One of my many fears about The Orange One’s election was the effect it would have on conservatives here in Canada. Andrew Coyne’s dispatch from the Manning Conference suggests that the infection is spreading:
Consider what items might have been on the agenda. A forward-looking conference intended to help shape conservative responses to pressing national issues might have had sessions on how to address the sudden challenge to the international order, not to say the national interest, posed by Trump’s ascent.
It might have talked about how to preserve a world of open markets, and open societies, in the face of the populist-nationalist resurgence. It might have spent much time on the urgent problem of population aging, and the twin pressures — higher social costs, fewer workers to pay them — to which we will inevitably be exposed.
What, in fact, is on the agenda? There’s a session on Islamist extremism; another session on Islamist extremism; a session asking whether Trumpism can be exported to Canada, featuring a Trump campaign adviser; a session on how campus conservatives are being censored; another session on campus censorship; a session on the media; a session on the CBC (“Time to pull the plug?”).
It isn’t that these aren’t legitimate, even pressing issues in themselves — I’m hawkish on security myself, also hate political correctness, and have long called for the CBC to be defunded — or that the proposals under discussion are not valid.
But it cannot fail to be noticed that they are all pitched to a certain corner of the conservative tent, reflecting the particular obsessions of the populist right. Indeed, there’s also a session entitled “Down with the Elites? Understanding the rise in anti-establishment sentiment,”
featuring inter alia that voice of introspection and understanding, Doug Ford.
In France, Marine Le Pen is almost certainly going to make it yo the second round of the Presidential election. Geert Wilders is set to lead the largest party in the Dutch Parliament. Even in Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats are tied for the lead in recent opinion polls, suggesting that even many Swedes agree with Donald Trump’s gloomy (and much-maligned) assessment of their country.
What makes Canadians think their country is immune?