Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

7/14/2004

I don’t get it.

File under: Character Writ Large, Sound And Fury, Home And Native Land, I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 2:32 pm.

I’m wracking my brain trying to puzzle this out, but I can’t for the life of me think of a charitable explanation for Canadians mounting their we’re so much better than THEM horse upon reading that the US may postpone their upcoming federal elections in the event of a terrorist attack. (Or not, apparently.) Ditto for the “and this is why I’m moving to Canada” crew.

Beg pardon? Do you realize what it takes for the Canadian government to postpone elections? We don’t even need terrorist attacks. Parliament - hell, the Prime Minister (along with the Governor General’s rubber stamp) can set an election date - as long as elections are held sometime within five years of the last one - based on any of the following considerations:

  • a terrorist attack
  • a popular former Prime Minister of the ruling party is sick, and it’s good strategy to wait until he dies, because an ounce of nostalgia is worth a pound of cogent political debate
  • a desire to wait until, say, a sponsorship scandal has left the front-page news
  • an ingrown toenail on the Prime Minister’s part

For the record, I am quite happy with letting the Prime Minister select election dates. That way, elections catch parties off guard, which is good. If we had fixed election dates, we’d have two-year-long campaigns, because everyone would know when the next vote was. We just have a month’s worth of campaigning, and a significantly greater signal-to-noise ratio than Americans have. (Without going out of my way to find out, I know that Dean’s wife didn’t accompany him on the campaign trail, but I have no idea if, say, Duceppe’s wife tagged along or not. We had better things to think about.)

With regards to postponing elections, I think that the US has cried “red alert” entirely too many times for me think that a terrorist threat would be anything but a non-credible pretense for to postpone an election, but an actual attack? Complete with, heaven forbid, thousands of people trapped under a sea of rubble, subways and bus systems in entire cities shut down? Tens of thousands sent to hospital? I’m with Meep - to hold an election amidst all that would disenfranchise entire communities. Ironically, terrorist attacks are more likely to take place in urban areas, which are traditionally more liberal - and if an election were held on the day of an attack, it’d be folks voting Democrat who’d be disproportionately kept away from the polls. Which seems easier for me to construe as a Republican abuse of power than the alternative.

I’ve also heard the fact that Gore won the popular vote, but not the presidency, used as reason to move to Canada, where presumably we aren’t quite so…undemocratic. We don’t have an electoral college, but we have a system where parties receiving 20% of the popular vote can end up with less than 1% of the seats in Parliament - which is what happened to the Tories in 1993. Our ruling party, which had a majority government last year, didn’t get anywhere near a majority of votes. There’s a smaller percentage of NDP (our leftie party) representatives in the British Columbia legislature than there are Democrats in the Texas one.

I’m glad that the overwhelming majority of Americans who whine about bailing to Canada have no actual plans to do so, because they’d be in for a shock when they actually saw how this countyr was run.

[Update: Prime Minister Paul Martin is delaying the start of Parliament by two weeks, until Oct. 4, to give him time to work out a health-care deal with the provinces. This, just after seeing his party reduced by forty seats in the House of Commons…hmm. See, Canada can just do these things. I’m not terribly worked up over it, but there you go.]

Measuring Earth - second day

File under: Queen of Sciences. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 10:13 am.

…which I’m preparing right now, so no time to say much, other than - here is a nice explanation of the GPS - the satellite-based Global Positioning System, which, among other more important things, lets commuting Vancouverites when the next 98 bus will be at the stop.