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October 21, 2007


manifest wealth

I have to comment on your last post about the subject as it was so informative. You really know what you are talking about and can explain things really well. I have only read posts by one other guy who writes as well as you do.

attract more money

I found your post really interesting and it has really improved my knowledge on the matter. You’ve assisted my understanding on what is usually a hard to tackle subject. Thank you!

Bob Burkinshaw

I agree with Ron that we need to learn from older conservatives such as George Grant and Stephen Leacock. Their traditional conservativism does have much to teach modern Christians. But, I am afraid that in his eagerness to totally disassociate these conservative giants from modern Canadian conservatives, Ron simplifies and distorts the picture.

Yes, both men taught in public universities (though they had been founded as colleges with Christian purposes) but Grant was highly critical of the modern university. William Christian, in his biography of Grant, summarizes Grant’s view of the education in these “large and powerful institutions” as “mass technological education…..which produced rudderless people who had never been taught to think deeply about the philosophical and theological traditions of the west.” (207)

Grant resigned from the York University in 1960, even before beginning to teach there, for several reasons, including the fact that he would be required to use a textbook that he felt “misrepresents the religion of my allegiance.” (Christian 203). His reason for choosing formerly Baptist McMaster University instead was that it had “kept a certain connection with the church.”

It is even possible that Grant contributed to the rise of private Christian universities in recent decades when he spoke publically that “the young faithful cannot be left like lambs among the ravishing wolves of secularism” in the public universities and when he worked to warn Christians of “what gates of evil these secular universities can be.” (Christian 206 & 207)

Leacock indeed campaigned against free trade with the US in the election of 1911. But his opposition was more from his passionate imperialism than from anti-Americanism. He was a leading spokesman of those who wanted to see Canada be a leader – militarily, politically and economically – in the British empire. In his eagerness for Canada to rearm the British empire before World War I, he showed that felt Canada’s true destiny lay on the broader stage of a mighty world empire and that it should not deviate from that path to pursue mere ‘continental’ relationship, as represented by the Reciprocity Treaty. One can laud aspects of his loyalty to Britain over commercial gain from trade with the US but it is hard to imagine many Canadians viewing his brand of imperialism as an instructive option for the twenty-first century.

Certainly both men felt that Canada should have a strong central government – but not too strong. For example, Grant, believed that Trudeau’s centralizing went much too far and wrote to a friend “Trudeau’s centralist policies just fill me with anger. Why Newfoundland, Alberta, P.E.I. etc. should be run from Ottawa, I do not know.” Like many modern conservatives, Grant came to favour decentralization.

Finally, Grant did alert Canadians to the dangers of what he saw as American-style modern liberal individualism and was at least indirectly responsible for much of the anti-Americanism which came to the fore in Canada during and after the 1960’s. In the last fifteen years of his life he came to believe that one of the worst results of that liberalism was the movement for abortion on demand and was discouraged by Canada’s eagerness to accept it. Irononically, given his views of the US, he confessed to admiring American conservative Christians and to view them as allies in the struggle against abortion. The American conservatives’ “consistent, principled stand persuaded him that, although American civilization was in inexorable decline, it might not be decaying as quickly as he had earlier feared.” (Christian 344). Certainly, his own expression of faith was different from these, largely fundamentalist Christians, but he seemed far more sympathetic to them and willing to work with them than does Ron in this and other articles.

So, Ron , let’s learn from our former ‘giants’ but let’s not oversimplify the picture in order to support our own views of modern politics and the church.

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