Archive for the 'Canadian Politics (domestic)' Category

The return of the right-wing liberals

Charlie Smith of Straight.com has an absolutely fantastic piece on Michael Ignatieff.  This piece is definitely worth the read for any progressive who still foolishly thinks that the Liberals under Ignatieff have more in common with the NDP, Bloc and Greens than they do with the radical right wing Tories of Stephen Harper.

From Straight.com:

Triumph of business Liberals: Michael Ignatieff will lead the party

“I believe I have the judgement, the character, the values and the experience to lead at a very difficult time in the life of our country.”

This is what Bob Rae says on the front page of his Web site for his now-defunct Liberal leadership campaign.

I’m left wondering if Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals’ chosen successor to Stephane Dion, has the judgement, character, values, and experience to lead Canada at a particularly difficult time in its history.

Let’s look at the record.

When it comes to judgement, Ignatieff supported the Bush administration’s attack on Iraq even though there was no United Nations approval.

As far as his character goes, some Canadians were no doubt very troubled by a lengthy profile of Ignatieff written in 2006 by the Globe and Mail’s Michael Valpy. There were shocking revelations about how Ignatieff treated his younger brother while both attented the elite Upper Canada College as teenagers.

Ignatieff’s ruthlessness, which was on display in the Valpy profile, suggests that Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally has some competition in this department.

As for Ignatieff’s values, I’ve been bothered by his rather one-sided view of the war in the Balkans in 1999. It’s a viewpoint he seems to share with the CBC’s Carole Off but which has been challenged by retired Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, former B.C. NDP candidate Rollie Keith, University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus Edward Herman, and Osgoode Hall law professor Michael Mandel.

Honest commentators who can look back with the benefit of hindsight know that the Serbs slaughtered Bosnian Muslims at Srebernica in 1995.

But they also know that the creation of Kosovo was based on fraudulent claims of genocide perpetrated by the Kosovo Liberation Army four years later. Ignatieff helped build his reputation as a human-rights advocate in part on the basis of these now-discredited claims.

Unfortunately, the Canadian media are too ignorant about this issue to call him on this point.

As for experience, Ignatieff was out of the country for 29 years, which leaves me wondering if he’s ready to serve on the average city council in this country, let alone occupy 24 Sussex Drive as the prime minister.

This week’s coronation of Ignatieff is a triumph of business Liberals like John Manley who always wanted Canada to be on friendlier terms with the United States.

I’m guessing that those in Vancouver who will applaud Ignatieff’s rise to federal Liberal leader are likely some of same people who apologized to former U.S. ambassador Paul Celucci in writing for Canada’s refusal to join the coalition of the willing in Iraq.

Don’t be surprised if some on the left wing of the Liberal party decide that now is the time to rip up their membership cards and join the NDP.

Quebec voters decimate only provincial party that supported Harper

dum_ar_081207-harper-dumontTonight, Quebeckers utterly destroyed Harper’s closest Québec ally in what is undoubtedly the first referendum on the future of Harper’s government in light of the potential for a federal coalition.

Tonight, the far-right wing provincial party, the ADQ, was reduced from official opposition status with the 41 seats it won in the last provincial election, to third party status with just 7 seats projected by CBC as of 11:03 EST.  Due in no small part to Mario Dumont’s support of Harper, his party went from official opposition status to losing its official party status in the Quebec National Assembly.

If there is anything the prime minister should glean from tonights stunning repudiation, it’s that his recent bump in the polls nationally may well prove a Pyrrhic victory for his Conservative party.  The Tories may be up in the polls in the more reactionary, Anglophone parts of the country, but tonight shows that he purchased that lead by selling out his party’s chances in the province of Québec.

Victory! Marxist/Anarchist party wins seat in Quebec election!

The most successful far left party in all of North America (excluding Mexico) is, without a doubt a provincial party in Québec called Québec Solidaire.

As of tonight, QS has become the only party in North America containing various sub-party groupings which openly identify as: Anti-Stalinist Marxist, radical, pacifist, anarchist, socialist, environmentalist and feminist, to hold a seat at the state or provincial level.

chretien-strangling-clennettUnfortunately, the Québec Solidaire candidate in my riding (Hull), Bill Clennett, only placed third after the Parti Québécois and the Liberals.  Clennett, for those of you who don’t know, rose to fame in that quintessentially Canadian way:  he was once literally strangled by then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on national television.

While I strongly disagree with Québec Solidaire’s sovereigntist leanings, the victory tonight in the provincial riding of Mercier is nothing short of one of the most important victories for the far left in the industrialized world.  This is one of the first times that I’m aware of since 1872 where anarchists and Marxists did that which commentators of all stripes had long claimed to be impossible:  They worked together within a single party structure and they succeeded.

red-flag-2If you want to see democracy in action, look no further than Québec Solidaire.

If you want to see the kind of anarchist/Marxist/social democratic co-operation that must characterize 21st Century struggle, look no further than Québec Solidaire.

If you want to see victory in the riding of Mercier, look no further than Québec Solidaire and Amir Khadir.

“Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose, but their chains…  Workers of the world unite!”

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See also:

Is Capitalism Justified?

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?

Marx on religion: Dispelling more myths about socialism

Great Quotes: Marx

A friendly note to America from a Canadian: Quit saying you’re the “envy of the world”!

untitled2Dear America,

You are bombarded every day with your media telling you that you are “the envy on the world”.

I’ve travelled to almost every Canadian province and spent considerable time in four of them.  I hate to burst your bubble but, contrary to your belief that you are “the envy of the world”, no Canadian that I’ve ever met — even in the most conservative parts of Alberta — has ever struck up a conversation with me saying:  “You know who I’m really envious of?  The USA.”  In no conversation I’ve ever had, even in conversations about America, has any Canadian, European, Aussie, Kiwi, Mexican or Asian that I’ve ever met said to me “Jeez, it really sucks that we’re not Americans.  I’m so jealous of them.”

I sometimes wonder if it’s just that you don’t realize how ridiculous this claim is.  The rest of the world can’t help but notice that no two people can even agree on why America is the envy of the world but that there is a compulsion to recite the refrain every day nevertheless.

The Jacksonville Progress publication yesterday seemed to suggest that America is the envy of the world because of its “people and for the God-given principles of freedom”.  (Apparently God only gave freedom to America, therefore the rest of the world is envious).

In a state of the union address, your outgoing President claimed instead that it was America’s economy that was the envy of the world.  (Apparently China’s nearly double or triple the US’s GDP growth rate isn’t as economically impressive or envious).

While, on a more ridiculous mindset, this news site seems to suggest that America’s peaceful exchange of power is what makes it the “envy of the world”.  (Apparently no other country has yet mastered that whole ‘democracy’ thing the Greeks were talking about 2000 years ago).

So you don’t even know why the world is supposed to be envious, but you just know that they are.  Am I the only one who sees how insane that is?

So please, America, take this in the nicest way possible, but if you ever plan on not being seen as a nation of fools (which you are not) and if you ever intend on repairing your image after 8 years of Bush, you absolutely have to stop saying that you are the envy of the world.

Signed,

A Canadian

3 statistics about the 2008 election you’ll never see in the media

With the 2008 federal election behind us, many pundits (myself included) are being faced with reality that the election did not turn out as we projected.  Having under-estimated the projected level of support for the Conservatives and over-estimated the projected level of support for the NDP and Greens; and with the NDP only gaining about 1% in the popular vote and the Green vote utterly collapsing by more than 1/3 between the last polls and election day, it seems that many progressives have been made to feel sorry for themselves.

As such, the triumph of the Harper Conservatives over the ‘progressive’ forces in this country has been a common theme  explored ad nausium by the mainstream media.

This notion is both interesting and straightforward.  Indeed the only problem with this post-election theme is that it’s completely unsupported by the facts.

If anything, this election should be noted as being exemplary of exactly the opposite.

This election, if nothing else, was a stentorian vindication of the long-term trend witnessed in Canada since the 1974 general election AWAY from liberalism and conservatism and toward progressivism.

A while back, I pointed out the long-term trend in Canadian popular support away from the neo-liberal/neo-conservative, ultra-capitalist parties (of which, I took to include Liberals, the Conservatives, PCs, Alliance, Reform Party, Social Credit, Ralliement créditiste, Confederation of Regions, and other small third parties) and toward the more moderate and/or progressive capitalist parties (which I took to include the NDP, Bloc, Greens, Communist Party, CAP, CPC-ML and other small third parties).  I am pleased to say that not only has this trend continued, but that it has also continued in every region of the country without exception.

In 2008, in every region of Canada without exception — West, Ontario, Québec, Atlantic & North — the combined ultra-capitalist parties (Liberal and Conservative) decreased in popular support.  Meanwhile, in every region of Canada, the combined more moderate or progressive parties increased their popular level of support.

The public’s appetite for laissez faire capitalism and vicious cuts to social spending as instituted by the Conservatives of today and the Liberals of yesteryear is clearly declining.  The only question is, how much longer can these two warring factions of the capitalist class continue to operate as separate parties before they are forced to ‘unite the right’ once again amidst the rising tide of public opinion against their policies.

And that is something that the mainstream capitalist media or their conservative apologists just won’t let you contemplate.

The immorality of voting

The relatively inconspicuous task of voting doesn’t seem to arouse much suspicion of a moral dilemma in most people — myself included. Virtually the only thing all of our party élites seem to agree on is that everyone should vote no matter who it is that they vote for.  It seems to most people therefore, as not only a relatively innocent act, but even as a moral obligation.

Wendy McElroy sees it differently.

In this entirely engaging and interesting recent talk, Ms. McElroy gives a compelling argument exploring both moral and other reasons why we shouldn’t cast a ballot (or why we should spoil our ballots) in certain elections.

I am a regular voter, and I do plan on voting this Tuesday in the Canadian federal election, but the argument presented by Ms. McElroy is not silly.  In fact, Ms. McElroy’s argument is serious enough that I believe every responsible voter must address the argument one way or another even if one plans to continue voting in the future.  Ms. McElroy approaches her argument from a peculiar version of the anarchist school of thought rather than the Marxist and socialist schools of thought which I tend to emphasize here at Paulitics.  Unfortunately, however, this brand of anarchism is anarcho-capitalism which I strongly disagree with.  That said, I assure my regular traditional leftist readers that there is no element of pro-capitalist rhetoric in this particular conversation and I believe that regular anarchists, Marxists and left liberals can and should all give Ms. McElroy’s argument a serious airing.

Ms. McElroy’s arguments about voting as legitimizing élite-controlled democracy — or what we leftists used to more commonly refer to as bourgeois democracy —  I find very compelling.  On the other hand I was relatively unconvinced by the implication in her argument that voters who elect a government remain morally responsible for the authoritarian acts of said government even if they later withdrawn any moral or political support from the candidate or party in question.  For me, activism, agitation, disruption, organization and other subversive acts in between elections can absolve a voter from the moral culpability of electing an odious government into power.

But, nevertheless, I strongly encourage any regular Paulitics reader and any potential voter to listen to Wendy McElroy’s talk below before they consider voting.

Wikipedia editor censors Paulitics… again

Longtime readers of Paulitics may remember the incident during the 2007 Ontario General Election where right wing wikipedia editors tried to censor the Paulitics polling resources from the “external sites” section of the Ontario election wikipedia article.

The grounds for this move, of course as you may recall, were completely flimsy.  At first the argument was that there were already too many linked websites (even though there were fewer sites for that election in progress than there were for the as-of-yet to be announced 40th Canadian federal election wikipedia article).  The second argument was that my web page is partisan and highly opinionated (even though I didn’t link to ANY of my commentary and despite the fact that people of all ideologies use the Paulitics polling resource as their source for polling data).  Then, finally, the reasonable argument was made that I, as the owner of the blog, couldn’t continue to fight the edit war by reintroducing my site since that was a conflict of interest.  I accepted this argument and, at this point, a good Samaritan (Nick J Boragina) stepped in and went to bat for me.

Now, after well over a year being listed on the 40th General Election wikipedia article, some wikipedia user (I don’t know who) has removed Paulitics from the list of sites doing polling work and refused to include Paulitics among the sites that do seat projections (despite the fact that Paulitics was the #1 most accurate seat projection site for the 2007 Ontario election).

Is there a good Samaritan who will go to bat for me once again on Wikipedia?

Multiple new polls: If Tories continue to collapse like this, they won’t form government

With three polling firms now reporting in confirming this fact, it is now clear that the governing Conservatives are, for the first time in this election campaign, facing some real trouble.

Since September 27th, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have dropped 4.8% in the Paulitics Polling Resource.  What is more, this precipitous drop has now been confirmed by each of the big three polling firms which release daily tracking polls.

As the calculation illustrated right demonstrates, if the Conservatives continue on their current trend, it seems to me unlikely that they will form government even if all of this loss in support goes to the NDP, Greens and/or Bloc and not to the Liberals.

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If the Tories don’t get a majority, thank the Bloc not the Grits, Greens or NDP

Having just finished a massive update to the Paulitics National Polling Resource, the Provincial/Regional Polling Resource, and the Seat Projection Meta-Analysis, there is one fact that has become abundantly clear:

If the Conservatives don’t get a majority, we should thank Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Québecois, not the Dion Liberals, the May Greens, or Layton’s NDP.  Of all of the data uploaded this evening, the astonishing rise of the Bloc in Quebec (pictured below) is perhaps the most impressive.

Because of the Bloc’s rise, the Conservatives have dropped 10% in Quebec since September 13th.  In other words, 1 in 3 Tory supporters in Québec have abandoned that party since September 13th.


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