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Young Geoffrey

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No Predictions, But - Mercy! - Ain't It Fun? [Dec. 1st, 2008|06:09 pm]
Young Geoffrey
On Thursday, Canada's (brand-new) government presented an economic update to the House — not quite a Budget, but something close to it, or such it is in normal times — it is with no little amount of schadenfreude that I watch Stephen Harper's ill-timed revelation of his true colours quite possibly put paid to his political career.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention or who aren't Canadian, in a nutshell, Thursday's document bore the mark of a bully and a thug and little else. Though in the midst of a what seems to be universally regarded as the gravest crisis to confront Capitalism since 1929, the Conservatives saw an opportunity — not to prime the economic pump, nor to rally Canadians 'round their government in dangerous times, but to practice some (very) petty political one-up-manship.
  • Taking away the right to strike from public servants? Check.

  • Removing public funding to political parties based on the number of votes received ($1.95 per vote)? Check.

  • A promise to sell off (unspecified) government assets in order to "balance" the budget and no matter that this would mean selling at or near the bottom of the market? Er, check again.

  • Specific plans for dealing with the oncoming storm? Er, no exactly. Not as such. Well. No.


And so, within days, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have let the Governor General know that, should the current government fall, there is another waiting in the wings — with Stephane Dion as Prime Minister, no less!

Political drama doesn't get much better than this, not outside of Italy, anyway.

You all know (or else you haven't been paying attention; shame on you!) that I loathe the Harper Tories. I believe they are neo-con ideologues of the worst stripe, who despise the very idea of government beyond funding the army, jails and the police, and so I won't pretend to be anything but giddy at the prospect of seeing them defeated, but ...

But the Liberals and NDP are playing a dangerous game. While the truth is the Conservatives' neo-con base is small and divided, split as it is between an unholy (and senseless) alliance between social and economic "conservatives", and that the general support behind the Liberals, NDP and Bloc can be (loosely) qualified as (small-L) "liberal", the fact remains that the Bloc are separatists and the destruction of this country is always at the base of its raison d'etre.

As Churchill famously said something to the effect that he would deal with the Devil himself in order to defeat Hitler, when questioned on making an alliance with Stalin, so might the Liberals and NDP justify sharing a bed-spread with Gilles Duceppes, and i support them for doing so.

But I hope the hell they're going to be careful.

If this coalition actually takes power, I see two likely outcomes.

The first would see a reasonably competent (or better!) government preside over the next couple of years, sooner or later brought down by a Bloc Québecois that sees it's political raison d'etre slipping away because of that competence. If the BQ is smart (and lucky), they'll have some kind of symbolic issue to take to the polls on their tedious quest for a "flag sur le hood du Cadillac".

The second would see Liberal infighting destroying the government within months, leading to god only knows what sort of electoral outcome.

But whatever happens, we can take much comfort in the knowledge that Stephen Harper will be walking from the fray, a historical footnote and little more.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: jamiewho
2008-12-02 02:20 am (UTC)

Oh, politics.

I got a Facebook invitation from someone this morning, to join the group "Canadians Against the Liberal/NDP/Bloc Attempt to Destroy our Democracy".

I sat there thinking, "I've been gone 4 weeks. As in, exactly 4 weeks. What the hell did I miss in that time?!"

So now I know!

*laughs*
Gah, politics...we've got a brand new government here, I just can't -wait- until we start having issues with them.
(Our new PM seems like a bit of a slimeball, which is why I expect it.)

I'm mildly interested to see what happens with the Canadian government though. I'm sure either way, I'll read all about it here :)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2008-12-02 06:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Oh, politics.

I'll do my best to keep you posted. God knows the novelty value alone in the situation is worth paying some attention to it.
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2008-12-02 02:58 am (UTC)
You beat me to it. I was going to write a rant on this. Probably still will.

Should I be so surprised that Harper was arrogant enough to think he could govern like he had a majority?

I swear he must have read "The Shock Doctrine" and took away the wrong message.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2008-12-02 03:17 am (UTC)
I find it baffling that in principle anyone would prefer an unelected government to an elected one. But that is a typically leftist character trait -- you believe your own moral currency is somehow secretly more valuable than anyone else's. If the same thing happened with a more right-wing trio muscling undemocratically past an elected left-wing government in say, Tibet, you would be outraged in principle. It must be an easy life to have such conveniently elastic morality.
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2008-12-02 04:00 am (UTC)
Who's unelected.

Parliamentary democracy dictates a party with most seats attempts to form a government.

Last time I checked everyone sitting in parliament were elected.

What I find undemocratic is party that tries to limit people's rights in the name of the economy when its clear its for political advantage.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2008-12-02 04:49 am (UTC)
I don't see how it's to Harper's political advantage. He ran for re-election as a person with an economics degree on an economics platform in a country that has still not officially slid into a recession, a country that the IMF recently said has one of the soundest economies in the world and which was ranked number 1 as the soundest banking system.

He ran against 4 other people with no economics degrees, 3 of which at the time did not consider the economy even important enough to make it their central platform, yet who just two months later are using the economic paramountcy as a reason to believe he has lost touch, and this despite having pledged immediately after Harper's election to work with his government. They did say they would try to bring down the government if the $1.95/vote provision was included, and then when the conservatives scrapped that provision specifically, they're still trying to bring it down.

Given those circumstances, there is no reason to distrust Harper's plan, only a reason to suspect his adversaries of either divisiveness or ignorance.

If your assessment of hypocrisy is limited only to those who you disfavour ideologically, how can you ever truly trust yourself? What is your personal benchmark to ever know if you've slipped into biased fanaticism?

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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2008-12-02 10:17 am (UTC)
Okay I am not sure where you came away with any notion that I was supporting this with any sort of "biased fanaticism" based on my original reply to Geoff, but if that's your view so be it.

I have plenty of reason to distrust Harper's economic plan especially when he's dithering while Rome burns. Now just because I say that, don't read into it that the opposite is true and that I for a moment think any of the opposition have the answers. If you take a moment to read any of my above replies, I never once for the moment start cheerleading for the oppositions plans.

I merely commented on the state of Harper's blunder and the oppositions reactions. There's a difference.

BTW, last time I checked Jim Flaherty was the Finance Minister and ultimately responsible for the budget and economic update and to the best of my knowledge does not have an economics degree. That's not to say he's not qualified at what he does, but to point out the flaw in your argument. If you are going to argue the opposition can't manage the economy because they were not schooled in it then maybe the same should be said of Mr. Flaherty?
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2008-12-02 05:34 pm (UTC)
Geoffrey's journal is the only place I ever argue.

I'm confident in my assumptions about your fanaticism because a) you said you were going to post a rant about this subject, and b) because you consistently ignore questions of a philosophic nature directed at how you maintain a benchmark against your own judgments, which in my opinion is a necessary thing to do to maintain impartiality.

For example, I volunteered one of my own without being asked. I said that if the NDP had an elected minority, I would still not support a move to oust them in this manner by conservatives, because to me the principle of electoral self-determination of a populace trumps my own personal ideology. I have asked you the same question in several forms but you do not appear to ever test your own benchmarks, you have no moral watermark to ever know if you're fanatic.

What is an example of a scenario of principle where you would support a Harper government over your own ideological preference? Is there one?

If the Harper government had a majority and one lone left-wing gunman holed up in the Parliament building wanted to destroy it, would you support Harper in principle then?

If Harper had a majority but a non-violent means was used to bring it down without any formal election, would you support the democratic principle above your own ideology then?

Where is your personal line drawn when a principle of freedom for all outweighs your own ideological conviction?

Wherever you draw that line is a confident measure of a person's ideological fanaticism and a level of trust an outside observer is now able to place in the soundness of that person's judgment, yet despite being the type of question that should be easy for anyone to answer since you should pose these questions to yourself rigorously as a point of human existence, you never answer any of them.

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[User Picture]From: steelcaver
2008-12-04 09:25 am (UTC)
Your ranting is all very inspired...

... but at the end of the day, all 77 Liberal MPs were elected, all 37 New Democrat MPs were elected, and combined took about 44% of the popular vote to Harper's 38%.

"I find it baffling that in principle anyone would prefer an unelected government to an elected one."

I find it baffling that anyone is operating under the illusion that none of these MPs were elected.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2008-12-02 03:00 am (UTC)
You've forgotten the other possibility that there will be another election and that Canadians, weary of the pettiness of three parties that are increasingly indistiguishable from ever-outrageed teenie-boppers screaming at their father for not buying them exactly the right shade of iPod, give the conservatives a majority.

Don't you find it kind of an affront to democracy when a party goes to the polls with a minority, gets reelected/reaffirmed with a larger minority, but the entire process can be subverted by the sudden sour-grapes tag-teaming of all the failures who can then become the government in what is effectively a bloodless coup? A government that rules without ever being elected disheartens you less than a freely elected government of whom you disapprove?

If the NDP/Liberal/Bloc triumvirate of opportunists really wanted to govern for honest reasons, then why didn't they make the necessary sacrifices for the ostensible good of the people and unite officially before the election so that they could be elected fairly as a single party? Why didn't any of them - Layton that self-important zealot or Dion that effete whiner or Duceppes that perpetually furious xenophobe - fall on their swords when they could have, if they were in fact, good people?

They didn't because they're just a collection of insular demagogues who each wants to cling to his particular hubristic sermon from the mount until at the last grasp, unable to win fairly or equitably, now must mutate into a three-headed dog in a last attempt to tear off some lesser share of a carcass it images is its singular entitlement. Where is your editorializing on the priciple of being this democratically unprincipled?

Public servants should be allowed to strike, but they also shouldn't be immune from firing. Public servants enjoy a special kind of celestial beauty in our strange world, it's exceptionally difficult to get rid of them at all, not for incompetence, neglect or irresponsibility. They get paid reasonably well, have a great benefits package and pension plan and they can't be laid-off. The price for that should be that they aren't allowed to hold the public they're supposed to serve as hostages during arbitrage. After all, nothing is holding any individual public servant to his job if he truly feels under-appreciated -- with the exception of course that so many public servants are fundamentally unemployable beyond the kryptonite womb of their fairy godmother.

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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2008-12-02 04:06 am (UTC)
They didn't because they're just a collection of insular demagogues who each wants to cling to his particular hubristic sermon from the mount until at the last grasp, unable to win fairly or equitably

Couldn't the same be said of the Conservatives? I mean Harper tried the same end run during the Liberals 2004 minority.

Or are you denying that Harper asked the GG then the same thing this coalition is asking for now?
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2008-12-02 05:05 am (UTC)
I don't know if that's true or not, I hardly follow Canadian politics at all. If you say it's true, I believe you, but I doubt the circumstances were the same -- not two months after an election in which only the conservatives (with the sort-of exception of the NDP) made the economy their central platform, nor after they had just pledged for the good of the country during a troubled time to work with the government in power. Nor, do I suspect, they would have ever made an agreement for opportunistic power grabbing with the Bloc, which even young Geoffrey could not ignore is making a deal for power with a party whose sole reason for existence is something both the NDP and Liberal government are emphatically against. How can you ignore that?

You are essentially advocating that the ends justify the means. You believe your end of whatever social agenda you subscribe to is justified by any means available and you are willing to overlook any hypocrisy or inequity to achieve it. At the root of that belief can only be that you believe your end is somehow more valuable, more just, more true, more noble or any number of descriptors used in the past to justify why a minority opinion supercedes a majority one: that you secretly know better, are more equal, more right, more altruistic and your halo more shiny, so that you deserve more weight in what is essentially a right of individuals, if all individuals are equal, to self-determination.

Personally, if the NDP or god help us the Green party had won, I would have hated it, and I also would argue that I am smarter than the people who voted for them, yet I would never seek the moral authority to advocate removing them on the more fundamental grounds that I believe all people are essentially equal and have a right to determine their own future en masse.
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2008-12-02 10:22 am (UTC)

Going to stop you right there...

For a guy who "hardly follows Canadian politics at all" you seem pretty knowledgeable or at least opinionated.

I respect your opinion and believe you have a right to argue for whatever form of government that you seem fit or just.

What I don't respect or appreciate it is telling me what I believe.

"You believe your end of whatever social agenda you subscribe to is justified by any means available and you are willing to overlook any hypocrisy or inequity to achieve it. At the root of that belief can only be that you believe your end is somehow more valuable, more just, more true, more noble or any number of descriptors used in the past to justify why a minority opinion supercedes a majority one: that you secretly know better, are more equal, more right, more altruistic and your halo more shiny, so that you deserve more weight in what is essentially a right of individuals, if all individuals are equal, to self-determination."

I had know idea you somehow had insight into my mind that only I posses. Read between the lines if you will, but I have not explicitly stated what I believe in any of these posts regarding the situation. I only commented on what I observed in recent political news casts. Never once did I advocate for one outcome over the other.

I think I have done enough debating in Geoff's journal for the time being. Thanks for both your and Geoff's time.

I'll let you get back to not following the Canadian political scene.
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[User Picture]From: mijopo
2008-12-02 01:02 pm (UTC)
A government that rules without ever being elected disheartens you less than a freely elected government of whom you disapprove?

There was no question on the ballot about which party was going to form the government, only for an MP. Governments are made up of those elected MPs. A government made up of elected MPs is an elected government, no? Why would Harpers government count as elected but a different assemblage of elected MPs not? Perhaps you could clarify this for me.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2008-12-02 05:55 pm (UTC)
So you're saying that there is no government? Every MP is just an independent amoeba operating in a primordial soup without a head?

After MPs are elected, the party with the most MPs petitions the governor general to "form the government". Likewise, the unholy Liberal/NDP/Bloc trinity is now petitioning the governor general to "form a new government". That "form a government" part is the answer to your question about why individual elected MPs aren't the equivalent of rogue operatives clawing blindly around a vaccuum for their car keys.

Is there an example of a democratic principle you hold more dearly than your own ideological convictions? As an example, I imagine you to be an adherent of the principle of free speech and that tired axiom that "I don't agree with what you say but I'll defend your right to say it." If I am correct in my assumption, then how is this morally or empirically different? 7 weeks ago a government was elected with a stronger mandate than they already had to champion the economy. Now 3 parties that weren't elected on their own platforms who also said at the time that they would not seek to form a coalition, a mere 7 weeks later are sitting all smiley-faced at a table together announcing their coalition to oust a government based on a platform they themselves did not present as an option or even run on. You don't have any kind of "in principle" problem with that?

If not, then how do you escape its obvious extension: that in order not to have a problem with that, you must believe that your own values are more important than the values of others, that obtaining your own personal ends is a nobler conviction than others' freedom to self-determination.

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[User Picture]From: mijopo
2008-12-02 09:05 pm (UTC)
I'm not saying that there is no government, but there is no such thing as a mandate to which we must conform policy and procedures. There are just election results and the laws that we have for interpreting those election results. Talk of mandates is just a shorthand for making reference to the collective results, not a reference to a real supervenient entity that is to be respected and feared.

I don't have a problem with the elected representatives of the people voting to defeat the government. Nor do I have a problem with our elected representatives working together to offer up another government in lieu of the one that was defeated, that's a possibility anticipated and allowed for in our system of government. We vote for people with full awareness of those eventualities, nobody's usurping power. We don't require every new scenario that hadn't been fully anticipated and discussed during the campaign to result in another election; we vote people in with the expectation that they'll do the right thing even if unanticipated events occur or the situation changes. If they fail to do the right thing, we have a remedy for that too.

As to what you claim is the obvious extension, it's not so obvious to me. Perhaps you could spell it out for me.
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