Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Two pseudoposts

A good two months after the election, I'm finally starting to feel like writing about politics again (as some of you might have figured out from the rather lengthy comments I've been leaving at your blogs). Unfortunately, this desire to return to blogging has happened to coincide with a week to end all weeks at work. I just can't win. In lieu of a lengthy, thoughtful missive, then, here are pseudoposts (i.e., a cursory opinion squib with a bunch of links) on two topics.

The Toronto Star on electoral reform

Those of you who aren't either Ontario denizens or electoral reform geeks might not have heard about that province's recently formed citizens' assembly on electoral reform. 103 randomly selected citizens from across Ontario have been charged with building a better mousetrap, after which, as in B.C., there will be a province-wide referendum. Given its track record, I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that this has got the collective knickers of the Toronto Star's editorial board in a twist. Sinister Greg and the unnamed writer behind the terrific new blog Just Society provide their rebuttals, and Declan of Crawl Across the Ocean takes it one step further and accuses the Star of deliberately spreading misinformation. Genuinely puzzled, he asks why they might do that--what do they have to gain?

Well, Declan, there are two things that make proportional representation scary to the Toronto Star people of this world: the fact that it would make transparent the fact that this country doesn't actually have a "natural governing party" (and although PR would be beneficial to western Liberals, many clearly still see this as too high a price to pay), and the fact that under a system of proportional representation, our politicians would have to learn how to do their jobs entirely differently from the way they do them now. In other words, as I said in my proportional representation FAQ, the people who have the power to change the system were elected by it, so it's in their best interests to make sure that the misinformation persists. On the other hand, it's also quite possible that the esteemed writers of this editorial were both ill-informed enough and lazy enough that this sort of thing could happen with no malicious intent. After all, it wouldn't be the first time.

Ignatieff's (anti?)-torture article

Iggy wants to run for the Liberal leadership, so he's got to make an attempt at clear away two rather large skeletons in his closet: his previous stance on the Iraq war and his comments about the "use of torture." To address the first issue, he's offering up a vision speech on Thursday, which we will await with bated breath. To address the second, he wrote a long-ass article in a British magazine in which he argues that torture is a bad, bad idea, except when it's not. Maybe. Sometimes. He's since been crucified throughout the blogosphere, with the likes of Calgary Grit and Warren Kinsella (scroll down to March 27th) offering up their thoughts on what this means for his candidacy.

As a fellow academic, I sympathize with Iggy. No, really, I do. I know exactly what it's like to want to make people understand a complex issue by rubbing their noses in all the details they haven't considered--this is, in fact, one of the reasons why I have a blog. In a blog, you can make really terrific, really thorough arguments by taking a position and then thoroughly examining all of the possible counter-opinions that might come up. But I do know better than to try to become the Prime Minister of Canada by writing 3000-word opinion pieces in which I lay out a complicated issue in all its glorious, messy complexity. At the very least, it doesn't make for very good sound bytes.

I'll be back for real "real soon now," I promise.

1 comment:

Rob Cottingham said...

See, your pseudoposts are better than my real posts. Which ticks me off.