Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Monday, December 01, 2008

And you guys make fun of the U.S. education system?

Can you retroactively flunk high school social studies in Canada?

Because I'm hereby nominating everybody who refers to a potential coalition government as "overturning the results of the last election" for that dubious honour.


rww said...

They just don't get it. They still claim that a government supported by a minority of the Members of the House of Commons is more democratic than one supported by a majority of the Members of the House of Commons

Greg said...

They get it just fine. They refuse to acknowledge reality because to do so would break the spell of the story they are trying to sell to people. Their story involves a great hero (Harper) standing up to the evil hordes (anyone who disagrees with Harper) who want to turn our country into (fill in your own dystopian fantasy). Boring details about how the system works, just bogs the story down. It kills the fear buzz and so must be ignored at all costs. It is politics in the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove tradition, that the Canadian Tories prostrate themselves before. Hopefully, this will all come to an end soon. At least there is reason to hope tonight.

IP, you live in Edmonton. Are there cars burning in the streets? I was watching CTV and every second speaker was warning of the dire consequences of this coalition, in the West (which as we all know means Alberta).

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Are there cars burning in the streets?

*peers outside*

Not yet. There's no snow yet, though, either, and we all know that spells apocalypse.

Curmudgeon-at-Large said...

What? Are you saying Stephen Harper and his little puppets are lying to us when they say that it's a coup d'etat? That's hard to believe - NOT!

And Rona Ambrose says any government including Jack Layton will "devastate the Alberta economy." I'm thinking she knows the economic downturn will slow down the Alberta economy and she wants to make sure someone gets blamed for it.

Anonymous said...


I hope you can't retroactively flunk courses, because I'd definitely have to return my high school diploma.

Everyone's gone crazy. All this "undemocratic" talk, from both sides of the isle (progs re: cuts to party financing; cons re: coalition government), makes no sense to me. It's all partisan bluster. You're welcome for clearing this up. :)


Are there cars burning in the streets?

*peers outside*

Not yet.

"Yet" being the operative word. You guys haven't even taken over yet. Give us time to organize the rioters.

Anonymous said...

(progs re: cuts to party financing;

Most people said this was anti-democratic not undemocratic.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

I had a very angry cabbie back from Pearson just now...

So we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Add Bill Tieleman to the list of pundits who need a copy of (Canadian) Politics For Dummies in their stockings this year.

KevinG said...

No doubt it's hard to think when one is very very angry ... even if one is predisposed to thinking.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

It's totally legal and legitimate to do what the opposition is doing.

Whether it's wise -- that's another question.

But hey, if I were Dion or Layton, I'd definitely be going for it.

Tyrone said...

I took grade 10 history in Ontario in 1988. Most students were totally ignorant of how the system worked coming in. I remember one classmate asking me what a byelection was - "is that a provincial election?"

I doubt most students grasp any more than that "the largest party forms the government". What exceptions there have been when the second-largest party is only a few seats behind. Coalition government is considered an advanced topic and left out of most high school courses.

Not without reason - this coalition is remarkable because of how rare it is. At the federal level, it hasn't happened since 1917, and that was due to a split in the Liberals over conscription.

Provincially, the Saskatchewan Liberals formed a coalition with the NDP in 1999. The party split in two over the issue and has since virtually disintegrated.

Reading news stories, it's apparent that even many journalists aren't familiar with the concepts. Plus nonsense blaming the coalition for today's market crash (never mind that the US and European markets also crashed).

JG said...

The anchor I saw on CTV the other day was particularly clueless ("but how can this happen?").

Romanow's coalition with the Liberals is an interesting case - I'm not really sure which party is taking the bigger risk in this coalition, since the NDP is so much stronger relative to the Liberals than in the Sask case.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


That's exactly what apalls me, though. I mean, even saying "this coalition is remarkable because of how rare it is" already assumes that it's perfectly normal to only know f-all about your own country. Coalitions are NOT rare. They're the normal form of governance in most of the democratic world. Even this particular situation, i.e., forming a new government from an existing parliament, isn't exactly unheard of.

There was a time when I thought the U.S. was the only country that was that level of ignorant about the rest of the world. Finding out that wasn't true has been the thing that has disappointed me most about Canada.

JG said...

Well, I'm not sure the Japanese had every experienced coalition government in the post-war era prior to 1993 (when the LDP was replaced by an eight party alliance), but they've had nothing but ever since.

Sigh - if we had PR now, this would be so much easier.

Declan said...

Not social studies, ethics, which you can't flunk because we don't teach it.

Declan said...

But maybe I'm over/underestimating people, maybe they really don't understand that the Conservatives only got a little over one third of the votes.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

maybe they really don't understand that the Conservatives only got a little over one third of the votes

Okay, now you're REALLY depressing me.

Unknown said...


The shocking thing is that the Party of Trudeau would get in bed with the filthy separatists.

Bravo to the pack of desperates, you'll ruin Canada for the fear of losing your 3 million dollars. This is why the coalition will fail.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Bzzt. Harper's been "in bed with the separatists" (i.e., getting support from the Bloc on legislation he wanted to pass) to exactly the same extent himself. Try again.

Is that really the best you guys can do? No "here, these are our policies, aren't they better than the flimsy ones these guys are putting forward"? Just "Dion is bad for doing something Harper's already done!" Seriously?

Jacques Beau Vert said...

Well fuck if there's going to be RIOTS then bring on this coalition! Or let Harper rule! Whichever, I don't care -- but I want to smash a few windows and crack some skulls!!!

leonsp said...

The rest of the world is not necessarily any more clueful that we are. For example, the large gap between a US presidential election and a US presidential inauguration has been quite surprising to a lot of the world this time around.

It's common to assume that everyone else does things the same way one's group does them.

Anonymous said...

The shocking thing is that the Party of Trudeau would get in bed with the filthy separatists.

Um, yeah, those "filthy separatists" are democratically elected MPs who represent Canadian citizens, and not just those who voted for them either. Would you suggest that they just be ignored instead?

laura k said...

"It's common to assume that everyone else does things the same way one's group does them."

That's true. But these are Canadians ignorant about Canada's system.

laura k said...

"The shocking thing is that the Party of Trudeau would get in bed with the filthy separatists."

My, aren't we tolerant!

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

It's common to assume that everyone else does things the same way one's group does them.

I don't think it's as common as you think. I have lived in a lot of places, and I've definitely found this trait to be far more true of Americans and Canadians than of any other place I've been.

Your average high-school-educated German, for example, will be able to tell you how their own voting and parliamentary systems work very adeptly, and will know generalities about how the U.S. and UK systems work differently from theirs. They will have forgotten a lot in the hazy mists of time if they're already older, but they'll at least remember that those other systems are different from the one they're accustomed to. But the way Canadians are reacting to these new developments, it's clear that they've never even HEARD of such a thing as a government coalition, and they certainly don't know that they vote for a parliament rather than a government. And those things make me wonder what's being taught in Social 30 or whatever it is it's called.

Anonymous said...

What depresses me is how many people complain about 'how ignorant' opponents of the coalition are. I don't believe for a moment they are ignorant. What they are is organized, and far better than the left at repeating a message track.

Supporters of the coalition need to get our act together and start engaging and communicating better.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


I actually think many of them are ignorant, though. I work at a big university, and you don't know how many educated people I've talked to over the past couple of days who have said things like: "didn't we just vote for this government?" When I say: "we don't vote for a government in our system, we vote for a parliament," they stop and think about it and say: "I guess that's true!"

I'm sure you're right that the people who are actually IN POLITICS who are repeating these talking points are just feigning ignorance, but for an awful lot of people it's not feigned.

Your point about better communication, though, is taken.