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.