Archive for March, 2007

131 days, 10,000 served

Well folks, I started blogging 131 days ago on November 20th, 2006 on the encouragement of my girlfriend (who I’m sure probably regrets introducing me to the wonderful world of blogging, lol), and today at around 8:15 or 8:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Savings Time), Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations got its 10,000th hit.

By far the best part for me has been encountering some very interesting people from across Canada and the world and so, instead of talking about me, I wanted to take this opportunity to plug the great blogs of all of the people on my blogroll and to encourage everyone to take a look at some absolutely fantastic writers, activists and political thinkers.

A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land

Alina’s Wonderful Myspace page

April Reign

DemocraticSpace

If there is hope…

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Message in a Matrix

More Notes From Underground

Red Jenny’s blog

Relentlessly Progressive Political Economy

Sisyphus

Something, Nothing, Everything

Supercanuk

Surplus Value

The Daily Dissidence

The Urban Feminist

Uncorrected Proofs

Verbena 19

Workers and bloggers of the world, unite!

O’ Quebec, why hast thou forsaken progressivism?

Quebec used to be what made Canada cooler than the US.  With a genuine social democracy, a childcare program the envy of the rest of us backwards provinces and more affordable tuition, Quebec was arguably the sole reason why our federal politicians couldn’t drift too far to the right like their American counterparts.

With Quebec now having shifted drastically to the right after Monday’s election, it looks like all that’s over.  The surge of Mario Dumont’s far-right ADQ is even making waves in Britain where The Independent is calling Dumont (correctly, in my opinion), Canada’s Le Pen.

Moreover, if the surge of the ADQ was not enough, this nice little bit of propaganda does a good job of adding insult to injury.

The article notes that “The legacy of those years – Quebec’s vaunted welfare model – is now under the strain of an aging population, while Quebecers have made sport of grumbling about high taxes and longer emergency-room wait times.”

So I guess the archaic legacy of progressivism in Quebec is their welfare model which is under the strain of an aging population (damn baby-boomers and their stubborn aging).  And, apparently, emergency wait times would be improved if it weren’t for the government of Quebec spending all that money on, you know, doctors and stuff. 

I guess I missed that memo.

With Quebec now shifting to the right, the real question becomes, which province will keep our already right-wing federal politicians from having the incentive from becoming more like their American counterparts?  Ontario?  BC?  Neither seems like it would step up to the plate.

So, despite the fact that the people of Quebec had a truly progressive and fresh option (Québec solidaire) to chose from that was polling at the highest rates seen by any genuine left-wing party in this country since before the days of the NDP, “Le Pen”-lite is now being portrayed by the media as the “fresh new face” of Quebec politics.  And, what is worse, the media is praising this as a vindication for the unity of Canada when, in actuality, all it merely does is shift the threat to Canadian unity away from internal fracture to even further and deeper economic subjugation from abroad.

The politics of “Le Pen”-lite, flat taxes and hyper-capitalism are neither new nor are they fresh, and we should start treating them accordingly.

New political images & old school propaganda

The Paulitics Political Images resource has been updated.  I’ve included some good World War II propaganda (some of which at first glance appear to outrageous as to be fake, but, sadly, are not) as well as some just plain political images that aren’t propaganda and some early socialist ‘propaganda’ (however, due to my bias, on this latter subject I do not use the term pejoratively).

Enjoy (and I mean that facetiously).

world_october_revolution_poster.jpg   reason-is-the-enemy-of-religion.jpg   italian-wwii-fascist-propaganda.jpg   smash-the-old-world-establish-a-new-world.jpg

Click here for the Paulitics Political Images resource

“But we’ve always been at war with Eurasia” and other truths…

“Always [Big Brother’s] eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or outdoors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.”

 ——————————————-

I recently came across this video clip at Terry’s blog “Message in a Matrix“.  Terry’s a good comrade from the UK, so for all you progressives here in Canada interested in some excellent video selections and commentary from a British perspective, I strongly recommend a visit to his blog.

This clip in particular I felt was haunting especially when paired up with the New York Times’ excellent article (that’s right, I actually praised the New York Times) “City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention.”

In the NY Times piece, it is noted that NYPD (in concert with other US thoughtpolice agencies) spent a year spying on people who were planning to demonstrate against George W. Bush at the Republican convention.  But the real kicker is that they monitored people from across the US as well as Canada and Europe; they shared their intelligence on people who had broken no laws with various other law enforcement agencies; and had such detailed intelligence that they knew of mundane details such as the nature of the performance to be given by a small group of musicians called “Bands against Bush” including how they were planning on getting their political messages out in between musical sets.

Read that NY Times article, then watch this video and then tell me that America has not become a police state.

Paulitics Regional/Provincial breakdown of party support

There has been a new update to the new Paulitics regional/provincial breakdown of party support as a part of the larger Paulitics polling resource.

New to this update is the inclusion of individual polls (polling firms and dates) issued for each province/region’s rolling-five poll average.

This update also demonstrates some interesting trends in support for various parties which I found surprising:

Surprise #1:  The Liberals, though roughly at the same level of support in the national polls that they were at during last year’s election, are probably in a worse position than they were going into election day last year.

The Liberals are up in only two provinces:  Alberta (where it will do them no good) and Quebec (where it will do them some good).  They are, however, stagnant in Atlantic Canada, BC and the Prairies, and, more importantly, are down by a statistically significant margin in Ontario – where they desperately need to make gains.

Surprise #2:  The Greens are no longer a party of just British Columbia & the West. 

In the last election the Greens’ best province was Alberta.  But what is interesting now is that the Greens are up by the greatest margin in Ontario, not BC.  The Greens are now in the double-digits in Ontario, BC and Alberta, with their performance in Ontario outstripping their previous strongholds.

For the updated Paulitics regional/provincial breakdown of party support, click here.

I’ll hand it to her: Elizabeth May is not stupid

Partisan bloggers from the Tories and the NDP have more or less panned Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s plan to run in the Nova Scotia Riding of Central Nova, but, leaving aside for the moment what I think of the rightward drifting of the Greens, I do have to hand it to Elizabeth May – this may be the most strategically impressive move I’ve seen from her yet.

The reason for this is two-fold:

#1) Winnability

Just about all the negative reactions to May’s announcement centre around the notion that Peter MacKay is powerful and that Central Nova is unwinnable.  While most realistic projections would acknowledget that virtually EVERY riding in the country is unwinnable for any Green candidate given their current lack of concentrated support, I don’t see Central Nova as any worse than the rest and, potentially, could be a fair bit more winnable.

Take a closer look, Peter MacKay hasn’t won his riding with a majority of the vote in the past 7 years. 

In 2006, he won his riding by only 3,273 votes.  In 2004, he won his riding by 5,906 votes.  Even in 2000, he won his riding, which at the time was called Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough and didn’t contain many of the more progressive communities that Central Nova now contains, by only 5,345 votes.  So it looks to me like MacKay’s hold on this riding is decreasing rather than increasing over time.

Moreover, none of his challengers in these elections has had as high profile as May.

#2)  Strategy, optics and free-press

Even if we conclude that May has no chance in hell of winning Central Nova, I would still contend that, from a purely strategic perspective, May’s move is very intelligent.

May’s move means that Central Nova will be one of, if not the most watched ridings in the next election.  That guarantees tons of free-press from all of the major news outlets for her and, by extention, for the Green Party – thus upping the party’s overall profile across the country.  More likely than not, at least one or two newspapers will run process stories on her campaign (like they did in London – North Centre) thus giving her both a local and national boost in visibility.

Lastly, with this move, May effectively confines Peter MacKay to his riding for the duration of the campaign thus immobilizing the Conservative Party’s co-founder, and the most salient symbol of the old PC Party. 

Thus, even if May loses the election, and let’s be honest, she most likely will – her move here is smart political manoevering at its purest.  She guarantees a high profile for the party for the duration of the campaign and, consequently, more federal funding for each extra vote this move brings in; thus making her party that much more of a serious competitor for the next election.

New Poll Released: Canadian opinion erratic?

There have been three new polls released since the last update of the Paulitics polling resource, including an Ipsos-Reid poll released yesterday.

The latest poll has the parties standing as follows:

CON: 36;  LIB: 34;  NDP: 12;  BLOC: 9;  GREEN: 8 (source)

Anybody who’s interested in the other two polls, you can access them here and here.

As evidenced by the latest 5 or 6 new polls released by various polling firms, it seems as though either there’s been a sudden, and unexplainable, decrease in the reliability of polling methodology or Canadian opinion appears to be increasingly unstable.

For instance, the Angus-Reid Strategies poll released on Feb. 27 had the Liberals at their lowest point since mid-July 2006 (26%) and the Decima poll released the following day confirmed this result showing the Liberals at 27%.  Yet the latest Ipsos Reid poll above shows the Liberals and Conservatives within the margin of error.

Similarly, recent polls have shown the Conservatives varying wildly from a maximum of 40% to a minimum of 32%; Greens between a max of 13% and a minimum of 7%; and the Bloc has been received its lowest poll result since well before the 2006 election (7%) as well as it’s highest result in 5 months – both within a couple of weeks of each other.

With these new polls, even the Paulitics weighted and rolling averages are not moving along smoothly as they normally do, but are currently demonstrating a huge surge for the Liberals (although, most of this has to do with the two aforementioned dismal poll results for the Liberals being dropped from the five-poll averages).

The Paulitics trend lines now sit as follows:

2007-03-17-results.JPG

Click here for the updated Paulitics Polling Resource, the long-term trend lines and the new Paulitics Provincial/Regional party breakdown

Support for capitalist parties in Canada

Continuing on with the discussion I started here on NDP MP Pat Martin’s proposal to ‘unite the left’, I felt it would be useful to take a look at some long-term trends to put everything into perspective.

This graph illustrates the support for the hyper-capitalist parties in Canada at each general election since 1968.

capitalist-support-in-canada.JPG (for the graph, click to enlarge), 

 (For the table of party support, click here)

This demonstrates that what we’ve been seeing in the past couple of elections here is actually a part of a long-term trend since 1968 of declining support for what I have termed the ‘hyper-capitalist’ parties (which I have taken to mean the Liberals, the Conservatives, PCs, Alliance, Reform Party, Social Credit, Ralliement créditiste, Confederation of Regions, and a smattering of other extremely small third parties).  Now that doesn’t mean that the other parties are anti-capitalist as clearly, neither the Bloc or the NDP (who make up the vast majority of the ‘other’ category) are anti-capitalist.  However, what they are is less capitalistic and certainly less in favour of neo-liberalism.

Not only would a coalition between the NDP and the Liberals be akin to an abusive relationship (as all Liberal NDP coalitions are), but such a marriage, given the downward trend in the past 40 years of the hyper-capitalist parties, would seem to be a little bit like fighting to get back onto the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

In short, if the NDP were really looking for a coalition partner, the Greens would be a much more logical choice than the Liberals.

Who says either the Liberals or the NDP are ‘left’?

We’re hearing a lot of noise in the press about “unite the left” since the NDP’s Pat Martin uttered these three words recently in his call for an ‘informal coalition’ of Liberals and New Democrats to defeat the Tories.

It is somewhat humorous to me that just because we are bombarded continually with the rhetoric that the Liberals and the New Democrats are on the left, we assume it to be true.

Reality check #1:

The Liberals are not left, nor are they even centre-left.

The Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien Liberals slashed taxes and the size of the federal government more than any other federal government has since World War II.  More than Dief.  More than Clark.  More than Mulroney.

The Liberals in 1994, 1995 and 1996 were the most radically right-wing government Canada has had since well before the Mulroney era.

How is this even considered centrist let alone centre-left?

Reality check #2:

The NDP is not left wing.

Consider the NDP’s platforms and then compare them to European parties.

Were the NDP to sit in the European Parliament, it would most likely to sit as one of the centrist or even centre-right members of the party-group PES (Party of European Socialists).  Since the NDP merely wish for the capitalist system to be managed differently and want what are comparatively extremely modest reforms to the capitalist system, I would argue that they would fit in on the centre-right of the PES group.

Moreover, in European papers, the PES group, while admittedly broad and containing some genuinely left-wing parties, is generally referred to as “centre-left”.

So where does that leave the NDP?  Sure it’s left of centre and sure it’s to the left of the Liberals (but then again that’s not hard).  But, given most Western democracies as a base measure, it is not difficult to imagine that the NDP would generally be considered by most Europeans as centre-left at best.

If we’re really going to be honest, then we really ought to call proposal what it is:  ‘unite the centre’.

———————————-

UPDATE:  For further discussion on this topic and for a graph demonstrating the declining support for hyper-capitalist parties in Canada click here.


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