Media Release – Barry Cooper Reviews Bricker and Ibbitson’s The Big Shift: Whither the Laurentian Canadian worldview

Press Release, Environment, Frontier Centre

Calgary: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today released a review of Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson’s book The Big Shift: The Seismic Changes in Canadian politics, Business, and Culture and What it Means for Our Future. The review is part of a new publication program of the Frontier Centre entitled “Reviews from the Frontier,” which will produce reviews of books, essays and other publications that are relevant to public policy debates in North America.

The Big Shift, co-written by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, was published in 2013. The main conclusion of the book is that Conservatives such as Stephen Harper are going to be in power at the federal level in Canada for a long time. In a sense, they are the party of the Twenty-first century.  This is so because Canada has changed, and the Liberal Party has been relegated to sustaining and hoping for a vision of the country that has been overtaken.

The authors are familiar if not well-known names to the public. Darrell Bricker is the CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs and an expert in public opinion polling. John Ibbitson is the chief political writer for The Globe and Mail.

In introducing the main conclusion of the book, Cooper writes that “the real divisions in Canada’s future are not those of French and English speakers or of Aboriginals and settlers but those between poor and rich regions, declining and growing regions, regions that embrace the past and those that shape the future. And the dividing line is the Ottawa River.”

In his 2009 book It’s the Regime Stupid, Cooper coined the expression Laurentian Canada to describe a mindset among the people who live in the St Lawrence Valley. So, Cooper is well placed to analyse Bricker and Ibbitson’s key idea of a “Laurentian elite” and a vision that no longer sets the tone of the country. The elite’s view of the country is now left behind by a new demographic reality in the country, a new reality populated by newer arrivals who do not subscribe to the Laurentian view.

“The Laurentian consensus, or at least the consensus among the Laurentian elite,” Cooper writes, “holds that Canada is a fragile nation; that the federal government’s job is to bind together a country that would otherwise fall apart; that the biggest challenge is keeping Quebec inside Confederation; that the poorer regions must forever stay poor, propped up by the richer parts of the country; that the national identity—whatever it is—must be protected from the American juggernaut; that Canada is a helpful fixer in the world, a peacekeeper, a joiner of all the best clubs.”

The increase in population in the western part of the country and the decline of the Laurentian myth point toward a more conservative Canada, and toward a Canada that is less likely to ignore western Canadian concerns.

Barry Cooper is available for media interviews to discuss his review, and the implications of Bricker and Ibbitson’s book for Canadian policy development.

For more information and to arrange an interview, media (only) should contact:

Barry Cooper, PhD
403 220 5764


Marco Navarro-Genie, PhD
403 995 9916

Download a copy of the book review here.