Much though I hate to admit it, Canada’s right-wing has achieved a new maturity, self-confidence and ebullience. Gone are the days when right-wingers were little more than liberal wannabes who looked awkward and out of place in public. Now they’ve come out of the shadows for all of us to see.
Who can deny that they have a style all of their own? Without a hint of embarrassment, they’re redefining the country.
“Put that in your pipe you left-wing kooks,” proclaimed Don Cherry as he addressed the inaugural meeting of Toronto’s newly elected city council. During the swearing in ceremony for Mayor Rob Ford, Cherry placed the chain of office around the neck of the city’s new chief executive.
“I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything,” said Cherry reveling in the right’s moment of triumph. But he had a warning for the new mayor, telling him point blank what he’d be facing, “with these left-wing pinkos. They scrape the bottom of the barrel.”
You have to hand it to Ford for not playing it safe with the invitation of the Coach to set the tone for the new Toronto. As Cherry said of Ford: “Rob’s honest, he’s truthful, he’s like Julian Fantino. What you see is what you get. He’s no phony.”
And Rob Ford is not alone in wearing his rightist credentials as a badge of honour.
Every morning on CBC television, you can see Kevin O’Leary, the venture capitalist, entrepreneur shouting that “greed is good and I love money.” It’s in a promo for the Lang and O’Leary Exchange the show he co-hosts. He also brings his swashbuckling talents to the Dragons’ Den.
So much does CBC television love O’Leary that many mornings you get to see him in his skivvies, working out in the gym while he tells a breathless Heather Hiscox a thing or two about why government should get out of the way of investors, or why the Euro and the EU are bound to go the hell.
And who can top Tom Flanagan, the godfather of Canada’s New Right, and one-time mentor to Stephen Harper, for his candour? The University of Calgary political science professor told the CBC program Power and Politics that he thought WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “should be assassinated.” He went on to add that “Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something.”
Later Flanagan issued a statement in which he apologized for counseling the elimination of the man who has terrified the American Empire, the mouse who has made the elephant tremble.
Apology or not, Flanagan’s poise and comfort in his own skin are there for all to see.
The new voices of the Canadian right have taken the measure of those who oppose them and they are not cowed. They show how good humoured they are by appearing regularly on the CBC, the public network whose very existence is a symbol of the old Canada they are sweeping into the dustbin.