Sunday, October 31, 2010

Multiculturalism and the right

And now for some Canadian content. A little while back there were two surprising elections here, even though both were predicted by polls -- in Toronto, perhaps Canada's most liberal (small-l) city, a fat, white, presumably heterosexual, male conservative (small-c) soundly defeated a liberal Liberal (also white and male, but not so fat, and openly gay); and in Calgary, perhaps Canada's most conservative major city, a Muslim was elected as the first Islamic mayor in Canada. Now, in themselves, these results might be a bit unusual, but hardly that interesting -- it's what they suggest about that familiar theme of multiculturalism that's significant. For reasons both naive and opportunistic, liberals have made this theme a pet project, viewing it in the former sense as perhaps just "more pavilions at Folkfest" (thanks to Kate at SDA for the expression), and in the latter, more cynical, sense, as the source of an easy supply of immigrant votes in any given election. But the naivete is rapidly falling away, as the previous post indicated, and now even the electoral opportunism seems threatened -- Rob Ford, the Toronto conservative, apparently outpolled his liberal rival by about 52% to 30% of respondents born outside of the country.

Granted, these are just a couple of Canadian municipal elections, but sometimes small events can portend larger things. Here, for example, are some possible take aways:

  • Liberal attempts, both in Canada and the US, to pander to new immigrants, including bribing them with tax-intensive programs, may finally be reaching the point not just of diminishing returns but of negative returns -- more than most, immigrants as a group tend to be hard-working family people who dislike seeing their earnings taken from them to fund easy election-time promises as much as anyone.
  • Conservatives recognize cultural diversity, once no longer a fetish, as indeed a rich source of vitality and energy within any society, as are a continual influx of new immigrants -- but add two general provisos: first, that the rate of cultural change be contained within supportable limits; and second, that the most general principles of a free society be recognized by all, including the supreme value of the individual.
  • And immigrants, so many, as I say, from family-oriented, hard-working backgrounds, are increasingly finding contemporary conservatism a more natural political expression than contemporary liberalism -- indeed, the small government emphasis on freedom, tolerance, and opportunity is frequently a primary reason so many left their homes to seek this society out in the first place.


  1. white and male, but not so fat, and openly gay

    Trieste, morfeau. Your man lost.

    Now I realize yr not even a conservative in a Reaganish tradition. Yr a conservative in like the Michael Huffington way. Log cabin, y'all! (tho I doubt even the LCers would care for yr crypto-racism)


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