It has been an often asked question following the election of Donald Trump as the US President November 2017, Michael Adams’ book put the question front and centre “Could it happen here? Canada in the age of Trump and Brexit”.
While the title suggests a global perspective, the majority of the information provided by Adams focuses on Canadian and American polling and statistical information. Where does Adams get his research? He does it, the research – or more to the point, his company Environics does the polling and research. What Adams has done is pull the relevant information together and present numbers to make suggestions on the likelihood of Canada experiencing a Trump/Brexit moment.
If you like numbers and love the analytics of numbers you’ll enjoy this read. It reads like a press release at times, meaning for me having to review the numbers a few times to understand the message. The message is important here, Adams does not go out of his way to make predictions, but present the statistical information to track probabilities in the different chapters.
Could it happen here does cement one fact for me; Canada and the US are extremely different in historical make up, social divisions and the reasons for the differences. This does add up to make the case that Canada’s Trump/Brexit moment is an extreme event and would need more stars aligning than were needed in the US. Our political makeup of three major parties almost guarantees we won’t see red baseball caps on most Canadians.
While the book deals a lot with Trump, it addresses Brexit and the likelihood of Canada wanting its Brexit moment. This year’s NAFTA renegotiations (a by-product of Trumpism) are the example. It was not any demand from Canada to tweak the trade agreement. In Parliament the Liberals and Conservatives are congratulating each other for the Canada European trade agreement. Canadians support these deals because we have been able to maintain Canadian institutions like supply management in the deals. Adams makes a big point that Canada’s immigration is generally supported by all parties and Canadians. The drivers that ended in the Brexit just don’t exist in Canada today.
Michael Adams presents the information that will allow the reader to make a personal conclusion to the question we’re faced with on the cover. But through the polling information and statistical data we see that when looking at the US, the UK and Canada, if you looked back populism seemed most likely in the US. For me, I’ve thought that America’s rise in populism began with the loss of Mitt Romney’s White House bid in 2012. Romney was no John McCain and no George Bush (both of them). He seemed to be as far from the common republican as you could be. But here is the problem, Trump has the wealth of Romney, however where Trump succeeded and Romney failed was that Trump spoke to the grassroots of republicans – Romney didn’t. The base of republican support doesn’t waiver, as it doesn’t with the Conservative Party of Canada. Populism in the US won the 2016 election because of an elitist candidate’s message to the base. Trump convinced the base hen was like them, though the lifestyle he lived was as far from them as anything could be.
Comparing a conservative base in Canada with the American provides substantial evidence that in Canada the rise in populism will be much more difficult. The key information that supports my idea is that Canadians don’t want a leader that doesn’t bend and avoids compromise. Americans and Canadians are opposites in this. Adams points out that a 2011 Environics survey 58% of Canadians want a leader that will compromise, 54% of Americans desire to have their leader to stand firm.
There are other reasons for me believing that Trumpism cannot succeed in Canada; a three party electoral system, our social and economic systems and dare I say it, our “Canadian Values”. There will however always be the wildcard of the voter themselves. Hillary Clinton found this out, the voters are fickle and if you lose their trust you cannot win.
Could it happen here? presents Canada vs. the US vs. Europe in a compact presentation. It also surprises the reader with the similarities between three. Similarities that do make you raise an eyebrow and go hmmmm.
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