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Harper the Counter-Revolutionary

11/25/2011 04:44 EST | Updated 01/25/2012 05:12 EST
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not just a Conservative politician; he's also a counter-revolutionary.

Or at the very least, he's extremely sympathetic with Canada's counter-revolutionary movement.

And yes, believe it or not, we do have counter-revolutionaries in Canada. The revolution they seek to counter is one that took place way back in the mid-to-late 1960s.

That's the time when the Pearson/Trudeau Liberals actively implemented an agenda that for better or worse set Canada upon a new course.

This Liberal revolution gave us official multiculturalism, official bilingualism, increased interventionist government, socialized medicine and a whole host of other grand schemes.

In other words, a lot of things in the country changed and a lot of Canadians with a conservative bent didn't like it.

As conservative writer William Gairdner put it in his book, The Trouble with Canada, "By the time he (Pierre Trudeau) was finished, Canada had changed from a fiscally stable, relatively free, mildly socialized nation under limited government, to one bending under, proportionately, twice the U.S. per capita debt, highly centralized and managerial, and much more socialized in its institutions and social commitments."

But opposition to the Liberal revolution wasn't just about bigger government or more socialism.

Many Canadians also believed the Liberals were eroding Canada's historic traditions. They watched in anger as the Liberal government degraded our ties to the monarchy and to Britain; they were dismayed when the armed forces were unified and our soldiers transformed into "peacekeepers," they mourned what they perceived as the loss of our national values.

Canada's proud history, it seemed, had no place in Liberal revolutionary Canada.

Consequently by the late 1960s many Canadian conservatives became committed to counter-revolution. Their goal was simple, if unachievable: Turn the clock back to a pre-Lester Pearson/Pierre Trudeau Canada.

Of course, it was a quixotic mission; while the counter-revolutionaries had lots of passion, they enjoyed little political success.

Indeed, for decades the political establishment basically ignored them. They were considered out-of-touch dinosaurs or worse.

Even the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, once the champions of the counter-revolutionaries, had by the late 1970s itself come to embrace much of the Pearson/Trudeau Revolution.

And so by the beginning of the 21st century things seemed grim for the counter-revolutionaries. Not only had they failed to roll back the Liberal revolution, but their ranks were growing thinner with each passing year.

But then came Stephen Harper on the scene; a politician who understood the counter-revolutionary impulse.

In fact, prior to becoming prime minister, Harper had spent time with what were once Canada's two main bastions of counter-revolutionary activity: the Reform Party and the National Citizens Coalition.

He also realized counter-revolutionaries were still an important component of Canada's conservative movement and of his own political base.

Hence when he became prime minister, Harper had both personal and political reasons to make these people happy.

That's not to say, of course, he plans to re-establish the Old Regime. After all, even the Harper Tories count themselves as supporters of key Liberal revolutionary principles.

For instance, Harper will not repeal official bilingualism or bring back the Red Ensign.

But he will give the counter-revolutionaries some long-sought after symbolic victories

This is one reason why he resurrected the term "Royal" to describe the Canadian air force and navy; it's why he openly embraces the monarchy and its symbols; it's why his government is helping to raise awareness of Canada's military history through such efforts as commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

It's just Harper's way of telling the counter-revolutionaries they finally have a friend in Ottawa.

(This article originally appeared in theOttawa Hill Times.)