One of the many earnest intellectuals who write in Canada’s national media shared with the country last week his perception of the liberal paradise that Canada is becoming. It’s the only country in the world, he writes, “where women can live in real equality, where it’s OK to be gay, and where people pick up after their dogs.”
This was the vision of John Ibbitson, a columnist for Toronto’s Globe and Mail, who ran in that newspaper a precis of his new book on the Canada that is to come. It’s titled “The Polite Revolution,” politeness being Canada’s “secret recipe.” It is “the core of what we are, the means by which we accommodate each other.”
In effect, the Globe and Mail allowed him to review his own book, a favor it bestows on very few authors – none whatever in my memory – and an indication of how wholly the newspaper endorses his vision.
What made the article noteworthy, however, was not its fundamental absurdity – i.e., that what ostensibly distinguishes Canada can also be found in virtually every country in the Western world – but rather two curious aspects. One was the complete absence of religion in the social composite of the envisioned country. It is mentioned only as a detriment currently preventing the election of the Conservative party, and obviously something that must be abandoned.
The other is the assumption that the real builders of the New Canada will be the Asian and African immigrants, “the millions of new arrivals who have landed at our docks and airports,” and are already “transforming us.” In other words, the force that will fuel this ultra-polite utopia of serial marriage, gay pride parades, childless households and godless hedonism is the immigrant.
A couple of developments seem to have escaped Mr. Ibbitson’s notice. One is the fact that church attendance in Canada, for the first time in four decades, is rising. The second is that the chief factor making it rise is the overwhelming devotion to Christianity of the immigrants, particularly those from Asia and Africa.
Canadians must learn to see themselves, writes Mr. Ibbitson, “through the eyes of a young woman arriving here from Manila.” One wonders: Has he ever actually met any young women arriving here from Manila. I’ve known at least a dozen. They are, every last one of them, either devout Catholics, or Protestants with a strong Evangelical bent. At least half have married Caucasian Canadians and have been raising relatively large and delightful families, with all the children going to church.
To my knowledge, none has ever taken part in a gay pride parade – in fact, they regard such things as objects of horror – though several are active in the pro-life movement. A number are professional women who have raised families and regained a career, but I don’t think any would comfortably describe herself as “a feminist.”
Perhaps Mr. Ibbitson has not noticed other things – for instance, the fact that the downtown Catholic Cathedral in Vancouver is crowded every Sunday with “people of color,” and I suspect the same thing is true of the cathedral in Toronto. But on the other hand, if he examines the faces at human-rights seminars, judicial conferences or academic colloquies, the groups that are advancing this mythical New Canada, he will observe one dominant skin color and that is white. For the truth is the immigrant, far from being the engine of their social revolution, is already becoming its biggest obstacle.
And here is the point. Don’t think that the builders of New Canada won’t try to overcome that obstacle. They will, of course, be subtle. They will never attack Christianity per se, but they will stress that in Canada religion is a “personal thing” and doesn’t really have a role in shaping their country. They will offer courses on “becoming Canadian” whose central intent will be to divorce them from their faith and instead embrace “Canadianism,” in which the religious element is as non-existent as it is in Mr. Ibbitson’s article.
Above all, Canadians who have “made it” will be grandiloquently featured in the media. These will invariably be people who have “matured” beyond the antiquated simplicities of their former culture with its out-dated dogmas and taboos. They will have become thoroughly Canadian. That is, they will have three ex-wives, two sexual orientations and an unrestricted tolerance of every perversion known to man. But – most important – on all occasions they will be unfailingly polite.