Taking Stock

The Rise of a Canadian Third Party

Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada, was a Conservative. He is remembered chiefly for his love of alcohol and his hatred of free trade. Brian Mulroney, the last elected Conservative prime minister, foreswore alcohol when he reckoned (correctly) that he could surmount the greasy pole (just like George W. Bush) and embraced free trade when he reckoned (again, correctly) that this tactic would split the opposition and ensure his re-election. Mulroney was the only Conservative to win two consecutive majorities in the 20th century, but in so doing, he transformed his party into a mirror image of its great rival, the Liberals—and thereby shattered it. And after a decade-long false start, the Conservative base has found a new home—in the Canadian Alliance.

The virtual collapse of the Conservatives in 1993 ensured consecutive majority governments for Jean Chrétien's Liberal Party. Chrétien—like Mulroney and Chrétien's mentor, Pierre Trudeau—is committed to the New Canada myth of the "proposition nation": Canada as a wholly materialist entity, with no unique culture nor any traditions worth preserving, its value based entirely on the judgment of foreigners.

For the seventh year in a row, Canada has ranked first in the U.N. Development Program's quality-of-life index. It is amusing to think of Canadians responding with shouts of "We're...

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