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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Was "Sir John A" a closet Liberal?

Um, no -- he was openly a Liberal -- as in, the "Liberal-Conservative" coalition.  But Publius offers a fine post, here, on the question, taking on the Red Star's piece of fiction, er, "creative writing." here, that tries to show that the Dominion of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, would have been a Liberal were he alive, today. All this to take a shot at Stephen Harper. "Makes me tired."

But let me push this a little. What does J. D. M. Stewart mean by "Liberal?" A member of the 21st-century Liberal Party? A mid-19th-century liberal? Or, an 18th-century liberal? Which?

For more on the question, see Burkean Canuck, here . . .

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on August 2, 2005 | Permalink


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I read some of the article in the Star. I couldn't make it halfway through, it made me puke.

I would just love to know where Stewart thinks John A. Macdonald would stand on issues such as:

- Federal govt. intrusion into provincial jurisdictions such as health care and language.

- The Charter

- The Charter being used as an excuse to pass gay marriage.

etc, etc, etc.....

If these guys have to go back over 125 years to exclude members from today's party, well then.....

Posted by: The Cyber Menace | 2005-08-02 9:20:36 PM

MacDonald was also, unlike Harper, very critical of the Office of the US President..."in great measure a despot, a one manpower, with command of naval and military forces... He also took a much more practical view on the issue of immigration passing the Chinese Immigration Act in 1885. He recognized that vast amounts of cheap Chinese labour served only to drive down wages, creating competition for jobs and potential racial conflict. The Chinese also had no experience of British traditions and to Sir John were..."a semi-barbaric, inferior race", and "machines with whom Canadians couldn't compete..."

Maybe the question should be is Harper a closet liberal?

Posted by: DJ | 2005-08-03 12:30:26 AM

The BSS teacher BS’s “..the Harper-led Conservatives have never been accused of acting with moderate and progressive strokes.”

I guess this BSS left-wing history teacher doesn’t read blogs. Many conservatives are upset with Harper because he is Liberal Lite.

Parents don’t let your daughters listen to BS at BSS. Why pay $25,000 per year plus capital fund drives for this private school only to have your kid indoctrinated by the same unionized leftist drivel of the public school system?

Posted by: nomdenet | 2005-08-03 6:32:08 AM

Sir John A was clearly a Red Tory, though I think he spent much of his time chasing pink elephants.

Posted by: Matthew Vadum | 2005-08-03 7:01:10 AM

DJ wins the prize for a non-sequitor tying of Harper to Bush. Sir John A.'s comment speaks of the theoretical abuse of power that a President may exercise, while Harper deals with the policies produced by a President (and by the way approved by both the House and Senate). If ony you could have work in some tie of Harper =Bush=Hitler.

On the point of John A.'s critique, at the time the criticism was quite valid since US Presidents, especially Lincoln, were able to rule quite effectively without any buy-in from Congress. Meanwhile the new Canadian confederation required that compromises bewteen the independently-minded members of parliament and the Provinces be made in order to get things done. Fast forward to today and you see that the US President cannot even exercise powers clearly within his power (eg appointment of federal judges or a UN ambassador) without having to appease the minority party in the US Senate, while the PM gets to re-write Parliamentary rules to suit himself (when is a confidenc vote not a confidence vote) and generally rule by dictate. The worries of abuse of power that John A. had were right, but in what would have been a shock for him, they landed in the seat he occupied.

As for the article itself, you shoudl just chalk it up to the teacher preaching to the converted. I have little doubt that the parents sending their children to a private girls scholl in downtown Toronto would expect anything short of the party line that Liberals are all things good and right in Canada and, notwithstanding the historical facts, anyone that produced good in the past would have been a Liberal if they had just had the chance.

Posted by: mth | 2005-08-03 7:46:22 AM

In MacDonald's day, being a Tory (whig) was synonymous with being a priviledged class landed gentry political insider wo promited a nepotistic ruling class elite ....Sir John A saw the ravages this "family compact" had extracted on the Canadian citizenry and was actually involved in the rebellion that followed.

He wanted to be seen as "reform friendly" ( embracing the ideals of responsible representative government) yet he wanted to be loyal to the concepts of order established by the crown....so a "liberal-conservative" in the context of MacDonald's day and his political environment would be as close to a moderate reform policy party as you can get....certainly this mimicks nothing the Current Liberal regime epitomises...like rampant nepotism, unaccountable statism and government meddling in private matters of thought, speech and worship.

The Star is consistantly dishonest in it's historical perspective and this latest revisionist article portraying the founder of our nation as a "liberal" is no different.

Posted by: WLMackenzie redux | 2005-08-03 11:37:55 AM

So John Bolton wasn't appointeed as United Nations ambassador without a Senate confirmation vote then?

MacDonald, unlike Harper, did not favour indulging Imperial folly.

"Why should we waste money and men in this wretched business?" the Prime Minister responded. "[N]ow that Gordon is gone the motive of aiding in the rescue of our Countryman is gone with him. Our men and money would therefore be sacrificed to get [British Prime Minister W.E.] Gladstone and Co. out of the hole they have plunged themselves into by their own imbecillity [sic]."

Substitute Bush for Gladstone and the parallels are obvious.

Posted by: DJ | 2005-08-03 11:45:54 AM

DJ, the recess appointment was necessary because the Democrats refused to vote. The Dems would have lost. It was the Dems who filibustered the vote.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-08-03 1:44:07 PM

Sir John A. MacDonald, one of the Fathers of Confederation(1867), was accutely aware of the threat posed at that time by the US. Canada had been invaded by the US in 1812 and Britain had continued to trade with and support the Confederacy during the Civil War.(1861-1865)

Sir John A. believed the United States was itching for revenge, but he was wrong.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-08-03 2:15:47 PM

Here we go again trying to paint Harper as an American-wannabee. His critics are completely incapable of criticizing him specifically. They regularly resort to what they want others to believe of him, not what he actually represents. ie) it's just fear-mongering.

Posted by: The Cyber Menace | 2005-08-03 5:30:21 PM

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