I’ve been reading a lot of articles about Brian Mulroney taking the time to comment on various important matters recently. He was even interviewed by Conrad Black on the world premiere of the new octogenarian friendly television show The Zoomer (a talk show where, it seems, old people mostly discuss strategies for keeping children from playing on their lawns).
I didn’t find anything Mr. Mulroney had to say particularly compelling—he comments on the charter of values in Quebec, Thomas Mulcair’s NDP leadership and Justin Trudeau’s stance on legalizing marijuana—but I did find myself not hating him as much as I once would. Putting aside the fact that watching two extremely rich white guys discuss how to run the country makes me gag reflexively, Mulroney is almost a refreshing Conservative, free from the mechanical robot speak of the Harper party liners. Then, I started wondering if we were entering an era of lionizing Brian Mulroney.
There’s a homogenous candour about him now that allows him to speak freely about policy, and the failure of the new conservatives in Canada, without becoming too transparent (he’s still a politician after all). Like Nixon post Watergate I think there is still a belief within Brian that the country needs him and a comeback would never be out of the question(Aw). Politicians, like boxers, can never truly rule out getting back in the ring so their guard has to always be at least half up. It would also be creepy, though, if he became too open—sort of like if your parents opened up to you about their sex lives. He’s in the box I want him in, the sweet spot where I can still dislike most of what he stands for while somehow daydreaming of days when Conservatives were more thoughtful, less ideologically stunted and perfectly cozy hanging out just right of centre.
(I suppose the worst thing you can say about Brian Mulroney now is that he gave Canadian media Ben Mulroney.)
Offspring aside, Mulroney, really, is a reminder that Conservatism used to be a far less pernicious force in Canadian politics. We can quibble over his tenure’s failures, and his tendency toward corruption (also one time this happened), but he never did as much to divide the country as Stephen Harper is doing now. He never touted the values of smaller government while consolidating all federal power within his office. Mulroney never politicized governmental scientific research and he didn’t turn our prison system into a draconian throwback to medieval Europe. We’re now seeing the dangers of a populist conservative movement in the United States, ideological ignorance combined with an unwillingness to compromise, and, as it turns out, the archetype of Conservative as lawyer-come-political operative is not the worst thing in the world.