It is indeed rare for Canadian conservatives to influence their American cousins. It is usually the other way around.
This writer can’t tell you how many of us were influenced by the candidacy and presidential victory of Ronald Reagan in 1980 — influenced not just in an ideological fashion but affected by the positive image that Reagan projected and the belief that this kind of political success was achievable for unapologetic and principled conservatives.
It was a wasteland in Canada at the time. Pierre Trudeau was prime minister (yes, that’s Trudeau II haunting the political landscape today) and we had just endured 9 months of a “Progressive Conservative” government under Joe Clark, who, as something called a “Red Tory” was indistinguishable from the Liberals. You might wonder what on earth a Progressive Conservative is. Well aside from being an oxymoron of the first degree, it is a name that allow all of the principle in conservatism to be subsumed and corroded by the toxic mantle of progressivism.
But for those of us who yearned to throw off the yoke of collectivism, Reagan was more than an inspiration; he was every inch of the hero he had played in so many Hollywood films.
Not that Canada hasn’t influenced American politics. But unfortunately it hasn’t usually been for the better. I’ve no doubt that the Canadian experience with same-sex marriage had a profound effect on how this issue was so quickly mainstreamed in the U.S. In Canada, the supreme court simply found Canada’s marriage laws unconstitutional and told Parliament to legislate otherwise. After several provinces acquiesced to the massive political pressure of perhaps two percent of the electorate, the federal government passed legislation and that was virtually the end of the debate.
Currently, much of the U.S., and California in particular, has come to believe that Canada’s universal medicare is a medical panacea that will be the ultimate answer to Obamacare. Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, she would almost certainly have gone down this troubled road; she was on the record for admiring Canada’s single-payer system and certainly thought Obamacare was only a good start.
Canadian medicare is an excellent system — if you’re in excellent heath and don’t require medical assistance in a hurry. If you do, well the tangled mess in the U.S. that has become a weird hybrid of private and public healthcare still delivers the goods when you need it.
But I’m happy, yes, almost proud, to say that a Canadian political leader has finally offered some good conservative advice to Americans. Last weekend, the Conservative Party of Canada elected Saskatchewan Member of Parliament Andrew Scheer as its new leader. Scheer will strike many Americans as a curiosity because he’s only 38 and has already been the Speaker of the House of Commons and is now the Leader of the Official Opposition. In two years he could well be the man who replaced Trudeau as prime minister.
Scheer didn’t roll out an abundance of policy initiatives during the leadership debate but he did talk about one issue that he reiterated last Saturday night when he clinched the leadership on the 13th ballot. He wants to defund public universities who refuse to defend free speech and I think he’s actually serious about doing it. Canadian academia, precisely like its American counterpart, is increasingly characterized by a totalitarian leftist student rabble and a totalitarian leftist faculty that simply refuses to listen to any opinions but their own. All others be damned — or at least not admitted on campus.
Scheer has truly discovered not only a significant cross-border issue but one that might prove to be a defining moment in conservative thought itself. William F. Buckley, Jr. argued in God and Man at Yale that academic freedom was often a philosophical ruse to indoctrinate students in leftist ideology. Today, the Marxists who are supposedly educating our students have taken it one step further: the process is decidedly one-sided with any debate or countervailing opinion being seen as counter-revolutionary and disruptive to the homogeneous tranquility of ideological conformity.
Let us hear some more from this new Conservative leader.
Follow David on Twitter