01.26.2013 09:34 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: change, chosen

Change chosen.

By the time this newspaper hits the streets, Ontario will have a new premier-elect, and it’ll represent a big, big change.

The chances are pretty good that the premier-to-be will be a woman for the first time in Ontario’s history.

One of the women is a proud Italian-Canadian, and would be the first premier to come from outside the white, Anglo-Saxon compact that has occupied the office of the premier since Confederation.

Meanwhile, the other frontrunner in the now-concluded Ontario Liberal leadership race was a gay woman.

That, too, represents a pretty big change from the way things have been done in our past.

Women now dominate our provincial politics, with female premiers leading B.C., Alberta, Quebec and Newfoundland.

From the elevated heights of the federal cabinet, right down to the most modest municipal council, there have also been other weighty changes.

More women occupying positions of power. Openly gay leaders found everywhere. Visible minorities winning elections in places no one would have thought possible, just a few years ago.

Elsewhere, of course, the most dramatic example of political change is the young black man who won the U.S. presidency in 2008 — and who, older and grayer, won a big second mandate in 2012.

Who would have imagined, just a few years ago, that a black man with a funny-sounding name could ever become the most powerful person on Earth?

Not our parents. Certainly not our grandparents. They would have laughed, and shaken their heads.

It’s not just the people who are changing, of course. In policy terms, things have happened that none of us ever expected, even in our wildest dreams.

Gay marriage, once condemned by the likes of Stephen Harper, is now the law of the land, and most citizens couldn’t care less.

On the policy front, our prime minister himself embodies this sea change.

Once a proud social conservative — on gay rights, on abortion, on bilingualism — Harper has changed, too. He has refused to reopen the gay marriage debate, he has actively opposed attempts to recriminalize abortion, and he opens every speech he gives with excellent French.

Meanwhile, Harper — the man who once wrote that he would fight any policy that was “designed to radically or suddenly alter the ethnic makeup of Canada” — now presides over the most ethnically diverse caucus in his party’s history.

Political change, however much some may oppose it, is inevitable. It cannot be stopped.

Conservatives, being conservatives, often profess to be opposed to change.

In my new book, Fight The Right, I recall the axiom of the conservative deity, William F. Buckley.

Buckley — the conservative primus inter pares, and the founder of the Right’s house organ, The National Review — did not once dispute the suggestion that conservatives detest change. In fact, he proudly admitted it.

Conservatives, wrote Buckley, “stand athwart history, yelling stop.”

It’s a wonderful bit of imagery and writing — but the fact is that history cannot be stopped. Slowed down, perhaps. Delayed, like a traveller who misses a flight connection. But political change is mostly inexorable, and is happening all around us, all the time. It gets to where it is going.

The tendency to resist change — and to hold on to what is comfortable and familiar — is entirely human, and therefore entirely forgivable.

But political change, mostly, does not wait for us. And it seldom casts a glance in the rearview mirror.

Ask Calgary’s first Muslim mayor. Ask the woman who is now going to be premier of our largest province. Ask the gay men who dominate in the Prime Minister’s Office and his cabinet.

They’ll tell you: Change is upon us, and change is not so bad at all.

In Ontario, this morning, change has been chosen. In the days ahead, and in other places, there’s much more to come.


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    Jeff says:

    John Tory to the people of Don Valley West, 2007: “Vote for Ontario’s next premier!”

    The people of Don Valley West: “Okay.”

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    Brammer says:

    Change indeed. Wynne has certainly earned a shot at premier – let’s see what she can do.

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    Eric Weiss says:

    Best of luck to her. I hope she serves the people of Ontario well.

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    kenn2 says:

    “Progressives create change, and conservatives filter it”

    I can’t recall the source, but the above paraphrased definition has always rung true for me, and it’s a good dynamic when both “sides” are genuinely doing what they do best.

    Where it goes wrong is when the viewpoints get hijacked ideologically. The progressive cause can get misdirected and splintered by many competing “causes” each demanding supremacy, and conservatism can be (and currently is) the captive of economic interests defending the laissez-faire status quo.

    At present (Canada and US), it seems that progressives are still scattered and hiding in the hills. Conservatives still hold the town, but I suspect genuine conservatives are feeling a bit like party-girls the morning after a few busloads of corporate interests and Tea-Partiers have seduced them and then thoroughly screwed them. Obama’s re-election and the GOPs sinking approval rating hint at a progressive resurgence, but don’t forget that Obama has often been to the right of Nixon in many things, and the GOP still controls Congress.

    We watch, and wait.

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    The Doctor says:

    I think the “conservatives resist change” mantra is incredibly simplistic and, in many cases, just plain false. In this country, it was a conservative government that brought in the GST. While Liberals and Dippers screamed about how awful it was. It was a conservative government that first proposed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. While Liberals and Dippers screamed about how awfult the idea was.

    There are lots of times when conservative parties and governments propose change. It’s just that their opponents don’t like the nature of the change being proposed.

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    steve says:

    Congrats to the Wynner
    Thanks to Dalton

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    Paul says:

    Change? This isn’t change. Wynne is just another McGuinty flunky, and as such is equally responsible for the fiscal mess this province is in. And of course, that vapid twit Deb Matthews was one of her main supporters so you know we’ll still be stuck with her in a cabinet post, too. Lest we forget, she’s a double helping of incompetence: eHealth and the ORNGE file. Nice.

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    mks from Durham says:

    Actually, historically, you are mistaken about the Conservatives first proposing Free Trade.
    Wilfred Laurier first proposed it with the Liberals in 1911 and lost an election on on the issue. It was the Liberals that believed in the concept historically until Brian Mulroney introduced the idea in the mid- eighties and the two parties swapped positions on the issue.
    It is accurate to say the PC’s were the first to introduce the Free Trade Agreement with the US, which the Liberals and NDP opposed.

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      The Doctor says:

      Yeah, I kinda meant “during our lifetime”. Anyway, another very recent example is the Canadian Wheat Board. The Conservatives wanted to reform and change it, Liberals and Dippers didn’t want change. There are lots of other examples.

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    Josef says:

    Folks, just read https://twitter.com/spaikin

    Then get over it. Dr. Hoskins just is not a good politician. The Good Doctor, admired by many Pupatellomaniacs, forgot he promised Pupatello he’d back her.

    Now speaking on a personal level: Sandra Pupatello doesn’t deserve another damn day of being bullied when the only people who’d get her back are backroom special forces operatives like you Warren and Yank geeks like yours truly. Just watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSbOkHiEwdE and imagine those silver-medalists twisting in the Wynnend against Randy Hillier & Tim Hudak & the like… while Mrs. and Mr. Sandra Pupatello shop at Ferrari.

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    Kenneth says:

    I am a douchebag.

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