Finally, amid the pervasive gloom, comes an exuberant expression of optimism ‚Äď nay, faith ‚Äď in Canada‚Äôs future. Remarkably, it comes from three economists, practitioners of the famously dismal science. The 20th century, they say, wasn‚Äôt destined to belong to Canada, as turn-of-the-century prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier once asserted it would be. But Laurier, wasn‚Äôt really wrong, they say ‚Äď he was merely premature. Make it the 21st century instead.
What went wrong? What caused a 100-year postponement of Canada‚Äôs manifest destiny? Laurier put everything in place for a century of stupendous advance, these economists say ‚Äď but the country discarded Laurier‚Äôs precepts for decades. ‚ÄúWe abandoned almost every tenet of Laurier‚Äôs plan,‚ÄĚ they say, ‚Äúand we paid a heavy price for it.‚ÄĚ
But, bit by bit, Canada has tentatively restored, or begun to restore, Laurier‚Äôs lost tenets ‚Äď a restoration successively accomplished by Conservative governments (notably, Brian Mulroney‚Äôs free trade agreement with the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s), NDP governments (notably Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow‚Äôs principled return to balanced budgets in the 1990s) and Liberal governments (notably Paul Martin‚Äôs paying down of the national debt in the late 1990s and early 2000s).
Canadian Century celebrates the good beginning that the ‚Äúredemptive decade,‚ÄĚ with its tentative return to Laurier‚Äôs lost tenets, provided ‚Äď apparently, given the great global recession, just in the nick of time. It laments the retreat from these tenets that the recession produced. Now, the economists say, is the time to finish the job ‚Äď now that Canada‚Äôs opportunity has been doubled ‚Äúby America‚Äôs confusion and loss of direction‚ÄĚ ‚Äď and by its own loss of the tenets that produce enduring prosperity.
I am quoted in this Hill Times story about religion in politics.
Brian Lee Crowley, managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and author of the book Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values, said the increased visibility of the religious right in politics is partly a reaction to a period of aggressive secularism in Western politics. He said it’s a trend that’s likely to continue. “We’re entering an era in which faith, in the largest sense, is becoming a powerful political force,” said Mr. Crowley. “People of faith in Canada are getting more involved in politics, not just Christians, I think Jews are doing it, the Muslim community is doing it, in the Sikh community, you’ll find the various temples are powerful community rallying points. We’re entering an era in which faith is going to be much more powerful force within politics.”
My new book (co-authored with Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis), The Canadian Century: Moving Out of America’s Shadow, is coming out soon! We’re having a national launch party in Ottawa on May 20. Click here to register for this event.
On March 11 I was the keynote speaker at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs conference on family policy. I spoke about what we know today about the relationship between the health of the institution of the family and the transmission between the generations of values essential to democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Below is the text of that speech.
I was recently invited by the Federal-Provincial Relations Division of Finance Canada to participate in a panel discussion in Ottawa on the future of federal transfers to the provinces. Here is the text of my remarks.
In this week’s Maclean’s magazine Paul Wells spends a lot of time discussing Fearful Symmetry and the social policy changes it portends:
“For next steps, many conservatives are turning to Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Founding Values, a new book by Brian Lee Crowley, an economist and founder of the new Macdonald √Ę‚ā¨‚Äú Laurier Institute.
Crowley does not regard himself as a social conservative. But many who do see themselves that way like what he√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs saying. To caricature a complex argument, Crowley says the modern welfare state has overextended itself, is unsustainable, and causes more harm than good to institutions like the family. These trends will only get worse when an aging population sharply increases the cost of delivering most social programs. One size can no longer fit all. Social services will have to be narrowly aimed at those who need them most, and delivered only as long as recipients are willing to improve their behaviour by attending to their family, keeping or seeking a job, and so on.
Government is no good at any of that and, in the opinion of most, shouldn√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘt try. √Ę‚ā¨ŇďIt is precisely for this reason, in my view, that we have seen in both the United States and the United Kingdom a growing use of the private sector, including the not-for-profit and so-called faith-based charities, for the delivery of social services,√Ę‚ā¨¬Ě Crowley writes. √Ę‚ā¨ŇďSuch private agencies may be more demanding of their clientele and expect more in the way of improvements in behaviour.√Ę‚ā¨¬Ě
Crowley√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs book was published last autumn. It seems to have been barely one step ahead of the news. This month√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Throne Speech contained a single line saying the government √Ę‚ā¨Ňďwill look to innovative charities and forward-thinking private-sector companies to partner on new approaches to many social challenges.√Ę‚ā¨¬Ě Such charities and companies were much in evidence at the Manning Centre conference. The changes Crowley anticipates are expected and embraced by social conservatives.
Meanwhile, the federal Liberals are still defending policies from five years ago, policies Harper has taken pains to ensure future federal governments won√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘt be able to afford, with his GST cuts and his massive cash transfers to the provinces. If the Liberals cannot begin to make a case for a return to larger, more activist √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ and more expensive √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ state-run social welfare, then Stephen Harper√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs social conservative revolution will only accelerate.
On March 11 I was the keynote speaker at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada’s conference on family policy. I spoke about what we know today about the relationship between the health of the institution of the family and the transmission between the generations of values essential to democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Below are some√ā¬† audio clips from my talk.
Here is the full text of my review of Frank McKenna: Beyond Politics, which appeared in the Globe and Mail on February 11. Contrary to his critics, I believe that McKenna was a pivotal figure in New Brunswick’s political history, and also that he showed, in his brief time in that office, that he would have been one of the most influential ambassadors ever for Canada in Washington DC. And by the way, my proposed head for this review had nothing to do with the best PM we’ll never have. My suggestion was “Leave this Man Alone”.
Fearful Symmetry in the Halifax Herald
This review first appeared in the Halifax Herald on January 3. It is no longer available online so I’m reproducing it here.
Socialist policies will be history, Crowley predicts
By JEFFREY SIMPSON
BRIAN Lee Crowley predicts that Canada is on the cusp of a profound economic and cultural change that will take the country back to its ideological roots, even if they are unfamiliar to many citizens.
Crowley, the well-known conservative thinker who founded the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, makes a compelling argument in his recently published book, Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Founding Values, that the last five decades spent as a nation with socialist leanings has been merely an aberration. Read more
Read what Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has to say about Fearful Symmetry in the December 2009 edition of Foreign Policy Magazine. FS is his choice for the Global Thinkers Book Club (“What the smart set is reading”).Of course he suggests the book is an attack on modern Canadian liberalism, and I don’t really agree –… I think of it as a call for the Liberal Party to return to the values that served it, and the country, so well for Canada’s first century. But he certainly sees the book as a reasoned critique of the last 50 years of Canadian public policy, and on that we agree…
Here’s what he says: “It’s an attack on everything I believe, so it’s very bracing and interesting…. He’s saying that Canadian liberalism has damaged Canada, and as the Liberal Party leader I have to disagree. But it’s very intelligent and it’s very important to take your adversaries seriously, so I’m taking him seriously.”
For what it’s worth, I think Michael deserves to be taken a lot more seriously by his adversaries…