The National Post reports that, in a new book, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker predict that Stephen Harper's Conservative Party will be "perpetually dominant" in the 21st century:
“Politics in Canada is dividing along ideological lines, and those divisions will only grow sharper over time.”
“We believe that fortune favors the Harper government in the next election. But we don’t believe this is about the next election. We believe it is about the next decade, the next generation, and beyond.
“We believe that the Conservative party will be to the 21st century what the Liberal party was to the 20th: the perpetually dominant party, the natural governing party.”
The book, The Big Shift, is the development of an argument which Ibbitson has been pitching these days -- that the old "Laurentian consensus" -- the political triangle represented by Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa has been shattered. Power, he maintains has moved westward:
“Harper and his closest advisers were the first to anticipate the tremendous political potential of the Big Shift,” the book says.
“He recognized that the West was transforming from a region of protest to an emerging centre of power.
But just as Harper has ignored the lessons of history regarding the perils of relying on commodities to build a nation -- whether they were fur, wheat, oil or the infrastructure to move them -- Ibbitson and Bricker ignore the fact that Montreal and Toronto invested in those western commodities. The financial hub of Canada is still firmly ensconced in the East. Energy companies -- like Shell -- may have moved their head offices to Calgary. But the banks aren't going to move.
They have always been a thumb in the eye to Albertans -- and they still are. But they will remain in the East. And, when the bitumen bubble bursts in Alberta, money will once again flow to the centre. The Laurentian Consensus hasn't died. It's alive and well.