EDITORIAL

An editor’s credo: Canada is the world’s luckiest land

Peter C. Newman August 9 1982
EDITORIAL

An editor’s credo: Canada is the world’s luckiest land

Peter C. Newman August 9 1982

An editor’s credo: Canada is the world’s luckiest land

EDITORIAL

Peter C. Newman

The question I have been asked most often as editor of Maclean's over the past dozen years is which—if any—political party I feel most comfortable supporting. The answer has always been easy: I stay politically neutral—I attack everybody. But in this last editorial, I want to address the issue directly.

Having called at one time or another for the resignation of both Liberal and Conservative governments, I have over the years found myself not so much searching for causes as trying to reach an ideological position free of cant or hidebound philosophies. Being and remaining Canadian requires a pragmatic process of choosing what to believe in. Most of us are caught in a traumatic swing, from having sets of values as the guide to our experience, to experience becoming the source of our values.

Among the mainstays of my political persuasion is the notion that, especially in economically trying times, it is essential to preserve the relatively gentle society which exists on this side of the 49th parallel. We must reject the seductive but fatal assumption at the source of the American way of life that clamors the gospel of more is better, that progress, efficiency and monetary gain should be the ultimate goals of human activity. Another of my firmly held beliefs is that a greater slice of decision-making powers should be returned directly to the people, so that governing the country takes on a deeper meaning than the exchange of favors, the arithmetic of compromise and granting office to the power brokers who keep the system flowing most smoothly.

In such a context it is difficult, if not impossible, to find any meaningful difference between Canada’s two governing parties. They are little more than temporary alliances of regional and economic interests used to frame the issues around which elections can be fought. During a quarter-century of political reporting, I have yet to discover any fundamental differences between Liberals and Conservatives—except perhaps that Liberals tend to fish from the sterns of rented rowboats, while Tories like casting off docks and letting the fish come to them. (My research also reveals that Conservatives usually prefer twin beds, which may explain why there are more Liberals.)

The credo that has animated my life—and my time as editor of this magazine—is that Canada is the world’s luckiest land. That to be a Canadian is to be born under an obligation of thanksgiving and a debt not to take our freedoms and opportunities for granted. If I have used this space to voice complaints about the various politicians dumb or brave enough to attempt governing us, it is for one simple reason: though it may seem absurd to advocate change and reform, it is far more absurd not even to try.

Peter C. Newman's weekly column, to be called The Business Watch, will resume with the Sept. 13 issue.