Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

1/24/2006

I Can’t Believe It’s Government!

File under: Character Writ Large, Home And Native Land. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 2:55 pm.

Oh, Canada, did you just vote in an even more unstable government than we had last time? You did, didn’t you? Whatever are we going to do with you?

I have an idea: haul in some cameras and a reality TV crew, because The Real World: House of Commons damn near writes itself. Think about it: we’ve got the most right-wing prime minister this country has had in, well, ever, and the man’s got no history of consensus-building to speak of; but never before has it been so vital to a Canadian prime minister’s political survival that he compromise with the other parties in the House. In this minority government - which is weaker than most polls predicted - Harper is going to have to compromise with some party on every issue. And, oh, the possibilities:

Behind door number one, we have the Liberals, whom Harper slammed as corrupt at every turn! Will compromising with the Liberals mean compromising his integrity?

Alternatively, Harper could open door number two, behind which we find…the separatist Bloc. How cozy can Harper get with them before alienating his western base, who have long complained about the government being determined by Ontario and who would therefore probably not take terribly well to being at the mercy of Quebec?

Fortunately, there’s a third option: Harper can go with door number three and deal with the Satanic NDP! Oh - wait - that won’t quite give him a majority of seats. He’d have to get the radio shock jock in on that one!

I predict high ratings. Wonder how long it’ll be till the third season…

28 Comments

  1. I predict a not-winter 2007 election. Anyone who forces it will be doomed, and worse if it were sooner.

    He’ll go with the Bloc, which should effectively piss off everyone in the entire country.

    Think about this as good blogging material, instead.

    - wolfangel — 1/24/2006 @ 3:27 pm

  2. I’m not sure that anyone who forces an election will be doomed: I have a feeling that all of the other parties are going to have an eye on the polls, and will jump when they smell blood. Which may be sooner or later, depending on how the Conservatives play their cards. I mean, those gagged MPs can’t stay silent forever, and while Harper and his handlers are too smart to revisit the same-sex question anytime soon, remember that all it takes is a single moron MP to call a free vote. And there are plenty of moron MPs in the Conservative caucus.

    Also, I suspect that (some of) the Liberals will prove to be the Conservatives’ best allies, if for no reason other than that the Liberals have the most incoherent platform of all the parties, and many hold Conservative views anyway. (Martin has been quite tolerant of his own MPs acting in ways that he condemned when he saw such behaviour among the Conservatives; hopefully his successor will be able to give the party some focus. Also: I hope that Martin stays on as Finance Critic, because man was a disaster of a Prime Minister, but a very competent Finance Minister, and I think he’d still be credible if he were to find fault in a Conservative budget.)

    Let the games begin!

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/24/2006 @ 4:31 pm

  3. Well, doomed depends when. 2006? Unless the conservatives manage to say lots of really stupid AND offensive things, then there will be a spite vote.

    I am not sure about how the Liberal thing works — of course the right end of the Liberals overlaps with the left end of the Conservatives, but I find it hard to imagine them working with the Conservatives. Guess we’ll see.

    Yes, Martin was very good with finance, and it’s too unfortunate that he did not stay there.

    - wolfangel — 1/24/2006 @ 6:15 pm

  4. Those gagged MPs? How many of them were elected? The one that is the focus of the linked article lost to Raymond Chan.

    Let’s also not forget that the Liberals also had their own gagged candidates. Recall that 34 Liberals voted against Bill C-38 and I didn’t hear any utterances in the news media from that cohort. So, what’s the distinction that’s being drawn - is it one of principle or degree, in that the Liberals are “nuanced”, “reflective”, “torn” as they grapple with the question of same-sex marriage but because the number of Conservatives who voted were greater in number they are “hateful” and “agenda-driven”? BTW, I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, the above is simply a reflection of the tone of commentary I’ve read comparing the two parties on this issue.

    And there are plenty of moron MPs in the Conservative caucus.

    This is true, but it’s certainly not unique to the CPC, now is it? Need I name names? :)

    The dilemma for the public, of course, is going to be how to apportion blame for an idiocy that ensues following free votes which become possible because of a concerted effort to introduce more democratic processes into the Canadian Parliament. Is it better for the Liberals to insure a hammerlock on political control via the PMO’s office and mouth the platitudes that portray tolerance or to let the Conservatives institute more democratic processes which let MPs vote either the views of their constituents or their own consciences and be held accountable for their votes?

    I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the goings on but I did come across some CPC movement on this issue. Recently elected MP Garth Turner took on the question of SMM on his blog. Read the comments to get an indication of where the tolerance is coming from.

    I will agree with you that the House of Parliament will make interesting theater with a smaller minority coming to power.

    - TangoMan — 1/24/2006 @ 10:17 pm

  5. commentary I’ve read

    To be even more clear - commentary I’ve read elsewhere and across a broad swath of sources, at that.

    - TangoMan — 1/25/2006 @ 12:04 am

  6. You wacky Canadians.

    See, that’s what happens when you’ve got a parliamentary system. Serves you right. ;)

    Anyway, I bet Tradesports has a contract out on when the next Canadian election will be. I would be guessing a 2007 vote at the latest, too.

    - meep — 1/25/2006 @ 2:16 am

  7. Those gagged MPs? How many of them were elected?

    We didn’t hear anything from Cheryl Gallant, who was re-elected. We didn’t hear much from Rob Anders, Garry Breitkreuz, or even Stockwell Day - former leader of a former version of the party, for crying out loud - and they’re back in Parliament. I can name more, but I need to get to work.

    Let’s also not forget that the Liberals also had their own gagged candidates. Recall that 34 Liberals voted against Bill C-38 and I didn’t hear any utterances in the news media from that cohort.

    To quote myself, all the way back from comment #3: Also, I suspect that (some of) the Liberals will prove to be the Conservatives’ best allies, if for no reason other than that the Liberals have the most incoherent platform of all the parties, and many hold Conservative views anyway. (Martin has been quite tolerant of his own MPs acting in ways that he condemned when he saw such behaviour among the Conservatives…)

    Don’t know where (if?) you’re getting the impression that I’m defending Martin in any sense. This post is about what I predict will be the challenges of our current government in governing, and it was a pretty irreverent post to begin with. You want balanceh, no one’s gagging you ;)

    And there are plenty of moron MPs in the Conservative caucus.

    This is true, but it’s certainly not unique to the CPC, now is it? Need I name names? :)

    Again, the topic here is the government, specifically, whether various flavours of social conservatism, which were absent from the campaign, will make an appearance in the HoC in the near future. To the credit of the other party leaders, they’re not promising to allow free votes whenever one of their morons requests one.

    The dilemma for the public, of course, is going to be how to apportion blame for an idiocy that ensues following free votes which become possible because of a concerted effort to introduce more democratic processes into the Canadian Parliament.

    Allowing Parliament to vote on issues that have been settled by the Supreme Court != introducing more democratic processes. We have voted in a government that doesn’t respect when issues have been settled.

    Is it better for the Liberals to insure a hammerlock on political control via the PMO’s office and mouth the platitudes that portray tolerance or to let the Conservatives institute more democratic processes which let MPs vote either the views of their constituents or their own consciences and be held accountable for their votes?

    Can I go with “none of the above”? But if I have to choose, I’ll go with the one that is (somewhat) less likely to subject interpretation of legal documents to the opinions of 308 people who are vying for votes.

    I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the goings on

    The problem with most American commentary about Canada, alas.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/25/2006 @ 5:45 am

  8. Allowing Parliament to vote on issues that have been settled by the Supreme Court != introducing more democratic processes.

    It might help to bolster the legitimacy of the Canadian Supreme Court if the Justices weren’t parachuted into their positions simply on the sayso of the Prime Minister. It seems to me that you’re framing the issue of Court decisions being sancrosanct without acknowledging legitimate criticisms of how the Court composition was achieved.

    Of the 9 Court Justices, 8 were appointed by Jean Chretein in a process akin to a press anouncement informing the public who he has selected. I dare say if Canada had a Roe v. Wade type of decision and if Stockwell Day was a long serving Prime Minister who appointed 8 of the 9 Justices who shared similar philosophical beliefs, that many wouldn’t be pointing to the untainted sanctity of Court decisions. But that’s just my opinion.

    The voters who are “torn” by the issue of SSM, I would assume, are not all motivated by hatred. It’s a contentious issue but it would probably be less so if both sides of the issue felt that their voices were filtered through an unbiased process where representatives and/or justices gave creedence to both opposing positions, not to mention avoiding intellectual lockjaw on the Court, before arriving at a decision. Having a judicial junta installed without paying heed to intellectual and political diversity does a disservice to both the causes of democracy and justice, and to the respect that should be afforded the Court.

    - TangoMan — 1/25/2006 @ 12:16 pm

  9. It might help to bolster the legitimacy of the Canadian Supreme Court if the Justices weren’t parachuted into their positions simply on the sayso of the Prime Minister. …Of the 9 Court Justices, 8 were appointed by Jean Chretein in a process akin to a press anouncement informing the public who he has selected. I dare say if Canada had a Roe v. Wade type of decision and if Stockwell Day was a long serving Prime Minister who appointed 8 of the 9 Justices who shared similar philosophical beliefs, that many wouldn’t be pointing to the untainted sanctity of Court decisions.

    This would be the same Jean Chretien who, along with his caucus, voted against same-sex marriage in 1999, yes? If Chretien appointed a bunch of judges in order to advance an agenda that included passing same-sex marriage, he sure went about it in a bizarre way. The fact that the judges he appointed ruled against his ideology supports my point - that Canadian judges are not chosen because they share the philosophical beliefs of the appointing Prime Minister - not your argument to the contrary. (Also, only six, not eight, of the judges you linked were even appointed during Chretien’s tenure.) That he, and Martin, supported SSM after the Supreme Court ruling despite the fact that both opposed SSM personally indicates a commitment to justice over personal biases.

    By your own admission, you “haven’t been paying much attention” to the goings-on on my side of the border. One of those goings-on that I have been paying attention to is a very new development: namely, the very first time the term “activist judges” had been used by a Canadian federal party leader. The overwhelming majority of Canadians have faith that our judges’ rulings will not be clouded by their bias. You’re viewing this issue through a very American lens; it’s your country, not mine, where each Supreme Court judge goes through a lengthy interview about his or her biases (”Federal Law and Legal Precedent: Pro or Anti?”), and where one can predict with almost 100% accuracy how a judge will vote, based strictly on who it was who appointed them. (Think of how much money could have been saved in your 2000 election if only the 9 Supreme Court judges were the only Americans allowed to vote in the first place, and they all did so according to their party affiliation alone!)

    The voters who are “torn” by the issue of SSM, I would assume, are not all motivated by hatred.

    Which is a point that I neither made, nor ever implied, either in the original post nor in my subsequent commentary. Nor is it an argument upon which any argument I’ve ever made on the topic rests.

    It’s a contentious issue but it would probably be less so if both sides of the issue felt that their voices were filtered through an unbiased process.

    Harper’s party called a free vote on it after the Supreme Court ruled. Seventy-five of his ninety MPs spoke freely on the issue of same-sex marriage in the House of Commons. They voted. They lost. Later, Harper complained to the press that his MPs…did not have a chance to speak to the issue in the House of Commons. Now, our consistution holds that even if the free vote had passed, SSM can’t be revoked without using the notwithstanding clause, which Harper promised not to use…but hey - the free vote, which followed several days of debate, allowed the voices of opponents of SSM to be filtered through an unbiased process.

    But that’s not good enough for SSM’s opponents. They want to override the courts, call yet another free vote until they get their way, and then revoke SSM through some magic that bypasses the notwithstanding clause.

    Claiming that this is just a call for “intellectual and political diversity” is either ignorant or disingenuous or both. That a majority of the SC’s judges were appointed by Chretien (who did not originally support the position they ended up taking) is irrelevant to the subject.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/25/2006 @ 7:04 pm

  10. oh give me a break. name one Canadian justice whose appointment was considered controversial by people other than lobby groups on the fringe. senate apppointments are partisan, but judicial appointments in Canada typically are not.

    - Jen — 1/25/2006 @ 7:06 pm

  11. Seventy-five of his ninety MPs spoke freely on the issue of same-sex marriage in the House of Commons. They voted. They lost. Later, Harper complained to the press that his MPs…did not have a chance to speak to the issue in the House of Commons.

    Reminds me of a letter I wrote to our completely unbiased Gazoo on 25 June 2005 where the exact same thing happened. They didn’t publish it, sadly, even though I spent hours going through Hansard.

    It’s amazing how Steven Harper is able to make an incredibly flagrant lie and how the media will report it without doing a simple fact check.

    As reported on the front page of Saturday’s Gazette, Harper said, “The three parties got together and decided to ram a budget bill through without allowing the other party, the official opposition, to even speak to it.” Has he (and the Gazette) been sleeping these past weeks?

    From the time bill C-48 was introduced at report stage to the time it passed that stage, 76 Conservative MPs spoke to bill C-48, totalling 19 hours in four days. So, more than three-quarters of their caucus spoke to the bill, taking up more than half of that period to do so. The Tories spent another six hours debating at second and third reading, and none of this includes the time spent asking questions to other MPs or speaking to C-48 when they were supposed to be speaking to other bills, like C-43.

    What’s even more interesting to note is that of those 25 hours, Monte Solberg, the official opposition’s finance critic, spoke to the budget bill for 75 minutes, but Harper did not speak to it for a single second.

    That Steven Harper disseminated such a patently false statement is reprehensible; that the Gazette would help him do it when one-third of the time during the last six days of proceedings of the House of Commons was Conservative MPs speaking to the budget bill is repugnant.

    - Nicholas — 1/25/2006 @ 10:29 pm

  12. It’s quite clear that you feel passionate about the issue of SSM and I sense that I’m being drawn into debating an issue that I’m not opposed to when my initial intent was to simply address what I thought was an inaccurate portrayal of gagging tactics. Note that nowhere in comment #4 and #5 do I disparage the SSM ruling. Then in comment #7 you erect the strawman “We have voted in a government that doesn’t respect when issues have been settled” when they haven’t yet taken office and from this point we’re off to the races.

    In comment #8 I address the issue of holding up the Supreme Court as an institution immune from criticism when there are quite a number of Canadians concerned with the undemocratic appointment process, which you somehow interpret as being a call-to-arms to adopt the American version of nomination and vetting.

    And now with comment #9 we’re fully into the issue of SSM merits. So, before we get down and dirty let me state that I’m generally not opposed to SSM but my tepid concerns can be categorized into two categories. The first is centered on the unintended consequences that will surely follow. The second would center on the interests of children. If the National Post was adept at archiving their content I wouldn’t have to link to this site which mirrors their article which I think begins to frame the issue, particularly the observations made by McGill bioethicist Margaret Somerville. I’m not concerned about the definition of marriage and I have no intent to argue that marriage and procreation are synonymous. My concern would center on the conflict inherent between genetic and actual parents and the rights of children. As same sex marriages become more common there will likely be a number of children who are either adopted into, or conceived within, these families. I have no problem whatsoever with the adoption of children, but we see all too frequently with IVF children conceived with donor sperm or eggs the same yearning for their genetic heritage as we see with adopted children. I make the distinction between these two classes of children because the adopted children are already born into this world and then adopted. Their genetic separation from their parents has absolutely nothing to do with SSM. Children born into SSM have this genetic separation purposely inflicted upon them and if we treat SSM the same as traditional marriage then the birth certificates of these children cannot have 3 or 4 parents listed, but only 2 as has been lobbied for by GLAD. At the same time we’re seeing international legislative efforts to outlaw anonymous gamete donation and the creation of registries to store the official records of each child’s biological mother and father. These efforts are being fought by Gay Rights groups who don’t want to stigmatize same-sex families and set them apart from traditional unions. Now you may point to these registries being applicable primarily to traditional marriages and their IVF children and that there is no difference to the situation that would apply to SSM. If you did so I would point out that these families are not fighting legislation to prevent their children from finding their genetic parents. What I’m seeing is that SSM advocates are placing the desire of their constituents to be mainstreamed above the interests of the human rights of the children. See Convention on the Rights of the Child for the rights of children to know their biological parents. I’m also aware of the loss of genetic information that would ensue if Gay Rights groups are successful in thwarting legislation to register gamete donation.

    But as I said, these are two tepid concerns that I weigh against the far greater rights of liberty. If these two concerns morph into larger social problems in the future, and for which I have no data to make a prediction, and neither does anyone else, I may reevalute my position in support of liberty for liberty isn’t a sociological suicide pact and we constrain the liberty of many types of people in the name of the greater good of society.

    Now onto your comment #9.

    that Canadian judges are not chosen because they share the philosophical beliefs of the appointing Prime Minister

    You’re not seriously proposing that Chretien was using SSM as some sort of litmus test for judicial appointments as far back as the mid-90s, are you? This wasn’t on the main radar back then. I’m not quite getting the nuance of your point - how a Liberal Prime Minister appointing Liberal Justices to the Supreme Court and those Justices issuing a Liberal ruling supports your point. Is it Chretien’s position on SSM or the remaining body of his other beliefs that is out of accord with the set of beliefs known as Liberalism?

    only six, not eight, of the judges you linked were even appointed during Chretien’s tenure.

    I stand corrected. Thank you. I plead time compression in my memory. December 12, 2003 to August 30, 2004, is only 8.5 months into Martin’s term.

    By your own admission, you “haven’t been paying much attention” to the goings-on on my side of the border.

    Which certainly shouldn’t be interpreted as meaning that I haven’t been paying any attention. I’m certainly better versed in Canadian politics than most Canadians are in American politics (notice that I haven’t mentioned how poorly versed Americans are in Canadian politics)

    The overwhelming majority of Canadians have faith that our judges’ rulings will not be clouded by their bias.

    Oh really?

    As noted in the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen:

    Deliberations led by Jean Chretien, then justice minister, resulted in the exclusion of sexual orientation from the Charter. In the years that followed, the courts, and especially the Supreme Court, have “read in” or “read up” this and other excluded rights on the grounds that, really, they were implicitly included. Probably the most inventive of these cases was the 1998 Supreme Court decision in Vriend v. Alberta.

    So help me out here. Sexual orientation is excluded from the Charter. Conservatives are arguing that it shouldn’t be a defined class. Liberals are arguing that it should be. 8 of 9 Justices are appointed by Liberals. On what basis are they deriving the right? They’re certainly not referencing text which was explicitly excluded in the Charter. Please explain to me how bias isn’t coming into the decisionmaking process.

    Which is a point that I neither made, nor ever implied, either in the original post nor in my subsequent commentary. Nor is it an argument upon which any argument I’ve ever made on the topic rests.

    Didn’t I actually go out of my way to acknowledge this in comment #4 and then devoted comment #5 to make the point even more explicitly?

    and the man’s got no history of consensus-building to speak of;

    How would you define engineering the merger of two political parties and uniting them into a whole when both parties had members and issues which were potential dealbreakers to a merger.

    They voted. They lost.

    I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m not defending the Conservative statements. I do though have some sympathy for the argument that counting the votes of a party dedicated to the destruction of Canada is troubling, because we’re unsure of their motivations, without whose votes the Bill would have failed 115-133.

    Claiming that this is just a call for “intellectual and political diversity” is either ignorant or disingenuous or both.

    Tying my comment to that strawman is a disingenuous tactic.

    name one Canadian justice whose appointment was considered controversial by people other than lobby groups on the fringe.

    OK. Claire L’Heureux Dubé.

    Her involvement in the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, while a judge, was in violation of the guidelines set out by the Judicial Council, which specifically provides that judges should not be involved with organizations which deal with issues of public controversy and which organization serves the political advantage of its members.

    The National Post made a big stink about this and her circumlocutions and out and out called her a liar.

    Also, note her comments back in 1999 which I’m sure wouldn’t provide anyone with the grounds to suspect judicial bias[/sarcasm] You know, that’s where you want judges to judge cases on their merits rather than having preconceived notions, and never mind actively agitating for political/ideological causes that will come before them.

    - TangoMan — 1/26/2006 @ 12:20 am

  13. You may want to check out my post on Canadian reproductive law in which I address the Canadian registry. Please note that in that post I didn’t address the issue of registering gamate donation, which I support per the above comment, but instead focused my criticism on the compulsion to register the children born of IVF with their own parent’s egg and sperm. I see no reason to include these children into a special database. If you go into the comments you’ll see our resident Canadian troll taking me to task.

    - TangoMan — 1/26/2006 @ 12:37 am

  14. aw crap, I forgot to include the link in the above comment. Here it is.

    - TangoMan — 1/26/2006 @ 12:45 am

  15. Can’t SSM be revoked if you have a one-man-one-woman consititutional amendment? You =can= amend your constitution, right? And doesn’t that involve people voting? At some point? And should some such vote fail the first time (like on an amendment allowing women to vote, for example), isn’t it okay for people to vote on it a second time at a later date?

    Or is there a possibility that judges can make a ruling on something and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it, democratically? (I highly doubt that’s the situation. It would make for an unstable governmental structure.)

    I’m guessing if a supermajority (say >70%) of Canadian citizens wanted to abolish SSM, they could, legally and democratically.

    - meep — 1/26/2006 @ 1:34 am

  16. Re: Claire L’Heureux Dubé
    which party’s interests are you trying to say she was appointed to advance? besides, she’s retired.

    Re: Stephen Harper
    I was not aware that he was considered an engineer of the PC/Reform merger.

    - Jen — 1/26/2006 @ 10:35 am

  17. Nick - thank you, I was hoping you’d post that letter, and was going to invite you to do so had you not done it yourself.

    Meep - yes, the Canadian constitution is amendable. But the main purpose of the Charter is to protect minority rights from being subject to the preferences of the majority. Me, I would like a prime minister who defends that.

    Tangoman -

    It’s quite clear that you feel passionate about the issue of SSM and I sense that I’m being drawn into debating an issue that I’m not opposed to when my initial intent was to simply address what I thought was an inaccurate portrayal of gagging tactics.

    OH MY. Tangoman, would you kindly provide me with a mailing address, so that I can charge you the full replacement fee for one Ironymeter? Because the needle on mine just made an entire revolution before settling on Nope, Nothing To See Here, and I don’t think there’s any getting the springs back to where they’re supposed to be.

    Let’s summarize this state of affairs:

    Moebius Stripper: posts flippant entry about the challenges our new government faces. Muses its bizarre options for creating alliances with the other parties.

    Wolfangel: agrees.

    Moebius Stripper: follows up on WA’s post, expanding on original theme of Harper’s challenges by pointing out the huge chasm between Harper’s campaign and his (and his MPs’) political history. Mentions SSM only because the issue was Harper’s main issue for the duration of the Conservatives’ year and a half as opposition. Does not get into the ethics of same-sex marriage itself.

    Tangoman: posts six comments (staggered with some of MS’s and others’) - three of which are longer than the original post - spanning the topics of Chretien’s judges, the huge amount of power wielded by the PMO, IVF, bioethics, the Convention of the Rights of the Child, Life, the Universe, Everything, the price of tea in China, and various other issues that are between one and n degrees removed from the topics of SSM or Harper’s new government. Bear in mind MS never said that she held contrary positions on any of [above]. Nevertheless, somewhere embedded in all that, we get a charge that Moebius Stripper and possibly others are dragging Tangoman into a debate on an issue that he’s not even opposed to!

    So I’m sure you’ll understand that I am not going to address any further (or at all) those issues in this space; feel free to post about them in your blog and trackback, or post a link.

    Let me make myself clear: The issue I am concerned with here is not same-sex marriage. It is the gulf between Harper’s campaign and his, and his MPs’, political history. I mentioned the gagged MPs because I’d wager that it’s only a matter of time before campaign and reality collide. SSM came up only because it is most clearly the issue that 1) was featured more prominently than any other (with the single possible exception of the sponsorship scandal) within the Conservative caucus from June 2004 until December 2005; and 2) was virtually absent from the Conservative platform and Harper’s comments, aside from the few times Harper was cornered on the subject. Consequently, I stand by my statement that we have voted in a government that doesn’t respect when issues have been settled. This is not a strawman; it is based on said party’s leader’s actions during the past year and a half.

    Recently elected MP Garth Turner took on the question of SMM on his blog. Read the comments to get an indication of where the tolerance is coming from.

    To be honest, I could barely get through his post. “Hi, gay dude, I’m a candidate for a party that claims not to have a position on SSM, but 98% of whose MPs voted against it in the past year and whose leader has campaigned on his opposition to it during that time frame. If my party is elected, then we will reopen this subject and vote on whether or not to roll back your rights, even though I’d personally vote not to do so. If another party is elected, your rights are completely and totally safe. And yet…you have decided not to vote for me? Woe is me!”

    I wouldn’t vote for this guy - not because he’s a Conservative, but because at best, he’s hopelessly naive, and at worst, he’s dumb as a brick for not seeing the writing on the wall - two qualities of which I’m intolerant.

    Tying my comment to that strawman is a disingenuous tactic.

    No, but rereading what I wrote I see that it was wrong of me, and I apologize.

    How would you define engineering the merger of two political parties and uniting them into a whole when both parties had members and issues which were potential dealbreakers to a merger.

    Hoodwinking? Takeover? Harper’s caucus was way bigger than the dead end PCs’. The PCs had little to lose by merging, and quite probably had their seats to lose by refusing to merge. No aspect of the PCs’ platform was featured withing the Consevatives’ caucus in the last session of Parliament. The Conservatives during the last Parliament were ideologically indistinguishable from the Alliance of the previous one. Several former PCs jumped ship after the merger, citing ideological differences. To the best of my knowledge, no Alliance members did.

    I do though have some sympathy for the argument that counting the votes of a party dedicated to the destruction of Canada is troubling.

    You’re ten years out of date here; the Bloc hasn’t been pushing for separation in ages, because Duceppe and his handlers know it’s a political loser. Right now the Bloc mostly talks about “sovereignty” (cf “states’ rights”) rather than “separation”. Their platform is based on an argument that Ottawa doesn’t respect them sufficiently, and should be giving them opportunity to be more autonomous as a province rather than subject to federal control. You don’t have to accept the Bloc’s claims that Ottawa is screwing them over - personally, I think that if ever there were a valid charge that someone was asking for “special rights, not just equal rights”, the Bloc’s platform demands it - however, if you’re going to discount the votes of a party that acts in a single region’s interests at the likely expense of much of the rest of its country’s, then we’re right back where we started, no?

    (And the Bloc wouldn’t be much of a force in the HoC if we had a sane voting system, which I’d be the first to support.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/26/2006 @ 4:25 pm

  18. To the best of my knowledge, no Alliance members did.

    Not quite true. Keith Martin, elected as a Reformer and then as Alliance, left for the Liberals at about the same time as Brison. But he was always an odd fit for the party anyway.

    - saforrest — 1/26/2006 @ 4:50 pm

  19. Ah, I stand corrected. So was Belinda Stronach, who joined and left as a Conservative, though I’d wager that she’d have stayed if the PC-Alliance merger had been more PC-ish.

    Man, it sure says a lot for this country’s voting patterns and options that Liberals seem to be the only party that gets defected to these days.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/26/2006 @ 4:55 pm

  20. Alright, I’m sure this discussion thread is coming to a close, but if there’s still room for a last vent from me…:

    TangoMan–First, Dubé was appointed by Mulroney. That doesn’t dicount bias in judge selection by Liberal PMs, but it seems to make your point moot. I’d've gone with Rosalie Abella (appointed by PMPM), but “judicial activism” isn’t that strong an argument.

    I’m not trying to be condescending, but there’s something a lot of Americans (especially libertarians) don’t seem to understand about Canada: peace, order and good government. Canada (and most of the Commonwealth) has worked just fine without specifically laid out rights in our constitution. Hell, Britain worked fine for centuries without a constitution at all.

    Sure, having the majority head of the legislative branch essentially heading the executive branch, with the ability to appoint nearly everyone in the executive and judiciary as well as the other half of the legislative branch, all this with a dictatorial head of state may seem like a horror to those who love “checks and balances”, but it actually works quite well.

    Moreover, looking at the checks and balances in the US, they really don’t seem to exist when one party has control of the legislature and the executive, which leads to control in the judiciary. I mean, all you have to do is look at Bush v. Gore and you can see the 5-4 divide. Say what you want about Ginsberg, but when was the last time you remember the controversy got so heated that a SCOTUS judge refused to use the word “respectfully”?

    Oh really?

    As noted in the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen:

    Deliberations led by Jean Chretien, then justice minister, resulted in the exclusion of sexual orientation from the Charter. In the years that followed, the courts, and especially the Supreme Court, have “read in” or “read up” this and other excluded rights on the grounds that, really, they were implicitly included. Probably the most inventive of these cases was the 1998 Supreme Court decision in Vriend v. Alberta.

    So help me out here. Sexual orientation is excluded from the Charter. Conservatives are arguing that it shouldn’t be a defined class. Liberals are arguing that it should be. 8 of 9 Justices are appointed by Liberals. On what basis are they deriving the right? They’re certainly not referencing text which was explicitly excluded in the Charter. Please explain to me how bias isn’t coming into the decisionmaking process.

    First, as I mentioned in comment 11, the Gazette’s (and the whole Global family’s) editorial and commentary policy sits firmly on the right. Hell, they give L. Ian MacDonald three weekly columns in which he does a (not necessarily proper) subset of two things: 1) lambaste Martin and/or the Liberals 2) praise Harper and/or the Conservatives. NDP arguments are usually brushed under the rug as leftist crap, which is how the Gazette’s editorial board likes to play it as well.

    But more importantly, you should really go read On Section 15. Really. Right now. Link to it on your blog if you want; you’re not the only one who needs to read this. I think this will solve the “We have voted in a government that doesn’t respect when issues have been settled” problem.

    Lastly,

    I do though have some sympathy for the argument that counting the votes of a party dedicated to the destruction of Canada is troubling, because we’re unsure of their motivations, without whose votes the Bill would have failed 115-133.

    First, that’s 115-128. Second, as a lifelong Quebecker and Canadian and as a lifelong federeralist whose never going to vote for the Bloc or separation, I hear that all the time and it’s always just as insulting this time as it was last time. Are you just going to discount votes because the Bloc supported them? Because if so, Paul Martin would have had a majority after the 2004 election.

    The Bloc may advocate the separation of Quebec from Canada (called “sovereignty”), but it’s usually only done if support for sovereignty is high, which it usually isn’t. And if you think dicounting votes if they’re from a separatist party is a good idea, you’re going to find a lot of angry people in Ireland, Kosovo and the entire former USSR.

    The Bloc has a strong ideological platform that largely conforms with the views of Quebeckers. Take a look at a poll on social issues, and chances are Quebec is to the left of every other region in Canada.

    And on SSM, Quebeckers are by far the most supportive in Canada. (Not that that matters, thanks to Section 15.)

    - Nicholas — 1/26/2006 @ 5:30 pm

  21. Oh, yes, I get horribly offended by the “what the Bloc says doesn’t matter”. Even if I were to agree for the sake of argument that if you say you don’t want to be part of Canada, what you say is irrelevant: Bloc MPs are in fact not voted in by a riding 100% full of separatists, and those non-separatists deserve a voice. (My riding, in fact, is full of non-separatists who voted Bloc.) And separation is not “the destruction of Canada”, it’s “the removal of Quebec from Canada”: there will be 9 provinces and 3 territories left.(I am not a separatist, but some of my closest friends are. One, anyhow.)

    The Gazette is remarkably right wing (though sometimes leftish on social issues, despite their regular featuring of Margaret Somerville, whose arguments against things are remarkably poorly written); the National Post far worse: comparing the two makes me believe, occasionally, that the Gazette is centrist.

    - wolfangel — 1/26/2006 @ 7:44 pm

  22. MS,

    Ironymeter?

    I do love reading your distinctive voice. Please accept my humblest apologies for your Ironymeter - I hope you gave it a fitting send-off to the roundfile.

    if we had a sane voting system,

    I certainly agree and I would add that if each riding’s population was near equal it would also aid the cause of democracy, rather than having 1 MP per 115,856 citizens in Ontario down to 1 MP per 34,485 citizens in PEI, and that’s discounting the Northern Territories. A fairer system would see Quebec lose 2 ridings, BC & Alberta gain 7, and Ontario gain 13. Of course the sheer size of Ontario merits some examination. Then of course there is the question of equalization with Quebec getting $4.5 Billion of $10 billion from the coffers of Ontario and Alberta.

    So, if you’re asking for a sane system there certainly are a lot of areas that could use some tweaking, not just the voting procedures.

    Nicholas,

    but it actually works quite well.

    I’m sure it works quite well for those who like how it works, but there are many who are calling for reform precisely because they don’t appreciate the structural unfairness inherent in the system. Those who think it works quite well, I would venture, probably also have a healthy overlap with the people who think that there is no bias involved in the composition of the Supreme Court.

    Also, let me add that I don’t frame this analysis in the American check and balances model, but one anchored on giving voice to democracy. If you, or a group you belong to, wants to make your opinion on judge selection, senate selection or what have you, known and hope to have someone listen to you, you really have little hope of success. So, if citizens become resigned to the fact that they’ve little to no influence on governance, then they become resigned to this situation, and less involved or invested. The situation becomes kind of a technocracy “oh well, government is really for the experts and see how well it runs” compared to the more messy process of participatory democracy which generates a lot of commotion that looks to be disruptive but at the same time insures that citizens are listened to.

    On your recommendation I did go and read Section 15, and it was quite interesting. The tactic of word parsing can also be used to rebut the perspective being put forward and this could make for a good game indeed :) I immediately spotted 3-4 avenues of attack that were premised on the tactic they were using.

    Gazette’s (and the whole Global family’s) editorial and commentary policy sits firmly on the right.

    I’m not catching the import of your statement. What’s wrong with them having their viewpoint and doesn’t it undercut the notion that things are going swimmingly (as long as you agree with the political ideology of those who are in power.) I’d be very surprised if people who are now sanguine about political power consolidation would be so if the Senate was packed with Stockwell Day clones and 8 of the 9 SC judges were appointed on the whim of PM Harper and if the PM maintained a hammerlock on his MPs and enforced iron discipline to vote his policies, rather than having the MPs represent the views of their constituents. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some paeon to American governance models, but simply a comment on political confirmation bias.

    - TangoMan — 1/27/2006 @ 1:20 pm

  23. Tangoman - thank you, apology accepted, and likewise, in whichever order that makes sense. But, while your point on confirmation bias (pun intended?) is well-taken, I take issue with your implication that the Senate was packed with Chretien clones (cf “if the Senate was packed with Stockwell Day clones”). Indeed, such a thing would only even be possible if Chretien’s ideology and platform were coherent enough as to be captured at any given point in time. However, that was never the case: both were subject to Heisenbergian fluctuations. The minute you thought you knew what Chretien stood for, it changed on you. Not that you ever really thought you understood it in the first place: I mean, have you ever heard the man speak?

    This is how Canada, whose PM has more power over his government than any other leader of the G8 countries, handles checks and balances. But then, we had to screw it up by tossing Mr. Dithers out, and now, for the first time in a decade and a half, we have a Prime Minister who might actually stand for stuff.

    (That said? I am tickled pink that Harper’s first order of business (before even becoming PM!) was to tell the American ambassador to Canada to screw off. And Wilkins was talking about Martin last month…)

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/27/2006 @ 3:17 pm

  24. I am tickled pink that Harper’s first order of business

    Agree. However, if I was Harper’s advisor I’d point him to the Alaska-Yukon border dispute, tout de suite. Instead of the long established prinicple of the land border continuing on its vector out to sea, the American position is that the border should now shift on an Easterly vector so as to capture more the the continental shelf of the Beaufort, ie, oil. The stakes there are more immediate than the symbolic extension of sovereignty over the NW passage.

    The Stockwell quip was merely to illustrate the extreme point - a body of senators who are Pro-Life, anti-SSM, and what have you would certainly alienate people of opposite opinions while the people who share his POV would look about them and see that everything was fair, impartial, professional, and generally hunky-dory. I don’t think it’s likely to ever get that severe. But to give credit where credit is due, Martin did appoint 5 opposition Senators among the 14 elevated to the Chamber, though picking 2 who made a point of not sitting with the CPC but of being Progressive Conservatives, and an NDP member, when the party doesn’t recognize her, is kind of a stick in the eye of the effort to cure the democratic deficit.

    Not that you ever really thought you understood it in the first place:

    I still remember quite clearly the day that Chretein was elected leader of the LP. My accountant and I couldn’t get over the dinosaur aspect that he brought with him and I was as mystified by his appeal as I am by President Bush’s.

    we have a Prime Minister who might actually stand for stuff.

    That actually speaks to my preferences - agree or disagree with the man, you can base your vote on prinicple, and/or his record and know why you’re voting for him or against him. I actually think it would be healthy for Canada, and the US as well, to have two healthy parties that switch off on governing. As it stands now, Canada’s Liberals have been in power longer in the 20th C. than the Soviets ran the USSR.

    - TangoMan — 1/27/2006 @ 3:57 pm

  25. Instead of the long established prinicple of the land border continuing on its vector out to sea, the American position is that the border should now shift on an Easterly vector so as to capture more the the continental shelf of the Beaufort, ie, oil.

    I actually had the most bizarre conversation of my life with a fellow last year, and he brought this up - that Canada, not the US, should have gotten that prime coastal real estate in the northwest. I agreed with him. I agreed a lot less with many of his other points, such as “the metric system is a communist plot to destroy America.”

    My accountant and I couldn’t get over the dinosaur aspect that he brought with him and I was as mystified by his appeal as I am by President Bush’s.

    If Chretien was ever appealing to the general Canadian public, it was long before I was eligible to vote for (or against) him. Bush inspires strong feelings, but I can’t remember the same ever being true of Chretien. Mostly people just voted for him because they’d felt resigned to it: “well, I guess I’ll vote Liberal again, but you can’t make me enjoy it.”

    we have a Prime Minister who might actually stand for stuff.

    That actually speaks to my preferences - agree or disagree with the man, you can base your vote on prinicple, and/or his record and know why you’re voting for him or against him.

    Well, as I’ve said, I believe that Harper’s platform did not accurately reflect his principles, and I’ll rish relatively inoffensive, mealy-mouthed wishy-washiness in a leader over strength of conviction that I disagree with, any day. And that’s even leaving out the first sentence of this paragraph…But anyway, I’m reminded of Rick Mercer’s commentary back in October 2004 or so, after the leader of Iran mentioned that he’d prefer a Bush victory to a Kerry one:

    “Sure,” said Mercer, “Bush has openly called us part of the axis of evil, and it’s likely that he’d invade us soon if he were to be reelected. This would cause thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of civilian casualities and the country might never recover…however, that Kerry guy is a real flip-flopper.”

    I actually think it would be healthy for Canada, and the US as well, to have two healthy parties that switch off on governing. As it stands now, Canada’s Liberals have been in power longer in the 20th C. than the Soviets ran the USSR.

    And you’ll find no one who agrees with you more than the voters of Alberta…who provincially have been governed by the same party for the past 35 years.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/27/2006 @ 7:44 pm

  26. You do know how the Yukon border was re-created, right? They found gold, and the US said, hey, we’d like more of that, it should be our territory. And Canada said no, it’s ours. And so there was a tribunal (3 USians, 2 CNDians, 1 GBians), and lo! The UK, they sided with the US.

    - wolfangel — 1/27/2006 @ 8:56 pm

  27. should have gotten that prime coastal real estate in the northwest. I agreed with him.

    Northwest? Did he mean down Seattle way, or the Alaska Panhandle?

    I’m actually talking about the current dispute.

    “well, I guess I’ll vote Liberal again, but you can’t make me enjoy it.”

    Well I suppose Martin was just a backroom boy back then and the other alternatives were Copps, Nunziattia(?) and ? ? Hmm, visions of John Kerry’s nomination spring to mind.

    I’ll rish relatively inoffensive, mealy-mouthed wishy-washiness in a leader over strength of conviction that I disagree with

    Sure, but would you prefer the wishy-washiness over convictions that you do agree with? That’s the trick isn’t it? The guys who are wishy-washy, are usually equal opportunity dodgers.

    Alberta…who provincially have been governed by the same party for the past 35 years.

    A principle isn’t worth having if it only serves to confirm one’s bias. No change in gov’t for 35 years doesn’t speak well for the health of political ideas in Alberta. The case for developing a local alternative to the Alberta Conservatives is quite pressing if for no other reason (and there are others) than it fractures the state-stakeholder symbiosis and those groups who are on the outside looking in get a chance to come in from the cold (I know I’m mixing my metaphors.) Even if you posit that the citizenry of Alberta has a near monoculture of political thought and the NDP wouldn’t ever win a majority, you still have people/groups within the Conservative spectrum who are on the outs. The same problem presents itself with long serving US Senate and State political machines (Daley machine in Chicago.)

    - TangoMan — 1/27/2006 @ 9:14 pm

  28. What I said about people just voting Liberal because they felt resigned to it? I wasn’t kidding. Actually, that conversation explains the last decade’s worth of election results in Canada.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/31/2006 @ 9:18 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.