Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

How Ford’s Win Could Affect Provincial and/or Federal Politics

Scott has a great post dispelling the foolish notion that Rob Ford is harbinger of doom for Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals. He writes:

“Municipal politics are a far cry from provincial politics, and I contend one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. For example, does Nenshi’s election in Calgary as that city’s mayor last week herald a wave of progressivism about to sweep Alberta provincially or federally? Of course it doesn’t, and the same thing applies here; municipal politics – even a high profile mayor’s race in Ontario’s largest city – is irrelevant to the federal or provincial scene.”

I agree right up to the word “irrelevant.” What concerns me about Ford’s win is not that it indicates something about Toronto turning all conservative. But that there will now be an incipient conservative “machine” in Toronto ready for use by Tim Hudak’s provincial Tories and even possibly Harper if the latter calls an election any time soon. During the campaign Ford repeatedly stressed that he had supporters from all parties but what he clearly seems to have done is engage numerous people who have no political affiliation at all. In doing so, Ford has likely amassed a rolodex of people who were not interested in politics before but who have now had the thrill to be part of a winning campaign and could likely be energized again.

Folks, despite Ford’s claim of all-party support, that list of new donors, and new volunteers is not going to be shared with any party other than the Cons. If Toronto’s progressives are not prepared, they may be beaten on their own turf by a newly energized base of volunteers who were previously apolitical but have now been activated by an extreme right-winger.

Prorogued for This?

Everyone else has said it, but the government’s Olympic holiday was shown to be a total sham (like everyone knew it was) with today’s throne speech. We need to change the anthem? Ooooooh, that took three months to figure out. In three months we could have let someone rewrite the whole thing, make it more like this:

Who Are We? Where Are We Going?

Standing back and looking at the two big Canadian political stories in the past month – Afghan torture revelations and Copenhagen – I have been struck by how utterly changed we are in Canada. We are now one of the global foot-draggers on climate change and a country that is actively trying to cover up human rights violations (real ones, not ones that are less inconveniencing than the passport office, like Ezra Levant having to answer a couple questions one time) made by its own military. The contrast between this and Chretien’s wise decision to sit out the Gulf War in 2003 could not be greater.

Liberals: Get Your Act Together

I’ve been watching this internal Liberal struggle over what will happen with the Liberal nominations in the Quebec riding of Outremont and at this point I’m just baffled at the extent to which the Liberal party wants to fight and refight its various internal power struggles. I don’t mind a party that has a policy debate, but this isn’t about policy, it’s about ego and how much pull does the Quebec guy have relative the leader of the whole party.

Now, I’m not naive, I know that these things happen in politics, but the failure of the Liberals to deal with this quietly and quickly is frankly cringeworthy. One of the reasons I was okay with Iggy as the leader was that I felt that he might be able to impose some party discipline after Martin let his partisans fight an unrestrained civil war in the party against Chretien’s people and Dion just appeared to not be in control. Now it appears that the Liberals, even in the face of the worst election result in their party’s history, are still more concerned with infighting than anything else.

Given that the NDP is still not making the sort of breakthrough in popularity that they always appear to be almost able to make, we may be in for more years of Harper – perhaps with a minority, but able to have a free hand as long as no one gets their act together enough to challenge him.

Bloc Albertain

Imagine if the Bloc Quebecois could somehow get Canadians all across the country to vote for them. Actually it would keep separatism at a minimum in the province, but only because the Bloc would be able to engineer a sort of reverse-takeover of the rest of the country. If the BQ formed a government it would allow them to impose a Quebec-centric agenda on the entire country.

Now for the BQ to be a national party, it would have to pay lip service to the rest of the country’s needs and desires. Any time though that Quebec had a conflict with the rest of the country, Quebec’s interests would prevail. BQ politicians, trying to get elected in the entire country would have constant trouble concealing their contempt for the rest of the nation. Inevitably old speeches would come out revealing their utter contempt for the country they wish to rule.

This Bloc-ruled Canada sounds strange, doesn’t it? Well, this is what we have, except the Bloc is not one from Quebec, but one from Alberta. As further details continue to emerge from the proposed climate-change plan of the Conservatives, it is apparent that the plan is designed to benefit Alberta’s dirty oil sector at the expense of all other industries in the rest of the country. Only a hyper-regionalist agenda could lead to such an unbalanced plan. Taken with Harper’s remarks over the years about Canada and Canadians, it should once again be obvious that the core of the Conservative party is a bunch of Alberta-first partisans who are helped along by useful idiots who happen to be ideological fellow-travelers or opportunistic political climbers in other provinces.

Control, Control, You Must Learn Control

I have not studied the polls with the sort of depth needed to have a really solid sense of what would happen if the Harper government fell this fall. My quick-and-dirty guess is another minority, maybe Conservative, maybe Liberal. What looks better for the Liberals is the appearance that Ignatieff is in control of the situation. He has said that he’s not satisfied that the Cons are working hard enough, especially on EI reform – a non-trivial issue given the economy. By talking in this manner, Ignatieff gives the impression that he is prepared for an election and has an actual issue over which he could conceivably fight it. It’s a much better appearance than the one Dion presented where the Liberals appeared mortified at the thought of an election. Dion barely seemed in control of his party at times, let alone the overall situation in the House.

Like a lot of progressive-minded Canadians, I’m still not a super-Iggy fan but it’s nice to have a political tactician who can do the realpolitick thing as well as Harper. Also, it has to be a huge benefit for the Liberals to have Bob Rae playing the role of the good soldier and pointing out that “[a]n election is not a political game. An election is about fundamental choices. It’s about our values. It’s about our interests, where we think the country needs to go and there is a sense that this government is just not up to the job.”

“Real” Canadians

If you’ve been following along, it hasn’t exactly been a good thing lately to be a non-white Canadian in trouble overseas. If you haven’t been following things, Dr. Dawg has the goods here. Why is this happening? Since everything is political to the Harper Cons, I wonder if this is all part of a subtle appeal to the self-proclaimed “real” Canadians.

Who are the people who call themselves “real” Canadians? I don’t have the sociology chops to really define this group, but since it’s about self-identification I can share where I have heard this sort of self-identification. I recall a friend about ten years ago saying her boyfriend wasn’t “Canadian” like she said she was, or I was. What is he then? I was told he was Italian and so asked “you mean he was born in Italy?” No. Apparently he was born here. So does he now hold an Italian passport and Italian citizenship? No. So he’s Canadian, is he not? No, I was told he wasn’t really Canadian.

I started to notice that there is a pattern in this country where a subset of white Canadians tend to identify themselves as “Canadian” as a sort of ethnic group apart from citizenship. Typically these people are a mixture of Northern European ancestries and they usually only make this identification as “real” Canadians (or more often just “Canadians”) to others of this ilk. My Anglo-Germanic-Irish-Scottish ancestry is almost prototypical of this group and therefore gets me admission to these kinds of conversations.

Now there are some cases where sufficiently assimilated whites from other parts of Europe (Italy, Greece, Ukraine, etc.) might be granted admission to this club, but it’s important to see what “Real Canadianism” is. It’s an attempt at the creation of a Canadian volk. Actually, since I reject the notion that these self-identified “Real Canadians” are the only “real Canadians” perhaps I should call them Volk Canadians. Volk Canadians need not be racists per se, but they are creating a sort of racial identity for themselves in using this method of describing themselves.

Now why don’t we hear a great deal about Volk Canadians? There are a few reasons: While many of them may have political views, they aren’t that politically involved – I suspect that Harper is appealing to them in order to change that. Secondly, like I said, most of the Volk Canadian conversation happens only among those considered Volk Canadians. I suspect that most Volk Canadians have the sense that what they are saying about themselves and, by implication, about non-Volk Canadians isn’t really in line with Canada’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural identity, so they keep it on the down-low. Lastly, this creation of a Canadian Volk is most likely to be identified in lower economic and class strata. Since most of the media is targeted to professionals making $80 000+/yr most media isn’t talking to Volk Canadians. The closest they probably have to a voice in the media is Don Cherry.

Make no mistake though, the Volk Canadians are out there, if your ancestry is anything like mine you probably know because you’ve been privy to conversations where you just stare at your feet and/or get in a shouting-match with co-workers or family members. If you haven’t, then you need to know that this is going on in our country. We who reject the being called “real” Canadians at the exclusion of all other Canadians don’t like to talk about it, because, it’s embarrassing to us, believe me. But you need to be aware that Harper’s Conservatives are courting this group of people and is attempting to politicize them.