Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kinsella is Wrong: the NDP is the best thing that has happened to Canadian unity in years.

When one thinks about the dull echo chamber that is the right wing press in this country, one gets the impression of a half dozen sneering men, telling each other cynical half-truths, trying to top each other’s rants and creating new and more inventive mythologies. Now imagine that you take a Liberal party hack and you throw him into the room. He can join the mythmaking, he can tell his own half-truths, but ultimately he will end up talking to himself. Instead of a small community in the echo-chamber he will find himself hearing only the sound of his own agreement, with a small number of disconnected former Liberal staff members sending emails to his lonely island.

Poor Warren Kinsella.

There was a day when his echo-chamber was larger, when the chorus of yes-men louder, when he could comfortably (yet inaccurately) describe himself as being around the centre of Canadian opinion. Now he has joined with the forces of mediocrity, at the crossroads where incoherent arguments and bad grammar meet xenophobia: on the opinion pages of the Sun News tabloids.

His opinion piece in today’s Sun was the first blast of what will become a Liberal talking point in the next few months – that the NDP is pandering to the Quebec sovereignty movement and that they are both incapable and unwilling to fight for Canada. He states that the New Democrats have “a caucus overflowing with crypto-separatists,” (“Crypto,” a nice way to defend yourself against libel) and faults the NDP for having courted and gotten the Bloc Quebecois vote. He claims the danger the NDP poses is that “they’ve got the Sherbrooke Declaration,” which says that they will accept a yes vote if it happens to garner the support of a majority of Quebecers.

While I have to approve of the fact that, unlike many of the writers that one finds on the pages of the Sun, he seems to use proper punctuation and the words he has written all mean what he thought they meant, his rage at the NDP is misplaced and his analysis is wrong.

The NDP has crypto-separatists? Ok. Except that they all ran for and were elected under the banner of a federalist party. They all agreed to the NDP platform, which includes Canadian unity. Every NDP MP is very publicly a federalist. Anyone who starts talking about what people “actually” believe starts to fall into the world of the conspiracy theorists who can say anything without requiring proof.

Shall we have trials to find out what people actually believe or should we just judge them by their actions? NDP MPs all publicly support Canadian unity.

He is right on the fact that a sizable proportion of the NDP Quebec vote was sovereigntist, but it also included everything else in the province. The NDP picked up seats and votes from every party, including the Bloc.

But let me ask, what did we ever get by keeping the separatists out in the cold? By lumping themselves into a party that could literally provide nothing for them on the federal scene, they became more embittered with this country as it drew away from them and their concerns. By voting NDP these supposed separatists voted for a federalist party. Kinsella’s Orwellian analysis would have us believe that this is a danger to the country, rather than the best news this country has received in decades.

And what of the Sherbrooke declaration? Kinsella calls it a problem if we agree that there should be a method by which territories should be allowed to separate. I agree that this is a bitter pill to swallow, however this is a norm of international law. And the alternatives are far worse.

I’m not sure what Prime Minister Kinsella would do if a referendum were won at 51%. Quebec City would consider it to be a legitimate result and would declare sovereignty. Would Kinsella then send in the tanks? Would he take Quebec to the Supreme Court? Would he just ignore the vote because he doesn’t see it as legitimate, as the separatists begin to set up their own state?

Like it or not, the clarity act provides very little clarity on what constitutes a clear majority. Is it 66%? 80%? 55%? I would like to know if there is a number that better reflects the concept of a clear majority than 50% plus 1, which is its literal definition.

But forget about the details, the point he misses is that the NDP’s victory was the end of a certain kind of politics. Ten years ago in Quebec, the politics ran on the Federalist/Nationalist axis, and the Liberals could be guaranteed a certain portion of the vote using Quebec sovereignty as a bugbear. The NDP and Conservatives found it impossible to gain a hold in the province because the soft votes on either side were worried about the federal issue, and could be scared into voting Liberal or Bloc.

That type of politics is dead, and the bright future is here.

Kinsella teaches us little about the NDP but much about the Liberals. The LPC is trying to return to its glory days by bringing back a politics of fear. I’m happy to say, it will not work.

Get some new ideas Warren and, while you’re at it, get yourself a better writing gig. You’re embarrassing yourself there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The shot heard around the hourly CBC news updates.

Instinctually, I feel that there won't be an election. But my instincts are terrible, and word has just come down that Jack Layton won't be supporting the budget.

What Now? Election time?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wager

12 months ago to the day I bet a lobbyist 20$ that Stephen Harper would have a Majority government by this new year's eve. It was a bad bet, I admit, One should never bet on the occurrence of one event leaving all other events to one's counterparty. I had been drinking. But a Bet's a Bet here at this low-rated Canadian politics blog.

Essentially what I had thought made sense at the time: Ignatieff had just faced a personal trough of popularity, Harper had a pile of money and could afford to fire little anti-cyclical attack ads at Team Iggy. Add to that the fact that there had been an election every two years since 2004: I thought we were due.

In any case I was wrong. Here we are in the waning days of 2010, no election in sight. The funny thing is how little has changed, when one thinks of the position of the polls then and now. Surprisingly little movement, despite all the crazy shit that has happened.

But at the same time the oppositions has been steadily worn down. Liberal fundraising is still low-ish, Conservative fundraising is still high-ish. Micheal is still hella-unpopular, Jack is dying, Gilles is old and has already, to my knowledge, told everyone he was going to step down in 2010. Everyone is tired except Harper. So it's coming, that election, everyone expects it in the spring.

But what of my 20$? It will go, like all good things, to the lobbyists. And they will use it to tip the coat check girl at Hy's Steakhouse. And she will give it to me, for undisclosed, unsavory reasons. The Life-cycle of Ottawa is complete.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a lonely raft adrift at sea.

it's charming how those in the legacy media most vigorously counseling canadians against the legitimacy, workability and propriety of an ndp/lpc coalition are doing so using direct-from-the-message-box cpc partisan language. truly charmed, i am. as we all know by now, it would be far, far too much to expect measured, relevant political analyses from our legacy media. and surely, deception, partisan subterfuge and a basic disrespect for canadians' intelligence has always figured large in the political punditry thrust upon us by the same. nonetheless, though deplorably consistent, what we're seeing here still irritates: harnessing the canwest legacy media monopolies for naked promotion of a pro-cpc take on the coalition isn't a new low, but it's still pretty low. the cpc in its current iteration will never achieve 50% of the vote, their shot at a majority depends very basically upon the smp system and the rewards accrued in a favorable distribution of support. similarly, the most powerful argument on the liberal side against joining a coalition is their belief that they may, themselves, one day again benefit from an smp bonus. these positions are both deeply cynical, and it ought to be the first thing a journalist with any respect for his profession would point out to a public that may still believe that these groups operate on principle. alas, in the roc, the moral contortionists instead concoct convoluted rear-garde arguments defending tory/future liberal power, or at the very least, the sick man status quo: because the system has always operated to narrow the parameters of power shift, it is radical and unseemly to suggest that it be otherwise. the thrust is so obvious that it's almost certain that canadians, long spoon-fed their pablum of simplistic causal lines and slogans, are sure never even to consider it.

really, and if there are those who still do not understand the quebec intellectual class' four square support of separatism, consider this a first lesson.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Douglas Bell has a short piece on the declining popularity (huh? what?) of Ignatieff titled "Ig descendant". Has anyone noticed that his name is getting steadily shorter? First it was the correct anglo 'Ignatieff', then detractors and wags used the more slavic 'Ignatiev'. Then we have the ubiquitous 'Iggy', used by both the lovers and haters alike. Then there was Igg used as a shorthand for a shorthand on this very blog.

Now Bell, pushing the boundaries of the Canadian Political Injoke, has taken it a step further. One wonders if the name will continue to shorten untill one day there is no name. Simply an empty space standing across from a confused PM, and in front of a Liberal Party drifting in the wind left by his passing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Return of Domestic Terrorism

This has made shockingly little impact on the people of Ottawa. Despite the fact that it happened in one of the most thoroughly walkable neighbourhoods. About five blocks from my apartment actually.

It's actually pretty surprising to see this happen, although when you think of the huge number of these soft targets available for anyone who wants to make a political statement, you could see how it could start happening a whole lot more. But why the Glebe? The RBC actually has a much more important branch in centretown. Probably has to do with the relative lack of security cameras in the Glebe. but all that is about to change.

How does this all this play out? Well, it's probably some 21 year old Emily Carr Institute student from a liberal-held riding in Vancouver who will be caught and tried under laws that were crafted to prosecute international terrorists who actually want to kill people and behead them on TV. All the same I think we can assume that they'll screw up the investigation so that his (or her!) four year trial will easily cover the period of incarceration that he will be sentenced to.

Should be interesting.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

words that build and destroy.

rahim jaffer, long a side joke among those who follow politics closely (this is james moore five years early), is now a national joke. but whereas only a few days ago it seemed that his issues were to remain such, the worm has turned, ever so deliciously, in precisely the direction we had all hoped and suspected it might and must. yes, dear readers, full scale government corruption! savor this, knowing that the absurd prairie-dancing opposition can no more convert it to capital than our (yes, the phrase is deeply ironic) parliament's hapless speaker can abrogate the concentric swirl of power to the pmo.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The NCC has got to go.

I was going to write a sarcastic post, something along the lines of "oh yeah this would be a REAL great idea..." But I'm fairly sure that irony is easily misread by the people of Ottawa. I will therefore go on the record saying that Making a 20 metre tall statue of the stanley cup using public money and public space a stupid idea. There are no, I repeat, no redeeming qualities to this proposal.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

There was no joy in mudville.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

Beautiful Day today in our nation's Capital. The sun is shining, the birds (actually!) are singing. The bureaucrats are making love. The waitresses are serving overpriced food and drink. The conservative minded people are developing bad policy ideas. You can still see the flags and assorted Senators shwag is the windows of people who forgot to get off the bandwagon last night. Throughout the city though, there is a palpable feeling not of loss but the sense of emptyness that comes from a long expected tragedy, like the family of a man who died after a long terminal illness.

Up Next: Montreal's defeat at the hands of Washington!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

these canards (connards?).

it would be nice if this sort of mendacity weren't so common, but alas, it is. it really does bear repeating: 1) it would be disastrous if quebec left canada; 2) the government doesn't give quebec special treatment. the article that this guy should have written deploys that survey data in some outline of how the government might better inform canadians, that they would hold accurate views.