February 8, 2013 – Foreign Affairs’ list of “What to Read on Canadian Politics” includes MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley’s 2009 book, Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values. For the full list, click here.
Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values. By Brian Lee Crowley. Key Porter Books, 2009.
Crowley’s book is a good starting point for understanding Quebec’s tortured relationship with Canada. Crowley, a longtime Canadian political wonk who now runs his own think tank, argues that Quebec has essentially been blackmailing Canada for years. This blackmail hasn’t just created a massive flow of cash to Quebec from the rest of Canada (the ROC, as it is sometimes called); it also has ended up expanding government programs that satisfy Quebecers’ love of statism and skepticism about private enterprise. The result: Canada has become a European-style welfare state, despite a majority Anglo population that might otherwise prefer the small-government American model.
But Crowley’s story comes with a happy ending: Thanks to the oil industry, Alberta is booming these days. And the West, in general, is attracting lots of immigrants. Quebec’s share of the population is diminishing, as is its clout in Ottawa. Thus, in future years, the rest of Canada will have to pay less and less Danegeld to Quebec’s policy extortionists.
For almost seven years, Canada has been ruled by a disciplined center-right Conservative administration led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Although not blessed with anything resembling great charisma, Harper somehow managed to stitch together the remnants of two now defunct political parties (the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives) to create a coalition that has won three straight elections.