A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[LINK] “The sorry saga of Eve Adams puts Trudeau’s judgment in question again”

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Kelly McParland in the National Post notes that the failure of Justin Trudeau to secure for Eve Adams, a former Conservative junior minister who defected, a mid-Toronto nomination speaks much about his judgement.

Despite campaigning hard for the nod, Adams was decisively defeated, losing by about 800 votes out of 3,000 cast, after being urged to withdraw by a heckler.

Why such a stupendous gaffe wasn’t evident to the Liberal brain trust remains a mystery. Trudeau would have been better to fire whatever adviser suggested it was a good idea and enlist Colle in his place.

Instead, Colle went to bat for Adams’s rival, Marco Mendicino, a local prosecutor and adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall law school. Adams, he declared, would succeed “over my dead body.” Mendicino has an impressive background, including prosecution of the “Toronto 18” terror group, which gives him excellent credentials to put up against the law-and-order Tories. He also has an extensive record in local community groups. Adams is a career politician who doesn’t live in the riding and only became a Liberal after being rejected by the Tories. She’s engaged to a former Harper strategist who is also on the outs with the party.

Mendicino had the support of former Liberal leader Bob Rae. Adams was parachuted in by Trudeau, despite his pledge of open nomination contests. It didn’t need a rocket scientist to spot the better candidate, yet Trudeau not only turned up for a photo op with Adams, but praised her “commitment to public service.”

The whole unhappy affair underlines the serious doubts that continue to plague Trudeau’s leadership skills, and the judgment of the advisers around him. A political novice could have seen the dangers involved in embracing Adams, which not only contradicted Trudeau’s pledge of open nominations but offended local party officials and opened the door for Trudeau to be criticized by opposition parties as just another cynical opportunistic despite his pledge to practice a new, more honourable form of leadership.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 28, 2015 at 10:14 pm

[LINK] “Flora MacDonald, longtime politician, dead at 89″

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The death Sunday of veteran Canadian politician Flora MacDonald got plenty of attention. She was a prominent politician who established precedents for women in politics.

MacDonald began her career working at Progressive Conservative headquarters from 1956 to 1965, serving as executive secretary for half a decade. After being elected as a Member of Parliament in 1972, she became the party’s critic for aboriginal affairs and northern development.

Four years after being first elected on the national scene, she threw her name into the ring of contenders for the party’s leadership only to see Joe Clark win the nomination and eventually become prime minister.

Under Clark, MacDonald was named secretary of state for external affairs. She was the first woman to hold this post in Canada and became one of the first few female foreign leaders worldwide at the time.

A few years later in September 1984, she became the minister of employment and immigration under then-prime minister Brian Mulroney. MacDonald later became Mulroney’s communications minister in 1986.

In November 1988, MacDonald lost her seat and cabinet position after spending 16 years in the House of Commons, prompting her exit from federal politics. She decided to dedicate her time toward humanitarian efforts but also managed to host a television program, author a book and serve as chair of an international development research centre.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 28, 2015 at 10:11 pm

[LINK] “The lessons of Newfoundland’s 1948 referendum”

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Suffragio features an article by Kevin Lees looking at Newfoundland’s 1948 referendum. I think the author much too sanguine about the economic chances of Newfoundland–independence would have come at the price of continuing austerity, and no automatic access to the Canadian labour market–but the points made about the dynamics are worth noting.

Confederation’s champion was Joey Smallwood — a Liberal radio show host who embraced Canada and who nearly single-handedly pushed the cause through the Confederation Association. The cause of merging into Canada attracted support mainly from the Protestants of rural Newfoundland and Labrador; less so from the urban business class of St. John’s. After successfully pushing confederation, Smallwood (pictured above) would become the province’s first and most long-lasting premier, serving until 1972 and shaping Newfoundland’s transition as a part of federal Canada.

Peter Cashin, a one-time Newfoundlander finance minister, was a member of the 1947 commission to London that so disappointed Newfoundland’s leaders when the UK government refused to commit to financial assistance. Disillusioned by British intentions, and rightly suspecting that the British and Canadian government were colluding to favor confederation, Cashin led the Responsible Government League throughout the referendum campaign. In a famous 1947 speech to the national convention on Newfoundland’s future, he condemned what he called:

a conspiracy to sell… this country to the Dominion of Canada. Watch in particular the attractive bait which will be held out to lure our country into the Canadian mousetrap. Listen to their flowery sales talk which will be offered to you; telling Newfoundlanders they’re a lost people….

At minimum, Cashin believed that a return to responsible government would give Newfoundland a stronger hand in any potential talks on confederation, including the terms on which Newfoundland might join Canada — with respect to debt, provincial assistance and Newfoundland’s rights vis-à-vis the national government with respect to fishing and resources.

The most beguiling option came with the Economic Union Party, the brainchild of businessman Chelsey Crosbie. Though you might not be able to tell it from the name, the ‘economic union’ meant union with the United States — not with Canada. Crosbie’s group, which became even more popular than the Responsible Government League, hoped that independence would allow closer ties with the United States. US statehood was never presented on the ballot, even though there’s a plausible case that it might have won in light of the Newfoundlandish good will to the Americans during World War II. Though US president Harry Truman never seriously considered annexation, it’s conceivable that after a decade of closer economic partnership, Newfoundland could have become the 51st American state in 1959 alongside Alaska and Hawaii.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 27, 2015 at 7:35 pm

[LINK] “Putin is a Mussolini Not a Hitler, Inozemtsev Says”

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Window on Eurasia summarizes the arguments of another Russian analyst, one Vladislav Inozemtsev, who makes what I think is the correct argument that the contemporary Russian regime bears quite a few similarities to that of 1930s fascist Italy.

The Kremlin regime has met “in practice all” of the characteristics of fascism: a leader cult, a desire for revenge for supposed defeats in the past and attacks now, and an ideological portrayal of these events as the work of others rather than the Russians themselves.

The Kremlin routinely touts Russia as something pure standing against rotting Europe, “masculinity has become a cult, which to a large extent comes from the president himself.” In addition, “a corporate state has been completely constructed: the oligarchs are subordinate to the will of the state, the bureaucracy controls a large part of economic activity, and ‘the corruption vertical’ is more effective than ‘the vertical of power.’”

But what Putin wants makes him look more like Mussolini than the more grandiose Hitler. “In Moscow they want as a maximum the rebirth of the Soviet Union; as a minimum, certain territorial corrections” that would satisfy “the crowd that routinely votes” for the state and its leaders.”

“Crimea,” Inozemtsev suggests, “is Abyssina of 1935, not Austria or the Sudetenland of 1938.” When Mussolini seized Abysinnia, he declared “Italy has an empire.” He wasn’t interested in going further. And Putin isn’t either: he will never invade the Baltic countries or attack NATO, and for the same reason Mussolini didn’t – a fear of attacking major powers.

What Putin has succeeded in doing is creating “a populist fascist regime, one that is “moderately aggressive [like that of] Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 16, 2015 at 9:43 pm

[LINK] Slavoj Žižek in the LRB on the Chinese model

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Writing in the London Review of Books, Slavoj Žižek writes about the extent to which politics has been depoliticized. He turns to China, ostensibly the last major Communist power, as proof.

An exemplary case of today’s ‘socialism’ is China, where the Communist Party is engaged in a campaign of self-legitimisation which promotes three theses: 1) Communist Party rule alone can guarantee successful capitalism; 2) the rule of the atheist Communist Party alone can guarantee authentic religious freedom; and 3) continuing Communist Party rule alone can guarantee that China will be a society of Confucian conservative values (social harmony, patriotism, moral order). These aren’t simply nonsensical paradoxes. The reasoning might go as follows: 1) without the party’s stabilising power, capitalist development would explode into a chaos of riots and protests; 2) religious factional struggles would disturb social stability; and 3) unbridled hedonist individualism would corrode social harmony. The third point is crucial, since what lies in the background is a fear of the corrosive influence of Western ‘universal values’: freedom, democracy, human rights and hedonist individualism. The ultimate enemy is not capitalism as such but the rootless Western culture threatening China through the free flow of the internet. It must be fought with Chinese patriotism; even religion should be ‘sinicised’ to ensure social stability. A Communist Party official in Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian, said recently that while ‘hostile forces’ are stepping up their infiltration, religions must work under socialism to serve economic development, social harmony, ethnic unity and the unification of the country: ‘Only when one is a good citizen can one be a good believer.’

But this ‘sinicisation’ of religion isn’t enough: any religion, no matter how ‘sinicised’, is incompatible with membership of the Communist Party. An article in the newsletter of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection claims that since it is a ‘founding ideological principle that Communist Party members cannot be religious’, party members don’t enjoy the right to religious freedom: ‘Chinese citizens have the freedom of religious belief, but Communist Party members are not the same as regular citizens; they are fighters in the vanguard for a communist consciousness.’ How does this exclusion of believers from the party aid religious freedom? Marx’s analysis of the political imbroglio of the French Revolution of 1848 comes to mind. The ruling Party of Order was the coalition of the two royalist wings, the Bourbons and the Orleanists. The two parties were, by definition, unable to find a common denominator in their royalism, since one cannot be a royalist in general, only a supporter of a particular royal house, so the only way for the two to unite was under the banner of the ‘anonymous kingdom of the Republic’. In other words, the only way to be a royalist in general is to be a republican. The same is true of religion. One cannot be religious in general: one can only believe in a particular god, or gods, to the detriment of others. The failure of all attempts to unite religions shows that the only way to be religious in general is under the banner of the ‘anonymous religion of atheism’. Effectively, only an atheist regime can guarantee religious tolerance: the moment this atheist frame disappears, factional struggle among different religions will explode. Although fundamentalist Islamists all attack the godless West, the worst struggles go on between them (IS focuses on killing Shia Muslims).

There is, however, a deeper fear at work in the prohibition of religious belief for members of the Communist Party. ‘It would have been best for the Chinese Communist Party if its members were not to believe in anything, not even in communism,’ Zorana Baković, the China correspondent for the Slovenian newspaper Delo, wrote recently, ‘since numerous party members joined churches (most of them Protestant churches) precisely because of their disappointment at how even the smallest trace of their communist ideals had disappeared from today’s Chinese politics.’

Written by Randy McDonald

July 15, 2015 at 7:03 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Graeme Hamilton of the National Post on the Kahnawake Mohawks

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Graeme Hamilton of the National Post has an extended post looking at how the Mohawks of Kahnawake, outside of Montréal, are taking use of the jursidictional powers available to them to try to prosper. Some of these methods, involving exploiting economic niches, appeal; others, such as bans on intermarriage, are abhorrent to me.

Today, Kahnawake in many ways operates as an autonomous jurisdiction. The band council discourages members from voting in provincial or federal elections. Its economy is driven by cigarette and alcohol sales, and gambling operations outside governments deem illegal but have been powerless to stop. Its membership law forces residents to leave the reserve if they marry non-natives — the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms be damned. The community runs its own schools, court and police force. Traditionalists travel the world on passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy.

Asked whether the Warriors would once again take up arms to defend themselves against an outside intervention, Deer says simply, “We’re prepared for any incursion.’

On a recent weekday morning, five kilometres from the foot of Mercier Bridge, players sat around tables at Playground Poker with chips stacked high in front of them, eyeing their cards in a scene that would fit in Las Vegas.

Under Canadian law, such gambling is legal only in provincially sanctioned casinos, but Playground Poker does not have a lot of time for Canadian law. Run by a Kahnawake Mohawk and operated on Mohawk land, it and a few other poker rooms on the reserve are the most recent examples of Kahnawake flexing its jurisdictional muscle.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 10, 2015 at 9:52 pm

[LINK] “Poll shows Justin Trudeau’s Liberals slipping further behind”

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Donovan Vincent in the Toronto Star reports on a Forum Research poll suggesting the Liberals will slip even further in behind. Could the party recover from a second federal defeat, especially if the NDP continues to make inroads?

The federal Liberals are now trailing in third place behind the NDP and Conservatives who are tied for the lead in voter support, according to a new Forum Research poll.

The latest results, taken from a random sampling of 1,200 Canadian voters show the Conservatives and New Democrats tied at 32 per cent support each.

About one-quarter would vote Liberal (26 per cent) if a federal election was held today, the poll suggests.

If these results are projected onto a 338-seat House of Commons, the Conservatives would seize a minority government of 155 seats, 15 short of a majority, according to Forum.

The NDP would grab 120 seats, the Liberals 59, Forum says.

In tracking the race between the three leading parties, Forum results in the past year have shown the Liberals under Justin Trudeau go from being comfortably out front, to a three-way tie, to the current third-place position.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 10, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Canada, Politics

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