Mon 29 Dec 2003
Among social commentators, it has become fashionable to declare that “everything changed after Sept. 11.” But looking back over the two decades of our year-end Maclean’s surveys, it is apparent that the Canadian outlook and mindset were undergoing profound changes long before that memorable and terrible day. When we began our annual investigation of public opinion across the nation in 1984, Canadians were coming out of a recession with a renewed sense of confidence. They had weathered the storm of rising unemployment and inflation, and felt they learned some valuable lessons from that experience. Among them was an emerging belief that we could not continue to rely so much on government; doing so would lay ourselves open to the very vulnerabilities we were trying to avoid.
We recognized that the country was facing ongoing problems — economic, social, constitutional — but saw these largely as aberrations that could be resolved with effort. Our optimism was also grounded in realism. We believed that “simply doing the same things, better,” was not the way to go. With the Mulroney Conservatives freshly in power, new ideas, new approaches and new leadership were the order of the day. It was time for a change.