In my first year of undergraduate University, I took a course called “Introduction to Political Science,” which remains by far the easiest course of my entire academic career. This was back in 2005-2006; a date which is notable since it corresponds to the election of the first Stephen Harper government. I wasn’t too upset to see him elected at first, to be honest; sure, I disliked him and everything that he stood for, but the fact of the matter was that the previous Liberal government had grown extremely arrogant and massively corrupt, and there was, at the time, no other viable alternative (the NDP, at the time, was still locked in fourth place). Besides of which, the Tories had only been elected with a minority government, and (so the conventional wisdom at the time went) would not be able to implement their dangerously radical agenda. But the man who sat beside me in class was an extreme libertarian, and he was absolutely ecstatic about the change in regime: “Anything to get the State off of our back!” he declared*.
I have no idea what became of that man; I never bothered to learn his name. But I hope that wherever he is, he’s currently beating himself up for his deep-seated stupidity, because this is not a libertarian government. Not by a long, long shot.
All stereotypes about politeness aside, Canadians are by nature a very temperate people. There has never, for example, been a revolution in Canada; we sat out the American one (or actively sided with the King), and our brief flirtation with rebellion against the British Empire during the early 19th century rapidly fizzled-out, with most of the rebels’ complaints being addressed through legislation.** You will see the same pattern repeated over and over again throughout our history; no revolutions, only fizzled rebellions; no civil wars, only acrimonious constitutional negotiations; vanishingly few assassinations–if we don’t like a leader, we are content to make fun of them; no terrorism that hasn’t succeeded only in disgusting and alienating the overwhelming majority of the population. It is, in my opinion, one of the great things about this country; we do not solve our (internal) problems through violence.
But it does leave me wondering–precisely where do “non-violent revolutions” (of the sort that we have recently seen so often internationally) fall upon the spectrum of Canadian temperance? Because I thought for a moment that one might break out following the second prorogation of parliament–it was, afterall, our Prime Minister brazenly declaring that his authority was greater than that of our own elected representatives–but as always in this country, it wound-up fizzling out.
I do wonder, though, just how long the overwhelming majority of Canadians will tolerate being governed by a man whose values are so diametrically opposed to what we have always claimed to stand for, and whose policies are so very errosive both to our civil liberties and to what defines us as a country. Just how much are we willing to put up with? Just how temperate are we?
And to that libertarian guy who sat next to me in class (and to ‘libertarian’ supporters of the Conservative party in general), I can only ask: do you honestly believe that paying two percent extra in General Sales Tax was somehow a more onerous infringement by the state on the freedom of the individual than their being allowed to read through our e-mails, without warrant, at their leisure?
*He spoke exclusively in vapid slogans, as is the want of first-year PoliSci students.
**Albeit with a generous helping of attempted suppression of French-Canadian culture thrown in to the mix.