Two years ago, York University professor and Olympic athlete William Gairdner surprised the Canadian political establishment with a trenchant and dramatic attack on its collectivist ideology. The Trouble with Canada: A Citizen Speaks Out lambasted the Canadian government, arguing that its emphasis on “top down” socialism and its concern with special interest groups had crippled popular democracy and eroded human rights and freedoms. Gairdner examined taxes, pensions, bilingualism, health care, politics, the Church, the Charter of Rights, and much more, and found them all wanting; all had been corrupted by a lack of moral vision and an unwillingness to fight for the traditional values on which Canada had been built: honesty, freedom, hard work, respect for authority, society and private property. His cry reached out to the “silent majority” who were fed up with the politicians and became an instant best-seller; over 5,000 copies were sold in 10 days, and it was widely noticed in the newspapers, on radio, television and so on.

Now Gairdner is back, with an even more explosive book…but you’re not going to find it quite so popular in the local press. Why? This time, Gairdner’s polemic is about the family, and it pulls no punches: The War Against the Family: A Parent Speaks out on the Political, Economic and Social Policies that Threaten us All. Takes on all the modern “sacred cows”: homosexuality, euthanasia, radical feminism and many more. His approach is much the same; Gairdner looks at what he calls the “civil war of values” being played out in schools and on campuses across Canada, and concludes that our society is in deep trouble, due largely to the inability, or the unwillingness, of many families to speak out against the problems that surround us all. Gairdner argues that the modern Canadian state, with its promotion of tolerance, special privileges egalitarianism, is in direct with the traditional family, which he sees as the source of moral values and human freedoms. Modern democratic governments, he argues, in their ceaseless search for votes, have drastically weakened the traditional authority and importance of the family unit, substituting “welfare state” economics, unfair tax systems, pay equity bureaus, subsidized daycare, and other handicaps to the old “one breadwinner” family. The solution? “Take back the schools!” he cries, arguing that if families wrest control of our vast educational system from the current army of vast academic bureaucrats and the mediocre teachers, then they can effectively improve student performance, cut drop out rates, and reduce juvenile delinquency, social disorder and crime. Moreover, by applying similar “bottom up” free enterprise principals in society at large, it can be effectively liberated from the crippling constraints of current left-wing ideologies.

The Feminist Mistake

Gairdner critiques several of these ideologies in the second part of his book. “The Feminist Mistake” argues that many early feminists supported the traditional family and that modern radical feminists are the “new barbarians of modern society” in their virulently anti-child mentality, their cult-like devotion to themselves as “victims” of patriarchal society, and their contradictory demands for both “equal rights” and “special considerations.”

Radical homosexuals fare no better; they are portrayed as hostile critics of the traditional familiy, and are shown to have a disproportionate index of child molestation, sexual violence, promiscuity, and uncommitted anonymous sexual behaviour, all of which threaten the “core values” of family and society. Reluctance by Canadians to critically challenge radical homosexual lobbies has led to tragic results, Gairdner syays; he argues that AIDS is largely a “life-style” disease, and that homosexuals have obscured this fact by aggressively promoting that myth of “safe sex.”

The invisible holocaust

This book is not for the faint-hearted. Gairdner’s discussion of abortion, which he calls the invisible holocaust,” is as shocking as it is graphic. His findings are disturbing. After all After noting that almost all cultures and religions condemn the practice, and that the majority of Canadians in virtually every poll vote against it as well, he concludes that there is a systemic “pro-abortion bias” in the media that prevents these results from being given wide coverage. He exposes some of the hidden assumptions in the “pro-choice” movement, and finds, contrary to popular belief , maternal death rates do not go down when abortion is made legal, and taken from the “back alley” into the clinics.

Moreover, conditions in some clinics, particularly in the U.S., are revealed to be far from hygenice or saf. Gairdner’s poignant accounts of botched abortions, organ harvesting, medical experiments, fetus incineration, and efforts to use fetal fats in cosmetics and skin crèmes, some of which are identified for the readers, are horrifying.

His crusade against euthanasia is similarly harrowing; we are told, for example, that the Dutch practice of “voluntary euthanasia” has quickly led to an escalation of involuntary euthanasia. In fact, more people die from the latter than the former; of the 25,000 cases a year 14,000 are killed by lethal injection, stopping or with-holding treatment, or other actions carried out without their consent.

The War Against the Family is well documented with many helpful graphs and charts, illustrating, for example, how the high tax burden of our collectivist Canadian government is unfairly victimizing traditional families.

My only complaint is that Gairdner has an unfortunate tendency to cite secondary sources where primary ones are just as accessible, in his study of contributions to the family debate by philosophersllike Thomas Hobbes(1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1704), Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Gairdner often uses recent interpretaion of their work, rather than easily available English versions of the originals.

“A Call to Action”

As in his last book, Gairdner concludes with “A Call to Action”, where he describes concrete proposals to right the wrongs of modern Canadian society.

Base the four “F”s of family, freedom, free enterprise and faith on a populare style of democratic government, directly accountable to the people, with firm rules ensuring equality for all, and special privileges for none.

Depoliticize our complex government administration, and return to local control and regular referendums to ensure the will of the people is frequently heard.

Cut taxes and support the traditional family, restricting state-supported daycare, abortion, no-fault divorce, pornography, and so on. And most importantly: organize! Get together with your friend s and make yourselves hear. Orchestrate letter writing campaigns, demonstrations, community associations, and so forth. It all begins with you.

He closes with British statesman Edmund Burke’s wise admonition, as true today as it was in 1790. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

(Julian Smith is a lecturer in the History of Science and Mathematics at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, in Toronto.)