Canadian history and politics #1: Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution by John Ibbitson – 1997

Promised Land, written while Mike Harris was still premier of Ontario, is not a simple book to review now. Yes, the analysis is slanted in support of the Harris government, but this friendliness furnishes insight into the ideological and social justification for the government’s actions.

Within and between sometimes belaboured descriptions of day to day events, the author cuts the the heart of the matter and exposes the sublime nature of the Harris phenomenon: an incredibly coherent movement derived from a serendipitous combination of social forces.

A middle class backlash against leftwing governance, a youthful, aggressive, true believing and party building tendency, a caucus of small business owners and a brooding, experienced and resentful leader created a perfect storm of right-wing governance. This “self made” coalition of “affluence” took the fight to their opposition with little reservation.

The 90’s were the key decade in recent Canadian political history. A wave of cultural despair in provincial English Canada combined with a suburban tax revolt to yank politics rightward. Really, it’s all still shaking out in increasingly tortured iterations.

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