The Trouble with Gairdner … Still!

William Gairdner talks with TVO’s Steve Paikin about the new version of his “classic” book The Trouble with Canada. (He cleverly added the word “…Still” to the title for this revamped edition.)

I haven’t read the new book, so I can’t comment on it (notwithstanding my foregoing snark, I understand it’s “thoroughly updated”), but the original was a reactionary jeremiad against what Gairdner viewed as a radical leftward shift in the political landscape over the past 50 years or so that had effectively destroyed Canada in his estimation.

Basically, it was a litany of institutional grievances that will now be entirely familiar to readers of the National Post or other so-called “Conservative” outlets concerning just about any right-wing hobby horse one can imagine: bilingualism, welfare parasitism, foreign aid scamming, judicial activism, radical feminism, multiculturalism, etc.

Unfortunately, whatever reasonable points Gairdener makes – some of which are quite legitimate; the unsustainability of deficit financing, for example – are vastly outweighed by his retrograde opinions concerning a range of social justice issues. For instance, his take on homosexuals and gay marriage is particularly egregious in this respect, believing as he does that it’s an aberrant “lifestyle” that can be “cured” back into normalcy.

On more “meta” issues such as his take on federalism – i.e., a return to the jurisdictional construct of the BNA in terms of the restoration of a more decentralized, pre-Trudeau government – Gairdner’s ideas would seem to do more to promote regional factionalism, inefficiency, and chaotic disunity than the freedom and individual liberties he espouses.

5 Replies to “The Trouble with Gairdner … Still!”

  1. I haven’t read the new book…

    Ever “read” the contents of a kleenex after using it? Yes? Then you’ve read the book.

    He cleverly added the word “…Still” to the title for this revamped edition.

    Worth the price of admission right there.

    Are we really going to be able to restrain ourselves until the trade paperback comes out, Red? Not me. My valet is fetching my Chapters card from my valise as I type.

    …he [believes] that it’s an aberrant “lifestyle” that can be “cured” back into normalcy.

    In Gairdner’s defence, your take on his belief may lack the scientific precision of the original text. Gairdner has doubtless made it clear that only those homosexuals who float after being bound with lead weights and jettisoned into a lake are curable.

    … a return to the jurisdictional construct of the BNA…

    It’s always about the “de-centralist” BNA Act with these chaps, isn’t it? If one didn’t know any better, one would swear that the Act explicitly proscribed the establishment of voluntary federal-provincial cost-sharing programs.

    But, gosh. I wonder why one hears from our “conservative” paladins of constitutional tradition so few spirited sallies on behalf of other neglected and abandoned aspects of the Act, like Parliament’s power to disallow provincial legislation. And where was Gairdner when Harper wiped his ass on the Act, twice, with his unconstitutional prorogation requests?

    The man’s a fraudulent peddler of pseudo-political doggerel. Always has been, always will be.

  2. Too funny.

    I’m extremely confident in my ability to exercise the utmost degree of restraint when it comes to the purchase of Gairdner’s latest book.

    Like the Tea Partiers south of the border, Gairdner and his fundamentalist ilk are terrifically keen on what they imagine to be the original intent of the nation’s “founders” — but only to the extent that certain excerpts may happen to conveniently support their own ideology. As for anything contradictory or deeply nuanced… well, it’s simply jettisoned. Too bothersome!

  3. I do not believe that Gairdner discusses homosexuality or other moral (as he would call them) issues in The Trouble with Canada.

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