Category Archives: #elexn42

Smart and Dumb

I, along with a lot of Canadians I suspect, have spent much of the past week not reading about Justin Trudeau as either the Second Coming or Chief Rider of the Apocalypse. He’s neither.

Smart people, regardless of party, are intrigued with how Trudeau is going to set about governing. He has a lot of choices, a fairly vague set of election promises and 39% popular support. Dumb people are foaming at the mouth and finding ever more scathing things to say about the Liberals, Premier Wynne, marijuana legalization and Canada’s international commitments. (Given the farcical nature of Obama’s feckless non-commitment to wiping out ISIS we are well out of any combat role in that fiasco.)

I have no doubt that Trudeau will have to throw some red meat to his base and, unlike Harper, he might be bright enough to do that at the outset of his term. He also has a lot to actually do with assorted international conferences to attend and a Cabinet to appoint and priorities to set.

Smart people will wish Trudeau well as he embarks on his Prime Ministership. Dumb people are going to try to stoke the 24 hour outrage machine and hysterically nitpick the guy.This is dumb because it is so patently partisan. Smart people want Trudeau to be ready and to be the best Prime Minister he can be. The Liberal Party and Trudeau himself are likely to be wrong about any number of things and, as those errors are made, it will be time to point them out and suggest better alternatives. But Trudeau has to make the errors first.

Smart conservatives, after they have been annoyed at losing and after they have realized that it was not just Harper’s fault – a realization which seems to be taking a bit longer than is reasonable – need to get to work considering where they lost the 8% of the electorate who swung over to the Libs. What was it about the Harper government’s approach which alienated so many people? It will be a lot more useful to think about where modern conservatism is going in Canada than it will be to fire spitballs at Trudeau.

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Win the Election, Lose the Speech #elxn42

I think Harper looked relieved. He’s done. He may find honour in history, he may not. Hard to say. Difficult to put a finger on the great achievements of the Harper era. “Not sinking the boat” is, of course, a good thing; it is not the stuff of legend. Delighted he resigned; but, typically, he didn’t mention that in his speech.

But then we had Justin. Complete with namaste bobbing, beautiful wife. He had the one great opportunity politics affords a man. He had won an national election convincingly. Seats, so far as I can tell, in every province. The NDP destroyed, the CPC humbled. This was his night.

He gave a speech of profound vacuity. There was no there there. He was tired, he was hoarse, he was out of ideas before he even starts the job. “In Canada the better is always possible.” Really? Really? Is that all you have Justin?

I forced my kids to listen to this speech on the assumption that a triumphant politician would give the speech of his life and that is always worth watching. This wasn’t. This was a platitude stacked on a cliche drizzled in a woo woo syrup; we spoke, he listened, he’ll keep listening..

KOOKOOKACHOO

Showtime #elxn42

Polls closed everywhere but BC and Yukon.

Hints of Red wave. The question is whether the 60% popular vote going Grit in the Maritimes rolls forward. That suggests a collapse of Tory vote.

Next PM called by CBC: Trudeau.

Update #1: Calling it for Justin with polls still open in BC is interesting. If you are an ABC voter rather than voting strategically you might well vote your preference. It is very early and the lead is very small. The red wave could continue of sputter out. If it sputters out Libs staying home in BC or NDPers not voting strategically could make a difference.

Update #2: The Tories are getting some points on the board and, to a tiny degree, the Libs are stalling out a bit. We may yet have a long evening.

Red Tide in the Atlantic #ELXN42

CBC – which seems to have a rather nice web presence tonight – is calling Libs elected or leading in 32 Maritime seats. Clean sweep.

This is a much anticipated and predicted result. If there is anything interesting here it is that the NDP got no where.

However, it is a net loss to the CPC of 14 seats which will be challenging to pick up. It is also a loss of 6 to the NDP. Strategic voting? Have to have the popular vote to figure that out but it looks a bit as if the ABC vote went to the Grits. (Handy Wiki map here.)

 

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The Burbs #ELXN42

Harper, CPC, Rob Ford

Who has let those dreadful people in?

The night before E-Day and the campaigns are pushing, hard or not, to hit the last few swing seats. Smart war rooms have closed down the news cycle and are throwing what resources they have left at GOTV efforts for the Day. (Really smart campaigns have been working the advanced polls to get as many of their committed voters “in the box” before E-Day as possible.

The media seem to be hedging a bit as the polls are pretty inconclusive – JT up a bit, but then there is EKOS… – but they are all pretty sure Harper screwed himself being seen at a Ford Brothers shindig on Saturday night.

Chris Selley marked the desperation:

And then, there was Saturday night — a brand new low for a conservative party that has abandoned so very many of its conservative principles. Drugs or no drugs, the Fords’ politics is a flailing, nihilist mashup of spite, fantasy and delusion masquerading as “Respect for Taxpayers.” The Tories wear that now. If they lose on Monday, they will have utterly debased themselves doing so. national post 

Young Justin, fresh from discovering that one of his key campaign aides has been peddling advice on how to reach out to the new Prime Minister, went deep Annex on Harper:

Trudeau, asked during an appearance in Montreal about the prime minister’s association with the Ford brothers, said Harper should be “embarrassed that he’s having to count on the support of Rob Ford for his re-election.” national post

The Fords touch a very deep-rooted snobbery which lies at the heart of Canadian politics. Rob Ford’s fall from a weird sort of grace was, from the Annex and the deep bunkers of the CBC and the Toronto Star all the way to the languor of the virtual common room which the Globe and Mail effects, a much needed correction in the Canadian universe. People like the Fords, brash, uncouth, beer-drinking – Labatts not artisanal – get up the noses of the decent people who recycle, cry for refugees and are convinced global warming is the moral challenge of our age.

Oddly the people whining about Harper sharing a stage with the Fords were not going to vote for Harper. The question is will Ford Nation turn out? Harper probably has very little time for the Fords; but he needs the votes they can bring in order to win the suburban ridings which ring the orange and red ridings of downtown Toronto.

Like most Canadian elections, this election is not going to be won in the downtown core of Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver or Calgary: it will be won in the burbs. Burbs where Ford Nation and the bluer sort of Tory feel right at home. The years that Jason Kenny has invested in the Sikh and Chinese and Hindu communities have made whole tracts of the burbs winable CPC seats. An ethnic strategy which recognizes the social conservatism of many ethnic communities is about to be tested.

The Canadian “middle class” does not live downtown. It lives in cul d’sacs and townhouses and Vancouver Specials. For a decade Harper and the CPC have been weaning it away from the Liberal Party. Ford Nation is about aspiration.

Aspirational, middle class, voters are a huge part of this election. Either the CPC strategy has worked and these voters will stay aligned with Harper and the CPC and their pocketbooks  or it will have failed and those voters will take a flyer on JT.

Chris and Justin are “shocked and appalled” that Harper would take seriously these sorts of people. It will be interesting to see if Harper has made an astute political bet or if Ford Nation is just déclassé bluster.

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Islam is a Race?

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“Islam is a religion. But “Muslim” is a signifier, and the signified is not your reassuringly white neighbour. Let’s dispense with the disingenuous distinctions of Muslim-baiters and see their xenophobia for what it is—racism in another guise.”  Dr. Dawg

I commented….

What a silly position.

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”

—–

The Dawg wants xenophobia to be racism (which is, presumptively, just so damned evil). And he deems Islam to be a religion which, amazingly, is the only racialized religion on the planet. (Oh, and by the way, in other contexts, race is simply a social construct which, I suppose, allows it to be applied, like whitewash, to any instance where it might be useful.)

Now a reasonable person might query, “Why does Dawg want Islam to be a race?” What is useful about converting a religion into a race? How does this assist our understanding of that thing? Or, cynically, is racializing Islam designed as a last ditch attempt to prevent us from understanding that thing?

—–

Here is a suggestion. Try running the argument that Islam is only superficially a religion; scratch the surface and you find a political ideology as fully elaborated as conservatism, liberalism, socialism or fascism. Rather than trying to fit up Islam as a race – which either does damage to Islam or to the common sense idea of race – why not pay attention to its distinctly political elements.

Do races have “law”? Islam does. Do races have a singular position on the Jews? Islam does. Do races have specific views of homosexuality? Islam does. Do races have injunctions as to how to treat non-members? Islam does. Do races have strictures as to how to treat women? Islam does. Do races proselytize? Islam does.

—–
One may be xenophobic or racist with respect to an actual race; but rejecting a political ideology is neither. It may be prudent. It may preserve political positions which are the basis of our society and culture; but it cannot be racist.

For the “progressive” left the defence of Islam should be a deep and enduring embarrassment. Every progressive principle, from basic human equality, feminism, anti-discrimination, anti-slavery, anti-imperialism is violated repeatedly and doctrinally by Islam.

Yet you excuse it. You accuse people who want to fight the evil politics of Islam of the very worst of progressive sins: racism. Because, for some reason, you seem convinced that it is somehow your duty to welcome the agents of your own destruction to your own country and culture. You have this weird need to prostrate yourselves before a politics of brutality, conquest, rape and subjugation.

You’ll have to excuse me if I can’t join you in your political and cultural surrender.

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Enter the Dragon

001The French language debate – a rite in which each leader demonstrates his or her grasp of French and Quebec issues – turned up something interesting. Mulcair and Trudeau think the niqab is perfectly suitable attire for taking your citizenship oath: Harper and Duceppe don’t.

Neither, it turns out, do 80% of Canadians and 90% of Quebecers. There’s a fine old fight going on at Dawg’s blog in which Dawg himself says,

The niqab, after all, is just synedoche for the Muslim presence in Canada. In the service of hatred and fear, articles of ethnic clothing are completely interchangeable.

The electorate has become a mob. And how easy it was. dr.dawg

While I certainly don’t agree that the electorate has become a mob, I think Dawg is exactly right when he says that the niqab has become “synedoche for the Muslim presence in Canada” (synedoche means a part which represents the whole (yes, I had to look it up too)).

All of a sudden the people of Canada have the opportunity to express their views about Muslim immigration. Perhaps not directly – after all the niqab is not a particularly good proxy for Islam as it is not required religiously and not all Muslim women feel compelled to wear it – but far more overtly than the topic has ever been broached before.

Dawg ascribes all manner of sinister motives to Harper, his Aussie advisor and the CPC in bringing this up at all. For all I know this may very well be an exercise in wedge politics. If it is then it is about time that this wedge be tested.

Immigration policy in Canada has never really been put to any sort of popular test. Nor has the ruling class’s conviction that the only thing which matters about Islam is Islamophobia. Dawg lines up nicely with the ruling class and, in the lively comments, states,

There IS no legitimate debate about the degree a government should be prepared to extend human rights to minorities. Rights should never be up for debate, and frankly I don’t give a damn what Chantal (Hebert) says to the contrary. dr dawg

Apparently, well over 80% of Canadians disagree with this position.

Partially, I think, the debate turns on whether one sees Muslim immigration as just another instance of immigration or if one sees such immigration, particularly from the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia, as potentially more problematic than other sorts of immigration.

There are thousands of Muslim immigrants to Canada who lead rich, full integrated lives as Canadians. I am thinking particularly of the several hundred thousand Ismailis who arrived as refugees in the 1970s and have gone on to build vibrant, integrated communities all over Canada.

However, there is a growing minority of Muslims who have moved to Canada but who seem incapable of leaving their old countries, customs and culture behind. The burkas at Walmart are one thing, the demand for segregated swimming times another, the terrorism and support for Sharia law yet another.

Over at Dawg’s the argument seems to be that even noticing that there are Muslim immigrants who do not integrate well into Canadian society is bigoted or racist. Which it may well be; but Canadians have the right to at least discuss how they would like their country to evolve. Should we welcome immigrants from parts of the world where anti-Semitism is matter of fact? Where women are treated as chattels? Where support for the barbarity of Sharia law is a religious duty?

Harper – perhaps by design, perhaps by accident – has given Canadians the opportunity to discuss and, maybe, vote based upon their particular answer to the question of whether, in general, we should accommodate the religious, cultural and political demands of Islam.

I suspect he has won the election by giving Canadians that choice.

[And, as a bonus, I rather doubt that there are any Canadians other than the editorial board of the Globe and Mail, who don’t take a certain satisfaction when convicted terrorists are stripped of their Canadian citizenship. Just as few Canadians lamented when various Nazi war criminals lost their citizenship.]

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