Pausing in Ontario election campaign to consider prospect that PM Stephen Harper and PM Justin Trudeau may (in some ways) be similar federal leaders?

May 10th, 2022 | By | Category: Key Current Issues
Untitled by noted Toronto artist Michael Seward, May 2022.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS. GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MAY 10, 2022. Just as the Ontario provincial election campaign finally starts showing some (half?) life (maybe?), we’ve at long last just received the last narrative chapter in Randall White’s work in progress, Children of the Global Village : Democracy in Canada Since 1497.

It is called “‘An object lesson to the whole world … If Canada could exist, what couldn’t?’, 2006–2021.” And this title apparently refers to a quotation with which the book began (see “Prologue : too much geography”), from the British American economist and philosopher Kenneth Boulding (1910–1993) : Canada is an “absurd country … whose very existence is an object lesson to the whole world … I’ve always thought, ‘If Canada could exist, what couldn’t?’”

This last narrative chapter brings the particular modern democratic story that (for the sake of argument) began not too long after Giovanni Cabotto’s 1497 journey to some place on the northern North American Atlantic coast (probably present-day Newfoundland) down to the present moment — the Age of PM Stephen Harper followed by the Age of PM Justin Trudeau.

How does Mr. White himself explain that more than a year has elapsed since the posting in this format of his second-last narrative chapter, “The Return of the Natural Governing Party, 1992—2006”? He notes that all four now complete draft chapters in “PART IV : The Long Journey to a Canadian Republic, 1963–20??” have taken some time.

[READERS WITH LESS TIME MAY WANT TO OMIT THIS : The first — “Canadian flag to Parti Québécois government, 1963–1976” — was posted Dec 23rd, 2018. The next — “New northern directions (and two lights that failed), 1976–1992” — first appeared Dec 31st, 2019 (just over a year later). But the third chapter — The Return of the Natural Governing Party, 1992–2006 — was posted about a year and two and a half months after that, on Mar 18th, 2021. Now the fourth and final chapter in Part IV — “An object lesson to the whole world … … ‘If Canada could exist, what couldn’t?’, 2006–2021” — has appeared on May 7th, 2022, not quite a year and two and a half months after the third chapter.]

Untitled by noted Toronto artist Michael Seward, May 2022.

Mr. White reports as well that he might still be searching for an end to the fourth chapter, were it not for the March 22, 2022 Delivering for Canadians Now, A Supply and Confidence Agreement — masterminded by Liberal (minority) PM Justin Trudeau and New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh. This (a much overused word these days) iconic (and optimistic) bow to the concept of co-operation between centre-left and more radical left democratic political forces, White has speculated, at last provided a convenient end point for the story he wants to tell. (eg CLICK HERE.)

Meanwhile, Dr. White (“a perhaps somewhat unusual PhD in political science from the University of Toronto, however reluctantly granted long ago”) has now returned to his former habit of taking his quietly glamorous associate for afternoon coffee, at the Tim Horton’s just across from Kew Gardens in the east-end Beaches neighbourhood of Canada’s current largest metropolis. And there during a short interview yesterday he confessed that one of his discoveries during his labours of the past year and a few months on the Canadian Age of PM Stephen Harper and the current ongoing Age of PM Justin Trudeau almost surprised him.

Someone close by at Tim Horton’s had a laptop and kindly allowed the aging White to point out two short paragraphs from his final narrative chapter that more or less summarize this near surprise : “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 second paragraph concludes : “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).”

Mr. White concluded his thoughts with : “Of course there are still great differences between Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau. Mr. Harper would never have made the kind of deal with New Democrats that has now been devised by Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Singh.” For more on the full story of “An object lesson to the whole world … … ‘If Canada could exist, what couldn’t?’, 2006–2021” (followed by too many notes on sources) CLICK HERE.

As for what all or any of this might mean for the possibly slightly heating (warming?) up official Ontario election campaign of 2022, our ONTARIO ELECTION WATCH II will appear tomorrow, or the next day. (And for the moment here are two related recent headlines beyond the opinion polls that have caught our attention so far : “DesRosiers says Canadian auto sales dropped 13 per cent in April” and “Nanos: Del Duca could be wildcard in the Ont. election.”)

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