The Economist Magazine says Canada has been revealed to the world as exhibiting an unexpected mean streak in the current election.
This election has indeed been unusual but not because Canada has a new mean streak.
During WWII, Canada, the country of birth of my biographic subject Dr Martin Henry Dawson, had a secret internal plan than "No (Jews) Is Too Many" --- while publicly proclaiming itself as the Peaceable Kingdom.
Infrequently admitted by Canada-boosters, the country ended up with the worst record in the entire world when it came to accepting Jews fleeing the Holocaust.
What is really new is that Canadians are suddenly reversing this hundred and fifty year old policy and being mean in public.
Given that traditionally Canadians have been secretly mean to outsiders all the while being publicly hypocritically proud of their exalted human rights record, Canadians being forthrightly mean in public might even be seen as a moral step forward !
The elevation of a forthright Australian gun-for-hire named Lynton Crosby to run the Canadian Conservative Party's electoral campaign begins then to make sense.
Crosby has orders to re-elect PM Stephen Harper by creating some of his infamous 'dog whistle' wedge issues: in this election, in this country, by suddenly turning the election ballot question onto the mostly ignored but very divisive minor issue over whether women should be allowed to wear Niqabs at government offices.
Harper has always said he'd never put the almighty dollar above defending human rights when it comes to personally hustling massive Canadian weapon sales abroad.
Campaigning in Quebec City, Harper insists he is totally opposed to forcing women to wear Niqabs - a form of face covering most often seen in ultra traditional Moslem countries like Saudi Arabia, where this is hardly the Saudis' worst violation of individual rights - the country executes almost as many people each year as North Korea, China or even America.
Daughters for Dollars
But Harper would hardly be the first world leader (or monarch !) who has been willing to meet the Saudis' strict social customs more than half way, at least while in Riyadh and at least long enough to successfully hustle a few billion more dollars in arms contracts.
I believe Stephen Leacock's once highly popular "Arcadian Adventures among the Idle Rich" may hold the key to the Canadian character.
For Dr Dawson was an young man when this searing attack on Canadian hypocrisy by a professor at his university came out.
Perhaps partially as the result of this famous book, Dawson, born into an atmosphere of traditional Canadian hypocrisy but raised with a pronounced moral conscience, was always particularly sensitive to the contrast between high blown public sentiments and low blown private government inactions.
For example, the very public Atlantic Charter versus the very private reality that all Allied governments sharply restricted volunteer colored recruitment in the Allied invasion armies, even if it meant Hitler had a military advantage as a result.
Combatting (Allied) bystander hypocrisy rather than bully (Axis) meanness was what Dawson chose to focus on in 1940 -1945.
In 1984-1993, I chose to do exactly the same here in Nova Scotia when I found people laughing about an open secret, a powerful politician's serial sex crimes, yet were unwilling to stop him, so more young girls wouldn't assaulted.
Sexual assaults and then the brutal murders of hundreds of women, aboriginal women in particular, is the issue Canada and PM Harper should really be discussing in this election - not a handful of women choosing, of their own free will, to wear niqabs, at a public ceremony in a supposedly free country.....