One of the ways in which Canadians are persuaded not only to accept bad public policy but to admire it is we are told we are moderate people who embrace a “middle way” between radical and irresponsible extremes. I do not know that it would be a sign of wisdom if it were true, a mark of our capacity to adhere to Aristotle’s golden mean rather than proof of an indecisive tendency to mix incompatible alternatives; one of the few remarks by Woodrow Wilson I endorse is that there is a case for coffee and a case for tea but no case for mixing them together. But in any case it is not true that moderation is a hallmark of Canadian governments.
In case after case, Canadian policy is in fact an extreme outlier, from the appalling restrictiveness of our health system to our feeble defence spending to our judicial activism. And now Eric Duhaime points out in the Ottawa Sun that
The rate of unionized workers among the workforce has been dropping drastically in the Western world over the last three decades. For example, it went from 50% to 26% in the United Kingdom, from 22% to 11% in the U.S., from 48% to 18% in Australia and from 18% to 7.5% in France. The new knowledge economy with many more autonomous workers necessitates fewer unions and more flexibility. Canada, however, has been resisting that trend by falling from 34% to only 27.5%. In Quebec, this percentage even increased from 35.9% to 36.3%. What’s wrong with Canada?
He goes on to make several suggestions (including that you read his new book Liberez-nous des syndicats! which you should). But I’m going to offer one of my own: That we swallow radical policies because of their deceptive sweet coating of moderation. We should really make more of a habit of reading the label.