Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Monday, January 30, 2006

McKenna's choice

Frank McKenna isn't going to be running for the Liberal leadership.

*crickets chirping*

Okay, anybody have any idea what this means? The party is even more destitute than anyone realized? McKenna saw the Martin cronies coming and ran for the hills? He's gotten so accustomed to his current post that he can't bear to leave it after all?

And here I was expecting the race to be a yawner.

[Edited to add: Warren Kinsella's speculation, and that of his readership.]

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Explaining the Liberals

One role of any immigrant is as a sort of armchair anthropologist-cum-ambassador, explaining both the culture of origin and the culture of choice to anyone who asks about them. As such, I've often found myself in the position of giving an international perspective on the peculiar situation of the Liberal Party of Canada, to both Americans and Canadians.

The recurring problem in these discussions is a perceptual divide. The Americans, for their part, will tend to listen to what I have to say and simply not believe me. There's no way the Liberals actually view themselves as the "natural governing party," they'll say, and there's no way Canadians really tend to think the Liberals have the divine right to sit in the big chair simply by virtue of being Liberals. There's no way that corruption, entitlement, incompetence, and thuggish behaviour are dismissed with an eyeroll and reelection-by-rote. I must be exaggerating because I tend to favour another party, right? The Canadians, on the other hand, will listen to what I have to say, shrug, and say: "So? Yeah, you're right, things have been bad with the Liberals for a few years now, but that's why it's good that they're going to get their time-out. They'll regroup, and they'll come back all better. It's happened before, it'll happen this time, too. That's the way of things, and we'll all breathe a little easier once things are back to normal."

It's almost enough to make an idealistic pragmatist wish she could get both groups in a room together and take herself out of the equation entirely, since each one is making her point to the other so impressively well. Since that hasn't been logistically possible so far, though, I'll continue to try to make it on my own, to both sides.

For the Americans, then, an election anecdote:

From day one of this last election, the Liberals campaigned to try to lead soft NDP voters astray by scaring them into an "anyone but the Conservatives" vote for the Liberals. They got a prominent labour leader to endorse them, and even had Prime Minister Paul Martin wearing a union jacket. I found this unfortunate, but understandable--the political "war" was on, after all, it was every party for itself, and the Liberals had to run their reelection campaign in a way that they thought would win them votes. But then the Liberal fates shifted in the second half of the campaign with the advent of yet another scandal, and a Conservative government started looking likely. In response, the NDP shifted their message, and started attempting to take votes away from the Liberals.

The reaction was immediate and harsh, both from the Liberals and from many lefties: the NDP was "betraying their progressive values" by turning on the Liberals. And yet what had they done? The exact same thing that the Liberals had been trying to do to the NDP all along--bleed votes, during an election, away from a party that was vulnerable to being bled. When the Liberals turn on the NDP, it's just the way of things, but when the NDP turns on the Liberals, they're perpetrating a betrayal. Worse yet, as far as I've been able to discern, I'm the first Canadian to point this double standard out in so many words. It's just that self-evident that the Liberals' God-given role is to occupy the entire centre-left, and the NDP's role is to kowtow, forever and ever amen.

And for the Canadians, a good old-fashioned rant:

If you grew up in this country, the example I described above for the Americans probably didn't shock you very much. Maybe you're even mentally responding with a "Yeah, so?" reaction like the one I described in my second paragraph. Maybe you, too, are looking forward to the day when the Liberals have had their "time-out" and are back to being the "natural governing party." I'll be frank: what shocks and dismays me most about this attitude isn't the way it hurts the NDP, because eh, all's fair in love, war, and politics. It's the way hardly anyone in Canada seems to recognize that this is a sign of a sick, sick political culture. A one-party system is not beneficial to any country, no matter how many good policies that party manages to come up with. The arrogance, the corruption, and the culture of entitlement didn't come out of nowhere--they're a direct result of the position Canadians have given the Liberals in this culture. And I vehemently agree that they needed some time on the opposition benches, but disagree that they should automatically be entitled to be let back in with a majority as soon as they've chosen a new leader and shown that they're not all corrupt thugs. IT SHOULD BE HARDER THAN THAT.

I can get just as frustrated, mind you, with the people on the left who think the NDP should be trying to obliterate the Liberals and "replace them as the party of the centre-left." Putting aside the question of whether that would actually be good for the NDP, there's no way that would actually be good for Canada. A rather large proportion of Canadians tend to like what the Liberals stand for, and would like to see them succeed. And whether or not you agree with those people, in a democracy, that is their right. What it comes down to is that a multiparty system should actually get to function as a multiparty system. It should be a given that other parties will exist, and that the business of governing will be about working with them, not trying to snuff them out of existence. After all, the whole point of having more than one party at all is to make an honest stab at representing the diversity of Canadian political opinion. Otherwise, we might as well be living in East Germany or Burma.

I'm not interested in seeing any party enjoy a singular triumph, including the one I'm a member of, unless that's what Canadians actually vote for. All I really want is a colourful political scene in which there's a healthy Liberal party, and a healthy NDP, and a healthy Conservative party or parties in whatever conglomeration they end up in, and yes, a healthy Green party too--all sitting in Parliament in proportion to however many Canadians voted for each. A political scene where the parties have to work together to make new legislation, rather than having to twist any party into being everything to everyone. Where no single party gets to play God by winning 40% of the vote, and where neither the West nor the East has to fight tooth and claw to get "in." A political scene that really represents what Canadians voted for, in all its diversity. Is that too much to ask?

[Note: I started working on this post before Ian Welsh at Tilting at Windmills posted his latest opus, but you know what they say about "great minds" (or possibly deranged ones?). Go read.]

Friday, January 27, 2006

Conservatives for proportional representation

From the policy document (.pdf) adopted by the Conservative policy convention in March 2005:

10. Electoral Reform

i) A Conservative Government will consider changes to electoral systems, including proportional representation, the single transferable ballot, fixed election dates, and the use of referendums.

ii) In reviewing options for electoral reform, a Conservative Government will not endorse any new electoral system that will weaken the link between Members of Parliament and their constituents, that will create unmanageably large ridings, or that will strengthen the control of the party machinery over individual Members of Parliament. A national referendum will be held prior to implementing any electoral reform proposal."
Glad to hear it, Steve. I'm still not so sure about those fixed election dates and the use of referendums, but I can live with them if we get a fair voting system, too.

How about appointing Scott Reid (i.e. the Tory MP, not the Liberal spindoctor of the same name) as Minister for Democratic Reform? It would be a nice start.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Logical fallacies 'r' us

For those NDPers still smarting from being two seats short of the balance of power yet again, the comments in this thread might make for some delicious fun. My favourite one: markc, in response to a wayward Liberal trying to convince people that "a vote for the NDP is a vote for the Conservatives": A vote for the Liberals is a vote for the Bloc. How hilariously, horribly true, at least in this election.

Yeah, yeah, I know...overly simplistic, yadda yadda. But in my riding of Edmonton-Strathcona, it turned out that a vote for the Liberals was a vote for the Conservatives, so I'm feeling particularly unsympathetic to that little logical fallacy at the moment.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Memo to Allan Gregg

If progressive voters switch their votes from the Liberals to the NDP in order to try and stop a Conservative sweep, it's not called "strategic voting in reverse." It's called "strategic voting."

Happy to help.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Real choices

There were many reasons why I wanted to leave the United States. The one that really stood out for me, though--the one that finally made me get off my duff and take the plunge--was the fact that there's simply no political home in my country of birth for a lefty idealistic pragmatist. Those Americans like me who don't leave have three options: they can decide to hold their noses and vote Democrat year after year, they can join the leftist fringe and keep company with modern-day Abbie Hoffmans, or they can become apolitical cynics who cry in their beer over how bad things are, but never do anything about it. I tried all three, and none of them suited me even remotely.

This, above all other reasons, is why I get so very angry when the Liberals try to whittle the colourful spectrum of Canadian choices down to two. Paul Martin keeps claiming that Stephen Harper wants to turn Canada into a clone of the United States, but from where I sit, he's been trying to do that himself for this entire election. Just imagine what Canada would look like if Martin's vision of a binary choice reflected actual reality: if there'd never been an NDP, never been a Bloc Québécois, never been a Green Party. It would not only be far more boring, it would also be far more American. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been there and done that, and I really, really don't want to go back.

On Monday, in my very first election as a Canadian, I will be voting NDP--and despite all my talk about the unfortunate understandability of strategic voting, that decision was an easy one. It certainly doesn't hurt that the Edmonton-Strathcona candidate, Linda Duncan, is the only bright spot in a sea of mediocrity, nor does it hurt that with the collapse of the Liberal vote in the riding, she actually has an outside shot at winning. But my main reason for voting NDP is still the same as the reason I wanted to come to Canada in the first place. See, for the first time in my nearly two decades as a voter, I will have the option of voting not for the lesser of two evils, not for a candidate and a party who are still lightyears away from me on the political spectrum, but for someone who actually comes very close to standing for what I believe in. That's what becoming a Canadian meant to me: the extraordinary political freedom to make a real choice instead of a forced choice.

After waiting this long for it, there's no way in hell I'm going to let Paul Martin--or anyone else--take it away from me.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Some clarifications and a funny

My, my, I sure did take some flak for my "100% more strategy" post, didn't I? Getting linked by the CBC blog report didn't help matters, either. Ah well, I suppose there's nothing wrong with a little infamy.

Just to set the record straight: Yes, I am a legitimate, card-carrying member of the NDP, and no, I am not the spawn of Satan. I'm actually not even a fan of strategic voting. In fact, I think it's a sign--one of many--of an entirely ridiculous electoral system that must change, and soon. But like Greg Morrow of, I also think that it's inevitable, and completely understandable given the way our electoral system distorts our vote. Simply sticking your head in the sand to that fact and admonishing people whenever they try to vote strategically is never going to advance your cause, it's just going to make people think you're a hopeless ideologue.

More importantly, though, I sincerely believe that we can actually prevent most so-called "strategic" voting--i.e., the blind-panic, no-forethought kind--if we teach people how to use real strategy in the way that Greg Morrow does. We can tell most voters--and show them proof--that they don't have to even consider voting strategically, and leave it to those people in the few ridings where it does make a difference to make up their own minds about the situation. The long-term solution, of course, is to fix the system of voting, but in the short-term, sites like Morrow's can help prevent the worst failures of bad voting strategy.

Just to show that I'm not a Liberal mole, though, I'll link to two articles sent to me by one Greg Dwulit. The first one, called "Voting NDP: wasting your vote?" was written during the last election, and the second, "Strategic voting: it's just plain nonsense" was written during this one. They present an alternate perspective to the one I outline here, and are well worth a read.

On another note, this has got to be the most hilarious thing that's happened in this entire election. And you must download the linked .mp3 at the bottom, too. I think his server is overtaxed, so it might take a bit, but it's worth the wait.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Newsflash: Jack Layton's Liberal loyalties suspect!

The very definition of "too rich": Paul Martin bashes Jack Layton for not being a good little Liberal.

Listen, I'm all for compromise in politics, and agreements between parties. But they have to be a) formally negotiated, not assumed, and b) beneficial to everyone involved, not designed to snuff one party out of existence. When was the last time you heard a Liberal make a plea to unite behind an NDP candidate? What, "never," you say? Funny thing, that. If the Liberals are really serious about creating a "coalition of progressive voters" instead of just saving their own hides at all costs, then Paul Martin can start standing up in public and saying to hardcore Liberal audiences that his own ship is sinking, so people should get behind the next best thing: the NDP.

In the soon-to-be-immortal words of Rick Mercer: "If you treat Canadians like idiots, you will lose. That's not a prophecy, that's a fact."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Strategic voting: now with 100% more strategy

This morning's Globe and Mail brings us this rather unpleasant little headline: Tories enter home stretch just shy of majority: poll. If that doesn't make you nervous, then it should, and regardless of your party affiliations. Why? Because Canada needs a minority government right now. A minority government would give the Conservatives the voice they've earned in this election, but without silencing all the other voices as well. In a time of change, that sort of incremental movement is crucial--even Stephen Harper recognizes that. Not to mention the fact that another minority government may well be the one chance Canadians get for any progress toward much-needed changes like electoral reform.

So what's the solution? Indiscriminate panic among left-wing voters, causing the same irrational, bad-strategy "strategic voting" for the Liberals that we saw in 2004? Of course not. But Greg Morrow--a Canadian expat-in-the-U.S. and an urban planning scholar who runs the voting information site Democratic Space from his Los Angeles home--offers an alternate possibility. He's been crunching polling numbers for the benefit of political geeks everywhere since the very beginning of this election, and he's come to a rather interesting conclusion: in a very small number of ridings, NDP supporters have a decision to make. Morrow has isolated 35 ridings where strategic voting for the Liberals by NDP supporters could easily make the difference between a Conservative majority government and a Conservative minority government. This means that in almost all ridings, NDP supporters can safely vote their consciences--it's only the ones in those 35 ridings that could have an effect by voting strategically Liberal.

Some of my fellow NDP supporters will undoubtedly brand Morrow a heretic for this kind of statement (not to mention branding me a traitor for this post). But consider this: it's not just in Canada's best interest to follow Morrow's advice, it's also in the NDP's best interest. If all the NDP supporters in those 35 ridings where it could make a difference vote NDP, the Conservatives won't need the NDP's help to govern, and the party will be shut out entirely. If, on the other hand, the NDP holds its collective nose in those 35 ridings and votes Liberal, the NDP sacrifices a mere .2% of their vote total, and in return they gain a real seat at the bargaining table.

We can't prevent a Conservative government at this point, so even if you think doing that would be desirable, you shouldn't be trying. What the people in those 35 ridings can do, though, is make the difference between a Conservative government with near-dictatorial levels of power and one that needs the support of more moderate parties to turn its agenda into law. I'd prefer the latter, myself. Wouldn't you?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Essay question: Pick your government

When we cast our votes on election day, we don't get a chance to specify what kind of government we want, though many Canadians wish they could.

This is your chance, then, to do that. In the comments, rank the four possible outcomes (Liberal majority, Liberal minority, Conservative majority, Conservative minority) in order of your preference. You can specify your reasoning, too, if you want. Bonus points for rank-ordering your chosen opposition parties as well.

Anonymous comments are allowed.

Edited to add: I tried to do this exercise myself and leave a comment, but the whole ordeal just left me too depressed. The only possible outcome that I can work up any enthusiasm for at all is a slim Conservative minority with the NDP holding the balance of power, and even that is hardly the outcome I'd favour under any other circumstances. Not to mention the fact that with polls like the ones we've been seeing lately, that possibility is starting to look extremely unlikely. The Liberals really, really shouldn't win this election, and yet I'd find even a Liberal majority preferable to a Conservative majority, which we seem to be standing on the cusp of. Seeing things vascillate between the least worst option and the worst worst option is starting to make me want to hide under my bed and cry. Anybody else feeling this way?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It's NOT the policy, stupid

Well, it's finally happened--over at Sinister Thoughts, the lefties' "vote strategically" set has turned on the ones that have been gleefully battling the Liberals of late. Apparently, if you make arguments against voting Liberal in this election, you're "indistinguishable from a typical right whinger." "Nothing is more important than a progressive agenda," they say. I mean, my god, they're acting as if the Liberals and the NDP were two separate political parties or something.

I had the same conversation--albeit with a bit less namecalling--with my father over the holidays. As a prominent political scientist with a daughter living on the northerly side of the 49th parallel, he's quite up on Canada's political situation and the circumstances that led to this election. But after hearing me go off on the Liberals, he turned to me and said that I didn't know how good I had it, compared to what they have to deal with down there. Well, it's true that I vastly prefer the Liberals to George W. Bush's Republicans, and that's why I live here and not there. But I do have solid reasons to think the Liberals need to be tossed out on their ear--those reasons just aren't about policy. Here's what they are about.

1. It's about the man behind the curtain. Paul Martin is bad enough, but it's the people behind the scenes who really scare me. Is there anyone out there who doesn't think Mike Klander was just the tip of the iceberg? These people aren't brilliant political minds with a strong vision for Canada and the will to implement it, they're thugs who think nothing of eating their own. Unswerving loyalty, not good ideas, are paramount. Enough, already.

2. It's about the power-hungriness. If you weren't already convinced by Paul Martin's years in power that he's more interested in sitting in the big chair than he is in improving the lives of Canadians, then Monday night's debate should have cinched it. Suddenly and explosively, Paul Martin is running on scrapping the notwithstanding clause. Not because he doesn't believe in it--he himself said as recently as last year that he would use it to protect the rights of churches not to perform same-sex marriages--but because he wanted to put Harper on the spot. Think about that for a moment: he proposed changing the constitution in an attempt to throw his opponent off his game in a debate. He didn't even discuss it with his own caucus before announcing it on national television--he just pulled it out of thin air. If that isn't the very picture of power-hungry desperation, I don't know what is.

3. It's about the culture of entitlement. Paul Martin is fond of saying that Judge Gomery "exonerated" him of any wrongdoing in the sponsorship scandal. But if you take that statement at face value, then you also have to accept Gomery's findings about the culture of entitlement that allowed that scandal to happen. This is more than a "few bad apples," it's a whole way of thinking about money and power. If nothing else, it's seriously harmed this country's faith in its politicians. Do I think there are honourable public servants in the Liberal party who aren't wading hip-deep in this culture? Of course I do. I just don't think Paul Martin and his gang of thugs are among them.

4. It's about the broken promises. If I really believed the Liberals would implement their agenda as they've laid it out, I'd quite honestly be okay with yet another Liberal government. I'm just not that naive. They've had twelve years to implement their promised national child care program, with no results and very little action. They've promised to protect public health care, but weren't willing to put the brakes on privatization. They've promised student tuition relief that only materialized through NDP meddling in their budget. They're even claiming to be the bearers of electoral reform, despite the fact that they refused to take action on the issue during the last Parliament when the NDP came knocking on their door with a proposal. Liberal policies may well be "good enough" in a pragmatic approach to politics, but they're no good to anyone when no one bothers to enact them once the Liberals assume power.

5. It's about the stranglehold. Any country that claims to have a "natural governing party" already has a rather substantial problem. But if we're going to live in a country doomed to one-party-rule for most of its future existence--and until we change the voting system, we may well be--then I damn well want that party to be something I can stomach. Right now it's not, but it could be, and for that, they need a little time out once in a while. After twelve long years, the time for that is now.

On the face of it, I'm the Liberals' ideal lefty. I'm an immigrant, I'm a pragmatist with a strong belief that compromise and coalition-building are a part of any healthy political culture, my cushy academic job makes me comfortably upper-middle-class, and I see strategic voting as a tragic consequence of our electoral system rather than as the root of all evil. And I'm not saying never--there are certainly circumstances under which they could woo me. But they can't do it with policy alone--especially when I can't trust them to implement their own empty promises. And this year, with every other card stacked against them, they haven't a chance in hell.

[Edited to add: The Globe and Mail's editorial board seems to have reached a similar conclusion.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I'm busier than a beaver on crack right now, so no real posts for the next couple of days. To tide you over, though, here are some links:

James Bow said absolutely everything I was planning to say about last night's leaders' debate. (This would scare me, but I figure a girl can do worse than thinking more like James Bow than she'd realized.) In short: much improved format, terrific moderator, and while every one of the four did better than last time, Harper and Layton were most on their game.

Yesterday's Ottawa Citizen had the best newspaper story on proportional representation I have ever seen. It's thorough without being too detailed, and it manages to be balanced without getting a single fact wrong.

I'm going to be on the CBC's RadioActive this afternoon, which runs from 4PM to 6PM Mountain Time (6-8 Eastern), as part of a new-Canadian-and-first-time-voters' panel commenting on the election. It's radio, so it doesn't come along with a glimpse at my mug, but anyone who cares to can listen live here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Gaffe-o-rama in Edmonton-Strathcona

I attended an all-candidates' forum for my riding of Edmonton-Strathcona tonight, and was truly shocked to learn from the Liberal candidate that proportional representation is apparently already in place in Ontario and British Columbia. It was a Liberal government that implemented it in those places, too, we were told. Funny, I had thought it was a Liberal government that had refused to implement the will of 58% of the province after the B.C. referendum, but I suppose I must be misinformed. I have to wonder what will happen to all my Fair Vote Canada colleagues in those provinces now, since they turn out to have been fighting to implement something that already exists. Thanks to Mr. Andy Hladyshevsky for setting us all straight on that important point.

At least the Liberal had a leg up on the Conservative, though--incumbent Rahim Jaffer--who didn't even bother showing up. You'd think Rahim Jaffer would know by now that if he doesn't show up to something, the jokes will fly, but apparently he hasn't gotten that message yet.

And a good time was had by all.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Harper's carrot for the NDP

This afternoon's #2 Toronto Star headline couldn't smack more of blatant editorializing: Harper muses on possibility of majority win. What Harper actually said was that the votes had to be counted before he could talk of a majority, a minority, or a loss. (Which, frankly, sounds a lot more like the Stephen Harper we know and wrinkle our noses at. Stephen Harper doesn't muse. He deliberates, he discusses, and he ponders, but the day he starts musing will be a very odd day indeed.)

That said, there's a gold nugget at the bottom of that article for electoral reformers who are willing to sift through the grime for it. Harper reiterates his willingness to work with the NDP, but specifies further which of their issues he's up for collaboration on and which ones are off-limits:

One of the NDP's interests is electoral reform, he said. "This is something our convention in March expressed some interest in, although we haven't adopted any particular specific model."

While Harper may be willing to discuss democratic reforms like proportional representation, he insisted he would not allow the NDP to dictate terms of a federal budget — as Layton's party did with the Liberal budget last April.
In other words, if the NDP is willing to grin and bear it while a Conservative minority government pushes through the bulk of its fiscal agenda, proportional representation could become a rather substantial carrot. Contrast this with what happened under the last Liberal government, where they were open to NDP helping them put a big Band-aid on the problems of affordable housing, public transit, and post-secondary education, but proportional representation was out of the question because the NDP was "two votes short."

Harper's line in the sand is hardly an ideal situation for those of us on the left, but please, let's all be adults about this and say that we can live with it, okay? We're not going to get utopia in this election no matter what the outcome ends up being--none of us are. But this one little issue is enormous. We have the potential here to make positive changes not only to the level of democratic fairness in our voting system, but also to things like regional tensions and national unity, women's representation in Parliament, voter turnout, and our dysfunctional political culture. There's the possibility here of putting real, substantive reforms into place that will have positive effects on the country for decades and even centuries to come. And given how battered the Liberal party had to be before this was even on the horizon, this may be our last chance.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Electoral reform on CBC's "The House"

Okay, any of you that have even the vaguest of interest in democratic and electoral reform--and especially in proportional representation--need to listen to the latest installment of CBC's "The House." It's fifty minutes and twenty-nine long seconds of talk, but nearly every minute is worthwhile. The very best part, though, is the middle section with the two star guests: Preston Manning and Ed Broadbent. It's as if it had been designed to warm my little idealistic pragmatist heart--two brilliant, eloquent stalwarts from completely opposite sides of the political spectrum joining forces to make a well-worded and surprisingly complete appeal for proportional representation. They address the good points of PR and the bad, the various ways different systems work in other parts of the world, the differences between coalition and minority governments, and the way our current system exacerbates both the national unity problem and the defects of the Canadian political culture.

It's incredibly well done. Really, go listen--it's the first episode of 2006.

A new twist on strategic voting

In both his latest blog post and today's National Post column (subscriber only), Andrew Coyne suggests that disillusioned Liberals may well want to think about voting strategically for the NDP this time if they want to make sure a Conservative minority government will be held in check after January 23rd:

On the Liberals' other flank, the NDP might at the same time plead, especially with Ontario voters: give us enough seats so that we hold the balance of power. You're wondering whether to vote Liberal to "stop Harper"? You can't stop Harper: the Liberals can't win. But if the Liberals can't keep him from power, the NDP can still keep him in check. Whether the Grits win 90 seats or 100 seats, it makes no difference. But whether the NDP win 20 or 30 seats makes all the difference in the world.
It may sound a little crazy by conventional thinking, but when the Conservatives start coming within striking distance of the Liberals in Quebec, these aren't conventional times. Coyne's a pretty sensible guy, and he's making a difficult argument to counter. And if we add this sort of thinking to the growing number of one-time or current Conservative supporters who have been looking in the NDP's direction for an "anyone but the Liberals" vote, we may have the early beginnings of a movement.

Gloomy skies ahead

In a November 23rd column in Macleans, Paul Wells made a pretty compelling case that it would be better for Canada if the Liberals lost this election. Bloggers of all political stripes agreed, including myself. Around the same time, several other political bloggers--most notably Warren Kinsella--argued that it would not only be better for the country if the Liberals lost, but also better for the Liberal party. And from what the latest polls are telling us, it looks like this motley crew of professional and amateur pundits may yet get their wish for a slim Conservative minority on January 23rd.

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm feeling decidedly unenthusiastic. Don't get me wrong, I can't bring myself to cry for the democratic world's
most successful political party ever, and I still think any bitchslaps they get from Canadian voters have been well-earned. But even if Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn't nearly as scary as the Liberals want us to believe, a Tory minority still means Stockwell Day holding a ministry in his grubby little hands, and the very thought nauseates me. Not to mention the fact that Harper has vowed not to form a coalition government with any other party, which will mean yet another castrated minority.

Oh, sure, a minority would provide some reassurances to those of us on the left who'd prefer that any Tory leader's hands be decisively tied. But the other side of the coin is that it would almost certainly mean more of the same shenanigans we saw in the last Parliament: the most dignified of MPs acting like children, parliamentary power games, backroom deals, and floor-crossing threats, all accompanied by more hot air than the Hindenburg. And for what? Kinsella's now predicting that the Martin dynasty will continue even if the Liberals get relegated to the opposition benches. So we may not even come out of this with a chastened Liberal party. It's enough to make a girl want to wash her hands of the whole lot of them.

Is it too soon to start making our wish lists for the 40th general election? Because while I'd love to see more NDP MPs, a Harper-and-Broadbent-led democratic renewal process, and a Liberal party with a shiny new leader, all I really want is a new voting system that would force these clowns to actually start talking and listening to each other.

Oh, and a pony.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The gospel of weird

Greg of Sinister Thoughts has tagged me to list five weird things about myself. I decided a long time ago to make this blog purely political and not in the least bit personal, but how can I refuse someone who mentioned both the NDP and Babylon 5 in his own responses?

1. I have lived in four, five, six, seven, or eight countries, depending on how you count them.

2. I used to think politics was boring. I began to feel differently after being very nearly taken political prisoner in an Eastern Bloc country, because the surrounding experience got me thinking about how much politics could affect real people in real-life situations.

3. A couple of years ago, I went through a phase that lasted about two months where I wanted to (and usually did) eat gorgonzola cheese as a part of every meal. This was one of my favourite recipes from that time.

4. The ceiling of my bedroom is currently covered with approximately 150 linear feet of Philodendron scandens.

5. My iPod's current playlist has songs in seven languages and three non-standard dialects on it. I only speak three of the languages, though, and none of the dialects.

I tag: Declan from Crawl Across the Ocean, Ian Welsh from Tilting at Windmills, Matthew from Pample the Moose, Rivka from Respectful of Otters, und den doppelten Spindoktor.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Another take on the Decima poll

The new Decima poll seems to suggest that if the Conservatives start doing better in the polls, many NDP voters will start to turn to the Liberals. Conservative bloggers are up in arms about this, as are the New Democrat bloggers, while the Liberal bloggers seem cautiously optimistic. But my fellow oxymoron over at Accidental Deliberations has a truly excellent analysis suggesting that the numbers might not spell all doom and gloom for non-Liberals.

[Update: Still more number-crunching from the Decima poll seems to indicate that an NDP minority government would be "desirable" to more Canadians than either a Liberal or a Conservative minority government would be.]

More on packing your bags vs. erecting a firewall

American blogger Pam Spaulding of Pandagon reveals that far-right Canadian social conservatives may actually be considering moving to the U.S. over differences with the path Canada is on. I'm sure they don't agree with much of anything that's gone on here in recent years, but they seem to be particularly up in arms over same-sex marriage:

The Reverend Tristan Emmanuel says that for evangelical Christians, "there is a form of persecution taking place in Canada." Emmanuel says the legalization of same-sex marriage, and hate crimes laws that criminalize discrimination against homosexuals, have fueled an intolerance against Bible-believing Christians.

The executive director of the Ontario-based Equipping Christians for the Public-Square Centre warns that that's what American evangelicals could face in the years ahead. Emmanuel is urging his fellow believers to help vote Canada's Liberal government out of office in next months' national election. But he says many Canadian Christians tell him they are ready to give up and move to the United States.
I found that I couldn't help but read that post in the context of the discussion we've been having about western separatists in the Conservative party. I've talked before about just how rare the emigration sentiment is among Canadian conservatives, but even aside from Emmanuel, I've noticed that this might be changing. I find that oddly heartening. Pam is clearly making fun of Emmanuel and the people he represents, but I actually have a great deal of respect for people who would consider a southward migration over political differences with the direction their country wants to take. As an immigrant who once faced a similar situation, that still makes a great deal more sense to me than trying to carve off a piece of Canada--against the wishes of many who live there--and make a separate country out of it. Not to mention that it's more of an individualist's response, which would seem to fit in rather well with many Canadian conservatives' other beliefs.