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April 08, 2012

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Ron Dart

Dennis,

First, let me say that I think all thoughtful Canadians should have a copy of your book, 'Emmett Hall: Establishment Radical'.---it's a real gem and keeper. The biography reminds me, in some ways, of John Boyko's, 'Bennett: The Rebel Who Challenged and Changed a Nation' or the biography of Diefenbaker that called him a 'Rogue Tory'. I have often, as did Grant in many ways, preferred Howard Green to Diefenbaker---Green had more of the Red in the Tory than did Diefenbaker.

You asked about Red Tories that are in power---let me mention a few still living with inconsistent Tory tendencies but in political power no more: Flora McDonald, Joe Clark, David Orchard, Hugh Segal, Douglas Roche (who you mention in pages 61-64 of 'Pulpit and Politics'). Have you had much interaction with Larry Schmidt?---he is Ted's brother. Larry is a fine thinker on both Grant and Simone Weil--good Red Tory instincts in Larry.

But, you asked about Red Tories In power--I tend to see the Red Tory vision, like a broken Ming Vase, shattered and scattered in frayed pieces in different political parties.

The Conservative party, like the Liberals, NDP and Green parties, hold fragments of the vision yet none within these parties has the will or ability to think beyond the tribalism of ideology, hence the marginalization of a consistent Red Toryism in Canada and distortion of such a vision in England (have your read Phillip Blond's 'Red Tory: How Left and right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix It': 2010?). I have nattered on long enough. I do urge, though, that one and all should read 'Pulpit and Politics'---such an informed missive will definitely raise the level of understanding of religion and politics to a higher level, and this is desperately needed.

Fiat Lux
Ron Dart

Dennis Gruending

Thank you for reviewing my book Pulpit and Politics. You did so with skill and insight, although not without criticism. You mention the Red Tory tradition and how it could well have something to offer today that might allow us to "step beyond our ideological impasse." I have a good deal of regard for the Red Tory tradition. In fact, I wrote a biography called Emmett Hall: Establishment Radical about the late Supreme Court Justice whose Royal Commission recommended medicare for Canada. Hall was a law school classmate of John Diefenbaker's and certainly he fit the description of a Red Tory. My question is this: Are there any Red Tories around these days? I read recently in the New York Times that moderate Republicans are an endangered species in that party today. Similarly, I can think of virtually no Conservative MP today's House of Commons who represents the honourable Red Tory tradition. Where have they gone? Can they possibly make a comeback? I would like to know.

Eric H Janzen

Thanks Ron, sounds like a great read. I wonder what percentage of the population that puts me in? ;)

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