Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dr. Bliss; your bias is showing

According to Michael Bliss,
Stephen Harper's Conservatives have seized the central ground of the political spectrum and are poised to become the country's natural governing party.
According to Dr. Bliss this is, in large part, is due to the uncanny ability of Harper to emulate the WLMK.
Sooner or later, the contempt that many in our chattering classes still seem to feel for the Conservatives in general and Mr. Harper in particular is going to begin to give way to the realization that he is on the verge of becoming the next Mackenzie King. Neither colourful nor lovable, Mr. Harper is emerging as a master strategist. He learns from his mistakes and is growing on Canadians as Prime Minister. King was widely dismissed as an unattractive lightweight in 1921, when he became the leader of a minority government. For the next five years, he held his party and government together, navigated through a series of political crises and, in 1926, emerged with a majority, launching him (still colourless and unloved) as the dominant figure on our political stage for the next quarter of a century. His brilliant, witty, learned opponent, Arthur Meighen, was consigned to the dustbin of history, where he wrote memoirs insisting that he had always been right.
Quite a thesis coming from a respected historian. Except for one thing. Having read Bliss' Right Honourable Men, I am aware that the background of Mr. King is quite different from Mr. Angry; Great White Hope of the Canadian Far Right. Since I can't access the text electronically I will lean on the Wikipedia entry on WLMK.

With respect to Education:
King eventually earned five university degrees. He obtained three degrees from the University of Toronto: B.A. 1895, LL.B. 1896, and M.A. 1897.[3]... After studying at the University of Chicago, Mackenzie King proceeded to Harvard University, receiving an M.A. in political economy 1898. In 1909 his request to receive a Ph.D. for a dissertation he had written nine years earlier, called "Sweating Systems and the Clothing Trade in the United States, England, and Germany,"[5] was granted.[6] ... King also taught economics at Harvard.[7]

So a little bit higher standard than an MA in economics from the University Of Calgary where he got credit for regurgitating the teachings of the Calgary School. And as for that Ph. D. thesis topic....

As Minister of Labour:
King's term as Minister of Labour was marked by two significant achievements. He led the passage of the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act and the Combines Investigation Act, which he had erected during his civil and parliamentary service. The legislation significantly improved the financial situation for millions of Canadian workers.
So although imperfect by today's standards, he helped move the U.S. towards respecting the right to unionize. Harper? Meh.

As Industrial Consultant, author
Following his party's defeat, he went to the United States to work for the Rockefeller family'sFoundation at their invitation, heading their new Department of Industrial Research.[9] ... He formed a close working association and friendship with the family leader, John D. Rockefeller Jr., advising him through the turbulent period of the 1914 strike and Ludlow massacre at a family-owned coal company in Colorado, which subsequently set the stage for a new era in labor management in America. ...
[10]...In 1918 King, assisted by his friend F.A. McGregor, published the far-sighted book Industry and Humanity: A Study in the Principles Underlying Industrial Reconstruction, which, although it was not received with fanfare at the time, laid out the course for the next 30 years of King's political aims, which were largely realized during that time. The book has been called the most important written by a Canadian statesman.[12]
So historic strides in labour relations and seminal works on the same subject. Harper? A retreat to an extreme right wing think tank. And as far as books go? Still waiting for the book on hockey.

Outside of the fact that both man possess(ed) unique personality traits that make it difficult for for them to relate to "ordinary" Canadians there is little similarity. The longevity of King's government and the status of the Liberals has more to do with Canadians overlooking his lack of charisma due to the delivery of what Canadians wanted rather than the appeal of a deficient personality.

And as far as the "Natural Governing Party" label goes, the effect of the Laurier/St. Laurent/Trudeau years is totally overlooked. By ignoring his own book, Dr. Bliss has shown more about his political leanings through this op-ed than cast a new light on current events.
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Brian said...

Is Bliss looking for a senate seat?

Constant Vigilance said...

He has certainly demonstrated he knows the right way to go about getting one.