Many of the values touted by our leaders are not the ones that are most conducive to economic growth, writes Philip Cross in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Philip Cross, July 15, 2021
Since the 2015 election, we have heard a lot about Canadian values — or Value(s), as Mark Carney would have it. We will hear much more in the run-up to the federal election, with the prime minister’s version usually prefaced by his saying “We all know,” as if there is a consensus that happily confirms his own biases and purposes. But there is in fact no widespread agreement in political circles on Canada’s essential values. Worse, many of the values touted by our leaders are not the ones that are most conducive to economic growth.
Start with how our last three prime ministers articulated their vision of Canada. Jean Chrétien wrote about “Canada’s values of moderation, sharing, tolerance and compassion” but then self-servingly claimed all of these emerged from Liberal policies that expanded the social safety net after the Second World War. Stephen Harper said Canada’s three founding principles were “the courageous warrior, the compassionate neighbour, and the confident partner.” All well and good, but hardly the basis for an innovative economy.
In his 2014 book Common Ground, Justin Trudeau claimed our shared values are “openness, respect, compassion, justice, equality, and opportunity.” Since becoming prime minister, however, Trudeau has repeatedly changed his list of Canadian values, including by adding tolerance and diversity. Foundational values by definition cannot come and go with shifts in the political breeze. As Brian Lee Crowley argued in Gardeners and Designers, diversity was the result and not the cause of Canada’s success. Immigrants came here to share in Canada’s freedom and prosperity. It is one reason Canada’s coat of arms bears the motto “Desiderantes meliorem patriam” (or “desiring a better country”).
The lack of consensus among our three most recent leaders suggests that, despite traditional political boilerplate, Canadians do not share common values…