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The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture and What It Means for Our Future

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The political, media and business elites of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal ran this country for almost its entire history. But in the last few years, they have lost their power, and most of them still do not realize it’s gone. The Laurentian Consensus, a name John Ibbitson coined for the dusty Liberal elite, has been replaced by a new, powerful coalition based in the west an The political, media and business elites of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal ran this country for almost its entire history. But in the last few years, they have lost their power, and most of them still do not realize it’s gone. The Laurentian Consensus, a name John Ibbitson coined for the dusty Liberal elite, has been replaced by a new, powerful coalition based in the west and supported by immigrant voters in Ontario. So what happened? Great global migrations have washed over Canada. Most people aren’t aware that the keystone economic and political driver of this country is no longer Ontario, but rather, a Pacific province dominated by immigrants from China, India, and other Asian countries, who have settled there. Those in politics and business have greatly underestimated how conservative these newcomers are, and how conservative they are making our country. Canada, with an ever-evolving and growing economy and a constantly changing demographic base, has become divorced from the traditions of its past and is moving in an entirely new direction. In The Big Shift, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker argue that one of the world’s most consensual countries is polarizing, with the west versus the east, suburban versus urban, immigrants versus old school, coffee drinkers versus consumers of energy drinks. The winners—in politics, in business, in life—will figure out where the people are and go there too.


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The political, media and business elites of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal ran this country for almost its entire history. But in the last few years, they have lost their power, and most of them still do not realize it’s gone. The Laurentian Consensus, a name John Ibbitson coined for the dusty Liberal elite, has been replaced by a new, powerful coalition based in the west an The political, media and business elites of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal ran this country for almost its entire history. But in the last few years, they have lost their power, and most of them still do not realize it’s gone. The Laurentian Consensus, a name John Ibbitson coined for the dusty Liberal elite, has been replaced by a new, powerful coalition based in the west and supported by immigrant voters in Ontario. So what happened? Great global migrations have washed over Canada. Most people aren’t aware that the keystone economic and political driver of this country is no longer Ontario, but rather, a Pacific province dominated by immigrants from China, India, and other Asian countries, who have settled there. Those in politics and business have greatly underestimated how conservative these newcomers are, and how conservative they are making our country. Canada, with an ever-evolving and growing economy and a constantly changing demographic base, has become divorced from the traditions of its past and is moving in an entirely new direction. In The Big Shift, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker argue that one of the world’s most consensual countries is polarizing, with the west versus the east, suburban versus urban, immigrants versus old school, coffee drinkers versus consumers of energy drinks. The winners—in politics, in business, in life—will figure out where the people are and go there too.

30 review for The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture and What It Means for Our Future

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin P Siu

    The Big Shift is at once ambitious and disappointing. Bricker, a leading pollster, and Ibbitson, a leading political journalist, set out a bold project for themselves. Over the last several years following Canadian politics, they have come to the conclusion that Canada's demographics have shifted irreversibly. The reason that the Conservative Party of Canada has come into power and are not soon letting go, they assert, is that they were the first to "get" the "Big Shift", capturing the attention The Big Shift is at once ambitious and disappointing. Bricker, a leading pollster, and Ibbitson, a leading political journalist, set out a bold project for themselves. Over the last several years following Canadian politics, they have come to the conclusion that Canada's demographics have shifted irreversibly. The reason that the Conservative Party of Canada has come into power and are not soon letting go, they assert, is that they were the first to "get" the "Big Shift", capturing the attention of a coalition of voters consisting mostly of the West and Suburban Ontario immigrants. In contrast, the old masters of Canadian politics, who they term the "Laurentian elites" hailing mostly from urban Ontario and Quebec, have failed to grasp the changes facing the country and their ideals are facing total collapse. At first blush, this is not a surprising statement. Bricker and Ibbitson do a respectable job of describing how the political landscape has drastically changed over the past decade, during which time government has gone from perpetual Liberal majorities to consistent Conservative control for the foreseeable future. The authors present an interesting premise and a relevant context for discussion, backing up their findings with bits of data (no doubt from Ipsos where Bricker is the CEO). No one who has followed Canadian politics will doubt that things have changed in the last few years; as a matter of political science and history, the phenomenon is deeply fascinating. The analysis presented in the first half of the book painted a clear picture of our political past, present, and future. In particular, its analysis on the decline of Quebec and Atlantic Canada as political forces is devastating in its effectiveness, backed as it is by relevant data weaved together in a tight narrative. If The Big Shift had merely satisfied itself with data and analysis, it would have made for a first class contribution to the field. However, although the authors purport to be neutral ("You may think that this is a conservative argument. It isn't."), the book clearly tilts right, and as the descriptive analysis yielded to normative argument, I could not help but think that I had been duped into reading a cleverly disguised conservative manifesto. The last third of the book is where it began to fall apart. Up until the eighth chapter (of twelve total), I was right with Bricker and Ibbitson, following their chronicles of how the Laurentian consensus had governed in the past, and how their policies of open immigration and tolerant multiculturalism had inexorably led us to this point. As a person steeped in immigrant culture myself, I could even find myself agreeing with their analysis of pragmatic immigrant values and how the Conservatives managed to capture their vote. Chapter 9, though, was an odd break in the narrative, which was tight and coherent up to that point. In the middle of a work of political science, I suddenly found myself reading a how-to guide for businesses looking to make more money off of New Canada. While there was nothing inherently wrong with the subject matter, it was certainly odd, and stuck out like a sore thumb. It is almost as if their editors decided that such a chapter would make it a more marketable book, and it was added at the last minute as a concession to the publishers. I suppose (and I suggest to you) that I should have stopped reading there. Shortly thereafter, the authors began to lament the liberal bias of political journalists in the media. This tired old idea of "liberal bias" has been a perpetual conservative talking point, and yet despite the authors' previous adherence to data-driven analysis, they began to make assertions that sounded all too familiar. The press gallery is full of liberals, nay, "Laurentians". Press coverage skews too heavily towards Quebec. The CBC is "genetically incapable of expressing any vision of the country other than the Laurentian." Journalists detest the Conservatives. Harper will never be legitimate in the eyes of the media. The rightward shift, if at first consisting only of jabs against the media (maybe even anecdotally true if not empirically so), steadily became more noticeable. Bricker and Ibbitson move from attacking the press to faintly praising conservative social reforms (such as charter schools). Then, in the final chapter on the future of Canadian foreign affairs, the narrative became clearly Conservative. Yes, Bricker and Ibbitson begin by criticizing Harper's early years as Prime Minister, detailing how he had neglected foreign affairs and especially China while he was busy dealing with domestic politics. But just as quickly as Harper did an about face on foreign policy, embracing free trade in the Pacific, the authors launch into a diatribe on their perceived failures of Laurentian (now conveniently attached to Liberal names) foreign policy. In particular, the authors clearly had an axe to grind with Laurentian/Liberal military policy ("the long and lamentable decline of the Canadian Forces"). Neither Pearson's peacekeeping legacy (Suez Canal and the foundation of UN Peacekeeping) nor Ignatieff's policy work at the UN (Responsibility to Protect) could impress Bricker and Ibbitson. Apparently the soft power gained from skillful diplomacy is no match for a strong military (or, in their words, "pointless moralizing"). Where the wheels really fall off is when they suggest that Chrétien's refusal to send troops to Iraq was somehow irresponsible. Regardless of one's views on the military or one's approval of Chrétien's term as PM, it would be hard to argue that staying out of Iraq was not at least the one thing he did right. Indeed, over 70% of Canadians agree. The Big Shift is not a bad book. In fact, it is for the most part excellent. But I wish that the authors had not written this under the guise of objective analysis when the undertones of political leanings are clearly present. Bricker and Ibbitson, in their own words, "wrote this book to start a debate." Have they achieved that? Perhaps. But it is unclear exactly what their true target audience is. If it was designed to inflame Liberals, it might succeed in doing so, though that is not likely to result in any meaningful 'debate'. There are two problems with that goal. First, the "Laurentian elites" that they describe is a straw man. Though they skillfully merge data with history and analysis, I can't help but feel that they have constructed a hypothetical "Laurentian ideal" that exists in no known reality. Are there truly people who believe that Canada is a fragile union, that the government's role is unity, that Quebec is an existential problem, that transfer payments will forever be necessary, and that our national identity should be defended from American influence? If this Laurentian consensus does not truly exist, then what meaningful debate can be started? Second, this is not a work of scholarly precision. It wavers between a data-driven exposition of Canadian demographics and a narrative/argument of how New Canada will forever be different. For the political science majors who want to examine the claims for themselves, the book is unfortunately sparsely footnoted and much of the data unsourced (undoubtedly because they came from Ipsos' proprietary databases). How can one meaningfully debate when the information is inaccessible? In sum, it is a good thing The Big Shift is a short read. Any longer and the authors would have started to defeat their own premise. Love it or hate it, the book will no doubt be of interest to politicos and polisci students. It may even start a debate, though perhaps not the kind the authors had in mind.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    The authors are making a good case for their "Big Shift" idea, and their take on the new Canadian political landscape. As someone with only superficial knowledge of Canadian political history, I was informed and often challenged to rethink some of my opinions (to my surprise, I discovered that I have been under the Laurentian Elitist Has-Beens' spell). The first part of the book (chapters 1-8) offers a solid, cohesive narrative. While the author's bias is obvious, and we could really do without The authors are making a good case for their "Big Shift" idea, and their take on the new Canadian political landscape. As someone with only superficial knowledge of Canadian political history, I was informed and often challenged to rethink some of my opinions (to my surprise, I discovered that I have been under the Laurentian Elitist Has-Beens' spell). The first part of the book (chapters 1-8) offers a solid, cohesive narrative. While the author's bias is obvious, and we could really do without silly pretend scenarios poking fun at pathetic 'Laurentian elite', there is enough food for thought to make it an enjoyable read. Unfortunately, the book takes an odd turn in the chapter 9, which is literally a how-to guide for business. The remaining three chapters continue with a significantly changed tone, and analysis that is often simplistic and openly dismissive, ending with one huge Harper love-in.

  3. 5 out of 5

    H Wesselius

    Without a doubt the basic premise that this book is based on holds true; Canada is experiencing a shift in demographics and a changing of the guard. However, this book fails to make a case for a complete shift from traditional consensus based politics to a more conflict ridden system where a conservative free market party holds sway. Citing one poll, the authors claim Canadians have lost faith in governments. Asking Canadians if they trust government to provide solutions is to invite a negative r Without a doubt the basic premise that this book is based on holds true; Canada is experiencing a shift in demographics and a changing of the guard. However, this book fails to make a case for a complete shift from traditional consensus based politics to a more conflict ridden system where a conservative free market party holds sway. Citing one poll, the authors claim Canadians have lost faith in governments. Asking Canadians if they trust government to provide solutions is to invite a negative response. Ask Canadians if they trust large multinational corporations to provide solutions and you would invite the same negative response. People don't trust large institutions public or private. Peter Newman traced the decline of deference Furthermore, a big shift in political power isn't as self evident as posited by the authors. The Conservatives won 14 ridings with combined 6,000 vote majority. Some of these seats the margin of victory was less than 100 votes. Recent riding redistribution and creation may favor Conservatives in some places (Alberta) but favors the NDP elsewhere (urban Saskatchewan). Compounded with their lack of evidence and errors of judgement was a writing style more appropriate for biased internet blogs. Their continued reference to Brampton as an example of Conservative success with immigrant communities was annoying especially since the NDP has also had success there. Finally, a key element in political cleavage for North America was missing. The difference between rural and urban was not discussed. In the political conflict between their contrasting values, suburban voters hold the key. Despite appearances, Canada is an urban nation (a fact acknowledged by the authors) and its the urban nature which threatens any attempt at Conservative power. Thus, the authors miss the mark.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    After commenting on my five-star-stinginess late last year, I couldn't help myself with Bricker and Ibbitson's brilliant analysis of fundamental demographic changes in Canada that are driving political, cultural, and business shifts in the country. A pollster and a pundit, the authors have a written a must-read for all parts of the political spectrum. (Those on the left may accuse the authors of bias, but they should take to heart the authors' repeated declaration that the book analyzes facts an After commenting on my five-star-stinginess late last year, I couldn't help myself with Bricker and Ibbitson's brilliant analysis of fundamental demographic changes in Canada that are driving political, cultural, and business shifts in the country. A pollster and a pundit, the authors have a written a must-read for all parts of the political spectrum. (Those on the left may accuse the authors of bias, but they should take to heart the authors' repeated declaration that the book analyzes facts and doesn't judge political opinions.) John Ibbitson, well-known from his Globe and Mail columns has remarked for awhile now that the old political alliance of central Canada, or the Laurentian Consensus, has collapsed. In its place is a growing alliance between the west and suburban Ontario. At the moment, the Conservatives have tapped into it, but opportunities exist for the NDP and Liberals if they care to take them. The authors rightly point out that the major problem of the left is recognizing that this shift has/is occurring, while a failure to do so leads to a dangerous polarization and risks decades in the political wilderness for left-of-centre parties. Political projections are hazardous, but the authors make a strong data-based case that we are in a moment of profound political transition. If they are wrong, this book will remain an interesting analysis of Canadian politics as it stood in 2013. If, as I suspect, they're right it will become a seminal work. And it helps that it is written with wit, humour, a deep understanding of Canada (especially outside of Toronto), and profound insights about where we're all going. I'm on Twitter:@Dr_A_Taubman

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Shaw

    This was an excellent and insightful read. My only regret is that I didn't read it a little over a year ago because since then there's been a change in government and right now it's hard to envision this "new natural governing party". This book covers so much great content for junkies of Canadian politics. While I always find John Ibbitson to be a refreshing read, the largest part of the arguments in this thesis were based on two things: increased immigration and the strengths of the resources r This was an excellent and insightful read. My only regret is that I didn't read it a little over a year ago because since then there's been a change in government and right now it's hard to envision this "new natural governing party". This book covers so much great content for junkies of Canadian politics. While I always find John Ibbitson to be a refreshing read, the largest part of the arguments in this thesis were based on two things: increased immigration and the strengths of the resources rich West. Since this book was published two years ago, oil has plummeted and weakened the province that is supposed to be calling the shots now. Also there's one thing that was either overlooked or underestimated when they were writing this and that is the degree to which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was able to attract young voters to actually go out and cast a ballot. Trudeau's presence on social media and his comfort at being in front of the camera are two very strong weapons to have in his arsenal and while the authors of this book repeatedly say that they're not saying the Conservative Party will win every election, just more of them than what Canada is used to, I can't help but feel that a good portion of this essay is now dated and somewhat naive. But I also think that I feel that way only because of the moment we're in right now as I finished this reading. A moment when the Trudeau honeymoon isn't over yet and when there doesn't appear to be a worthy sparring partner putting their name in the ring to succeed Stephen Harper and become the next prime-minister-in-waiting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donna Parker

    This was the most horrifying book I've ever read. I was frightened from start to finish. It gave me a sense of hopelessness that no Dementor could possibly match. I really felt as though I would never be cheerful again. Really. I was thinking, the zombie apocalypse would be less terrifying, at least zombies are what they are, what you see is what you get and no one is fooled by them. I had visions of my beloved country (ok, it's definitely not perfect, there are many improvements to make, but go This was the most horrifying book I've ever read. I was frightened from start to finish. It gave me a sense of hopelessness that no Dementor could possibly match. I really felt as though I would never be cheerful again. Really. I was thinking, the zombie apocalypse would be less terrifying, at least zombies are what they are, what you see is what you get and no one is fooled by them. I had visions of my beloved country (ok, it's definitely not perfect, there are many improvements to make, but going the other way doesn't seem like the brightest idea, just more to fix)slipping into an abyss of ideological exploitation, any progress pushed back a hundred or so years with cackling corporate cronies clawing at our hopes and dreams, then I realized, that day is here. Bravo, writing in the horror genre is more difficult than one might imagine and this is more fear-provoking than anything I’ve read in years. Is there any hope? I can only say I want to believe there is, with anticipation, that the truth will win out. Until then the nightmare continues.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Duarte do Nascimento

    A provocative (sometimes downright insulting and inflammatory) view on how political power shifted to the Conservative party in Canada, its relationship with immigration and what lies ahead. The book has some "mood swings" between a balanced analysis and an annoying disdain with the Liberal Party (which the authors see as a proxy for a "Laurentian Consensus" that has the power since the formative days of modern Canada). Taking that inconsistency aside, the book is a great starting point for thos A provocative (sometimes downright insulting and inflammatory) view on how political power shifted to the Conservative party in Canada, its relationship with immigration and what lies ahead. The book has some "mood swings" between a balanced analysis and an annoying disdain with the Liberal Party (which the authors see as a proxy for a "Laurentian Consensus" that has the power since the formative days of modern Canada). Taking that inconsistency aside, the book is a great starting point for those (like me) trying to understand what lies beneath Canada's historical and current affairs, and what to expect in the years ahead. Even if you disagree with the authors' veiled (sometimes not as much) support of conservative-progressive views, they make a point that is worth getting in full detail

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bill Smith

    A very interesting book that will no doubt send a segment of the Canadian population into seizures because it shoots down a wide variety of treasured beliefs and myths about our country. Both Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson did their homework on the changing face of Canada an evolution we only just noticed when pointed out. I consider this a must read if you want understand how Canada has evolved since the mid 20th century and where our country might head. If we're thinking in terms of trade a A very interesting book that will no doubt send a segment of the Canadian population into seizures because it shoots down a wide variety of treasured beliefs and myths about our country. Both Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson did their homework on the changing face of Canada an evolution we only just noticed when pointed out. I consider this a must read if you want understand how Canada has evolved since the mid 20th century and where our country might head. If we're thinking in terms of trade agreements, think Trans Pacific Partnership instead of the European Union.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robert Chapman

    Bricker and Ibbitson deliver in this book on Canadian politics. It would be easy to write this book off as Liberal bashing, but if you read the entire thing you realize it's not at all. The premise is that the Conservatives have realized the shift was happening, adjusted their tactics accordingly, and been able to retain power as a result. If the other parties don't adjust as well, then they will persist in their irrelevance. So what is the big shift, well you need to read the book, I cannot give Bricker and Ibbitson deliver in this book on Canadian politics. It would be easy to write this book off as Liberal bashing, but if you read the entire thing you realize it's not at all. The premise is that the Conservatives have realized the shift was happening, adjusted their tactics accordingly, and been able to retain power as a result. If the other parties don't adjust as well, then they will persist in their irrelevance. So what is the big shift, well you need to read the book, I cannot give it all away in the review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

    The authors take polling data and census data that describes changes in Canada and uses it to support the policies and programs of the Harper government. This is supported by the creation of a an enemy - the Laurentians. If you want to see the world through the rose-coloured glasses of the Canadian conservative party, reading this book will allow you to enter their fantasy world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tblackwell

    Yet another book by Eastern Canadians trying to 'explain' the rise in influence that Western Canadians have experienced over the past ten years, you might understand it more if you stopped referring to it as 'the West' and sought to understand the unique contributions of each of the western provinces, they are each agents of change Yet another book by Eastern Canadians trying to 'explain' the rise in influence that Western Canadians have experienced over the past ten years, you might understand it more if you stopped referring to it as 'the West' and sought to understand the unique contributions of each of the western provinces, they are each agents of change

  12. 4 out of 5

    Peter Moreira

    This is that rare beast -- a Canadian book about politics that's worth reading. Bricker and Ibbitson do a tremendous job of analysing what is happening in politics today and are persuasivein their claim the change is permanent. This is that rare beast -- a Canadian book about politics that's worth reading. Bricker and Ibbitson do a tremendous job of analysing what is happening in politics today and are persuasivein their claim the change is permanent.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tahrana

    Thought worthy, having been a lifetime member of the "liberal intelligentsia". Scary in some ways to consider that this is how the country will change and what potential backlashes could be. Very conversational, an easy read. Thought worthy, having been a lifetime member of the "liberal intelligentsia". Scary in some ways to consider that this is how the country will change and what potential backlashes could be. Very conversational, an easy read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Richmond

    Not very consistent but essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Stephen Harper is methodically destroying Canada.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Very interesting - should be required reading for Maritimer interested in politics and the coming years... Depressing, though.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey Kelley

    It is a courageous but often hazardous undertaking to make predictions, especially when the subject is political behaviour. I never got around to reading The Big Shift when it came out in 2013, so I picked it up during a cold Laurentian Easter break and took a look. The main hypothesis of the book is interesting and fairly obvious. As the economic and demographic centre of gravity shifts ever westward in Canada, the political landscape will change. Pacific concerns will grow in importance and re It is a courageous but often hazardous undertaking to make predictions, especially when the subject is political behaviour. I never got around to reading The Big Shift when it came out in 2013, so I picked it up during a cold Laurentian Easter break and took a look. The main hypothesis of the book is interesting and fairly obvious. As the economic and demographic centre of gravity shifts ever westward in Canada, the political landscape will change. Pacific concerns will grow in importance and replace an Atlantic perspective. With more seats west of Kenora, the western voice will rival and even surpass that of Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The impact of many years of immigration on political parties and the coalitions of interests will change. But a bit of caution and nuance please! To predict an Adrian Dix victory in BC, to suggest that both the Quebec and Canadian Liberal parties are on the way to extinction, that Tom Mulcair had the best chance to unseat Stephen Harper, that Quebec budget would never be balanced....and I could go on. But the biggest howler can be found on page 99: "No federal party would release an election platform that doesn't at least promise to keep the budget balanced."( reflecting the Big Shift to fiscal responsibility). Now I happen to believe in balanced budgets, but the call by Justin Trudeau to go into deficits to stimulate the economy was the turning point in the 2015 election. Did the Big Shift shift again?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Franz-lien

    Here's a question for you. Would you rather understand changes in your country's political scene before or after the next populist backlash? The Big Shift is a thought-provoking review of Canadian politics by pollsters who draw their conclusions from the numbers. And what the numbers tell us is in stark disagreement with the traditional narratives used by most commentators. The "big shift" refers to large-scale change in prevailing political views caused by changing demographics and business clim Here's a question for you. Would you rather understand changes in your country's political scene before or after the next populist backlash? The Big Shift is a thought-provoking review of Canadian politics by pollsters who draw their conclusions from the numbers. And what the numbers tell us is in stark disagreement with the traditional narratives used by most commentators. The "big shift" refers to large-scale change in prevailing political views caused by changing demographics and business climate. This has led to traditional liberal priorities steadily losing ground -- particularly focus on nation-building and national unity (protecting Canadian identity, Quebec identity, transfer payments to have-not provinces, etc.) -- giving way to hard-headed conservative economics. Excellent non-partisan read for anyone interested in really understanding what's going on in Canadian politics including the rise of Stephen Harper and the Doug Ford populist backlash.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steven Lee

    In 2013 Bricker and Ibbitson published a book that argued that Canada was undergoing a fundamental shift (the eponymous "Big Shift") that will result in a total shift of Canadian politics, governance, economy and values. The authors come to the conclusion that the Conservative Party is best poised to take advantage of this changing landscape and will become the natural governing party of Canada. Shortly after the 2015 federal election Paul McLeod of Buzzfeed wrote a satirical, mocking review of In 2013 Bricker and Ibbitson published a book that argued that Canada was undergoing a fundamental shift (the eponymous "Big Shift") that will result in a total shift of Canadian politics, governance, economy and values. The authors come to the conclusion that the Conservative Party is best poised to take advantage of this changing landscape and will become the natural governing party of Canada. Shortly after the 2015 federal election Paul McLeod of Buzzfeed wrote a satirical, mocking review of Ibbitson and Bricker's thesis. https://www.buzzfeed.com/paulmcleod/b... For a time The Big Shift became an easy punch line, even though Ibbitson and Bricker laid out the exact path the Liberals (or NDP) would take to get back to power. What is the big shift? The authors point to the incredible level of immigration to Canada as the driving factor. Every ten years the country adds another Toronto to its population. Over 250000 immigrants arrive in Canada each year, a number which is increasing over time, and over ten years that is 2.5 million new residents who alter everything from the food in our grocery stores, the languages in our neighbourhoods and faces in our schools. Most of these immigrants come from Asia, particularly India, China and the Philippines. As a result Canada is increasingly orienting away from the Atlantic World to the Pacific World, which is likely for the best. While Europe has stagnated Asia has boomed. It is easy to imagine why the future of the country is closer aligned to the Pacific nations and not Atlantic ones. The new immigrants have been overwhelmingly drawn to British Columbia, the Prairies and Ontario, which have also increasingly grown as the economic hubs of the country. As the population of the West continues to swell as will its political and social dominance in the country. Canada (roughly) uses representation by population. By 2040 Alberta's population will roughly be on par with Quebec, this will have a seismic shift in the balance of power in this country. One of the key concepts of this book is the notion of the Laurentian Consensus and Elites. Laurentian refers to the class of elites found in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and to a lesser extent Vancouver. They formed the bureaucracy, high positions in politics, academia, and business. They represent Old Canada, in a sense. The Liberal Party, they write, best aligns with the Laurentian ideology. Laurentianism is statist, anti-military, pro-peacekeeping, pro-federalism, anti-American, is concentrated on accommodating Quebec and thinks Canada is a fragile country. Ibbitson and Bricker write convincingly why that this view is out of step with the New Canada that is developing. I was conflicted reading sections of this book because I have spent a great deal of time in Laurentian circles, if not myself a Laurentian, but I also identify with the emerging New Canada they talk about. One of the phenomena they cite that I have also noticed is a shift towards a more confident, proud nationalism that is taking root. Humble hand-wringing Canadian nationalism increasingly seems a thing of the past. Canadians seem a prouder people more willing to wave the flag than in years past. Obviously the big prediction of the book is that the Conservatives will become the natural governing party in the 21st century. Many have laughed this off after 2015, but I think they make an interesting case. Here's the basic argument: immigration is driving tremendous growth in Ontario's cities and suburbs and Western Canada and more and more the interests of Western Canada and Ontario are aligned in a new voting coalition. The new divide in Canada, they argue, is not between West and Centre, but along the Ottawa River between provinces that have embraced immigration and growth and those that have not. Atlantic Canada is small and marginal and economically backwards and Quebec may reach an economic and demographic crisis point if they do not change course soon. So, is the Big Shift disproven? I'd say no. So far in the 21st century the Conservatives governed 9 of the 16 years. Despite their losses the Conservative Party remains very strong in Western Canada, Ontario and is even showing new strength in Quebec. They are almost at the same place today the NDP was in 2011 and we thought then that they could be the next government. The Trudeau Liberals will be lucky that if in four years time the Conservatives don't start moving back into the suburbs of Ontario. Even still, it's hard not to say the demographic transformation in this country isn't still impacting our politics. The faces of the Liberal caucus today are quite different from the ones we would have seen 25 years ago. The challenge to all parties will be to adapt to the big shift as it occurs. The Conservatives under Stephen Harper learned the implications first and seemed to have forgotten them in the 2015 campaign when they attacked Muslim Canadians. Right now another element of Ibbitson and Bricker's prediction has come to pass, an alliance of Quebec and Ontario with Atlantic Canada, but Quebec and Ontario are not as suitable bedfellows as they once were and we will see if this coalition can hold. The Big Shift is a clear, concise and fascinating glimpse into the political, economic and cultural transformations occurring in Canada. Those who summarily dismiss its conclusions do so at their peril. Changes are occurring, they may not manifest exactly as the authors predict but this is one of the few books out there talking about this watershed moment. I'd highly recommend this book to those interested in Canadian politics, society and culture.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vince

    Bricker and Ibbitson's analysis of the Harper majority and what that source of that win implied for Canadian culture and policy makes for an interesting read in 2020. In some ways they were collosally wrong. They failed to see the resurrection of the Liberals under Justin Trudeau (although mentioned in passing) or the collapse of the NDP under Thomas Mulcair. But they can be forgiven for being unable to prognosticate the unexpected. Where their book shines is in calling out Canada's demographic c Bricker and Ibbitson's analysis of the Harper majority and what that source of that win implied for Canadian culture and policy makes for an interesting read in 2020. In some ways they were collosally wrong. They failed to see the resurrection of the Liberals under Justin Trudeau (although mentioned in passing) or the collapse of the NDP under Thomas Mulcair. But they can be forgiven for being unable to prognosticate the unexpected. Where their book shines is in calling out Canada's demographic change and how this largely renders irrelevant the issues that dominated our national federalist conversation for the past 70 years. But you probably don't need to read all 280+ pages to understand their simple point. Three stars.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Compelling argument made in the book, but then the authors go on to give a dozen examples that support the same point, and enjoy going down tangents to reflect on the political history of Canada...sometimes relevant, sometimes it feels for the sake of chatting about politics. Enjoyed the book, but could have been an essay.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex Knipp

    When thinking of Canada today, the scenes played out in the QP between the government and the opposition, it’s a much different reality than what the authors imagined. The really big shift has yet to come, and it will take more than a well-crafted electoral strategy to make that happen.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lorrie

    Even though it was published in 2013, the ideas are still very relevant to today. Gives a solid background of the politics over the past 20 years and a decent glimpse/view/prediction of the future of Canadian politics and what will help keep Canada in the game. I highly recommend.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stanley Lee

    Interesting read even though the authors got the prediction wrong for 2015.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric Brown

    Enjoyable in part because of interesting observations, but mostly the confidence with which the authors were substantially wrong.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Sylvester

    “The Big Shift” by Bricker & Ibbitson seeks to map Canada’s changing political and social terrain and the extent to which demographic shifts are likely to affect the fortunes of progressive parties and institutions, and Canadians more generally. According to the authors, suburban “strivers” both east and west are a rising demographic, as are immigrants. Both groups are increasingly voting Conservative whereas the progressive urban-centre vote is split between the NDP and Liberals underpinned by v “The Big Shift” by Bricker & Ibbitson seeks to map Canada’s changing political and social terrain and the extent to which demographic shifts are likely to affect the fortunes of progressive parties and institutions, and Canadians more generally. According to the authors, suburban “strivers” both east and west are a rising demographic, as are immigrants. Both groups are increasingly voting Conservative whereas the progressive urban-centre vote is split between the NDP and Liberals underpinned by vacillating unpredictable support from Quebec. More specifically, suburbia is economically conservative whereas immigrants are largely socially conservative, particularly the skilled economic class coming from Asia. The Conservatives, under Stephen Harper, have recognized the increasing political influence of these two groups, and the resulting shift in values, and has accommodated both groups successfully through changes to his public policy platform. Progressives, on the other hand, have failed to accept and adapt to the fact Canadians have moved on. To provide one example, many progressives still believe that Canadians vote primarily with their hearts instead of their wallets. But according to these authors, Canadians no longer believe that governments and related institutions (including unions) have the capacity or will to deliver meaningful transformative change, despite how necessary they believe it to be. In essence, Canadians are becoming less interested in groundless emotional platitudes and more interested in public policies that have been subject to rational (economic) analysis that more fully consider how trade-offs affect short and long-term benefits. The authors generally contend that current and forecasted demographic trends in Canada will cement the political fortunes of the Conservatives during the 21st century. This shift will enhance global and interprovincial trade and investment (which will eliminate government imposed and supported price floors and ceilings) as well as the strength and prestige of the military while keeping taxes low and placing less emphasis on the need for equalization and appeasing Aboriginal claims. Ultimately, the authors contend that progressives will have to accept and adapt to the realties of the “New Canada” if they ever hope to consistently reclaim power or deal effectively with the rise of conservative reforms. Style-wise, the writing is aimed at the general public and is not oozing with substance but the authors seek to exemplify only a few main points and do this well using a variety of polls, public policy research and extensive experience. 3 Stars for Bricker & Ibbitson!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Let me preface with this... I have no political party. In a little more than 1/2 dozen elections in my adult life, I have voted for four different parties. At times I have voted for the party, others for the leader, others again for a local candidate. I consider myself in the middle, which really, means I can go for any party depending on the climate du jour. I would say no party in my lifetime as ever 100% represented my views. I admit I find it a bit difficult to rate this book. The first third Let me preface with this... I have no political party. In a little more than 1/2 dozen elections in my adult life, I have voted for four different parties. At times I have voted for the party, others for the leader, others again for a local candidate. I consider myself in the middle, which really, means I can go for any party depending on the climate du jour. I would say no party in my lifetime as ever 100% represented my views. I admit I find it a bit difficult to rate this book. The first third was top notch reading... a discussion of a number of areas that pertain to the shifting political climate including shifting demographics, language, trade, and more. Really interesting stuff, and you do not need to be a political science major to understand it. Pieces like this continue throughout the book, but there were a couple items that cropped up that took away from the experience for me: 1.) My guess is the one of the two authors is solidly conservative. While I get completely on board with the defense against many exaggerated accusations lobbed at the "evil" Harper government, the author(s) then turn around and lob equally exaggerated claims in the other direction... somewhat invalidating my faith in their writing. I see enough of parties arguing/slinging crap at each other on the news. It is never productive. 2.) A somewhat lesser point, but at one stage, the author(s) go on a diversionary discussion about how business can target the changing demographic of the country. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and barely relevant to the topic of the book. In all, a good read for all Canadians, and even for non-Canadians interested in the political landscape the country.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Finally, an answer to the oft-asked question, "Who voted for Harper in the 2011 election; and how did he win?". Authors Darryl Bricker, Global CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs and John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail's chief political correspondent tell us "The 41st Canadian General Election is a fracture in time. Looking back, analysts will consider the years that came before it as part of one era, and the years that came after as part of another. Why? Because May 2, 2011, cemented the new Canadian politics Finally, an answer to the oft-asked question, "Who voted for Harper in the 2011 election; and how did he win?". Authors Darryl Bricker, Global CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs and John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail's chief political correspondent tell us "The 41st Canadian General Election is a fracture in time. Looking back, analysts will consider the years that came before it as part of one era, and the years that came after as part of another. Why? Because May 2, 2011, cemented the new Canadian politics." This books makes one consider and self-challenge beliefs about what is best for Canada. It is a most timely read, as we listen to the platforms and politicking for the upcoming election. Regardless of where you are or think you are on the political spectrum this book will please, anger and inform, using easy-to-understand charts and data one can expect from the collaboration of a leading pollster and and adept political writer. I find I am more able to understand the current campaigns, and I recommend this a must-read for anyone with an interest in current Canadian politics.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jake M.

    This was a very interesting quick read on the state of Canadian politics over the last 3-4 years. The authors analyse data and political events to explain the recent success of the Conservative Party and the lament of the former Liberal juggernaut. Bricker and company's argument is that the Cons were the first to identify the central issue of the economy and the demographic migration of younger Canadians and immigrants to Western Canada and Ontario suburbs as crucial to forming government. While This was a very interesting quick read on the state of Canadian politics over the last 3-4 years. The authors analyse data and political events to explain the recent success of the Conservative Party and the lament of the former Liberal juggernaut. Bricker and company's argument is that the Cons were the first to identify the central issue of the economy and the demographic migration of younger Canadians and immigrants to Western Canada and Ontario suburbs as crucial to forming government. While creating a readable, succinct book on Canadian politics is a feat in itself, the book is not terribly well-sourced despite many realistic claims. The sometimes questionable assertions are also circumspect as the authors often write through a mildly conservative lens. Overall: A strong book for political junkies and pragmatists.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alanna Smith

    A great analytical book for those still grappling with recent changes in Canada's federal political landscape. Coherent and clever, the authors manage to make the often dry subject matter that is Canadian politics fascinating. Questions of bias do arise, as some of the authors' conclusions seem to warrant further attention than is allotted. Bias aside, though, it's a great primer and thought-provoking book on the future of Canada. A great analytical book for those still grappling with recent changes in Canada's federal political landscape. Coherent and clever, the authors manage to make the often dry subject matter that is Canadian politics fascinating. Questions of bias do arise, as some of the authors' conclusions seem to warrant further attention than is allotted. Bias aside, though, it's a great primer and thought-provoking book on the future of Canada.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hippogriff

    I was expecting this book to be largely political, but was pleasantly surprised by the analysis on policy in "The Big Shift". It is premised on a major collective political, economic, and social paradigm shift in Canada. While some points are difficult for me to wrap my head around (i.e. Aboriginal peoples will eventually be dealing with visible minorities instead of Europeans... whaaaat?!!), they are nonetheless extremely interesting and even valid. I was expecting this book to be largely political, but was pleasantly surprised by the analysis on policy in "The Big Shift". It is premised on a major collective political, economic, and social paradigm shift in Canada. While some points are difficult for me to wrap my head around (i.e. Aboriginal peoples will eventually be dealing with visible minorities instead of Europeans... whaaaat?!!), they are nonetheless extremely interesting and even valid.

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