Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


My father is a political scientist, specializing in U.S. politics, at a major U.S. university. As you might imagine, between the postmortem for the Canadian election and the rapidly approaching U.S. one, we had a lot to talk about this weekend.

Apart from a certain riding-level race I've already talked about way too much in this blog, the main focus of our discussion about the Canadian election was how little things had changed. This is a sharp contrast with the U.S election, where things are likely to change a great deal in just a little over a week, both in the White House and in Congress.

He was gloating over this just a bit. For a while, I played along. Then I struck.

IP: Wow. So the Democrats are going to have a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and a Democrat in the White House.

IP's Dad: That's what it looks like.

IP: That's amazing. I mean, that will actually make your government...almost as far left as our Conservative minority!


janfromthebruce said...

IP, brutal.

West End Bob said...

Your Dad's gonna take away your TV privileges and cut your allowance, IP . . . .

Anonymous said...

Oh, you did NOT just go there! *snaps a 'z'*

Tyrone said...

I don't know.

Canada's social programs have already been slashed so much they're little better than in the US, with the sole exception of health care - and even that is now likely to be cut further in Canada, while expanded in the US. We may also soon see the US start to take real steps on global warming, while Canada remains in the pocket of its oil industry.

But, on a more personal level, the most disappointing result of the Canadian election was not the outcome, but the turnout - the lowest in Canadian history, and likely to be lower than the US turnout this year.

I think the reason is less to do with the candidates, and more to do with the stricter ID requirements, introduced because of the hysteria that veiled Muslim women would be committing fraud. It is incredible that Canada would do such damage to its own electoral process based on racial fears.

Just as the US seems finally ready to move beyond both its historical racism and its overreaction to 9/11, Canada is moving back into both more than ever. There just seems to be one nonwhite-bashing session after another in Canada - Muslim veils, Herouxville, before that the Lebanon evacuation, before that Muslim schools, before that Muslim tribunals, before that Sikh turbans and kirpans, etc, a person of color I feel less and less welcome in Canada - and I'm not even Muslim.

The election results show a starker ethnic divide than I've ever seen. Outside of Atlantic Canada, the basic pattern seems to be white people voting Conservative or Bloc, nonwhites voting Liberal, with NDP and Green drawing from all ethnicities.

In America my children could be president one day. In Canada, it seems, they'll always be just immigrants.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

"... as a person of color I feel less and less welcome in Canada - and I'm not even Muslim. ...

In America my children could be president one day. In Canada, it seems, they'll always be just immigrants.

Well... you know, the Conservatives had a non-white caucus chair. A Muslim, to boot.

What happened? The left-of-centre vote in his riding finally united, and he was defeated. (Congrats again, IP! :p)

Heck, the Bloc had a Haitian-born member of parliament. What happened to her? Trudeau took her down. (I'd have voted for him in that riding, mind you.)

About all the dark people voting Liberal, though -- I'm a little more skeptical about that point...


Re the actual post here... yes.

But we'll see where the country is in 2010 or 2012 -- will Obama & his Congress have passed a whole lot of stuff, or will Congress have felt the wrath of the American people in the midterm elections?

Your dad might have a riposte prepared if the former happens.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

Re "I'm a little more skeptical about that point..."

There are links in them thar words about voter demographics.

They just don't show up as a different colour. (Or maybe they do, before one visits them.)

leonsp said...

I would say that there is a difference between incremental improvement towards something better and incremental dismantlement of something that is already good. It's not just position on the left-right axis that matters -- velocity does too.

Stephen K said...

As pleased as I will be if McCain loses (note I did not say 'if Obama wins')I am still very glad I do not live in the US.

Anonymous said...

Tyrone, I'm not sure I agree. Hopefully that's not just my privilege showing.

Is there a woeful lack of people of colour (and women!) in Canadian governments? Absolutely.

Is Canada going backwards in representation? I don't think so.

We've had non-white premiers, non-white governor-generals and lieutenant governors, and many non-white MPs. Not 30% by any stretch, but they are there. There are even more who have been candidates but didn't win their riding. The NDP has a stated goal of trying to get at least 30% of candidates to be people of colour, women, people with disabilities, or youth candidates, offering more funding for ridings that select candidates that meet one or more of those criteria.

The media does stories on the makeup of the House and this issue is getting more and more attention. I think we are seeing incremental improvements - and on a percentage basis of who holds the seat in the HoC and provincial legislatures, I believe we are still ahead of the US in this regard.

Personally, I am infuriated by the new voter ID requirements and agree that it affected voter turnout (although I think voter apathy counted for more). It affected students, seniors, the poor, people without fixed addresses, people who live in rural areas, and people of faith. That definitely needs to be fixed. (Have you joined the facebook group yet?)

And there's probably room for a fair vote pitch here too, although anyone frequently reading IP's blog will surely be familiar with why proportional representation would help with these issues.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this. Nice to have someone around the left with a little perspective.