Champollion or champignon?

December 18th, 2005
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John Duffy’s latest opus in the Friday National Post again boasts of his ability to decipher the cryptic opinions of Stephen Harper. He claims to have found the Rosetta Stone necessary to understand Harper’s deepest held views in the 1997 speech recently unearthed on a metaphorical Liberal dig at the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Adam Radwanski weighed in on the same topic in Saturday’s Post, and it’s hard to tell whether these two are upset at Harper’s beliefs or fearful because he has any at all.


Among the several slurs Duffy slings is criticism of Harper’s use of a U.S. Civil War metaphor to describe Canada. Well, it was 1997 and, thanks to Mr. Duffy’s Liberals, Canada had almost sleepwalked into a secession crisis less than two years earlier. Secondly, Harper was speaking to Americans, trying to use examples they would understand.

Duffy also drags out the old Liberal saw about Harper being outside the Canadian intellectual “mainstream”, that he was not in the tradition of say, George Grant. I happen to know that Harper was an assiduous student of Grant in the 1980’s, and it is fair to say that his knowledge of Canadian historical thought would likely exceed Mr. Duffy’s, not to mention Paul Martin’s. But, as long as the “mainstream” is defined by John Duffy, Harper and the rest of us will be outside it; and Harper’s knowledge counts for nothing.

Duffy is more champignon than Champollion, rooted in a load of his own hooey. Somehow, in Duffy’s mind, some of Harper’s past thoughts and what he MIGHT do in future should count more than the ACTIONS of the Liberals over the last 12 years. I would encourage anyone interested to read the Harper speech, because it shows a depth and breadth of political analysis little seen amongst his peers.

Finally, there must be a stronger word than arrogance to describe Duffy and the Liberal mindset. They can bring Canada to the brink of dissolution while puffing proudly, as Martin did in Friday’s debate, that it’s “their country”. Duffy finishes by questioning Harper’s love for Canada. If what the Liberals are doing is “loving” Canada, they may easily love it to death.

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