Jason Kenney must get a happy glow every time someone mentions progressives.
Three years ago Albertans elected a government that claimed the most “progressive” agenda in the province’s history. The ensuing troubles have enabled Kenney to swiftly resuscitate a party considered dead in the water on election night. Kenney looks like a lock to become premier next year. It also seems unlikely voters will be quick to risk another flyer on a government like Rachel Notley’s.
Justin Trudeau is likewise in serious trouble thanks to his embrace of the progressive cause. His inability to deliver on his pledge to ensure construction of an oil pipeline to the Pacific derives from the success of progressives of various sorts in erecting legal, social and political blockades. Notley and Trudeau find themselves allied in a disheartening struggle to untangle themselves from the very doctrines they still profess to champion.
Progressives used to call themselves liberals, until U.S. right-wingers turned that word into a pejorative term. So they became progressives instead, which is vague enough to admit a broader range of affiliates, from radical left-wingers to moderate centrists and many in-between. It’s a more satisfying description at any rate, as it dismisses others as anti-progress, while reflecting the sense of moral superiority to which its proponents are so prone.
The whole point of progressivism is progress, of course. Advancement. Betterment. A steady march to the high plains of enlightenment, conveniently accompanied by prosperity and fairness for all. Those who aren’t for progress are by implication lesser individuals. Cranks. Unbelievers. People willing to sign covenants at Trinity Western University.
Progressives used to call themselves liberals, until U.S. right-wingers turned that word into a pejorative term
Justin Trudeau signed on in a big way. His 2015 campaign was one long paen to progressive propositions. There would be war on climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians, fealty to “social licence.” A Trudeau government would be inclusive, balanced and open-minded. Government actions would default to transparency and access. Fairness would be brought to the middle-class. Cynics, naysayers and pessimists of every sort would be spurned.