Jan
23

Happy Anniversary Mr. Harper, from Brian Mulroney

In my early formative years I began to notice politics. I am not entirely sure when it happened, but I became very interested in them. Perhaps it had to do with a sinful fascination with power; how it is accumulated and wielded, perhaps it had to do with a career of respect and prominence that seemed to value mental ability; unlike many of career options that were laid before me as a youth. I don’t know.

What I do know is that while I was somewhat aware that there was such a thing as a Prime Minister, my “first” Prime Minister was Brian Mulroney. Of course, he wasn’t my first as much as the first I can remember knowing anything about.

And I liked him. Not sure why, in my youthful mind, but I did. I think it more than likely that the fact that my teachers railed constantly on against him that encouraged my contrarian mind (yes, even at that age) to look at him. I even remember piously announcing to my Social Studies teacher that I was “In favour of a GST.” That was a comment that at the time which drew audible gasps from my classmates and a painful recrimination from my teacher. I think in the ensueing argument I was asked to go and stand in the hall for the rest of the class. Ok, not asked.  

I do remember the dying days of his administration quite clearly, with the CBC piping in pictures to my living room of people demonstrating in the streets and even spitting on him and his passing car. I wish I had known that such hate was not reserved for politicians only but for anyone considered a conservative, as I found out much later.

But even as the election unfurled, me proudly proclaiming myself a loyal PCer and supporter of Kim Campbell, the whole thing crashed down. And then came the Reform Party and Preston Manning, of whom I mostly learned about from CBC’s “Air Farce.” (Love that word Refooooooorm!)

Looking back and studying it from this point in my life, I thank God voters rejected the Prime Minister who Margaret Thatcher described in her memoir as one who put “too much stress on the adjective rather than the noun in Progressive Conservative.” But I didn’t get what was going on at the time. No one really did.

Today, on the sixth anniversary of the election of the Conservative Party of Canada under Stephen Harper, we have the benefit of hindsight. In that hindsight, we see the shucking away of the PC Party as an essential moment in Canadian history, particularly for the renewal of the “conservative” brand in Canada. And here we are.

I would suggest that the Republican brand in the United States is undergoing the same type of pre-contemplative moment that the PCers of old were undergoing, and that they are making Mulroney-esque mistakes. Can they learn something from Canadian politics? This article seems to think so. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

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