Ten years ago, I got the most difficult assignment I ever had in my freelancing career: read the memoirs of Ron Joyce, the right-wing force behind Tim Hortons. It’s still probably the worst book I ever read. But I’m pretty proud of how li’l 27-year-old me’s review turned out.
I think those of us on the Canadian left should be really, deeply encouraged by the massive backlash against Tim Hortons this week; it’s maybe the best cultural sign yet that something significant has shifted in the national mood. A decade ago, Tim Hortons was using the carnage in Afghanistan as a Canadiana branding opportunity, & nobody said anything. For years, it’s been the Conservatives’ favourite faux-populist marker of “real” Canadians (against the effete urban snobs who drink Starbucks); that worst of all popular worlds of fake blue collar culture with no working class politics. Canada is a lot slower, & temperamentally (not necessarily politically) conservative than many other countries. So while they get Jeremy Corbyn, we get Justin Trudeau. But anyone keeping the pulse of the unfolding reaction to this story, this week, would see that even sleepy, icy Canada is not immune to the charms of international resurgent labour politics.