In endorsing Canada’s religion-free culture, Smith writes: “how lucky we are not to be living in the particularly charged and polarized cultural atmosphere of our monolithic neighbour. We don’t have to fight fundamentalist school boards here very often; nor do our broadcasters have to survive boycotts of advertisers who have been intimidated by Christian proselytizers.”
He goes on approvingly about how social conservatives are relegated to the sidelines in Canada, unlike in the U.S.:
There are religious conservatives up here, too, of course, and they rant away in their temples and on street corners. But we don’t invite them on to TV shows for “balance,” any more than we invite representatives from Hamas or Islamic Jihad or the Baader-Meinhof gang.
Smith is a good novelist – I own two of his books – and I enjoy his writing on fashion. His last novel, Muriella Pent, contained a stunning speech by one of the main characters, a black Caribbean writer, in which he shatters the cultural elite’s prejudices about literary determinism.
But Smith is not usually dismissive of an entire segment of society. Perhaps the threat of a Conservative government has unhinged him somewhat? Not to worry, Mr. Smith. Regardless of how many seats the Conservatives win, no one’s going to shackle you to a chair and force you to write rapture genre novels.