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Rise of the Canadian Right?

Steve Campbell

The world is in a state of upheaval right now. And it should be noted that the world is always in a state of upheaval. Someone called it “the curse of living in interesting times.”

This column is not solely about Trump, but the Trump Experience is certaily a world-changer. Trump’s rise to power has been analyzed a thousand different ways. Our Canadian future with the U.S. is as easy to predict as the next card that’s drawn on a Blackjack table.

How he came to be is simple: He created a Belief System, in which he convinced the American people that they were going to hell in a handbag. His erroneous claims of unemployment figures, FBI crime statistics and immigration policies only set the stage for the main act.

In terms of psychology, when you establish a belief system, and get everyone on board, everything you say after that – true or false – becomes reality. And everything heard, seen or read after that is measured against that belief.

My late brother Rick once said: “Everyone on earth looks at the world with tinted glasses. Once you have a belief, everything you see through those glasses justifies the belief.”
In his example, he said if you look for a solution to a problem, the solutions will change based on the person you ask. An electrical engineer will say the problem is electrical, a civil engineer will say the problem is structural, a politician will say it’s the fault of the previous government. Everyone has their own tint.

Another of his brilliant revelations, as a long-time science brain: “The only great breakthroughs in invention don’t happen when you assign a team of like-minded people to the project. It’s when you throw an electrical engineer together with a chemical engineer, in a room with a computer engineer … because they bust each other’s glasses! They allow each other to see the world in different ways, from other perspectives.”

Without delving into religion – the ultimate belief system – it does provide a perfect example of how belief can explain everything that happens – good or bad – based on the tint of your glasses. Some, like disgraced evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, milked huge amounts of money out of their television audience, who honestly believed they were helping to do God’s work, instead of buying Cadillacs for Jim and mink coats for Tammy Faye.
By the same token, the Chariots of the Gods followers see evidence of alien handiworks everywhere they look, even in Mayan Mexico!

I had a great-aunt who believed in horoscopes. If her newspaper said it was a good day to acquire something new, she would buy a refrigerator. She wasn’t addled … she was just following the path of her belief system.

And we all do. I lean toward small ‘l’ liberalism, and I used to have great conversations with the late Jack Moore, who was a fiscal conservative. It always amazed me that we could always agree on defining the causes of the existing problem – usually political – in minute detail, but we always ended up with totally different solutions.
“So to fix it, we should do this …”
And I would say “No, what we need to do is this …” And then we’d laugh like crazy. That’s our belief systems at work.
Another late friend (I’m getting too many of those!) was my polar opposite. He believed in large amounts of rules and government regulations and, well, I don’t. The clash of our belief systems was soon revealed: I said if people were left to their own devices, they would do the right thing. He said if people weren’t given rules, they would do the wrong thing. Worlds apart. Optimist and pessimist perhaps? But we always laughed and left on good terms, never to agree.
Now to the point of this column.
Canada is not exempt from the possibility of a Trump-like populist earning our top spot. In fact, we just elected a populist of Diefenbaker proportions to be our current PM.

The times are different, the people and culture are different, and the issues are different, but Canadians tend to move from majority government to majority government … purging the government to toss out the old and bring in the new. This has a devastating effect on our party system.

This is why the leaderless Conservatives are trying to jockey their way into that same position of appeal that Justin effortlessly walked into. The range of prospects for the Tory throne is spread out across the board, showing that the party itself does not know what direction it wants to go. Many still favour the ‘father-figure’ of Harper’s reign. Some are moderates, but I’m troubled by the emergence of the far right (which killed the Reform party … nice to have the Hell’s Angels support your platform!)

Two of the contenders are playing the fear card, with a nod to Trump’s success. Everything’s bad, immigrants are a problem, we need to fix our government. I don’t think these tried-and-true Trumpisms will fly in Canada, which has built a society which is much more respectful, empathic and inclusive than the U.S.

I’m alarmed to read the letters column in Maclean’s magazine shouting support for Trump’s victory, though largely a backlash to the publication’s clearly left of centre position in their opinion columns and reporting. Reading the Toronto Sun’s letters? Yikes. Build me an underground bunker in case they let these people loose on the streets!

One of the Dark Horse candidates, Kevin O’Leary, is pulling a page right out of the Trump playbook. He’s a TV celebrity with business acumen and an indiscernible amount of heart, who says he can run government like a business.

I was disheartened to hear three DJs on a Belleville radio station and a number of call-ins thinking this was a great idea, so the roots of the belief system are there.
Here’s a reality dose – government can’t run like a business. It’s not made up of an omnipotent CEO and a pantload of of middle management, all searching for profits. Running a government – any government – in a proper democracy is never going to be a dollar-winning proposition. Not if they’re doing the job they are elected to do: Serve the greater good of the people they represent.
Let’s see how the other ‘successful’ businessman makes a profit from his tax cuts to the rich ‘economy-drivers’, his miles-long wall, and a huge investment in infrastructure and war machines.

All money out, no money in. That ain’t good business.

Author’s note: Hours after writing this story, O’Leary has removed himself from the race. Cooler heads seem to be prevailing in the Tory party, so we’ll see what we get. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the Liberals could have held a caucus meeting in a Volkswagen beetle!

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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