A New Canadian Patriotism

Mark Milke
June 22, 2009
The Swiss think they’re better than us; they think highly of themselves,” remarked the German gentleman over a beer in Düsseldorf back on a hot July day in 2000. Ale brings out a variety of comments from people so the beer-induced frankness, this after I mentioned Switzerland was the next stop in my vacation, was not unusual.

A New Canadian Patriotism

Mark Milke
June 22, 2009
The Swiss think they’re better than us; they think highly of themselves,” remarked the German gentleman over a beer in Düsseldorf back on a hot July day in 2000. Ale brings out a variety of comments from people so the beer-induced frankness, this after I mentioned Switzerland was the next stop in my vacation, was not unusual.
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My Swiss light bulb moment

“The Swiss think they’re better than us; they think highly of themselves,” remarked the German gentleman over a beer in Düsseldorf back on a hot July day in 2000. Ale brings out a variety of comments from people so the beer-induced frankness, this after I mentioned Switzerland was the next stop in my vacation, was not unusual.

But the irony aside – here I am in a pub with a citizen of the country which started two world wars and he’s griping about the Swiss – my other thought that day was a query: why was anyone in the large country bothered by a perceived attitude in the small nation? It was a contrast to how resentment flows in North America – from the small entity (population-wise) to the larger one, i.e., from Canada to the United States.

In Canada, many of my fellow compatriots possess a chronic insecurity about the larger nation next door – it’s been a cottage industry since at least the American Revolution. But the envious German’s comments about Switzerland made me wonder: what would it take to reverse the flow of resentment in North America?

Our centuries-long pattern of reaction and response to the United States

That Canada needs a new patriotism – one more positive and less reactionary and American-referenced – is clear, but before detailing what that might look like, consider the deeply cemented historical and cultural barriers, in at least part of the country, which make the creation of a new patriotism, a new national narrative, problematic but not impossible.

In his 1945 book, North Atlantic Triangle: The Interplay of Canada, the United States and Great Britain, John Brebner noted that all ofNorth America was peopled by men and women of the same stock and closely intermingled by marriage and migration. He wondered rhetorically how it was that two separate, self-conscious nations came into being and gave three reasons: First, the natural dividing line of the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes with the Canadian Shield; second, the slight but perceptible height of land between the Missouri Valley and the valleys of the Assiniboine and the Saskatchewan, and – perhaps most importantly, though he does not suggest this as the most decisive of the three, “men’s inclinations to find comfort in the fact that they and their regional groups are not as other men are.[1]

Add to Brebner’s analysis the writings of another historian, Historian Hugh Keenleyside writing in 1929, the treatment the United Empire Loyalists received at the hands of American revolutionaries and it is not difficult understand how Loyalists were reinforced in their dislike for the newly independent country:

Loyalists were barred from all civil rights; they could not collect debts, nor claim legal protection from slander, assault or blackmail. They could not hold land or present a gift. The professions were closed to them and military service in the Whig ranks was frequently demanded. Freedom of speech, press, and travel were rigidly curtailed, and, on the charge of treason, Loyalists were hanged, exiled, or imprisoned. On the same charge property was confiscated. Heavy fines and forced donations were levied, and in many districts those suspected of Tory sympathies were herded together in concentration camps—camps which in some cases compared unfavourably with the worst of British prison ships.[2]

Keenleyside asserts that some of the measures could not fairly be criticized, given the conditions of the time and that injustices were committed by both sides, but another aspect of the Loyalist experience, and one that would influence attitudes once they migrated to Canada, was that many were drawn from the upper classes of New England and were wealthy in comparison to many revolutionaries. While still in the throes of the war as well as after, class envy inflamed the tensions: homes and goods were ransacked, property destroyed, and houses set on fire. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and General Greene protested against such treatment, but to little effect.

All of this, quite understandably, fed into the Loyalist narrative, along with subsequent historical events including the War of 1812. The practical result for relations between the United States and the British possessions in North America after 1776 and subsequent events was that the Canadian colonies emerged intact and with their anti-Americanism reinforced. As Brebner writes:

Henceforth the old loyalist attitude, enhanced by the ordeals and the property losses of the war, would be the taproot of an orthodox anti-Americanism Canadianism which might be contradicted daily in dozens of practical ways, but which would persist because it harmonized perfectly with the natural feelings of a small people toward an overpoweringly large one next door.[3]

Back to the Future: American references in the Canadian past and present, from right to left

In the context of 1776 or 1812, it was understandable that our earliest ancestors would focus on the United States. How could they not given the experience of expulsion? Importantly for the possibility of a national narrative, Northrop Frye once referred to the psychological state created as a garrison mentality, where the moral and social values of the group are not questioned. They cannot be questioned because in a land not yet secure, still mostly unknown, in which it is difficult to travel in and to defend militarily, the group’s survival depends on such unquestioning loyalty.

In a similar analysis of the Loyalist narrative, in 1972, Margaret Atwood wrote that if “The Frontier” is what symbolizes America and “The Island” represents England, “the central symbol of Canada…is undoubtedly survival.” And Atwood notes this is so whether one looks at early explorers/settlers, the French vis-à-vis the English, or now English Canada in relation to the United States.[4]

Atwood was on to something and survivalist rhetoric and American references have had a long shelf life in Canada. In 1891, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, who had long sought reciprocity with the United States but was rebuffed, turned rhetorically against free trade. During the election, the Prime Minister queried voters rhetorically and asked them to consider the danger of “ultimately becoming a portion of the American Union,” i.e., if Macdonald’s Liberal opponents, who favoured a trade agreement, won.[5]

In his 1996 book Yankee Go Home? historian Jack Granatstein noted how it was the more conservative parts of Canadian society which were fiercely anti-American. For example, Reverend John Strachan, the Rector of York and a Loyalist refugee in Upper Canada since 1799, criticized Americans as a people with “little or no religion.”[6] In the 1920s, Canadian magazine publishers complained of “smut-filled” American magazines flowing into the Canadian market (perhaps motivated in part by protectionist economic interests). The Toronto Globe was positively social conservative about the liberal American press when it declared U.S. pulp fiction as “off-scourings of the moral sewers of human life” and a veritable flood of “undisguised filth.”[7]

Recent left-wing anti-Americanism which dislikes U.S. foreign policy, often tagged as interventionist, is also a reversal of earlier Canadian sentiment which was militaristic. As Granatstein noted in the same book, many Canadians, “poets and novelists alike,” were enraged by the U.S. refusal to enter the First World War until 1917.[8]

One of the more famous anti-American conservatives as Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who in a pique during the Cuban missile crisis refused to elevate Canada’s Armed Forces to high-alert status as requested by the White House. On the cultural front, writing in 1965, the philosopher George Grant lamented a Canada he believed to be disappearing due to the influence of American money and a Canadian ruling class “that looks across the border for its final authority in both politics and culture.”[9]

References to the American colossus even show up in popular culture. Recall one of the more famous songs from the Winnipeg-based Canadian rock group, The Guess Who and their 1970 hit, American Woman. Here is a snippet of some of the lyrics:

“I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be.”

Over the centuries, the Loyalist-garrison-survivalist narrative has produced novels, books, plays, songs and non-fiction works about the Americans. More recently, in now-famous ads, Molson’s produced a “Joe Canadian” ad in 2000 that was jingoistic and virulent in its anti-Americanism. As this excerpt from the 2000 ad shows, Canadian patriotism was again defined at least in part by negative references to the United States:

I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it ‘about’, not ‘a boot’.
I can proudly sew my country’s flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’, ‘zed’ !!!!

My name is Joe!!
And I am Canadian!!!

American references are still rife in Canadian culture and media in insofar as politics is examined, appear regularly in statements from both the political left and right. For example, consider health care.

After a 1993 debate at a Calgary high school, then-Reform party leader Preston Manning felt the need to tell reporters that, “people have said we are pitching and promoting an American style of health care. We are not promoting or pitching that at all.”[10] He sought to reassure voters by stating that “no province in their right mind would initiate an American-style health care system.”[11] In 1999, then NDP leader Alexa McDonough argued that previous federal budget cutbacks had led to a “dangerous and sickening slide into an American, for-profit system of health care.”[12] Similarly, in 2000, Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark told a Kingston crowd that the Alliance party under Stockwell Day desired an American-style healthcare system.[13]

Manning and Clark are not generally considered anti-American but that even they felt the need to distance themselves and their parties from perceived American policy reveals how utterly drenched Canadian politics is in references to the United States and the need to prove one’s patriotism with denials of U.S. influence.

Beyond health care, the chronic American references are also rife in other policy areas. In 1984, when the governing Conservatives and opposition Liberals defeated a parliamentary motion from New Democrats which called on Canada to support a United Nations motion to freeze U.S. and U.S.S.R. nuclear arsenals, NDP leader Ed Broadbent accused the Tory government of eagerness to “waltz with (U.S. President) Ronald Reagan” as the real reason Canada voted against the United Nations resolution. [14] In 1986, Liberal leader John Turner suggested Canada’s foreign policy had been muzzled to avoid offending the Americans. Turner noted the Conservative government’s support for U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s air strike against Libya as proof. “Have we got ourselves where the Prime Minister is in the president’s pocket?” Turner queried rhetorically in the House of Commons.[15]

In 1992, Liberal foreign affairs critic and famously anti-American Lloyd Axworthy linked Canadian foreign policy decisions under Progressive Conservatives to U.S. influence. He claimed the reason for the Canadian government’s foreign policy stance was that it was in general tied closely to American foreign policy. “They [the Conservative government] have to zig when the Americans zag” said Axworthy.[16] In another interview in 1992, the Foreign Affairs critic decried Canada’s involvement in the Gulf War the year previous and argued that instead of “saluting and snapping to attention,” Canada should have opposed force and supported further negotiations. Axworthy claimed the Tories made major foreign policy decisions only after consulting with “George or Maggie or François” on the phone, a first-name reference to the American, British and French leaders.[17]

The survivalist language and garrison fear echo in recent Canadian discourse. In 2006, left-wing nationalist Maude Barlow spoke in a survivalist voice and assumed the southern Ontario narrative to be the founding narrative of Canada when she argued that Canada’s “founding narrative is sharing for survival.” Barlow contrasted that narrative with what she labelled “a succession of Liberal and Conservative governments [that] have brought Canada closer to an American narrative of survival of the fittest.”[18]

Can we get past the Loyalist-garrison-survivalist narrative?

In defiance of the assumption that that garrison narrative represents the experience of all of Canada’s regions, in 2005, political scientists Lydia Miljan and Barry Cooper argued the garrison mentality is unmistakably regional. It exists, they write “in the imaginatively articulate heartland of Upper Canadian Loyalism, the culture that has developed in the wedge of land between the Ottawa River and Lake Huron south to the American border.”[19] In other words, the garrison narrative is the narrative of southern Ontario, perhaps (they allow) extendable to Quebec, but beyond that not applicable to the rest of Canada, even though it has sought to become the hegemonic Canadian narrative.

That may be, but as the previous comments demonstrate, the Loyalist-garrison-survivalist narrative is an ongoing reality of Canadian discourse.

So is it even possible for us to get past the American obsession, which for many Canadians has been an integral part of the national consciousness?

Perhaps, though it will likely not happen merely because we reason our way out of it. Narratives and myths are not often conscious creations. The powerful narratives are an outgrowth of real historical events but with certain elements ignored and others heightened. So Americans might emphasize British oppression in their narrative and downplay revolutionary excesses. Similarly, Quebec separatists have a version of the 1982 constitutional talks which posits a “betrayal,” and which reinforces the sovereigntist narrative of Quebec as the eternal victim of English Canada.

Similarly, Atwood’s theme of survival, applied nationally as a political project, is a direct outgrowth of the garrison fears of southern Ontario and the Loyalist experience. To be sure, survivalism did appear as a motive for British colonial and later Canadian policies; a cross-country railroad was one response to the fears of American absorption. But it was a survivalism politically superimposed over separate regional identities that in some cases already existed (in the Maritimes and Quebec), and in others were yet to be substantially created (as in the West).

Whether pre-existing or just forming at the time of Confederation, the other regions may have been part of the survivalist political project; but they were never part of the loyalist, garrison narrative because they were never part of the Loyalist garrison experience. As Frye noted in 1972, unity and identity are not the same thing. “Identity is local and regional, rooted in the imagination and in works of culture; unity is national in reference, international in perspective, and rooted in a political feeling.” [20]

Other narratives thus exist which means possibilities exist for a new Canadian patriotism, a competing vision of Canadian nationalism which is positive, not defensive, and not tied to chronic and often negative references to the United States.

The Alberta narrative as one example of an alternative basis for a new patriotism

The Alberta narrative is arguably one of the more positive narratives in Confederation. It is dissimilar to Ontario’s fearful garrison narrative and there appears to be several reasons why: Alberta’s relative lack of European influence during the period when Upper and Lower Canada were settled and formed by the same; Alberta’s subsequent settlement and incorporation into Canada at a time, post-1867, when concern over American absorption existed but was not equivalent to the threat posed to Upper Canada and Lower Canada in 1775, 1812 or 1849; the difference in the landscape and the response to it by those who would later be known as Albertans (the accounts of Alberta’s wilderness are almost uniformly glowing and serve as a contrast to the more fearful Canadian Shield narrative in Ontario); the source of immigration for Alberta; a starkly different economic history; and political and elite leadership who were significant in producing a distinct Alberta narrative.

Another aspect of the Alberta narrative is Alberta’s experience of the “other.” For central Canada, the U.S. is perceived as the source of real or actual threats against Canada. In contrast, Alberta’s narrative is often focused on the perceived or actual slights from Ontario or Quebec. Historically, many Albertans have the same response to Ontario that many in that province have to the United States: a power with significant potential to affect one’s own life and region, often negatively, even though that power (the United States or central Canada) is blithely unaware of its elephant-like effect.

Historically, this frustration with which residents in Alberta could view central Canada was sharpened given that Alberta’s narrative included an aspect of belief in a brighter Western economic future. For example, historian Lewis Thomas argues that the West was not a “lonely and isolated garrison” in the 19th century. Instead, for those who had established themselves in favourable positions in the West, their vision of themselves and the region was as “the spear-head or the cutting edge of Canada’s progress toward the final realization of her national dream”[21]

The west, British Columbia as much as the prairies, could perceive itself, not as a neglected hinterland, but as the region that provided the dynamic base of a dynamic Canada, a Canada that after a century of disappointments, could look forward to a century of expansion and progress comparable to that enjoyed by the United States.[22]

The positive sentiment in Alberta’s narrative was also often reflected in Alberta accounts of the wilderness. A constant theme in historical recollections in Alberta is the celebration of the beauty of the land, and it affects the narrative. Reflecting on his arrival in southern Alberta in the spring of 1884, John D. Higginbotham noted how the day was “glorious”:

The sun was shining from an unclouded sky and was brilliantly reflected from the snow-crowned peaks and sides of distant mountains; the nearer foothills and valleys were all clad in emerald, the sparkling streams – clear and cold –murmuring over their gravely beds, the birds singing on all sides, the grouse, or chicken, drumming as they flew from the pleasant pastures in which they were feeding to give us an inquisitive glance as we rolled long.[23]

Higginbotham also endorsed the fulsome description of another early settler “struck with the abundance of wild game, but more so with their temerity,” how the buffalo was “monarch of the prairie by reason of his vast numbers,” how “the fleet-footed antelope emerged from almost every clump of brushwood in the river bottoms and coulees, and the beaver and otter abounded in every stream,” and when berries were plentiful, how grizzlies “left their rocky fortresses and, in bands sometimes a hundred strong, descended the rivers in search of their favourite food.”[24]

Others also saw and described the beauty of the prairie province. In 1907, Rudyard Kipling described his visit to Alberta’s southern prairies in similar glowing terms:

A vast mound of copper-coloured wheat piled in the sun between two mounds of golden chaff. Everyone thumbed a sample of it and passed judgment—it must have been worth a few hundred golden sovereigns as it lay out on the veldt—and we sat around on the farm machinery, and in the hush that a shut up house always imposes, we seemed ready to hear the lavish earth getting ready for new harvests.”[25]

Kipling described Medicine Hat as a “town born lucky, with its hinterland radiating a hundred miles.” [26] Frederick Haultain, the premier of the Northwest Territories, which then comprised present-day Alberta, Saskatchewan, and most of Manitoba, similarly became entranced with the “spectacular scenery and forthright people.”[26] Similarly, Wilfrid Eggleston noted the impression made on him in the spring of 1911 during “the Golden Age of my boyhood.” He writes of his impression of a homestead in southern Alberta, near the Montana border.

We had entered the Promised Land. On every side there were magical regions to explore. No fences barred young adventurers….There were immigrant children in nearby homesteads to meet, to mingle with and go berry-picking with, to share lunches with and go gopher-hunting with and perhaps fall in love with. Everyone was friendly and helpful. Barriers of race and sect had not yet emerged….The sky was an endless spectacle by day or by night, the panorama was fascinating, the air was bracing and the spirit of the frontier permeated our neighbourhood. [27]

Later, suffragist Nellie McClung described the potential for women’s progress with the optimistic terms which others used to describe Alberta’s natural environment: “We were in sight of the promised land, a land of richer sunshine and brighter fruitage, and our head and hearts were light…”.[28]

A further clue to Alberta’s narrative is found in the difference in immigration patterns. For example, some eastern and central Canadians could trace back European roots in such regions hundreds of years by the time European settlements became significant in Alberta in the latter 19th century.

The timing and type of immigrants (increasingly non-British) would lead to alternative assumptions about Canadian identity and culture and an alternative view of American influence. Hundreds of thousands of Swedes, Icelanders, Norwegians, Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Americans, along with smaller numbers of Asian immigrants and others would not have as their formative experiences the American Revolution, the persecution of Loyalists, or the ever-present existential threat of American armies marching across the border. In the early 20th century and up to 1930, half of Alberta’s population was foreign-born.[30] The result was a significant part of Alberta’s population did not carry any ancestral memories of earlier British of French disputes with Americans.

The prairie and the Rocky Mountain wilderness, central Canada as the “other,” and immigration unlike Ontario’s or Quebec’s, make Alberta’s story so unrecognizable to Ontarians that Alberta’s version has often been labelled “American.” The combination of the above in historical references and personal recollections reveals how Albertans are more likely to think of their provincial narrative in the manner many Americans think of theirs: as a frontier. Alberta’s narrative need not necessarily be categorized in such a manner, but for an Ontario population that assumes early Upper Canada experiences as the distinctly and definitive Canadian narrative, the Alberta frontier narrative is understandably foreign—it was foreign to southern Ontario’s garrison culture.

Looking ahead to a patriotism without the garrison complex

So how realistic is it to think Canadians can move past reflexive anti-Americanism and to a more positive self-assertive nationalism unencumbered by the garrison complex? It is at least as possible as a continuation of the more defensive patriotism spurred on by early historical events in central Canada.

Alberta is one example of a different regional narrative within Canada and which could provide the foundation for a different, more positive nationalism—it already is that for Albertans. It is also possible as regional narratives grow in strength and weaken the dominant central Canadian narrative insofar as it animates Canadian patriotism. Arguably, the West in general, lacking in the historic Loyalist conception of history already has a narrative and national patriotism unhampered by reflexive American references.

In addition, aspects of Western views also dovetail with some country-wide historic realities and attitudes in other parts of the country.

For example, in my observation, populations in both the east coast and in the prairie provinces, as well as suburban and rural parts of Ontario and British Columbia, tend to be more supportive of the military and Canada’s historic role in the world as a reliable, non-neutral ally (and not just as an adjunct United Nations peace-keeping force). Thus, when Ontarians spontaneously stand at a highway overpass to show respect for Canada’s fallen soldiers, they display a reverence for certain soldierly virtues and sacrifices which are too often disdained in downtown Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal.

But the disdain most evident in the latter, or at least in the elites in such centres, is not inherently Canadian. Historically, it is quite un-Canadian, as the sacrifices made at Vimy Ridge, in the Second World War, and in Korea have demonstrated in our history time and again. In that sense, the general public which demonstrates the respect just noted are more in tune with a Canadianism of the past. Their sentiment also provides some evidence that a positive Canadian patriotism is possible without defining our patriotism in a negative manner, i.e., with constant negative referencing of the Americans.

Another piece of this emerging patriotism emanates from the Prime Minister. On a number of occasions, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has reset expectations about what’s considered “Canadian.” When Israel was attacked by Hezbollah in 2006, the standard expectation among the chattering classes was that Harper should equivocate and talk about the “cycle of violence.” It was the sort of response most recent Liberal leaders, the Toronto Star or CBC producers would give if they were writing the national script (which they often were in previous governments).

Instead, Harper argued Israel’s response was “measured” and later that, “We are not going to give in to the temptation of some to single out Israel, which was the victim of the initial attack.”[31]

Did it provoke a different sort of patriotism, one with a stronger spine and distinct from the grumble-about-Americans nationalism? Or distinct from the sort that links Canadian patriotism to pride in a particular government program or to incorrectly assumed Canadian neutrality in world affairs? I think so. As evidence, recall the words from Robert Lantos, the Canadian filmmaker, who shortly after Harper’s firm stand praised the Prime Minister for his support of Israel.

“Thank you Mr. Harper, for standing tall and making me proud to be a Canadian” said Lantos. “I for one hereby take off my life-long federal Liberal hat and symbolically toss it away for anyone willing to catch it.”[32]

Lantos made such remarks to an overflowing crowd in a concert hall in Toronto and offended all the gods of 1970s-era Canadian patriotism: “honest-broker” mythology (Canada has never been neutral), unquestioned adherence to the Liberal party, and pacifism. He did so to an audience that cheered and in a concert hall in Toronto and without “Joe Canadian” negativity and reference to the often ubiquitous “other” too often apparent in Canadian discourse.

Is there a possibility for such additional, positive patriotism to overtake the acid-dripped, American-referenced variety that now permeates Canadian discourse? I think so.

Thus, to note just a few areas, it is conceivable to see Western can-do entrepreneurialism spread across Canada. Such a proliferation would arguably restore classic liberal Canadian attitudes about individual responsibility and business which once existed in all regions before the advent of destructive too-large transfer payments, cradle-to-grave comfort social programs, and Pierre Trudeau.

Also, it is conceivable to imagine Canadian artists and cultural elites once again glorying in Canada’s nature the way the Group of Seven did without reference to another country—though this will take some effort on their part. Whether one appreciates the view of the Pacific from eastern Vancouver Island, the searing summer heat of Kelowna (my hometown) and its fruit trees and vineyards, the Rocky Mountains, the open prairie sky, Manitoba’s lakes, the Canadian Shield, the Great Lakes, the red and orange forests of central Canada, the gentle farmland of southern Ontario, Mount Royal park in Montreal, the salty air that permeates the harbour villages, towns and cities of eastern provinces, or any number of this country’s magnificent natural and man-made wonders, it is entirely possible to revel in Canada and Canada alone.

So I’m an optimist and especially because of the first example for a possible changed patriotism. If a clear-eyed, non-defensive, non-American-referenced, positive affirmation of Canada and her proper moral position can occur in Toronto among erstwhile former Liberals, then an optimistic, outward-looking and firm patriotism can take root anywhere.

  1. Brebner, John Bartlett. 1945. North Atlantic Triangle: The Interplay of Canada, the United States and Great Britain. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 6.
  2. Keenleyside, Hugh L. 1929. Canada and the United States: Some aspects of the Republic and the Dominion. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., p. 41.
  3. Brebner, p. 88.
  4. Atwood, Margaret. 1972. Survival. Toronto: Anansi, pp. 31-32.
  5. Robins, John D. 1946. Pocketful of Canada. Toronto: Collins.
  6. Granatstein, J.L. 1996. Yankee Go Home? Canadians and anti-Americanism. Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, p. 22.
  7. Ibid., p. 76.
  8. Ibid., p. 76.
  9. Grant, George. 1991. Lament For a Nation. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, p. 9.
  10. Harper, Tim. 1993. “NDP leader turns guns on ‘mean’ Manning,” Toronto Star,September 30, p. A16.
  11. Ferguson, Jonathan. 1993. “The Spoiler.” Toronto Star, October 2, Sec C, p. B1.
  12. Crawford, Blair. 1999. “Comartin tees off on Grits: No hint of old rift with CAW,” Windsor Star, February 20, p. A3.
  13. Milnes, Arthur and Sarah Crosbie. 2000. “Clark attacks Liberal farm policy, Kingston Whig-Standard, November 13, p. 5.
  14. Globe and Mail. 1984. “Tories, Liberals defeat nuclear freeze motion,” December 11, p. 9.
  15. Cohn, Martin. 1986. “No backroom deals made in trade talks,” Toronto Star, April 23, p. A23.
  16. Todd, Dave. 1992. “Canada’s reaction to a ‘schizophrenic’ U.S. foreign policy: Our foreign policy in crisis because of U.S., critics say,” Ottawa Citizen, March 28, p. B4.
  17. Crosby, Louise. 1992. “The Mulroney Years: Foreign Policy; Stronger ties to the U.S. hallmark of PM’s new world order,” Ottawa Citizen, November 21, p. B5.
  18. Draper, Doug. 2006. “Council of Canadians head warns of life under Harper; Says Tory PM could sell Canada’s political, economic sovereignty to the United States,” Niagara This Week, February 15.
  19. Miljan, Lydia and Barry Cooper. 2005. The Canadian ‘Garrison Mentality’ andante-Americanism at the CBC. Vancouver: The Fraser Institute.
  20. Frye, Northwood. 1971. The Bush Garden. Toronto: Anansi, p. ii.
  21. Harrison, Dick, ed. 1979. Crossing Frontiers: Papers in American and Canadian Western Literature. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, p.63.
  22. Ibid., p. 63.
  23. Higginbotham, J.D. 1933/1978. When The West Was Young. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, p. 73-74.
  24. Ibid., p. 224.
  25. Payne, Michael and Donald Wetherell and Catherine Cavanaugh, ed. 2006. Alberta Formed, Alberta Transformed, Vol. 2. p. 364.
  26. Ibid., p. 364.
  27. van Herk, Aritha. 2001. Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta. Toronto: Viking/Penguin Group, p. 206.
  28. Palmer, Howard, ed. 1977. Settlement of the West. Calgary: University of Calgary, p. 120-122.
  29. Palmer, Howard with Tamara Palmer. 1990. Alberta: A New History. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, pp. 178-180.
  30. Ibid., p. 71.
  31. Blanchfield, Mike. 2006. “Blame rests with Hezbollah, Harper says.” Edmonton Journal, July 18, p. A.2.
  32. Peter Kuitenbrouwer. 2006. PM’s support of Israel cheered at Toronto rally: Thousands gather in support of military action. Times Colonist (Victoria), July 27, p. A4.

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Shocking events that plunge a country into chaos or destroy a beloved leader are hard for anyone to process. The evil done is so towering it bends the human psyche to accept that the evildoer is utterly banal, a loner walking in ordinary shoes. The cause simply must befit the outcome; thus can a conspiracy theory be hatched. At other times, the cold hope of political or financial gain or simple mischief might be the source. There certainly is no shortage of conspiracy theories. Mark Milke revisits one of history’s most famous political assassinations and the conspiracy theories it spawned to illuminate the ongoing danger this toxic tendency poses to us all.

Picture of Thomas Hobbes frontispiece of Leviathan. A renowned pieceof political work on liberty

Future of Conservatism Series, Part VII: Memo to Politicians: We’re Not Your Pet Projects

Canadian conservatives have most of the summer to ruminate on what they want their federal party to become – as embodied by their soon-to-be elected leader, anyway. Acceptability, likability and winnability will be key criteria. Above all, however, should be crafting and advancing a compelling policy alternative to today’s managerial liberalism, which has been inflated by the pandemic almost beyond recognition. Mark Milke offers a forceful rebuttal against the Conservative “alternative” comprising little more than a massaged form of top-down management.


So Much for Diversity: The Monochromatic Moderators of Monday’s Debate

Canada is a big, diverse country by virtually any measure, from our no-longer-so-sparse population to our epic geography to the ethnic makeup of our people. Diverse in every way, it seems, except in our elites’ aggressively progressive official-think. Consistent with this is the otherwise bizarre decision to have Monday’s federal leaders’ debate hosted by five decidedly similar female journalists. Mark Milke briefly profiles the five and, more important, advances a positive alternative: five distinguished women diverse in background, hometown and, above all, thought.

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