Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Stark Choice (A Reply to PLG)

Purple Library Guy spaketh thusly:
If I thought that the collaboration thing was both necessary and sufficient to get proportional representation, I'd certainly support it. I'm skeptical for tactical reasons. At a minimum, I'd like to see non-Conservative parties get together in a sort of joint policy development process and come up with an electoral system they all support, up front, and craft a bill that they all will commit to. Then maybe it might be worth talking about collaborating in the election to get in and pass that bill. Until you've got at least that, there are some serious problems both tactical and conceptual about how the collaboration is supposed to be done and sold, and what is supposed to happen if a majority Lib-NDP-collaborated government gets in.
That's what we should do then. At the present moment, the leadership (and membership?) of both the Liberals and the NDP have rejected cooperation and proportional representation. A citizens' movement that stands up for democracy and the rights of Parliament (Let's be clear; our quasi-democracy, as elitist driven as it is, functions fairly well, and isn't going to be replaced with genuine participatory democracy anytime soon.) should choose one form of proportional representation and insist upon it, along with insisting upon cooperation against the anti-democratic harpercons. While every system of proportional representation has elements that annoy somebody somewhere, they're all superior to the travesty we have now, where 30% of the vote plus election fraud allows disgusting pukes like the harpercons to lord it all over the rest of us. We should have the system we want decided beforehand, present it to the opposition parties and insist upon it, no ifs, ands or buts.
I would disagree with Kip that the problem is the system being "party-based". I've heard this quite a bit, and I think it's wrongheaded. The real problem is money. But in terms of the voting system itself, the problem is that FPTP distorts results and creates weird incentives not to vote for the party you actually want. I think a party is a useful thing actually. Individuals come and go, and only a few of the most colourful characters give people enough idea about them to have much notion what they'll do in office. A party has a collective ideology, a general mindset and approach to government, that gives a voter something to base a decision on. And functionally, for any kind of proportional representation to work you need parties, otherwise there's nothing to have proportions of.
I agree that in this day and age, with an electorate diversified by class, ethnicity, gender and etc., ... parties serve as good ideological guide-posts. This is no longer an era where wealthy white males control everything and one could pretend that Parliament should consist of reasonable, intelligent rich white dudes who can reach across the aisle and get things done. Nonetheless, I think that at this present moment in Canadian history, partisan blindness is sabotaging our quasi-democracy. The NDP is acting as arrogant and short-sighted as the Liberals used to do. The Liberals are united under Juicy Justin Trudeau, just as primed to retake second place from the NDP as they are to avenge themselves upon the abusive and scuzzy and dangerous harper. They're acting like asses and allowing harper to drive up the middle again.
Now thwap, you're pretty sure the collaboration thing is necessary, because you figure Harper will win the next election with a majority, partly through cheating. Or possibly Trudeau if the big surge lasts. If I agreed I'd be with you. But while I do think Harper will cheat as much as he can, and I do think Elections Canada has become pretty goddamned useless, I don't think he can actually get much mileage from dirty tricks--enough to flip a couple of close ridings, but not enough to give him a majority with much less vote than he got last time. The process itself has too much participation; long as everyone sends plenty of scrutineers he ain't gonna be able to do much ballot box stuffing, and annoying phone calls can only do so much.

And I don't think Trudeau's honeymoon will last two years. Basically, I'm expecting a minority government, and since I doubt the Libs or NDP will give it to Harper again, that means an NDP or Lib minority. Whether that can lead to PR is another question. But I think it would be easier to get them to agree on PR if elected and even to agree on some specifics and commit to them, than to put together this collaboration gig.
Justin Trudeau's appeal is intangible. As he's in the news more and more, I honestly believe that uninvolved Canadians are going to see this very handsome man and think pleasant thoughts about him. If he doesn't screw up something in a big, embarrassing way, those pleasant feelings are going to impact a lot of voters. And the Liberal voters I'm thinking of are the ones who tell themselves over and over again how wonderfully progressive, yet pragmatic they are. Even though the current NDP's policies have more in common with Joe Clark than with the CCF, they still see the NDP as dangerously dogmatic. These are voters who would vote NDP when faced with a stark choice between them and the harpercons. They're the votes that Justin Trudeau is going to bring back to the FIPA/NAFTA/GST/COLOMBIAN FREE TRADE DEAL LOVING Liberals. Just when it looked like the Liberals, already intellectually bankrupt and rejected by the voters, were going to fizzle into a party for their die-hard middle-class activists, Trudeau II comes along to give them a new lease on life. (And the stark choice isn't stark at all since Mulcair is stupidly moving the NDP to the centre.)

And harper is going to cheat like mad. The harpercons have a blank slate from the brain-dead majority on the Supreme Court to stuff ballots. These are people who think about stealing elections the way we think about policy and democracy. They're on it full-time, partly because (in their imbecilic, paranoid minds) it's them or us. They think that we're as scuzzy as they are and that they therefore have no choice. The Supreme Court ruling on Etobicoke-Centre says that mistakes are inevitable, and that if it turns out there are more ballots than voters on the voting list, it's an honest mistake and it's up to those who would complain to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that those votes were fraudulent. The harpercons are going to send out their activists to volunteer for Elections Canada, ... it's going to be a nightmare.

The harpercons have more money (again, through fraud, as the Dean Del Mastro case shows) and they'll blanket the television and other ad-spaces with bile and I think too any Canadians will be swayed by it. And the thing is, the harpercons are now experienced at fraud. They're more fine-tuned with their voter information lists and their misdirections.

I think harper will win the next election with a majority unless we make the witless opposition parties and the Canadian people realize that the stakes in this election are about our right to call ourselves even a nominally democratic people.


Purple library guy said...

Well, I see a lot to agree with here. To the extent that I disagree, it's pretty clear what our opinions are. And I don't want to slag your position. I mean, we're basically looking at the same evidence, weighting certain parts a bit differently, emphasizing a bit differently, coming to somewhat different predictions. But it's a matter of how we interpret the facts, not a matter of values.

So I'm figuring I'll let it lie at this point. It's always good to have a discussion with someone I respect. Key bottom line, I think we can both get behind an effort to nail down a solid, specific PR platform and armtwist the non-Conservative parties into signing on to it.

the salamander said...

the salamanders think we should crowdsource and identify every unelected employee, aid, volunteer, troll, lawyer, media minder, energy pundit, spokesperson, ad agency, lawyer, data miner, robo & live call election service provider, party organizer, secretay, lobbyist, crony, 'senior advisor', speechwriter, personal valet.

There are a finite number of these toxic people.. quite possibly 1200 to 3000. That's a pretty small number to be 'grooming' & manipulating an entire country.

Since these people are to varying degrees the action arm and 'do'ers' of the Harper Party, the PMO, the Harper Government, they should be brought into the view of the public.. that they are supposedly 'serving'.

No hard feelings, nothing dishonest. We should just know exactly who they are, exactly what they do, and for whom and for what exact reason. If they are found to be disgusting creeps like the people who hire them , command them.. well Amen .. let the public form their own opinion accordingly.

That's called intensive objective journalism folks. That's democracy looking under the rocks, rotten logs of partisan politics, examining ponds scum under the punblic microscope for dangerous mutations, that might devolve into fully grown Peter Van Loans, Jenny Byrne's, Fred deLorey's, Arthur Hamilton's, Ray Novak's, Bruce Carson's, Stephen Lecce's, Tom Flanagan's and Stephen Harper's.

If democratic Canadians assigned 10 decent people ie social scientist investigators to study each of these creeps that hate science, truth, decency.. and we shone bright intense light of day on them.. we might see them scurry off in shame.

Us this our country ?? Or does it belong to the mob of hired & volunteer partisan evangelist scum that swarm along with the elected MP's, Ministers and the Prime Minister?

thwap said...



I'd like to conclude with some idle speculation.

1. We allow harper to run again as a legitimate political figure in 2015, and, if harper steals another majority of seats, only then do the Libs and the NDP pull their heads out of their asses and agree that only proportional representation can save us.

2. We realize now what a menace harper is, unite to defeat him and implement proportional representation so that seats in the House of Commons more reflects the voters, thereby preventing the party of greed-heads and morons from dominating ever again.

thwap said...


That's a good idea. It's not like I'd want to have right-wing nutbars stalking me, but you're right; This a tiny, despised crew who are a demonstrable menace to society.

Do you live in an urban centre? Have you thought about getting such a thing off the ground locally?

Purple library guy said...

3. We realize now what a menace Harper is, unite on a platform of PR but are unable to define it or get the public interested or sound very united. Riding associations feud over which party will represent the ridings, many attempts at united fronts fail. Campaigning is confused and Harper eats Lib & NDP lunch.
3a. Harper gets a majority because the Lib & NDP look like idiots.
3b. Lib & NDP combine for a majority of seats. They strike a committee to investigate proportional representation. The committee wrangles over details. Meanwhile, the Libs and NDP try to run the country, despite having come to no agreements about anything other than PR before the election. A year in there is as yet no PR, some crisis hits and the Cons exploit disagreements between Libs and NDP over how to handle it, end up turning the Libs (just like last time with the coalition) and trigger a new election with PR still not in sight.

I just don't think this idea is really a win.

thwap said...


You mo-fo! Can't let me have the last word 'eh?


the salamander said...

Don't want to split the Thwap - PLG discourse.. as I see it as extremely informative & valuable..
But like the opp to get some lateral discussion and critical thinking re progressive, even guerilla democracy tactics to be initiated.

Think you've both, among many others, identified the immense, & tragic risks of another Harper/Energy majority.

Canada as international environmental pariah, junior military adventurist, infected by undemocratic evangelistic right wing nut tea party wannabe's.

A fiscally, environmentally, & socially incompetent experimental playground for morally & ethically bereft horses asses such as Clement, Rempel, Mackay, deLorey, Wallin, Poilievre, Baird, Oliver, Van Loan, Kent, et al.. who follow their out of his head leader, Harper.. and his advisors, cronies such as Flanagan, Nigel Wright etc.. and live-in confidants such as Ray Novak.

What if groups of 5-10 Canadians groupworked and selected specific Harper Party persons to study, identify and publicize?

What if those democratic and concerned Canadian groups were comprised of a respected journalist, a lawyer, a teacher, a student, an artist, a biologist or sociologist, an archivist or librarian, a farmer or miner?

In other words, the groups examining the individuals of the Harper/Energy alliance.. the elected & the unelected, the visible and the invisible, the hired and the volunteers.. the data geeks, apparatchiks and robo/live callers.. the lobbyists, PR firms, lawyers, liars, spokespersons, aides etc ..
were in fact inviolable, trusted, honest.. and undeniable.. ??
And published findings & updates via blogs, memos and news bites to mainstream media ... or created press releases .. videos

mmm ...

thwap said...


I'd love to do something like that. Getting a team of 5-10 activists to harass the illegitimate ministers of this fraudulently elected gov't, and put them on the spot all the time.

Plus, dig up whatever dirt is sure to exist on these scum-bags.

I'm in Toronto, but still sort of an outsider. I don't get around much due to financial and family reasons. I'm talking to groups when I can, sometimes to no great effect.