John Ibbitson, the chief political correspondent for the Toronto Globe and Mail and Darrell Bricker, the CEO of polling firm Ipsos Global Public Affairs, have a book that I think will cause many of John’s Globe readers, at least, as well as many other government, academic and cultural elites in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor to be cluck, cluck, clucking in disagreement over some uncomfortable ideas — uncomfortable to those elites, in any event — the authors advance. For example: “The Conservative Party will be to the 21st-century what the Liberal Party was to the 20th: the perpetually dominant party, the natural governing party.”
Or: ”From the time of Confederation until quite recently, the political, academic, cultural, media, and business elites in the communities along the watershed of the St. Lawrence River ran this country. On all of the great issues of the day, these Laurentian elites debated among themselves, reached a consensus, and implemented that consensus. They governed. These elites are in a very bad mood right now — the worst in their lives, as far as politics is concerned. No one is listening to them anymore.”
The book is called The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business and Culture and What it Means for Our Future. I know and often enjoy the company and conversation of both Ibbitson and Bricker and, as with any authors, I wish them all success when the book hits the streets on Feb. 28. I hope The Big Shift finds many readers. (As I work my way through it, you’ll see some thoughts/quotes tweeted from me using the hashtag #BigShiftCanada).
Many (most?) members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery should read this book if only for Bricker’s demographic analysis which may help those of us in Ottawa understand some of the shifts in thought and temperament in the rest of the country. Mind you, I and my press gallery colleagues will also learn that Ibbitson and Bricker think very little of most of our employers and their Laurentian bias when it comes to the news.
Ibbitson (though he works for a paper that is among the most guilty in terms of providing false comfort for the Laurentian elites — anyone see the Globe‘s A1 after Redford won her Alberta premiership?) and Bricker are scathing when it comes to the the hysterics of Harper’s mainstream media critics. Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin and Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick get singled out but there is no shortage of what Ibbitson and Bricker call Laurentian media elites who “believe that any government outside its ideological or geographical frame of reference is not a legitimate government. Its policies are not simply wrong, but destructive. The suburban voters who have detached themselves from their former allies in city centers are deluded. The elections that brought such a government to power had to have been corrupted. The Conservative government is not misguided; it is evil. Stephen Harper is evil.”
Bricker and Ibbitson even compare the Laurentian elite media that holds this view to the “birthers”, the nuts in the U.S. who think Obama’s birth certificate is fake and that he is a Muslim and possibly a Muslim terrorist. ”Whenever the central Canadian power elites have found the argument not going their way, they have questioned the legitimacy of the other side.”
Never mind, the authors write, that Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, expropriated private property in the National Energy Policy, and tore the country apart when repatriating the Constitutution, “that’s nothing compared to gutting the mandatory long-form census.”
This is but a small taste that comes midway through the book. There is a whole chapter on the “The Decline of the Laurentian Media: Why it doesn’t matter if the press gallery doesn’t like Stephen Harper.” I’ll pull out the juicy bits in that chapter in a future blog post.