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.

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