Steyn on Canada and the Commonwealth
UPDATE! With the polls closed coast to coast, it turns out to be not the Tories but M Trudeau's Liberals who've made fools of the pollsters. The actual votes were way ahead of anything the data predicted. On balance I would have preferred Mr Mulcair to dethrone Mr Harper, if only because, vis-Ă -vis Clinton vs Bush south of the border, with Justin at 24 Sussex Drive I will no longer be able to use my line that say what you want about constitutional monarchy but at least you get a non-hereditary political class.
It is an appalling defeat for Canadian Tories. As I say below, unlike British Tories in 1997, there is no sense of losing to a tamed and reformed opponent forced to meet you halfway. Justin Trudeau's ministry will govern as if Stephen Harper never existed.
One other thought: Let's go back to six-week campaigns.
Election Day dawns in Canada. For non-Canadians, at a time when what's left of "the west" is represented by Obama, Merkel, Hollande and Cameron, the fall of Stephen Harper, following the eviction last month of Tony Abbott, would be a setback for what's left of sanity and reality on the world stage. Israel, in particular, will miss Harper at a time when John Kerry deplores the way these intransigent Jews have caused Palestinians to become so "frustrated" they're stabbing random Israelis and running them over in their cars. You have to be really "frustrated" to do that. In foreign affairs, the Canadian Prime Minister is one of the few remaining western leaders who doesn't talk total bollocks.
Is the fall of Harper inevitable? Over the weekend, the last major polling organization still insisting it was all too close to call claimed to have detected a last-minute "surge" driven by seniors returning to the comforting bosom of the Liberal Party. So the pollsters are agreed that by the end of the night the Grits will be the largest party in Parliament.
We shall see. But, to end the day still in government, the Conservative Party of Canada would now have to pull off as big a "Screw you!" to the pollsters as David Cameron's Tories did in May. You'll recall that five months ago UK election-eve polls showed the Conservatives would win between 273 and 286 seats. They wound up with 330.
That's the kind of poll/vote differential Canadian Tories are looking for. So it's do-able. But can Harper's Tories do it?
On the one hand, Canadian Cincinnatus:
It has another defect, too: You get damned as extremist anyway. No serving prime minister has been portrayed as a totalitarian megalomaniac on the scale Harper has - not even Pierre Trudeau, who would have enjoyed it.
So, on the other hand, Conrad Black:
Conrad actually makes a rather better case for Harper than the pro-Harper piece from Canadian Cincinnatus - before deciding it's time to take a flyer on Justin. My old boss has (entirely legitimate) grievances against the Prime Minister that most of his critics do not. In recent weeks, two prominent conservative figures in the Canadian commentariat have remarked to me on Harper's "coldness" even with friendly media types. That's true, certainly when compared to his delightful and friendly missus, or to, say, the bonhomous Jason Kenney or Lisa Raitt, who manage to give the impression they enjoy even hostile interviews. Harper is a cold fish, and the coldness isn't just a social affect. Last year, Harper had Conrad expelled from the Privy Council, as cold-hearted an act as one could devise to humiliate a man who played a crucial role in the glory days of The National Post in both the creation of the new Conservative Party and the rise of Harper to lead it. It was not merely unjust but unnecessary, coming years after Conrad's stitch-up in a corrupt US court for a "crime" that does not exist in any other western nation. I have no idea why Harper felt he had to do it, and, all things considered, Conrad is extremely generous to him in his column. But I do wonder how many lesser known, broadly conservative persons are nursing various grievances against Harper this morning. That never helps in a close election.
In democratic societies, when a long governing party loses to its principal rival, it's because the rival has been forced, in the interests of electoral viability, to meet you halfway - to steal at least some your clothes. Mrs Thatcher forced the Labour Party to change, and thus enabled it to anoint Tony Blair and return to power shorn of its worst impulses. Likewise, the Reagan-Bush years led to Bill Clinton and the "New Democrats". Even in Canada, Brian Mulroney tamped down the Trudeaupian excesses of the Liberals and enabled Jean ChrĂ©tien to succeed as head of a Nafta-supporting, debt-reducing ministry. Should tonight go badly, there will be no such consolations for Stephen Harper: Justin Trudeau, in all his shallow modish twerpery, represents everything he despises.
That kind of contempt can make you complacent. When I was in Ottawa last year to address the Manning Conference, I did a little bit of Patrick Brazeau shtick, as the Senator had just been evicted from Parliament and taken a new job as day manager of a strip club. And a couple of cabinet honchos remarked to me en passant that, with hindsight, the Brazeau/Trudeau boxing match broadcast by Sun News had turned out to be a rather consequential moment in Canadian affairs. The bruiser, you'll recall, was supposed to flatten the pretty boy. But as Michael van Tandt concludes:
As to what awaits us if the Liberals win, on an issue dear to my heart, Peter Frost writes of "The End of Indian Summer":
My case put the army of statist hacks opposed to free speech on the defensive, and eventually the Canadian Parliament repealed Section 13, under which Maclean's was dragged into court. But those who value identity-group rights over individual liberty fell quiet, bided their time, and are looking forward to enforcing ideological compliance once again:
Today, our Indian summer is coming to an end. In Alberta, the human rights commission is pushing to see how far it can go, and Ezra Levant is again being prosecuted... Last month in Quebec, the government passed a bill that greatly expands the powers of its human rights commission to prosecute "hate."
Climb into your niqab and vote early and often.
~Later today I'll be south of the border talking US politics with New England radio colossus Howie Carr on Boston's WRKO.
from Steyn on Canada, October 19, 2015
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A few years back, Ezra Levant and I won a series of victories over various of Canada's totalitarian "human rights" commissions, culminating in the repeal by Parliament of the appalling thought-crime law, Section 13. The beneficiaries of the hate-speech racket have never forgiven us, and have spent the intervening years attempting to re-litigate their defeats in any venue that comes to hand. These days I spend most of my time on my luxury yacht in international waters beyond the jurisdictional ...
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