Book review of The Trouble with Canada….Still: A Citizen Speaks Out by William Gairdner.

William Gairdner is Canada’s foremost political philosopher. In one best-selling book after another over the past 20 years, he has done far more than any other Canadian academic to affirm the traditional principles of Judeo-Christian morality.

Gairdner’s latest book, The Trouble With Canada…Still: A Citizen Speaks Out, is a typically wide-ranging, intellectual tour de force. While still prizing his home and native land above all others, he persuasively argues that the calamitous revolution in sexual morality that subverted the Canadian social order in the 1960s now imperils the very survival of Canada as a free and democratic country.


Gairdner is a quintessential social conservative. While holding high individual rights, he gives priority to the customary rights and obligations of society.

In opposition to the moral relativism espoused by most secular intellectuals, Gairdner affirms the existence of universal truths of morality grounded in natural law. He recognizes “that the killing of any human life is wrong and the weakest human life of all requires the strongest protection; that marriage is a natural procreative institution aimed at the creation and protection of children (and this is the only reason States ought to be involved in protecting or privileging married people. Hence, homosexuality ought never to be normalized or privileged); that pornography commercializes and brutalizes our most sacred intimacies, fosters crime, and has system spillover effects on our young and on society at large that extend far beyond the privacy of individual users, and this demeans us all.”

In making these points, Gairdner relies on reason alone to persuade his readers. Nowhere in The Trouble With Canada…Still or any of his other books does he cite the authority of Sacred Scripture or the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church. For the purposes of public debate, that is all to the good. In a predominantly secular era, any invocation of revealed truth is bound to fall mainly on deaf ears.

Nonetheless, while advancing an essentially secular viewpoint, Gairdner lauds “our great theological tradition.” He allows that “despite all its faults and wrong turns, the Judeo-Christian theology of Western civilization seems to me quite superior as a basis of a national culture and morality.” While crediting non-Christians like Plato, Aristotle and Cicero with discovering the natural law, he acknowledges that it was “later a Christian claim and ideal spread by the Gospels (and most clearly articulated philosophically by Saint Thomas Aquinas).”

Gairdner also understands that God is not mocked. We reap what we sow. By sanctioning abortion on demand, sexual promiscuity, rampant divorce and gay marriage, Canadians have sowed to destruction and will soon reap the catastrophic social and economic consequences.

Canada, like most other Western countries, is already struggling with severe pension problems brought on by 25 years of low birth-rates. Gairdner foresees that over the next 30 years, the impact of the “Great Die-off” will get ever worse: “Eventually governments will panic, too late as always, and then they will start calling for ‘emergency measures’ to counteract the demographic winter.”

Gairdner warns: “Feminism will be scorned and defunded (with retroactive apologies from supine politicians), and delisted in universities as a program of serious study (it never was); homosexuality will be considered very antisocial behaviour by selfish non-contributing citizens, and eventually recriminalized (say goodbye to gay marriage); textbooks will be furiously rewritten and children vigorously schooled in the attractions of heterosexual marriage and family life.”

Meanwhile, Canada sleeps. While opinion polls indicate that the great majority of Canadians oppose abortion on demand, none of our leaders in Parliament or legislators in the courts shows any disposition to safeguard the lives of babies in the womb. Likewise, none of our political and judicial rulers displays any willingness to revive traditional marriage and strengthen the natural family.

What can be done? To begin with, Gairdner calls for more power to the people. He urges Canadians to adopt the kind of direct democracy through referenda that has empowered the people in Switzerland and most states in the United States to uphold the natural family and impose at least some restrictions on abortion.

The Trouble With Canada…Still
is a most informative book. It merits serious consideration by all Canadians concerned about the future of our country.

This article republished with permission from the February 2011 edition of Catholic Insight magazine

Rory Leishman is an author and freelance columnist. Visit his website


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