Peter C. Newman on the Way We Are


Peaceful, compassionate, progressive: that’s a good definition of Canada, says Peter C. Newman in the current Literary Review of Canada.  That’s how we used to be.

But things have changed. “Ezra Levant and his Precambrian rants marked the expiration … of the compassionate peaceable kingdom that gave us shelter.”

Newman is reviewing R.B. Fleming’s biography of Peter Gzowski (of Morningside fame). Why the references to Levant? One wonders.

The idea that Canadians naturally incline to the left has been a largely unacknowledged feature of Canadian politics for decades, promulgated in political science classes, cherished in Toronto’s Annex. It’s an idea that promotes acrimony and hampers both left and right in the development of lucid political arguments.

Peter Gzowski was the real goods: of that Newman is sure. Peter C. Newman himself is o.k. Undoubtedly! Gzowski and Newman: both Canadian to a high degree of Canadianness.

If you confronted him outright, I am sure that Newman would argue with the best of us that the principle of political equality grounds Canadian politics. In a liberal democracy like ours no political arguments are excluded a priori and there is no one way Canadians qua Canadians are supposed to be. We settle our domestic policy and the direction we will take on the world stage through political deliberation. We are free to change direction. That’s what Newman would say.

And yet with a corner of his mind, I suggest, he thinks that there are some political perspectives true Canadians naturally shun; Canadians up to Canadian snuff necessarily incline to the politics of the centre left.


1 Response to “Peter C. Newman on the Way We Are”

  1. 1 oonae October 28, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Funny. But we’re not the only ones with this conviction about Canadian leftism. You have no idea how many educated Americans insist to me that Canada is a socialist country.

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