021 began with a majority government, and then went somewhat downhill to two minority governments.)

To start with, very far back in 1930 the not quite legendary Canadian economic historian Harold Innis had concluded his classic book on The Fur Trade in Canada : An Introduction to Canadian Economic History with : “We have not yet realized that the Indian and his culture were fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions.” (With apologies for the marks of the 1930s that this language still bears, as in “his” eg, as well as “Indian.”)

Some 85 years after Innis first uttered these poignant words in print, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s appointment of Jody Wilson-Raybould as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada seemed to come close to an official recognition of just how much the westward-moving Cree and all the other First Nations have contributed to the Canada we know today (starting with the Iroquoian name of the country itself).

Ms Wilson-Raybould was the 44-year-old newly elected Liberal MP for Vancouver Granville. As helpfully summarized on the CTV News site, she was “a former crown prosecutor, adviser at the BC Treaty Commission and First Nations chief. During her time as regional chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations, Wilson-Raybould focused on the advancement of First Nations governance, fair access to land and resources, and improved education and health. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation.” To add to the symbolism “at a 1983 constitutional conference … First Nations politician Bill Wilson [had] told Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau … that his daughter [the future Jody Wilson-Raybould] would like to some day be prime minister.” On November 4, 2015 she at last became Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, thanks to Pierre Trudeau’s (and Margaret Sinclair’s) eldest son, who had become prime minister himself. (And that may have been the deepest start of the trouble!)

* * * *

Ms Wilson-Raybould’s appointment was unusually important because it reflected the Trudeau Liberals’ resurrection of the spirit of Paul Martin’s Kelowna Accord. They wanted to make “Indigenous Reconciliation” a fresh priority — in the general direction of the “94 calls to action” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools, that issued an interim and then six-volume final report in May and December 2015.

Yet after slowly gathering but it seems increasingly stormy waters, culminating early in the 2019 fixed-date election year, Jody Wilson-Raybould finally resigned from the Trudeau cabinet. Her story was a sign that Indigenous Reconciliation was not going to be easy, even when there was political will. It was also a sign that those who saw the new government as innovative in its approach to the traditional institutions of Canadian democracy — an advocate of Changer les régles de jeu in this as other respects — had probably not studied the subject closely enough.

Justin Trudeau, it in any case became clear, had understandably learned the family business of being Prime Minister of Canada from his father. And in thinking about what this ultimately taught him, the Winnipeg wit Larry Zolf’s characterization of the political career of Pierre Trudeau (“from philosopher king to Mackenzie King”) is worth bearing in mind.

Whatever else might be said, Jody Wilson-Raybould finally left the cabinet because she came into too-visible conflict with the prime minister, over what amounted to the customary conventions of cabinet government, as they have evolved in Mackenzie King’s former first self-governing dominion of the (global) British empire over the past 150 years.

Ms Wilson-Raybould for a time won some credibility as someone who carried a torch for a more innovative and even progressive approach to guiding the ship of state in the 21st century. As the 2019 election year settled in, however, she could not avoid becoming a kind of witness for the mass media prosecution in a growing politically charged controversy. At stake (apparently) was the government’s enforcement of some new anti-corruption legislation, with regard to certain historical activities of the major Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, in various parts of the world.

With the October 21, 2019 election in sight the opposition parties warmed to the task of using “SNC-Lavalin” to brand the Trudeau Liberals with the same brush of (again Quebec-based) scandal that had done so much to take down Paul Martin’s Liberals in 2006. And on election day in 2019 they at least held PM Justin Trudeau to a minority government, dependent on the goodwill of a parliament he did not altogether control. (Or at any rate on the New Democrats in that parliament. And also in the one after the retrospectively unwise 2021 election that bequeathed another Liberal minority government, finally formally supported in number crunches by what had by then become Jagmeet Singh’s high-minded NDP.)

* * * *

The Trudeau Liberals’ ultimate loss of the bright sheen that marked their first few years in office is reflected in the decline of their cross-Canada popular vote over the 2015, 2019, and 2021 elections — from 39.47% in 2015 to 33.12% in 2019, and 32.62% in 2021.

PM Trudeau himself has taken some trouble with whatever part of the decline here has something to do with the Liberal Party of Canada leader. Like his father, he is especially not popular in the three traditional Prairie provinces, with special reference to Alberta (and Saskatchewan). After the 2019 election he appointed one of his strongest cabinet ministers, Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister. Though currently living in and representing an affluent downtown Toronto neighbourhood, she had grown up on an Alberta family farm and still had parents in the province. She worked well with Western Canadian (and Ontario) politicians.

Justin Trudeau’s willingness to share responsibility and even limelight with the talented Ms Freeland (among many other things author of the 2012 book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else) qualifies overwrought criticism of his autocratic attraction to Canadian prime ministerial power. Chrystia Freeland began as Minister of international trade (2015–2017), and then moved to Minister of foreign affairs (2017–2019). To her appointment as Deputy prime minister (2019–present) after the 2019 election was first added Minister of intergovernmental affairs (2019–2020), and then Minister of finance (2020–present), after the vaguely controversial resignation of Justin Trudeau’s first Minister of finance, Bill Morneau.

Especially after his failed (and unwise) stab at a second majority government in September 2021, some Trudeau critics and other pundits believed his close work with Deputy PM Freeland was just a prelude to his own resignation. On this theory she would then succeed him as Liberal leader and Prime Minister of Canada before any fresh election. Yet whenever he was asked if he’d be leading his party in the next election Justin Trudeau would just smile and say Yes as if he were quite certain. And after his Liberal written agreement with Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats on March 22, 2022 (Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement), the next election could reasonably be taken as prescribed by the 2007 fixed-date legislation — 20 October 2025.

Sometimes a closet conservative but a progressive icon in the end?

There is a photo from the 2014 Calgary Stampede originally posted on Twitter. With everyone in smart cowboy hats it shows the then still new and only aspiring 42-year-old Liberal leader introducing his young son Xavier to the 55-year-old Prime Minister Harper, who is shaking Xavier’s hand and giving his best impression of a benign uncle.

The photo raises the prospect that Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau may have a few more similarities as Canadian federal political leaders than tight party lines can openly appreciate. Even in their similarities, however, there are certain twists. Just as Harper was (in some ways) more liberal in office than expected (or admitted), Trudeau has arguably been more conservative (in some ways, again).

* * * *

Like Stephen Harper, for instance, Justin Trudeau has taken a conservative stab at Senate reform. It could be said that PM Harper did not leave him much choice.

As the ultimate impracticality of Western Senate reform idealism set in, Harper reverted to an aggressive reprise of more or less blatant old-school patronage appointments to the Senate by the prime minister, in the narrow partisan interests of the governing party. (And in yet another case of “from philosopher king to Mackenzie King” in Ottawa.) This at least opened a door for the Trudeau Liberals to “reform” the still Unreformed Senate of Canada by largely removing (or trying to) the partisan priority from Senate appointments, and ultimately from the life of the Senate itself.

To cite the Prime Minister’s Office : “In 2016, the selection process for Senators was opened to all Canadians. Candidate submissions are reviewed by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, which provides recommendations to the Prime Minister.” Once appointed, independent Senators are not expected to act in traditional party groups in the work of the Senate (as in the elected House of Commons).

All this is arguably a slight improvement on the old partisan patronage system which went out in a blaze of glory under PM Harper. (Maybe? As with Harper’s stab at the appointment process for Governor General, what does the next prime minister do?)

More fundamentally, even if future governments follow its lead, the Independent Advisory Board program has almost nothing to do with the regionally representative Senate reform that Alberta and other parts of Western Canada (inspired by the United States and Australia) had been making noise about since the 1980s.

(And that Harold Innis arguably pointed towards in the 1940s when he wrote : “The complex problems of regionalization in the recent development of Canada render the political structure obsolete and necessitate concentration on the problem of machinery by which interests can become more vocal and their demands be met more efficiently … serious attention should be given to the problem of revising political machinery so that democracy can work out solutions to modern problems.”)

As the Trudeau PMO has explained the new liberal conservatism of the 21st century : “the Senate has evolved from defending regional interests to creating space for the voices of historically underrepresented groups like Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, and women.”

Whatever else, the Triple E Senate reform proposal was about Senators Elected by voters or even “the people” — a movement towards more Canadian democracy in one sense. (If not in the E for Equal provincial representation!)

* * * *

On another somewhat related front Justin Trudeau, as the leader of a Liberal party that has traditionally included some who believe in a future Canadian republic, could not be quite as enthusiastic a proponent of the old-world monarchy in Canada as the Conservative leader Stephen Harper.

Yet in time it became apparent that PM Justin Trudeau (and the Queen herself it seems) had strong memories of how he had first met Queen Elizabeth II when he was five years old. Like other Canadians, Pierre Trudeau’s adult eldest son admired the Queen and her devotion to duty, especially in her impressive old age.

An April 2022 report in Newsweek from the USA summarized much of this : “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was honored by the queen with her first in person meeting with a world leader since contracting coronavirus earlier this year … ‘I have had the particular privilege of having known Her Majesty for about 45 years now,’ Trudeau said after the meeting, ‘and I can tell you that in my conversation with her this morning she was as insightful and perspicacious as ever, very interested in what is going on, asked me all sorts of questions about Canada.’”

At least until the end of her reign PM Trudeau apparently did (and does) not want to talk about the future of the monarchy in Canada, regardless of what opinion polls might say. (Like the November 2021 Angus Reid poll which found that 66% of Canadians opposed carrying on with the monarchy after the passing of the present much-admired Queen.) Justin Trudeau’s attitude on the monarchy has been practically conservative, and probably not very much different from Stephen Harper’s.

* * * *

Meanwhile again, according to T.S. Eliot: “History has many cunning passages.” Several were present in another Harper-Trudeau conservative project — the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that was finally signed in Brussels, Belgium early on in the Justin Trudeau regime, at the end of October 2016 (when Chrystia Freeland was minister of international trade).

To start with, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union signed on October 30, 2016 was a Stephen Harper legacy project. Negotiations had begun at Prague in the Czech Republic on May 6, 2009, in the midst of the second Harper Conservative minority government.

These negotiations themselves, however, were descendants of negotiations on a so-called Canada–EU Trade and Investment Enhancement Agreement, that began late in 2002 (under the Chretien Liberal regime) and were discontinued in 2006.

These talks in turn were just moving further along an extended evolutionary path that began with Pierre Trudeau’s 1970s “Third Option,” and what an April 2009 European Commission bulletin noted as “a 1976 Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Cooperation.”

* * * *

Both Harper and Trudeau have had to deal with ideologically unfriendly US administrations while in office, requiring more liberal impulses in Harper’s case and more conservative ones in Trudeau’s. And both have done their best to respond in co-operative ways.

The re-negotiation of NAFTA into what Ottawa would finally call the Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) was probably the highest achievement of the Trudeau regime’s walking-on-eggs relationship with Donald Trump’s Washington, DC.

It seems likely enough that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have had broadly the same kind of relationship with US President Trump as PM Justin Trudeau, if their roles had been reversed. It was PM Harper who finally brought PM Pierre Trudeau’s European Third Option of 1976 to full life in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, ultimately signed by the government of PM Justin Trudeau in 2016, some 40 years later.

And for Canadian political leaders of virtually all partisan persuasions, CETA was and still is at least in part an aspiring hedge against too close an economic relationship with the United States — a role once played by the global British empire in a now long vanished past.

* * * *

Even when all the incipient conservatism of the Trudeau Liberal regime is laid out in the open, there remains an important sense in which, in the very end, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whatever else, was and still is, as of early spring 2022, something of an undeniable progressive icon.

This almost final side of the story to date had a forceful expression in Daniel Block’s “Justin Trudeau May Be the World’s Most Successful Progressive Leader … You don’t have to like him. But hear out his accomplishments” — an article that appeared in the venerable US progressive journal Washington Monthly, September 29, 2021. (A week or so after PM Trudeau’s second minority government disappointment in the September 20, 2021 Canadian federal election..)

Daniel Block is current“executive editor of the Washington Monthly” — founded by Charles Peters in 1969. Mr. Block’s September 29, 2021 case for Justin Trudeau can be suggested in a few quotations :

“Trudeau’s time in office has resulted in a long list of policy accomplishments. The prime minister expanded Canada’s version of Social Security — called the Canada Pension Plan — by boosting the amount of income the system replaces from one-quarter to one-third, a shift that delighted unions. He increased by 10 percent the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which the government provides to seniors who are especially poor. His parliament created the tax-free Child Care Benefit for impoverished kids. He launched and then hiked the country’s first-ever carbon tax.”

Mr. Block’s list continued : PM Trudeau’s government (along with especially its NDP parliamentary supporters after 2019) “passed a large infrastructure package, one that’s bigger as a percentage of GDP than the bipartisan infrastructure bill the US Congress is now considering. (It is also greener.)”Justin Trudeau similarly “legalized weed … banned 1,500 different kinds of guns. He is planning to increase Canada’s intake of immigrants to levels not seen since 1911. Last May, his government began budgeting tens of billions of federal dollars to reduce child care costs to under $10 a day.˜ ‘This might be the most left wing government in Canada’s history,’ wrote the Canadian journalist Stephen Maher … ”

Block carried on : “Trudeau’s policies appear to have had strong results. Poverty — which was increasing before he took office in 2015 — has fallen during his administration, from 14.5 percent to 10.1 percent in 2019 … Deep poverty, meanwhile, fell from 7.4 percent to 5.0 percent. The share of Canadians making less than half the median income was rising before Trudeau … Since his first victory, it has decreased by 15 percent. The share of after-tax income going to the bottom 40 percent of earners … went up. It remains to be seen how COVID-19 will shape his economic legacy, but Trudeau’s government has mounted an aggressive fiscal response … Of all the refugees who resettled around the world in 2020, nearly half went to Canada. It is the third consecutive year that the country has led the world in resettlements.”

* * * *

As a somewhat troubling note on which to at least begin to end this history of democracy in Canada since 1497, there has also been some decline in voter turnout over the three Trudeau Liberal elections of 2015, 2019, and 2021 — from 68.3% in 2015 to 67.0% in 2019, and 62.5% in 2021.

At the same time, the Canadian federal political event with which this history draws to a close arguably points in more optimistic directions (even for those who do not sympathize with the partisan colours of the particular instance). On March 22, 2022 “the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced an agreement reached by the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party in Parliament, Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement.”

According to rumour the essential nature of the Agreement had been largely determined in conversations between PM Trudeau and NDP leader Singh. But the detailed text of the ultimate written document inevitably read like something finally negotiated by the two leaders’ staffs.

The general principles enunciated up front were straightforward enough : “The Liberal Party of Canada and Canada’s New Democratic Party have agreed to improve the way we approach politics over the next three years for the benefit of Canadians. The parties have identified key policy areas where there is a desire for a similar medium-term outcome.”

At the same time : “The parties will not always agree. The government will pursue elements of its agenda that the NDP may oppose and nothing in this agreement prevents either party from doing that.” Nonetheless : “The arrangement lasts until Parliament rises in June 2025, allowing four budgets to be presented by the government during this time.”

As a crucial part of the implementation of the Agreement : “Both parties agree to the minimum standing meetings: Leaders meeting at least once per quarter, Regular House Leader meetings, Regular Whip meetings, Monthly stock-take meetings by an oversight group” which “will consist of a small group of staff and politicians,” who “will discuss overall progress on key commitments and upcoming issues.”

No doubt the real fun began when the document started spelling out the “key policy areas where there is a desire for a similar medium-term outcome.” Broadly : “The Parties agree to prioritize the following actions, while continuing to work on other possible shared priorities through the oversight group … 1. A better healthcare system … 2. Making life more affordable for people … 3. Tackling the climate crisis and creating good paying jobs … 4. A better deal for workers … 5. Reconciliation … 6. A fairer tax system … 7. Making democracy work for people.”

As amusing as all the subsequent details here may finally prove to be, more than a few Canadians thought that both Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau deserved credit for doing something serious about the proposition that : “Politics is supposed to be adversarial, but no one benefits when increasing polarization and parliamentary dysfunction stand in the way of delivering … results for Canadians.” Nothing human is perfect, and in the end the Agreement may not work quite as planned. But it could give Canadians stable, open-ended, progressive government for three years. Who knows in the spring of 2022? That could prove almost unique in the contemporary history of democracy in the global village.

(And as a very final footnote on numbers, the Canadian House of Commons currently has 338 seats. A bare working majority is 170. As of spring 2022 the Trudeau Liberals had 159, the Conservatives 119, the BQ 32, the New Democrats 25, the Greens 2 , and there was 1 Independent. The Liberals and New Democrats together had a quite comfortable majority of 184 seats. And this was of course at the very heart of Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement announced by the Prime Minister of Canada on March 22, 2022.)

This is the concluding narrative chapter of Randall White’s current work in progress, Children of the Global Village : Democracy in Canada since 1497. An Epilogue on Democracy in Canada today and at least the near tomorrow will follow. For the now complete narrative draft manuscript see The Long Journey to a Canadian Republic.


This is an initial dry-run at what will finally appear in a published hard-copy text, subject to further checking, correction, and editing. The order of the items here broadly matches the order of the text above. The online linkages reported are as of May Day 2022.

Canada, Constitution Act, 1982, section 1 : “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

On Kenneth Boulding see Daniel Stoffman, “Canada ‘comic opera’, economist says,” Toronto Star, August 3, 1977, A6.

David Runciman, “An unheroic age : Why do our politicians seem so diminished?”, New Statesman, 26 September–2 October 2014, 49.

Éric Grenier, “A Harper dynasty and the end of the Liberals? How the 2011 election didn’t change everything … The federal election a decade ago turned out to be an outlier rather than a turning point in Canadian politics,” CBC News ·Posted: May 02, 2021 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: May 2.

Elections Canada, “Choose a general election … 44th General Election, September 20, 2021 … 43rd General Election, October 21, 2019 … 42nd General Election, October 19, 2015 … 41st General Election, May 2, 2011 … 40th General Election, October 14, 2008 … 39th General Election, January 23, 2006.”

Parliament of Canada, “Prime Ministers of Canada.”

CBC News, “Conservatives more than double seat count in Quebec.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/election-results-quebec-city-1.3277405

Stephen J. Harper, A Great Game : The Forgotten Leafs and The Rise of Professional Hockey. Toronto : Simon & Schuster Canada, 2013.

Robert Craig Brown and Ramsay Cook, Canada 1896–1921 : A Nation Transformed. Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1974, 1981.

CBC News, “The 39th Parliament … Debate: The motions on the Québécois nation” … Last Updated November 24, 2006.

Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1991, 1992, 1993.

Statistics Canada, “Aboriginal Peoples Highlight Tables, 2016 Census” [with comparative data for 2011 and 2006].

Statistics Canada, “[2016] Census in Brief … Ethnic and cultural origins of Canadians: Portrait of a rich heritage” … Release date: October 25, 2017.

Government of Canada, “Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.”

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement,”Article by Tabitha de Bruin, Updated by David Joseph Gallant, Published Online July 11, 2011, Last Edited December 16, 2020.

The University of British Columbia, “The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement”

Government of Canada, “Statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools”

Jorge Barrera, “Harper’s 2008 residential school apology was ‘attempt to kill the story,’ says ex-PMO speechwriter, APTN National News, September 10, 2015.

Wikipedia, Fixed election dates in Canada.

Adam M. Dodek, “The Past, Present and Future of Fixed Election Dates in Canada,” ResearchGate, June 2010.

Robert A. MacKay, The Unreformed Senate of Canada. Revised edition. Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1926, 1963.

Randall White, Voice of Region : The Long Journey to Senate Reform in Canada. Toronto : Dundurn Press, 1990.

Centre for Constitutional Studies, University of Alberta, “Charlottetown Accord.”

Supreme Court of Canada, “Reference re Senate Reform,” Supreme Court Judgments, 2014-04-25, 2014 SCC 32, Report [2014] 1 SCR 704, Case number 35203. Judges : McLachlin, Beverley ; LeBel, Louis ; Abella, Rosalie Silberman ; Rothstein, Marshall ; Cromwell, Thomas Albert ; Moldaver, Michael J .; Karakatsanis, Andromache ; Wagner, Richard.

Lorraine Snyder, “Reference re Senate Reform (2014): The Supreme Court Clarifies the Senate Reform Process, Centre for Constitutional Studies, University of Alberta, June 20, 2014.

Adam Dodek, “The Politics of the Senate Reform Reference: Fidelity, Frustration, and Federal Unilateralism,” McGill Law Journal, Volume 60 : 4, June 2015. (2015) 60:4 McGill LJ 623 — (2015) 60:4 RD McGill 623.

John S Ewart, :”The Statute of Westminster, 1931, as a Climax in its Relation to Canada,” 1932 10-2 Canadian Bar Review 111, 1932. [The following passage from Mr. Ewart’s article seems particularly relevant to the discussion of the appointment of the Governor General here : “All administrative association between Canada and the United Kingdom was terminated by the Imperial Conference of 1926. It provided as follows : In our opinion it is an essential consequence of the equality of status existing among the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations that the Governor-General of a Dominion is the representative of the Crown, holding in all essential respects the same position in relation to the administration of public affairs in the Dominion as is held by His Majesty the King in Great Britain, and that he is not the representative or agent of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain or of any Department of that Government …To this the Conference of 1930 added the following : Having considered the question of the procedure to be observed in the appointment of a Governor-General of a Dominion in the light of the alteration in his position resulting from the Resolutions of the Imperial Conference of 1926, the Conference came to the conclusion that the following statements in regard thereto would seem to flow naturally from the new position of the Governor-General as representative of His Majesty only.

  1. The parties interested in the appointment of a Governor-General of a Dominion are His Majesty the King, whose representative he is, and the Dominion concerned .
  2. The constitutional practice that His Majesty acts on the advice of responsible Ministers applies also in this instance.
  3. The Ministers who tender, and are responsible for such advice are His Majesty’s Ministers in the Dominion concerned.
  4. The Ministers concerned tender their formal advice after informal consultation with His Majesty.
  5. The channel of communication between His Majesty and the Government of any Dominion is a matter solely concerning His Majesty and such Government. His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have expressed their willingness to continue to act in relation to any of His Majesty’s Governments in any manner in which that Government may desire.
  6. The manner in which the instrument containing the Governor-General’s appointment should reflect the principles set forth above is a matter in regard to which His Majesty is advised by His Ministers in the Dominion concerned.”]

Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General of Canada, Effective October 1, 1947.

J.R. Mallory, “The Appointment of the Governor General : Responsible Government, Autonomy, and the Royal Prerogative,” The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science / Revue canadienne d’Economique et de Science politique, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Feb., 1960), pp. 96-107.

Government of Canada, “New Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments,” News Release, 4 November 2012.

CBC News, “New panel to ensure ‘non-partisan’ vice regal appointments,” The Canadian Press. Posted: Nov 05, 2012 9:16 AM ET | Last Updated: November 5, 2012.

Government of Canada, “Organization Profile — Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments,” Date modified: 2019-11-26. [“Minister Responsible : Minister of Canadian Heritage ; Appointments : There are no current appointments to this organization.”]

James Bowden, “Picking Up the Shards of the Office of Governor General: A New Advisory Committee Created,” Parliamentum, 2021/03/15.

John Geddes, “Stephen Harper: Conservative? Maybe not … Not so fast with the labels. An exhaustive audit of Stephen Harper’s nine years in power reveals a surprisingly (gasp) liberal economic record,” Maclean’s, April 11, 2015.

Asif Hossain @asifintoronto retweets Martine St-Victor’s March 2021 tweet celebrating Jean Chretien’s March 2003 declaration that Canada would not join US and UK and others in Iraq War with the comment: “Days later, Stephen Harper & Stockwell Day wrote a joint pro-war Wall Street Journal piece, claiming Canada stands with George Bush. Then, Harper went on Fox to say a ‘silent majority’ of Canadians were pro-war.” 10:24 PM, Mar 22, 2021.

CBC Radio, “Sleeping with a very cranky elephant: The history of Canada-U.S. tensions” [including Pierre Trudeau’s 1969 talk to the Washington Press Club], Posted: Jun 15, 2018 5:56 PM ET | Last Updated: June 15, 2018

Randall Palmer, “Canada names social democrat as envoy to U.S.,” Reuters, August 28, 2009, 8:40 AM. [Mr. Palmer concludes with : “In terms of domestic politics, Harper’s gesture in reaching out to Doer may help soften an image seen by many as overly partisan — especially in the wake of a series of recent Senate appointments.”]

Mia Rabson and Bartley Kives, “Doer named new U.S. ambassador … Flight to Churchill in 2007 launched discussion,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1:53 AM CDT Friday, Aug. 28, 2009.

Lawrence Martin, Harperland : The Politics of Control. Toronto : Viking Canada, 2010.

David Beers and Tyee Staff and Contributors, “Harper, Serial Abuser of Power: The Evidence Compiled … The Tyee’s full, updated list of 70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law,” TheTyee.ca., 10 Aug 2015 … Thanks … to friends of The Tyee who helped with this list.

Michael Harris,“Undoing Harper’s ‘Tough on Crime’ Legacy … Independent Sen. Kim Pate calls for updates to mandatory minimums, record suspensions and more,” TheTyee.ca, 23 Dec 2021.

Conservative Party of Canada, Constitution, As amended by the delegates to the National Convention on August 25, 2018 … As consolidated by the National Constitution Committee and approved by National Council. Note section 2.1.5 : “A belief in loyalty to a sovereign and united Canada governed in accordance with the Constitution of Canada, the supremacy of democratic parliamentary institutions and the rule of law.” And section 2.1.9 : “A belief in our constitutional monarchy, the institutions of Parliament and the democratic process.”

W.L. Morton, The Critical Years : The Union of British North America, 1857–1873. Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1964, 1968, 1977.

J.-C. Bonenfant, “Cartier, Sir George-Étienne, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume X (1871-1880). Toronto and Montreal : University of Toronto/Université Laval, 1972. [Cartier was opposed to the “democratic system which prevails in the United States,” proclaiming that “in this country we must have a distinct form of government in which the monarchical spirit will be found.”]

POLTEXT, Département de science politique, Université Laval, “Canadian Throne Speeches.” 39th legislature, 1st session – 03 April 2006 ; 40th legislature, 1st session – 18 November 2008.

Canada, Constitution Act, 1867, section 91 : “It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces …”

Andrew Smith, “Stephen Harper on Colonialism in 2006 … Harper changed his mind on colonialism,” The Past Speaks : Perspectives on the Evolution of States, Markets, and Economic Culture, 5/10/2009.

Scott Staring, “Harper’s history … Stephen Harper’s fight to restore the past misunderstands tradition,” Policy Options Politique, February 1, 2013.

“George Lichtheim, a Historian And Authority on Marxism, Dies,” New York Times, April 26, 1973.

Mitchell Cohen, “The Other George: Lichtheim on Imperialism,” Dissent, Volume 56, Number 1, Winter 2009, pp. 95-100.

George Lichtheim, “Winston Churchill — Sketch for a Portrait,” Collected Essays (New York : The Viking Press, 1973), 13.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Jason Kenney.” Article by Tabitha de Bruin. Updated by Danny Kucharsky. Published Online April 12, 2019. Last Edited April 21, 2020.

Wikipedia, Naheed Nenshi.

Daniel Tencer, “Canada’s Income Inequality ‘Surged Under Harper’: Analysis … The share of Canadians living in poverty also increased,” HuffPost Canada, May 29, 2017, 03:40 AM EDT.

Jim Stanford, Jordan Brennan, “Harper’s economic record the worst in Canada’s postwar history … The Conservatives portray themselves as capable economic managers. But their record proves the opposite,” Toronto Star, Thu., Sept. 17, 2015.

Teresa Healy and Stewart Trew (eds), The Harper Record 2008–2015, Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2015.

James Laxer, “Fake Left, Go Right … An insider’s take on Jack Layton’s game of chance,” The Walrus, Feature May 2006. Updated 11:42, Sep. 8, 2021 | Published 4:22, May. 12, 2006

Andrew Heard, Political Science Department, Simon Fraser University, “Canadian Election Results by Party, 1867 to 2021.”

Government of Alberta, “Let’s Talk About Saskatchewan … As of December 2013, there were 29,885 producing oil wells, and 23,081 producing gas wells, in Saskatchewan (compared to 41,601 producing oil wells and 104,046 producing gas wells in Alberta in 2014.)”

Government of Alberta, “Oil Prices … Price per barrel of WCS oil in US dollars,” Apr 1983 to Mar 2022.

Tim McMahon, “Historical Crude Oil Prices … 1946-Present,” InflationData.com, April 12, 2022.

Statistics Canada, “Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories,” 2021 and 2016 censuses, Release date: 2022-02-09.

Glen Williams, Not for Export : The International Competitiveness of Canadian Manufacturing. Third Edition. Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1983, 1986, 1994.

Desjardins Economic News, “Is the Canadian Dollar Still a Petro-Currency?,” May 29, 2019.

Michelle Zadikian, “Canadian dollar no longer oiled up by crude: CIBC,” BNN Bloomberg, Mar 8, 2022.

Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group, “Brief History of the Canadian Dollar” (1953–2016).

Trading Economics, Canadian Dollar, 1972–2022.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Canadian Dollars to U.S. Dollar Spot Exchange Rate, 1971-2022.

Alexis Stoymenoff , “Respected economist echoes McGuinty: ‘petro dollar damaging to Canada’s manufacturing industry’ … Economist Robyn Allan addresses recent remarks from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Alberta Premier Alison Redford, highlighting conflicting viewpoints on oil and the Canadian economy, Vancouver Observer, Mar 1st, 2012.

John Ibbitson, “The Collapse of the Laurentian Consensus : On the westward shift of Canadian power and values,” Literary Review of Canada, January-February 2012.

Daniel MacFarlane, “Laurentian Thesis as Environmental History: Donald Creighton and the Seaway,” Daniel MacFarlane PhD, February 17, 2016.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Canadian National Railway (CN).”Article by Albert Tucker, Updated by Tabitha Marshall, Published Online March 25, 2009, Last Edited October 24, 2017.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Canadian Pacific Railway.” Article by Omer Lavallé, Updated by Tabitha Marshall, Published Online March 6, 2008, Last Edited January 24, 2018.

Marybeth Luczak, “CP-KCS Merger Proceeding Moves Forward,” Railway Age, February 18, 2022.

Ian Brodie, At the Centre of Government : The Prime Minister and the Limits on Political Power. Montreal & Kingston : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018.

Michelle Bellefontaine, “Albertans support bid to change equalization, narrowly turn down year-round daylight time … 62% voted yes on equalization; permanent DST voted down by 50.2%,” CBC News, Posted: Oct 26, 2021 8:57 AM MT, Last Updated: October 26, 2021.

Paul Wells, “The PM as dictator : The ultimate Harper insider on a theory of concentrated power” (a review of At the Centre of Government by Ian Brodie, noted just above). Literary Review of Canada, May 2018.

Wikipedia, Opinion polling for the 2015 Canadian federal election.

Elections Canada, Official Voting Results, Forty-Second General Election (October 19, 2015)
Summary tables
Percentage of valid votes by political affiliation
Distribution of seats by political affiliation and sex

Elections Canada, Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums (1867–2021)

Randall White, “On the new era in Canada .. Alexandre Trudeau, Mélanie Joly, Harjit Sajjan, and Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould,” countereights.ca, Nov 7th, 2015.

“Mélanie Joly, Montreal MP, named minister of Canadian heritage … Lawyer, former PR exec was dark-horse candidate in 2013 Montreal mayoral race,”CBC News, Posted: Nov 04, 2015 12:12 PM ET, Last Updated: November 4, 2015.

Graeme Hamilton, “Once a rising star, Mélanie Joly demoted after missteps hurt Liberals in Quebec … file that likely cost Joly her job was last year’s $500M investment agreement with Netflix that contained no guaranteed funding for French-language content,” National Post, July 18, 2018.

Tamara Baluja, “Harjit Sajjan: Meet Canada’s new ‘badass’ defence minister … Sajjan served with the military in Bosnia and Afghanistan and as a Vancouver police detective,” CBC News, Posted: Nov 04, 2015 8:02 PM PT, Last Updated: November 5, 2015.

Anirudh Bhattacharyya, “Anita Anand is only the second woman to become Canada’s defence minister … Anand … the first Hindu to become a cabinet minister when she was appointed minister of public services and procurement in 2019, has been promoted to the critical defence portfolio,” Hindustan Times, Oct 27, 2021.

Center for Strategic and International Studies, “A Conversation with the Honorable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence of Canada,” Thursday, April 28, 2022 11:15 am – 11:45 am, Online-Only.

Harold A. Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada : An Introduction to Canadian Economic History (New Haven : Yale University Press, 1930), 397.

Susana Mas, “First Nations give Stephen Harper proposal to reform land claims … ‘We’re recommending to the prime minister that he adopt the principles respecting recognition and reconciliation of Section 35 rights,’ Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for B.C Jody Wilson-Raybould told a group of national chiefs gathered for a bi-annual meeting in Gatineau, Que., last week,” CBC News, Posted: Dec 20, 2013 5:00 AM ET, Last Updated: December 20, 2013.

“UPDATED: Justin Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet — full list and bios,” CTVNews.ca Staff, Published Wednesday, November 4, 2015 10:18AM EST … Last Updated Monday, November 18, 2019 3:41PM EST. [Ed note : this 2019 “update” is as close as we now seem able to get for the CTV News site summary of Ms. Raybould-Wilson’s career cited in the text above. For another secondary source online see the Randall White, “On the new era in Canada” piece noted just above here, from Nov 7th, 2015.]

“Jody Wilson-Raybould’s father tells Pierre Trudeau his daughter wants to be PM” … BC Chief Bill Wilson tells Pierre Trudeau at a 1983 Constitutional conference on native issues that his pre-teen daughter Jody wants the PM’s job,” CBC News.

Karin Larsen, “Old video of Pierre Trudeau and Bill Wilson foreshadows political success of kids … Video from 1983 conference shows father of Jody Wilson-Raybould telling Trudeau his daughter wants to be PM.” CBC News, Nov 05, 2015 9:51 AM PT, Last Updated: November 7, 2015.

Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future : Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015.

Amanda Connolly, “Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet amid SNC-Lavalin affair, Trudeau ‘surprised and disappointed’,” Global News, Posted February 12, 2019 12:47 pm, Updated February 18, 2019 2:44 pm.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns from cabinet … In a letter published on her website, Wilson-Raybould does not say exactly why she’s quitting,” The Canadian Press, February 12, 2019.

“Federal ethics czar launching inquiry into PMO after SNC-Lavalin allegations … The NDP asked Mario Dion last week to examine whether Trudeau’s aides leaned on the former attorney general to pursue a deal instead of fraud charges,” The Canadian Press, February 11, 2019.

Kenneth Jull, “The case for—and problem with—remediation deals like the one SNC-Lavalin wants … Deferred prosecutions can spare jobs, pensions and taxpayer dollars, says expert Kenneth Jull, but cabinet must act to prevent future political storms,” Maclean’s, February 11, 2019.

Elections Canada, “Choose a general election … 44th General Election, September 20, 2021 … 43rd General Election, October 21, 2019 … 42nd General Election, October 19, 2015.”

The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Chrystia Freeland,” Article by Allister Thompson, Published Online May 23, 2019, Last Edited August 24, 2020.

Wikipedia, Chrystia Freeland.

Chrystia Freeland, Member of Parliament for University-Rosedale. “Located in the heart of Toronto, our riding of University—Rosedale is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse communities in Canada. As a resident of our riding, it is an honour for me to represent you in Ottawa..”

“’I am here to look for common ground’: Freeland, Kenney meet in Edmonton … Deputy PM was also slated to attend event hosted by Ukrainian Canadian Congress,” CBC News, Posted: Nov 25, 2019 8:52 AM MT, Last Updated: November 25, 2019.

Alexis Kienlen, “Peace River farmers host local girl — the deputy prime minister … Chrystia Freeland now lives in Toronto but agreed to meet with producers during a trip to visit family,” Alberta Farmer, January 29, 2020.

Lauren Gardner, “Canadian finance minister resigns amid contracting scandal … Bill Morneau told reporters he’s instead putting his name forward as a candidate to lead the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,” Politico, 08/17/2020 08:11 PM EDT, Updated: 08/17/2020 08:53 PM EDT.

“Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister, Canada,” Forbes, #97 Power Women (2021).

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, “Chrystia Freeland drops a bombshell: A thrifty budget … Finance minister pivots from spending to prudence: ‘Canada has a proud tradition of fiscal responsibility. It is my duty to maintain it.’” Politico, 04/07/2022 10:06 PM EDT.

Prime Minister of Canada, Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement, March 22, 2022.

Justin Trudeau @JustinTrudeau : “Nice to introduce Xavier to the Prime Minister. Good of @pmharper to say hello. Enjoy #Stampede2014 … 12:59 PM · Jul 4, 2014.

Prime Minister of Canada, “The Prime Minister announces the appointment of Senators … The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Canada’s new Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, appointed the following individuals as independent Senators to fill vacancies across Canada,” July 29, 2021, Ottawa, Ontario.

Counterweights Editors, “Harold Innis’s case for Canadian Senate reform in the 1940s,” counterweights.ca, Apr 10th, 2015.

H.A. Innis, “Decentralization and Democracy,” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science/Revue canadienne de economiques et science politique, Volume 9, Issue 3, August 1943, pp. 317- 330.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/137247 ; https://www.jstor.org/stable/137247

Tony Dean, “The Senate’s longstanding duopoly has finally faded … Independent senators now make up 80 per cent of the Senate, allowing for a fresh, critical look at government bills rather than a replay of debates,” Policy Options Politiques, February 16, 2022. [This view from an Independent Senator appointed under the new regime of “changes” that are “the most significant in the history of the 154-year-old institution” is much in favour of the changes.]

James Crawford-Smith, “Canadian Royal Tour Won’t Be as ‘Controversial’ as Caribbean Trip—Experts,” Newsweek, 4/12/22 AT 8:31 AM EDT.

Angus Reid Institute, “For many Canadians, interest in remaining a
constitutional monarchy will die with Queen Elizabeth … Most say they’ll be saddened by death of Queen, but don’t wish to continue with monarchy under Charles,” November 30, 2021.

T.S. Eliot, “Gerontion” (1920) : “After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now/History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors/And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,/Guides us by vanities …”.

Government of Canada, “Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).”

Global Affairs Canada, “Canada-European Union Trade and Investment Enhancement Agreement (TIEA) … Good progress was made on the TIEA until 2006 when Canada and the EU jointly decided to pause negotiations. With negotiations on a CETA, we have now moved beyond the TIEA toward an agreement with a much broader and more ambitious scope.”

“Canada-European Union,” Foreign Trade Information System, Organization of American States.

European Commission, “EU-Canada: Green light for the Commission to negotiate new free trade and economic agreement,” Brussels, 27 April 2009.

Government of Canada, “A new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement … On July 1, 2020, the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) entered into force.”

Randall White, “Why is so much Canadian mainstream media (and its hangers-on) so eager to gang up on PM Justin Trudeau?” counterweights.ca, Oct 3rd, 2021.

Daniel Block, “Justin Trudeau May Be the World’s Most Successful Progressive Leader,” Washington Monthly, September 29, 2021.

Wikipedia. Charles Peters.

Elections Canada, “Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums” (1867–2021).

Prime Minister of Canada, Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement, March 22, 2022.

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