In this Commentary, based on his remarks to the opening session of the 2009 Civitas National Conference, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley reminds us of our true political history.

He explains far from being a welfare state, for much of Canada’s early life dependence on the government or on charity was abhorred, not chiefly because of the cost it imposed on those who paid, but because of the damage it did to those who “benefited.” He explains:

“Contrary to an article of faith of our revisionist age, for years one of the things that distinguished Canada from the US was Canadians’ unbreakable attachment to a demanding work ethic and a strong distaste for any kind of dependence on the public purse. In fact, one of the ways in which the founders of the Dominion thought that the new country distinguished itself from the United States was in the higher levels of welfare dependence to be found in the populist republic to the south, where voters could and did vote themselves benefits at the expense of the rich, a danger of American populist democracy against which Alexis de Tocqueville had warned in his classic Democracy in America.

“Among the many forces driving Canada away from these founding values was the extent to which Canada copied American innovations. As is so often the case in Canada-US intellectual history, the US led the way with bold social experiments which didn’t really pan out. The US drew back, but Canada rushed in and embraced the American innovations as the latest thing. Yet once the Americans had abandoned them, Canadians then deluded themselves that their now ‘distinct’ approach demonstrated how different they were from the people they had originally copied, whereas in reality it proved the less flattering proposition that we are slower to learn from our mistakes.”

To read the complete Commentary, click here.