Does The 21st Century Belong to Canada’s Tories? Reviewing The Big Shift

I’ve just finished reading the Kindle version of The Big Shift, an analysis of current Canadian demographics by pollster Darrell Bricker and Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson.

Let me say right off the bat: this has a definite place on the Blogging Tory’s bookshelf. But it’s not really a partisan book; political observers of all stripes need to have a look at this. Because its essential argument is that Canadian political dialogue isn’t about Left vs. Right. It’s more like a new, emerging mindset about Canada vs. the traditional one, the one Messrs. Bricker & Ibbitson call “the Laurentian consensus.”

The Big Shift’s argument is that power in Canada has shifted towards the West, thanks to massive immigration from the Pacific nations and a decline in birthrate population and immigration in Central Canada. Because this new population has established itself in the nations suburbs and is also the fastest growing segment of the population, the political party that can align itself with this demographic’s is more likely to remain in power. The book identifies the Harper Tories — and to a lesser extent Tom Mulcair’s NDP — as being the prime beneficiaries of this shift, while the federal Liberals (who are identified as being the main political expression of the Laurentian concensus) have been crippled for refusing to see that such a shift has taken place.

Thing is, this book isn’t a condemnation of the Liberals, but a blast at the society and culture that gave rise to the “natural governing party” of the 20th century in the first place — in other words, what in another context would be called “the Canadian establishment.” It’s an acknowledgement that our elites’ way of thinking is becoming less relevant in our societal structure, which is why you see so much hostility among “progressives” whenever the Harper government does something they consider radical.

The prose style is remarkably free of jargon, and makes for fast, even entertaining reading. It’s also somewhat free of the emotions that have plagued other works on the history of Stephen Harper’s Canada: none of the despair and angst of Peter C. Newman, none of the waspish irritation of Warren Kinsella.

It’s highly unlikely that federal Liberals will enjoy the book; after all, it can’t be pleasant to immerse yourself in a tome that pretty much proclaims that you suck. But I’d suggest that the current Liberal leadership have a read at this. After all, if they’re not able to acknowledge this new Canada, then they only have themselves to blame in the event of a second Harper majority.

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I'm an information specialist / animation artist living and working in Ottawa.
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7 Responses to Does The 21st Century Belong to Canada’s Tories? Reviewing The Big Shift

  1. Pingback: Phantom Observer: Does The 21st Century Belong to Canada’s Tories? Reviewing The Big Shift | Jack's Newswatch

  2. monkey says:

    I think like anything politics goes in cycles and people tend to react to what is happening so it is difficult to say what lies ahead. Certainly the shift towards the West, an aging population, a more suburban rather than downtown core benefits the Conservatives, but other things like a more educated, more ethnically diverse (the Conservatives have to their credit unlike pretty much every other right leaning party in the Western world made inroads here), less rural tends to pull the country in the other direction. The other issue too could be the decline of the middle class and gap between rich and poor. Canadians don’t like freeloaders or those who like to live off government support, but they also don’t like the idea of those in poverty being trapped there so a lot of the Conservatives success in the future will depend on will Canadians still have the opportunity to move up the economic ladder like past generations. The good news is the gap between the rich and poor is not nearly as bad as the US and despite greater inequality than Sweden, we have greater class mobility. Will be interesting to look back in 20 years in see how much of that turns out to be true or not.

  3. old white guy says:

    diane, i think robins comment applies to you.

  4. diane ramsay says:

    the “Canadian tories” are really puppets of US right-wingnuts who were sold, i mean, given our resources (economy) by the mulroney-reagan free-trade deal in the mid-80′s symbolised by the genormous US consulate built in Ottawa a block from our parliament buildings, and blessed by liberal Chretien’s cowardly failure to keep his redbook promise to renegotiate (cancel) this traitorous mistake.
    Canada is now simply a brand name for US greed and retro oil & gas exploitation.

  5. Nicola T. says:

    And the Liberals picking Trudeau II as leader is a real slap in the face to the West.

  6. Thucydides says:

    Much of the demographic shift can be traced back to the 1980′s, which has some interesting implications. If it takes 20 years for a demographic shift to profoundly realign Canada’s political culture, then what shifts taking place today will be the ones to affect the future?

    looking ahead, my prediction would be the coming population “bust” in the 2030′s and the eventual die off of the Boomers between then and 2060. Labour will become very expensive as fewer workers will be available, while the parts of the population that have increased will be from religious and socially conservative families, the Native population and some immigrant groups. I can also see large numbers of Americans flooding into the country to take advantage of high wage jobs, and adding their values to the mix.

    Canada mid century will be a strange and alien place for people used to today’s political environment (just as Progressives find their 60′s era ideology no longer relevant to today’s conditions).

  7. robins111 says:

    I read the synopsis of the book Ken and tend to agree with it, its gonna be interesting to watch the media try to chop it up in an effort to dismiss it .. Kinda like covering your ears and screaming la la la, I can’t hear you..

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