This article originally appeared at PushedLeft, 28 April 2011.
In 1965, scholar George Grant wrote Lament for a Nation, fearing that the fall of Diefenbaker would spell the end of Canada as a sovereign state: "To lament is to cry out at the death or at the dying of something loved. This lament mourns the end of Canada as a sovereign state."
The book was an instant best seller and though written by a conservative, became the new battle cry for the left. And as an expansion of Diefenbaker's "One Nation" philosophy [however, Grant criticized the "One Canada" citizenship model of the Prairie populists and faulted Diefenbaker for ignoring the legitimate aspirations of the French Canadians - editor], it also, in many ways, became a thesis for the Red Tory.
However, at about the same time, another Canadian conservative was writing a little book, called Political Realignment: Challenge to Thoughtful Canadians. It was a bit controversial at the time, because its publication was funded by a group of wealthy businessmen, but Ernest Manning with the help of his son Preston, laid out their vision for a Conservative Canada. It became the framework for a party of the right-wing, that would be based on pure ideology and the 'will of God'.
Manning's book caught the attention of Colin Brown, founder of the National Citizens Coalition, that Stephen Harper would eventually head. In fact, it was Manning who suggested that the NCC incorporate, and he would be on the advisory board.
I've read both Lament and Realignment, and could find no common ground.
Ron Dart, professor of Political Science, Philosophy and Religious Studies at University College of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC, wrote a book The Red Tory Tradition: Ancient Roots, New Routes:
And he also saw the clash of the books:
Two Conservative visions for Canada. One Republican the other Tory. Why is the Republican version winning?
Money probably. Manning's movement has been very well financed and never changed direction. Pure ideology. While the Tory tradition was more organic, changing with the times and the needs of Canadians.
In fact, there was often little difference between the PCs and the Liberals, so elections were always about the platform.
Isn't it funny how things come full circle?
Four decades ago did either man see that their books would do battle, literally and figuratively?
I'm afraid I'm now feeling like one of those authors almost 50 years ago: "To lament is to cry out at the death or at the dying of something loved. This lament mourns the end of Canada as a sovereign state."
Republican is winning. Are we going to let it?