The ending of Ending Bigly is the strongest offering from the entire anthology. Ending Bigly is at its best in the ‘Epilogue’ wherein Bill Marchant presents a positive vision of Canada being saved by the intervention of King Charles III. The ‘Epilogue’ reads like a fond children’s tale one would recount to the next generation of Canadians around a campfire. Coming in as a close second is ‘The New Guy’ by Horace, I will not ruin the novelty of the story but it is an enjoyable pseudo mystery offering an understated yet optimistic vision of Canada’s future. Unfortunately, this tone is not maintained in the preceding tales.
Assessing the book as a whole, it is difficult for me to recommend Ending Bigly. It is an anthology of short stories and reflections on Canada. It is written by a variety of anonymous authors, for a niche internet audience. The work is clearly a product of Twitter and many of the short contributions are possessed of that ‘noble defeatism’ that is endemic to various Twitter circles who find themselves enamoured with right-wing politics.
In style and quality, Ending Bigly is no Stephen Leacock novel. The prose varies widely in quality from author to author with the writing ranging from engaging to unreadable. On occasion, I felt certain authors were trying to compensate for their lacklustre writing with shock. Multiple works had disgusting sexual themes and depictions that I did not expect from an ostensibly right-wing compilation. Ending Bigly included unnecessarily vivid depictions of masturbation, sexual fantasies and urine.
What I found even more distasteful was the evocation of the Virgin Mary’s name by a character on the verge of masturbatory rapture. These more pornographic passages carried a degree of psychosexual fantasy that one expects to see from the left. Several times throughout the book, I took a moment and realised halfway through a passage “Ah, this was written by an American”, a disappointing realisation for a Canadian anthology. It is also worth noting that despite being published recently, the work already feels dated, with many of the stories alluding to eternal lockdowns and innumerable booster shots.
With that being said, Ending Bigly, Eh is not without merit and certainly provides value.
The Canadian right in both its online its more mundane political incarnation suffers from a degree of Americanisation. However, it is in their particular manifestations of Americanisation that we can take lessons regarding both the Canadian right at large and Canada generally.
There is a tendency among members of the Canadian online-right to indulge in political nihilism. This is certainly not a tendency of which I am by any means innocent, but the ubiquity of this sentiment is precisely the reason it must be decried in strong terms. Ending Bigly, Eh as a work illustrates this nihilistic tendency perfectly. The basic assumption of the online-right, best highlighted by Ending Bigly, Eh is that Canada as a political project has failed and will either descend into further horror or collapse.
Furthermore, there is an anti-Canadian tendency within this anthology that one does not expect to see from the right-wing. This goes beyond the usual criticism of the state or the general structure of society and becomes a question of attacking the Canadian people. This is stated several times throughout the work and is rather grating, it is the kind of rhetoric you expect to see from the urban managerial class that many of the contributors claim to oppose, yet the rhetoric while being different in form feels similar in function and end.
While certainly a work of fiction, Ending Bigly, Eh is giving voice to a common attitude amongst the Canadian far-right: “Canada is finished; either flee to a more ‘right wing’ country (Poland, Hungary, United States etc) or wait for the miracle (civilizational collapse) to occur.
The most strikingly anti-Canadian story authored by Stained Hanes, and rather appropriately titled ‘Sunshine Sketches of a Little Diaspora’ wherein the author insists via fictional proxy that “There is nothing in common between Westerners, Ontarians, and Maritimers, let alone B.C., Quebec, and Newfoundland”. As with some other contributors, the author speaks of the Canadian people with vitriol, stating that “Canadians are happy being mediocre and can even be apologetic when they feel they have overstepped”.
I would like to offer an alternative conception of Canada.
Hanes’ story in particular is the most developed form of a tendency that is present throughout Ending Bigly. In essence, there is an attempt to ahistorically fit Canada within the concept of nationhood that originates in the 19th century, ie: the nation-state. Wherein a people’s ‘unalienable right’ to self-determination demands that all nations have their own state that is equally sovereign to every other state. The nation-state conception is wrong because it does not account for Canadian history. Canada is fundamentally an imperial project, the Canadian state has always governed a territory populated by multiple nations. Canada was always meant to be a confederation of nations that secured the interest of all its component groups against encroachment by the United States.
In essence, there is an attempt to impose an abstract ideological notion that is completely ahistorical, when Canada and by extension Canadians do not fit the imagined standard, she is derided as a failure.
George Grant further cements the point by highlighting his conception of Canada in ‘Lament for a Nation’;
“To be Canadian was to build, along with the French, a more ordered and stable society than the liberal experiment in the United States” -George Grant, Lament for a Nation
With that being said, my fundamental question regarding the work is ‘what is its political message?’. Almost every short story feels almost communistic in its approach to art. ‘Ending Bigly, Eh’ is art produced for the purpose of agitating. Each piece feels as if it was written by the author, for the author, or for a very niche audience at best. Overall, the book is grating. It is graceless, and perhaps most damningly — it is not funny.
It is sad for me, an advocate of Canadian cultures and Canadian sovereignty, to see Canadians writing didactic screeds published by an American Publishing house. Rather than continuing the literary tradition of titans such as Stephen Leacock, Donald Creighton and Northrop Frye, Ending Bigly, Eh demonstrates that the online-right seems content to clothe itself in shock-value and nihilism.
Ending Bigly, Eh: The Many Fates of Justin Trudeau is an anthology by a variety of authors who provide fictional and analytical accounts of a post-Trudeau Canada. It can be found on amazon