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gliberals

unlike most canadians, i have an aversion to the liberal party. partly, it's because, before i defected, i was raised in a family that favoured the conservatives, so i developed an early distaste. mostly, though, it's because i have always disliked organisations that try to be all things to all people. in modeling themselves as the natural governing party, the liberals have shown little political consistency, notwithstanding the fact that they have produced some impressive leaders. one of the only observant comments to come out of the mouth of stephen harper was during the 2004 english language debate, where he told jack layton that he might not agree with him, but he at least knew where layton stood. with the liberals, the answer to the question of where they stand on a particular issue seems to be "where would you like me to stand"?

however, because i've been a political junky since childhood and because closely contested leadership conventions are like the china white of politics, i have been following the current campaign to replace milksop paul martin as the leader and potentially next prime minister. although it's sadly outdated, i like the fact that the liberals chose one last time to go with the old fashioned format that requires delegates to show up. i've always felt that the sort of concentrated passion you witness at this sort of gathering can do nothing but good for a political party. by comparison, the rather sedate affairs one sees around phone-in or electronic votes lacks pizzazz.

in a way, i make a good observer, because i'm unlikely to ever vote liberal, no matter who wins the party leadership. this, in theory, makes me objective. that said, frontrunner michael ignatieff is the personification of nails on a chalkboard to me, so i'm not entirely neutral. i don't think i could handle seeing his face on the news every night.

soon enough- within the hour- we should know what the status is from the first ballot. we already know that joe volpe has dropped out of contention and moved to bob rae. it remains to be seen whether or not that helps the ndp turncoat, since volpe is the one candidate from whom the others might have liked to distance themselves.

the speeches were typical politics for the most part. does anyone else find all of this hand-wringing over the environment just a little ironic, considering the party's record in twelve years in power? ken dryden warmed me a little because, unlike what i have come to expect from the liberals, seemed sincere in his convictions. he won't win, but he seems like a decent person. stephane dion fell well short of what he needed to overtake gerard kennedy, whose speech and video presentation were slick but well-done. bob rae managed to upstage everyone by speaking "off the cuff"- 25 minutes without notes or a podium, going for the down-home, straight-talking appeal. while he didn't speak enough french and almost came off the rails at one exceedingly long pause, the gimmick was very effective, and became the performance to which all the others were compared. ignatieff's video presentation was repetitive and felt at times like it was never going to end. while almost painfully stiff at first, he did gradually hit his rhythm and delivered a polished, typical front-runner speech, designed, like the liberals, to offend no one and say nothing.

rumour has it that we are going to have another election in the spring, because, having had te same government for twelve years, we now feel the need to change every sixteen months. so whoever wins this weekend is not going to have a lot of time to get comfortable. alternately, whoever wins is not going to have a lot of time to gets his bearings before having to hit the election trail. good luck buddy, you're going to need it.

reluctantly, i have to admit that, seen at their best moment (and the speeches likely do show their best moments), the candidate field is impressive. the talk was articulate, at times inspirational. but this is the liberals. they've been in power for a huge majority of canada's history. they've had the time to lead us to the brave new world. it's all well and good to talk about inclusion, the environment, the greratness of canada and our role in the world, but when you've held the reins of power for as long as these guys have, someone needs to stand up and say "that's great, but what the hell were you doing when you had the opportunity to work on a lot of these things?" i'm not denying that the party has accomplished some important things (sometimes borrowed from their competitors). but seriously, name one thing in the chretien years that made you feel proud to be canadian. something that the government did.

fact is, these guys always sound great when they're making their sales pitch, but they're a little less inspiring once you've bought in. whatever happens tonight and tomorrow, caveat emptor.

Comments

Interesting victory by Dion, which no one had predicted. He was my pet peeve in the Chretien government, the author of the hated Law of Referendum Clarity... anyhoo, he still made a pretty good environment minister.
We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Not that I want another election (not that I care) but I felt a lot safer (and saner) with the Grits around, instead of the "Tories".
You cant tell me that you want to keep those yahoos in power. And no, I didn't vote for them. If they could just pull through electoral reform, of proportionate representation, both the NDP and the Greens would benefit.
flora_mundi said…
well, since none of the party heavyweights or their corporate puppetmasters were backing him, it's nice to see a leader who doesn't start off beholden to others (except gerard kennedy).

and yeah, i think it's high time someone put the conservatives out of our misery. it would be nice to have acutal options, but the priority now is just to remove the barbarians from the kingdom.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …