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May 20, 2011 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Political shifts mustn’t threaten Canada’s unity, vision. An opinion piece by (the much loved and/or hated)Preston Manning about the recent Canadian election, and how it will affect Quebec's relationship with the rest of Canada.
posted by blue_beetle (29 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Manning is either delusional or disingenuous. Why should Quebec reach out to Alberta when Alberta politics has been focused for decades on punishing and humiliating Quebec for percieved grievences? Why is Preston calling for this now that his dream of making Canada a petro-state is quickly becoming a reality? The dollar is now tied to the price of oil, so any time the economy shows any hope, Quebec's exports are strangled by a dollar floated by buoyant oil prices. To boot, Quebec cares about things like climate change, public funding for the arts and the rights and status of women. Also, what would make Quebec want to cooperate now that Alberta has Canada over a barrel? Unlike the rest of Canada, they remember 30 years ago, when everyone in Alberta was shouting "let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark".
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:52 AM on May 20, 2011 [10 favorites]

I can't tell whether the douche chills I get reading it are because of the content, or because it's written by Preston Manning. I can say, though, that this reads much more like "Alberta uber alles / haw haw, Quebec and the NDP, what a bunch of losers" than like a plea for national unity.

It is way, way strange, though, that there are people who think of a resource extraction economy as both positive and sustainable for Canada as a whole...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2011

I'm not sure if that was really FPP worthy. He's just gloating.

The absolute destruction of the Progressive Conservatives in the wake of Brian Mulroney's leadership was a much better example of what he's talking about. Also, how many years has Cretien been out of power?

Preston still talks like a Sunday school teacher, too.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:01 AM on May 20, 2011

expletive deleted: of course, when Albertans were saying that, our economy was tanking, people were losing their jobs, many lost their homes. Quebec might remember that, but so does Alberta. Also, I don't follow politics that closely, however I have never seen this punishment or humiliation of Quebec from Alberta that you are talking about. Albertans generally loathe separatists, but apart from that, how have they tried to humiliate Quebec?
posted by ryanfou at 10:04 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

From the article's comments:

"Manning is writing about something which should be written about, by someone. Your response is very simplistic and very partisan, typical of the simple-minded partisan stuff which dominates these boards."

It's good to know that hiring people to comment online and shift the tone of conversation to the right results in quality comparable to an eHow article.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 10:05 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

What the fuck would Preston Fucking Manning know about national unity?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:16 AM on May 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Why is Preston calling for this now that his dream of making Canada a petro-state is quickly becoming a reality?

I figured this is the direction this would go as soon as I saw it, so I guess I'll have to take the contrarian stance: This is pretty much bullshit.

Preston Manning was a voice for real, traditional prairie populism, not will-to-power petrostatism. That's why Harper & Co. co-opted his party and ran him out - he actually meant what he said. He thought the Senate should be elected, for example, and provide an extra lever of power for regions outside central Canada. He was actually for small government and traditional values and all that. Which you're welcome to disagree with - I certainly do - but don't saddle him with Stephen Harper's sins while you're at it.

Since he left politics, he has been a steady, consistent voice here in Alberta (along with Peter Lougheed) for a much more measured and slow-paced approach to tarsands development. Why? Because he's an old-school conservative. He believes in conserving valuable natural resources, not treating them (as RFK Jr. likes to put it) like the earth is a business in liquidation.

I feel like I need to back this up with my personal experience: I would never have voted Reform in a million years, and I would defect to Scandinavia before I voted for a Harperite. I wrote this book, which is about as far from Harper's take on climate and energy as you can get without being, you know, Scandinavian.

So, pop quiz: who's the only politician of national stature from any party who contacted me after my book came out to meet and discuss its implications? Answer: Preston Manning. Contacted me in person. Humbly. Introduced himself and everything, just in case I hadn't heard of him. (Because he's an old-fashioned sort, really.) Had clearly read my book carefully. Was genuinely concerned with the Harperite ignorance on environmental issues.

(This is doubly surprising when you consider that I was at the front-yard BBQ where Jack Layton launched his NDP leadership run in Toronto and he slept in my father-in-law's basement when he came out to Calgary to drum up what meagre support he could for said leadership run.)

So yeah, hate on Preston for some of the Reform social conservative stuff if you want. But he isn't the petro-state rape-and-pillage guy. You're looking for the Ontario transplant who looks like a doofus in a cowboy hat on that one.
posted by gompa at 10:17 AM on May 20, 2011 [32 favorites]

how have they tried to humiliate Quebec?

There is a certain segment of the Quebec media and political sphere that seeks to cast every policy announcement, oped or off-the-cuff comment as a slight to Quebec. For example, during the electrion the PCs announced promisary guarantees for the Lower Churchill falls hydroelectric project, which was supposed to be a bit of patronage for Newfoundland and Labrador. This promise was immediately recast in Quebec as the Conservatives not giving Quebec, which isn't involved in the deal at all, its proper share of money for hydroelectric projects. This serves the PQ and Bloc cause, reinforcing "evidence" for separation.
posted by bonehead at 10:25 AM on May 20, 2011


Hey, y'know what, Preston? Fuck you and the fucking Social Crediters dry-humping Pentecostal fundy jackasses you rode in on.

* Too dick-headed, didn't read
posted by docgonzo at 10:28 AM on May 20, 2011

Oh God, Cowboy Harper! I'd managed to erase that from my mind.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:28 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is an awesome piece, and I say so as a life-long Albertan and New Democrat.

Canada is now in the situation that Manning predicted in 1967 with his tract (attributed to his father), "Political Realignment: A Challenge to Thoughtful Canadians" (For a discussion of the tract, see here). We now have a two-party, left-right dynamic.

Manning’s words of advice to the NDP regarding Québec are well-taken. The NDP has been given a chance to show whether it can manage the Québec file. If it does well, then, it’s a green light to replace Harper eventually.

There has always been an Alberta-Québec axis that counter-balanced the Ottawa-Ontario Entente. If Layton turns his back on Alberta, he is doomed. People like me will for the first time ever consider voting Conservative.
posted by No Robots at 10:38 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Albertans generally loathe separatists


We now have a two-party, left-right dynamic.

There are still other parties; they didn't actually vanish in a puff of smoke, you know. And collapses like this are not unprecedented, either.
posted by mek at 10:58 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

In fact, the Grits are arguably in the same (or even a little better) place now compared to their defeat by Mulroney. Same problems, broke and with weak and divided leadership. In eight years they had a majority again. Things can change quickly in Canadian politics.
posted by bonehead at 11:03 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know, if Harper really wanted to stick it to Manning, he could have appointed Manning to the senate this week. I'm sure he regrets the opportunity.
posted by bonehead at 11:05 AM on May 20, 2011

Manning in the senate? Never! He was the one who said that that august body operated on protocol, Geritol and alcohol.
posted by No Robots at 11:07 AM on May 20, 2011

Hated. Definitely hated.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:08 AM on May 20, 2011

Manning in the senate? Never! He was the one who said that that august body operated on protocol, Geritol and alcohol.

Yes, 'cause if there's one thing we've learned this week, it's that old Reformers never sacrifice their beliefs when it comes to the Senate.
posted by docgonzo at 1:14 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since he left politics, he has been a steady, consistent voice here in Alberta (along with Peter Lougheed) for a much more measured and slow-paced approach to tarsands development.

Point well taken, gompa. I certainly respect Manning more than Harper, but while a nascent Canadian petrostate under today's Conservatives may not be his dream, he certainly helped set the stage for it, and also nurtured Harper's early political career, and I don't think he should be absolved of his role so easily on either count. The part of the article that set me off, specifically, was his seemingly positive characterization of Canada's move towards a more resource extraction focused economy.

I'm also doubtful that a "measured and slow-paced approach to tarsands development" is anything more than a meaningless platitude. I find it hard to believe that when the externalities are considered, that this is a resource worth developing at all. Besides, it's one thing to call for restraints on the tarsands when out of electoral politics, and quite another to be a Prime Minister from Alberta that is responsible for implementing those restraints. Any regulatory structure strong enough to provide substantive environmental protection, along with properly pricing water use, as Manning is calling for, would certainly devastate the Alberta energy sector as much as the NEP did. I have a hard time believing that if Manning was in the position Harper is in now, that he would do anything at all to constrain tarsands development.

Of course, Manning would never have found himself where Harper is now, in part because he was willing to make stands on policy that were political non-starters, so maybe I’m wrong on that count. In any event, I’m glad that Preston Manning is taking these issues seriously now, I just wish more Albertans would. I still hold out some hope though; Calgary seems to be one of the only cities in Canada actually moving in the right direction municipally, though I could have the wrong impression. With people like gompa around, things can’t be that bad, right?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

God save us from these humourless Jacobins.
posted by No Robots at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Liberals are hurting after the last election, so I can see how they would take this article as salt in the wound, however it is pretty obvious that the last few paragraphs is a warning to the Conservatives, not gloating over the implosion of the Liberals. As you said, bonehead, things change quickly. The conservatives have already been in power for 5 years and their intellectual bankruptcy and erosion of the civil service is quite evident. Also, the breadth of talent in the Liberal party was much wider after Cretien left than the Conservatives now, and look how poorly they have fared.

Also, what's with all the Manning hate? I would love to read a well-reasoned argument about why he is teh-suck, but it sounds like 'uppity redneck' tripe to me.
posted by ryanfou at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2011

My only interaction with Preston Manning was during my last job working for a BC Crown agency. A regional partner came to us asking for funding to pay for Manning to speak at some sort of conference. What a fucking waste of taxpayer money. We didn't give them the money, but just the thought of it makes me mad. What a fucking blowhard.

Of course, our regional partner instead managed to guilt our spineless CEO into working with David Mitchell's "Public Policy Forum". Yet another do-nothing windbag who specializes in raking in taxpayer money.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:44 PM on May 20, 2011

We now have a two-party, left-right dynamic.

We might not five years from now.

Canadian politics has never been so much in flux. It's not at all clear that the NDP can consolidate their gains in Quebec. The next election might give the NDP a majority government (if strategic voters nationwide shift their support to them) or they could crash down to 20 seats. The Greens could start to make gains or go extinct. The Liberals might die, or merge with another party (the NDP? the Greens?) or by some miracle form the next government. If Harper ignores the social conservative wing of his party badly enough it's not impossible that the Wild Rose party might go federal. Who would have predicted 20 years ago that both Liberals and Progressive Conservatives would be marginalized? Who knows what Parliament will look like in 10 years?

Canada gains or loses a major political party every ten years (on average over the past 100 years). It's one of the most appealing features of our political culture: parties that get lazy and go stale die.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:04 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I appreciate what Gompa said, and liked that he said it in a thread full of Manning 'grar' but there is always a disconnect with the more reasonable Preston Manning and the very right wing Preston Manning. Things like his participation in the Fraser Institute, which has always been about denying reality in favour of ideology, makes me take what he has to say with a grain of salt.
And, does BC ever factor in in his talk about the west? Or does his west only extend westward until the Rockies?
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 4:37 PM on May 20, 2011

I favorited Gompa's post above, because he knows what he's talking about. On the other hand, fuck Preston Manning. He's the one who plugged the unthinking side of conservatism into the evangelical movements in Western Canada, setting back any hope of social progress by 50 years. Hey! Look how well religion-fueled conservatism is working in the US. Got to get us some of that, boy howdy!

posted by sneebler at 4:38 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

"What should be increasingly apparent is that if new and stronger bridges are to be built between Quebec and the rest of Canada, they will have to be primarily constructed not by federal politicians on constitutional grounds, but by private-sector decision makers and provincial leaders on the grounds of economic and interprovincial relations."

Money will decide and the decision will be money.
posted by phoque at 4:39 PM on May 20, 2011

Good ol' gompa. That is all.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:41 PM on May 20, 2011

who's the only politician of national stature from any party who contacted me after my book came out to meet and discuss its implications? Answer: Preston Manning.

I never pegged him as someone who appreciates the Simpsons on that level.

(KIDDING! I like your book.)

You're looking for the Ontario transplant who looks like a doofus in a cowboy hat on that one.

nothing personal here, but can we all stop pretending that Harper having grown up in Toronto means anything? It doesn't matter that he's form Toronto. He is Alberta's boy now. How long does his life have to revolve around Alberta before Alberta (small 'L') liberals stop bringing up Toronto? Does Ontario elect anyone with 75% of the vote? How many ridings in the GTA went Conservative on that scale? How about 50%+? Even his favorite barking devil dog John Baird doesn't get that kind of support. He built and continues to find the base of his support in Alberta, it's not really accurate to bring up trivia like his birthplace.

There is a certain segment of the Quebec media and political sphere that seeks to cast every policy announcement, oped or off-the-cuff comment as a slight to Quebec

There wasn't a lot of subtlety in the 1998 "flag flap."
posted by Hoopo at 10:46 PM on May 20, 2011

Manning doesn't belong in the same category as Harper, except in a general sense. Has Manning ever made a public statement on Harper shutting down parliament or the G20 fiasco in Toronto? Something tells me that Manning's ideas on direct democracy and citizen participation are a direct contrast to the tyranny and despotism that Harper has made a career of.

I understand where Manning comes from, even though I do not usually agree with him.

People of the Canadian plains thirty years ago were people who lived off the economic activity generated by farms and ranches - people who knew that stewardship of the land was critical to the survival. Even if you happened to live in the cities, you spent weekends and holidays at the farm or ranch with family members or at least a lot of your friends and relatives did. The sense of responsibility and good stewardship people felt for each other on the plains gave rise to the NDP and contributed public health care to Canada.

On the other side of the spectrum, Manning's conservatism stemmed from a belief that people should be free to make their own choices, and this is a reasonable position from anyone growing up in a culture that was defined in part by the fact that the nearest neighbour was quite often a mile away. Working the land and soil give one a sense of the power of nature, and that can often lead one to strong religious beliefs. I grant that some of Manning's religious beliefs led him to take some hateful positions, but I'd suggest growing up, he lacked wordly experience. Maybe he failed to evolve, but as the son of a preacher its fair to assume his mind was deeply controlled by his Christian values.

Harper's origins in Ontario make sense too, and are relevant to understanding his character. Harper is the son of an accountant for Imperial Oil, and he values greed, power, and gamesmanship - it's the oil in his DNA that defines him, not the land and people. Those values are cultivated more readily in the great financial centres, than the fields and farms.

I'm going to parapharse an uncle here... Manning had shit on his boots, Harper has it in his boots.

The Liberals aren't a part of the social fabric here in Western Canada, and their collapse is almost red herring in a comparison of how Harper and Manning "speak for the west". Suffice to say I think the Liberal collapse has to do with the cynical alignment of its last majority coalition, the drift of their support in the business community to the Conservatives, tolerance for corruption (being generous), weak leadership, support for an unpopular war in Afghanistan, a core of activists who were more interested in fighting with internal factions than engaging citizens at a national level - perhaps because they wrongly felt they would just naturally take the reins of the country sometime in the next few years. I wouldn't be suprised to see the Liberals as a major force in Canadian politics again, but they need a clean break from their past to do so.

The propaganda press muses a lot about the relative lack of experience among the new NDP MP's. A closer look at their resumes shows a lot of experience at municipal and provincial politics, and I believe Jack Layton to be the strongest federal leader from any party. The critics and front-benches of the NDP caucus will be good enough to hold the Conservatives accountable and train the newer MP's - the backbenchers from every party are pretty weak. Overall, I think the NDP will be a good opposition, and in the best position to form Canada's next government. Regionalism will probably be less of an issue in this parliament that it has been in recent memory.
posted by Intrepid at 12:36 AM on May 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

Manning's "concern" for the NDP:

"But here is the great danger for the NDP: In the past, both of the major federal parties, the Liberals and the old Progressive Conservatives, bent over backward to accommodate Quebec’s demands. In doing so, they increasingly alienated major segments of the electorate in the rest of the country. In the end, their Quebec supporters turned against them."

Actually, the NDP has already sorted out just how to respond to Quebec's (and other's regional demands) and will have no need to just make up policy on the fly in this regard. Let me google that for you, Preston.
posted by Kurichina at 8:39 AM on May 24, 2011

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