Bill Berkowitz: Christian Right Eyes Canada
Christian Right Eyes Canada
Canadian voters strike blow against 'cultural Marxism' says Paul Weyrich, godfather of modern conservative movement
Paul Weyrich, widely considered one of the founding fathers of the modern conservative movement, is looking North these days with hopes that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's newly elected conservative government will transform the social and political landscape of Canada.
To help insure Harper's victory -- or at least not provide any unwanted distractions from his campaign -- Weyrich, who is the chairman and CEO of the Washington, DC-based think tank called the Free Congress Foundation (which he originally co-founded with the conservative beer magnate, Joseph Coors, as the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress), sent out an email a few days before the election advising his U.S. comrades to steer clear of the "leftwing Canadian media."
"Canadian voters have been led to believe that American conservatives are scary and if the Conservative party can be linked with us, they can perhaps diminish a Conservative victory," the email warned.
After Harper's victory in an election that Weyrich found "exciting to watch," he penned a story for his organization's website that described both pessimistic and optimistic scenarios that could result from the election's outcome.
According to Weyrich, conservative pessimists told him that since they lack a parliamentary majority, the best Harper can do is to "adopt a more reasonable view of the United States and to correct some premises of Cultural Marxism, which Canadians have espoused, such as same-sex marriage and abortion-on-demand."
Harper, however, can do much more than that, Weyrich asserts: "Harper is pleased that the media and many in his own party are nay-saying," Weyrich argues, "think[ing] that such pessimism would lower expectations and give him additional latitude to accomplish his agenda. Harper's game plan apparently is to pit the federalist Liberals against the Bloc Quebecois and the decentralizing Bloc against big-government Liberals."
According to Weyrich, the Canadian media understands that Harper "greatly would expand defense spending. He does not like the Kyoto Treaty. Paul Martin, the incumbent whom Harper ousted, ran an anti-United States campaign. It worked for Martin last year. This year it did not. More importantly, Harper favors participating in the United States missile defense program. Martin opposed such participation.
"It is not widely known in this country that a Canadian prime minister has more power than a United States president. Harper could appoint 5,000 new officials. (No confirmation is required by the Canadian Parliament.) The prime minister also could appoint every judge from the trial courts, to the courts of appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, as vacancies occur.
"Harper's partisans believe he could maintain power for four years, during which time Conservatives hopefully would witness many vacancies created by Liberals leaving the courts. The Supreme Court of Canada currently is dominated by Liberals.
"As has been the case in the United States, cultural Marxism largely has been foisted upon Canada by the courts. If judges who respect the Constitution were to be appointed they would confirm that such rights are not to be found in that document. Sound familiar?"
These words from Weyrich are more than your run-of-the-mill conservative punditry. During his long and colorful career as a political activist/strategist, he has been one of the primary architects of the conservative movement's highly developed and political potent, infrastructure of think tanks, public policy institutes, and activist groups.
Weyrich helped fund the Heritage Foundation, now one of the most powerful think tanks in Washington. He coined the name "Moral Majority" for the Reverend Jerry Falwell, and helped make that organization the most powerful right wing group in the early 1980s. He later aided the Rev. Pat Robertson in building the Christian Coalition.
He was the brains behind the creation of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization sponsored and funded by large corporations and made up of hundreds of mostly Republican Party elected officials. ALEC provides state legislators with model legislation in support of limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.
During the run-up to the Iraq War -- at the height of massive nationwide anti-war demonstrations in the U.S. -- Weyrich called for investigations into the funding of the "neo-Communist" groups behind the U.S. anti-war movement. Weyrich suggest that a congressional committee -- similar to the long dead House Un-American Activities Committee -- summon anti-war activists and rake them over the never-completely-extinguished McCarthyist coals.
It is more than merely a coincidence that Weyrich used the term "cultural Marxism" to describe the Canadian social and political landscape. "Cultural Marxism," which predates the popular and overused term, "political correctness," has preoccupied both Weyrich and his associates at FCF for several years. FCF claims that "cultural Marxism" was a project of European Jewish scholars who brought their cultural and political theories to the U.S. prior to World War II. With more than a hint of anti-Semitism at its core, the term is used to describe a leftist conspiracy aimed at wrecking U.S. culture and morality.
William Lind, a principal political strategist at Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation, has worked to popularize the idea that "cultural Marxists" aim to de-Christianize the U.S. In a 1998 speech Lind said: "It has taken over both political parties and is enforced by many laws and government regulations. It almost totally controls the most powerful element in our culture, the entertainment industry. It dominates both public and higher education. ... It has even captured the clergy in many Christian churches."
In a profile of The Free Congress Foundation, the Southern Poverty Law Center -- a research group monitoring far-right organizations -- pointed out that "In 1987, Weyrich commissioned Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda, which became the script for what has become known as the 'culture wars.'"
In the wake of the Bush Administration's spy scandal Weyrich recently joined with former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR); David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; and Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, to found Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB). The organization is urging lawmakers to use National Security Agency hearings to re-establish constitutional checks and balances to intelligence law.
"I believe that our executive branch cannot continue to operate without the checks of the other branches. However, I stand behind the President in encouraging Congress to operate cautiously during the hearings so that sensitive government intelligence is not given to our enemies," Weyrich said.
While winning the election, Stephen Harper's Conservative Party did not win a governing majority. Of the 308 seats in the Canadian Parliament, the Conservatives holds 124, and the rest will be held by Liberals, with 103; the social democratic Bloc Quebecois, which is the dominant party in the province of Quebec, with 51; and the social democratic New Democrats (NDP), with 29. One other seat is held by an independent from Quebec.
Whether Harper's administration will aggressively attempt to systematically dismantle the gains in human and civil rights made by Canadians is a political and strategic question that is up for grabs. For Weyrich, who for decades has worked to take apart the liberal social safety net in the U.S. that was devised through the New Deal seventy years ago, anything is possible.
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Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column Conservative Watch documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.