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Book Review: The Canadian Century

The Canadian Century, by Brian Lee Crowley, Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis, is an unusually sobering look at political realities in North America, suggests J.J. McCullough. It may prove, he claims, enormously prescient.

J.J. McCullough - July 12, 2010

Learning to succeed despite ourselves

If Canada is to embrace a style of conservative nationalism separate from the increasingly anachronistic traditions of Toryism and monarchism, the country could probably do worse than the novel strand offered by Mssrs. Crowley, Clemens, and Veldhuis. As a Conservative strategy for electoral success in the age of Harper, The Canadian Century’s philosophy of economic responsibility as a path to national greatness may serve even better, and certainly offers an attractive counter-narrative to tired Liberal tropes of patriotism through ever-more government.

As an attempt to resolve the fundamental contradictions of the Canadian polity, however, The Canadian Century is a work far too timid and conventional to sit alongside some of the great books on the subject, including, it should be noted, the far more ambitious Fearful Symmetry, authored by one of Century’s co-writers.

It is not hard to convince a Canadian that taxes should be lowered or that governments should not spend more than they take. Much more difficult, however, is convincing the populace that state-funded health care is not a fundamental right, or that this country’s future is inseparably tied to ever-closer integration with the United States -- and not smug rejection of it. The question as to what extent Canadian interests are being actively harmed by Canadian nationalist mythologies is an important one, and one that must be addressed in any serious effort to prepare the Canadian economy for 21st Century greatness. Merely trying to divert that nationalist energy to more productive ends is not good enough.

More articles by J.J. McCullough