BOOK REVIEW: The Big Shift Explains Why Stephen Harper Will Keep Winning
We're a bit late, but BuzzFeed Canada is finally reviewing the game-changing book by two political experts that shows why the Conservatives are unstoppable.
Canada has undergone a tectonic shift that has buried the liberal elites of yesteryear, Globe and Mail writer John Ibbitson and pollster Darrell Bricker persuasively argue in The Big Shift (published February, 2013 by HarperCollins).
"We believe that fortune favours the Harper government in the next election," the duo write.
"But we don't believe this is about the next election. We believe it is about the next decade, the next generation, and beyond. We believe that the Conservative Party will be to the twenty-first century what the Liberal party was to the twentieth: the perpetually dominant party, the natural governing party."
Bold statements? Ruffling some feathers? Maybe. But Ibbitson and Bricker back it up in this lively dissection of how Canada has changed forever.
Their thesis is that "Laurentian Elites," the Toronto and Montreal liberals who have dominated politics for so long, are doomed because they missed the - wait for it - "big shift" in political power. The power is now in Western Canada and suburban Ontario.
Ibbitson and Bricker spend 304 pages explaining why this is, but if you were to condense the book into one word it would be immigrants. That and the unstoppable growth of Alberta.
"Throughout the West, robust growth is a constant," they write. And with unending growth comes wealth and power.
Also, the Harper government has been remarkably scandal-free. "Whatever else the Harper government might be, it is not corrupt." It's hard to argue with their point that "no one has yet caught a Conservative politician guiltily grubbing inside a cookie jar."
What does this mean for the other parties? The Liberals are described as "moribund," without a pulse and destroyed by Pierre Elliott Trudeau's legacy. New leader Justin Trudeau's challenge is to eke out a few seats and "raise just enough money to keep the lights on."
"The Liberals should merge with the NDP, while there is still something left to merge," they recommend.
So with the Liberals being a "permanent losing bid" could a united left have a chance against Harper in 2015? Could we see Prime Minister Tom Mulcair?
The authors "do concede it's possible the Conservatives might screw up and lose enough seats to form a minority in 2015." And in that case the opposition parties, led by the NDP, could seize power. But they dismiss this as unlikely: "We just don't buy it."
John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker.
An NDP-led coalition will scare too many Liberal supporters to the Conservatives, they argue. The Conservatives should be fine. "To us, it has a natural governing feel."
Of course, the Conservatives can't win forever. The authors describe the "Post-Liberal world" where the Conservatives are the natural governing party but the NDP do win an occasional election to shake things up.
But it's not all just technical expert analysis. Ibbitson and Bricker aren't afraid to let their hair down. In one hilarious passage they compare the Liberals to the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with the Conservatives playing King Arthur.
The Conservatives keep lopping off key chunks of the party, but the naive Liberals keep lunging forward unaware they've been mortally wounded. It's all good fun.
All in all, Ibbitson and Bricker make a convincing case that the Conservatives are unbeatable. After all, they are both highly qualified experts and they use a lot of numbers to back up their predictions.
Remember in the early 2000s when the Liberals were in power and everyone was predicting they would keep winning governments in perpetuity? The authors make a few solid jabs at that ridiculous notion. Now the Conservatives are in power and it is they who will perpetually win.
Don't like it? Well then you're living in the past, amigo. The Conservatives are here to stay, the authors conclude, and if people don't like to hear that the source of their frustration "is their inability or refusal to accept this truth."
BUZZFEED RATING: FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS.