Bill Gairdner breaks into a grin as he makes his admission.
The man, whose defiantly conservative 1990 book The Trouble With Canada became a runaway bestseller and caused an enormous stink in Canadian political circles, concedes that, yes, he once voted for Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
But he soon jumped off the Trudeau bandwagon -and ran in the other direction.
Gairdner’s worry about persistent deficit spending, smothering socialism, the Charter of Rights (which granted additional rights without giving Canadians balancing responsibilities) and loss of traditions led (after five rejection letters) to The Trouble With Canada -plus a string of other books and a reputation as the guy who helped jumpstart a pendulum swing toward conservative values.
But that doesn’t mean Gairdner, in Regina Thursday to speak at a Frontier Centre luncheon and promote a new book, The Trouble With Canada . Still, thinks Conservative governments are necessarily conservative governments.
"If you look at the two-party system in places like America, what do you find? Structurally speaking, the two parties try to be as different from each other as possible. They look for contrasts; they look for ways to be different."
But under our system, with three national parties (plus the Greens and Bloc Quebecois), "They’re all basically scrapping for the middle."
He devotes a whole chapter to our "loss of medical freedom" through medicare. He said Canadians should stop looking so condescendingly at the U.S. and instead realize medical care is rationed out to all North Americans by somebody: corporate employees in the U.S., civil servants here.
The well-spoken businessman and former English professor pinned a lot of the blame for Canada’s lot on relativism -the idea that knowledge, truth and morality are relative and not absolute.
"We’ve got this attitude that, ‘It might be true for you, but it’s not true for me’ -that’s the first thing you hear from people. When I say, ‘Well, it can’t all be true and false at the same time -something must be wrong,’ they get all mad and walk away."
He says modern Canada is "a frightened country" with real debate on important issues stifled by rampant political correctness, though he likes what he sees in young Canadians who "don’t like being told what to do and how to speak."
"I’m hoping that our salvation lies within the next generation," Gairdner says. "Because we’ve made some bad mistakes."