Monday, July 02, 2007

July 2007 Book Club Selection: The New Canada by Preston Manning

Nexus of Assholery book club makes its return with Manning tome

Increased traffic on the Nexus has resulted in the return of the Nexus of Assholery book club. As always, discussion will be available on the message board

In 1993, the Reform party, under Preston Manning, did something nearly unthinkable. In only its second federal election, it captured 52 seats. And while the Bloc Quebecois did something actually unthinkable -- winning merely two more seats in their first election to form the Official Opposition in their first election ever -- the impact that the Reform party has had on Canadian politics is much more palpable.

Consider that, 20 years after its founding, the Reform party's original policy chief, Preston Manning, is now Prime Minister. Many long-time Reform party MPs -- some of whom have served their entire political careers with the Reform party -- continue to join him on the opposition benches.

In 1992, before his party secured its 1993 triumph, Manning laid out his vision for Canada in The New Canada. In it, he surmised that the "old Canada" that had existed since Confederation in 1867 was dying, and a new Canada was waiting to be born.

Part biography and part political manifesto, The New Canada became something of a handbook for western grievances, and for Canadians seeking an alternative to the then-stagnating Progressive Conservatives (who under Brian Mulroney's leadership had largely alienated the west).

Manning's book laid out a populist vision for Canadian politics, under which politicians would once more be made responsible to their constituents. Manning rejected the increasingly consumption-focused politics that has become common in western democracies in favour of a more participatory model.

For anyone subscribing to a stereotypical view of the Reform party may be shocked to discover how much of the Reform party's policies actually contradicted that stereotype. For example, Dr Manoly Lupul clearly overlooked how Manning's Fair Language Policy -- which would deliver government services in languages other than english or french -- actually would have facilitated the multiculturalism about which Lupul is so enthusiastic.

Those accusing the Reform party of racism would certainly find their accusations less credible when confronted by Manning's handling of the Doug Collins affair.

With Manning's view of Canada at least seeming to take root in the federal government, The New Canada is an important read for anyone wanting to understand the internecine conflict seemingly raging between former Reformers and former Progressive Conservatives, or just seeking more knowledge about Canadian politics in general.

Discuss this book on the message board

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