Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Oh well, democracy first-past-the-post style

Canada's progressive parties (ie the Greens, Liberals and the NDP) owe the progressive majority in Canada a very big apology. They (together with the country's electoral system) are primarily to blame for the fact that a 39% share of the vote translated into a majority conservative government. It's a silly system where such a minority of the vote (a significant minority of the vote against a 58% share on the progressive side of things) can attain majority power. I for one hope that the NDP and Liberals will stop slaughtering each other, get their heads together and create a social-liberal party along European lines to stand against the conservative minority in the country that otherwise will keep on running this place in perpetuity.

Part of the Liberal Party of Canada's problem is that it is not so clear any longer what it is that it stands for, ideologically. The liberal matters (privacy, abortion, gay rights, name it) have by and large been decided in Canada in support of liberal core values. It's not clear what else the party would have to offer to its electorate unless the conservatives decide to undermine those rights. Incidentally, how little the party has left in terms of ideological conviction is best displayed by the election of its Kingston and the Islands candidate, Ted Hsu. Hsu, a self-proclaimed pro-lifer, ran on a platform that was decidedly incoherent. He droned on about liking the Cuban health care system yet wanted to contract out government services. His campaign within the Liberal Party's for selection for the local candidacy for parliament was - in my judgment - decidedly homophobic in its implicit attacks on the only openly gay candidate who was also competing in that race. All of this - these days - is fair game in the so-called Liberal Party of Canada. You might want to study Hsu's supporters attacks on me on this blog. They truly speak volumes. It is no big surprise then, to my mind, that the Liberal Party of Canada has been reduced to what it is today. Political liberalism would show itself to be decidedly intolerant toward such behaviours and views. Hsu, by the way, won the local race. His main competitor on the conservative side of things was a candidate whose main claim to fame was that she doesn't like paying taxes. The choices the local ridings were given by the two mainstream parties (well, as far as the Liberals are concerned, formerly mainstream) were painful to watch in action.

One of the few bright sights in this election was that of the Green Party leader Elisabeth May getting elected to a seat - incidentally unseating a conservative government minister. Having been a Green politician in another life I am naturally thrilled that she made it, alas even the Green contribution to the vote splitting will undoubtedly have helped the conservatives attaining majority power.

Well, there we go, alea iacta est...

5 comments:

  1. Dugald CarmichaelMay 03, 2011

    Tsk, Udo! Evidently you have forgotten the promise you made public on your blog last November. Here is an excerpted reminder:
    _______________________________________________________________
    UDO: …
    I have supported Bill Flanagan, who lost narrowly to Mr Hsu. Let me predict then that our riding will fall to the Conservatives (whose pro-life candidate offers a more coherent conservative package than Mr Hsu) in the next election as a result of this decision of the local Liberal party's membership. But hey, that's what democracy is all about.

    DUGALD: …
    Contrary to your prediction, Udo, please let me predict that Ted Hsu will easily win this riding in the next election, no matter how feebly he may be supported by anybody who supported the other candidates, and no matter how the non-issue of abortion rights may play out.

    Dugald Carmichael

    UDO: …
    I promise to you, Dugald, I will eat my words on this blog, on election day, should Mr Hsu win. I invite you to be here to do the same in case he loses. …
    Well, time will tell, come election day the two of us will meet here, I hope. One of us will have egg on the face and should be prepared to say so publicly. Until then. I have resigned my membership in the Liberal Party today to be able to support other local candidates.
    ________________________________________________________________

    But instead of a humble public acknowledgment of the egg on your face, you make yet another outrageous and totally unfounded slur against Ted Hsu!

    What you fail to comprehend, Udo, is that Kingston and the Islands has a long history of electing the candidate with the highest qualities of character and intellect, regardless of their political-party affiliation. To any unbiased observer, Ted Hsu's victory is just one more example. This is exactly how the founders of Canada intended our nation to function.

    Dugald Carmichael

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dugald CarmichaelMay 03, 2011

    Tsk, Udo! Evidently you have forgotten the promise you made public on your blog last November. Here is an excerpted reminder:
    _______________________________________________________________
    UDO: …
    I have supported Bill Flanagan, who lost narrowly to Mr Hsu. Let me predict then that our riding will fall to the Conservatives (whose pro-life candidate offers a more coherent conservative package than Mr Hsu) in the next election as a result of this decision of the local Liberal party's membership. But hey, that's what democracy is all about.

    DUGALD: …
    Contrary to your prediction, Udo, please let me predict that Ted Hsu will easily win this riding in the next election, no matter how feebly he may be supported by anybody who supported the other candidates, and no matter how the non-issue of abortion rights may play out.

    Dugald Carmichael

    UDO: …
    I promise to you, Dugald, I will eat my words on this blog, on election day, should Mr Hsu win. I invite you to be here to do the same in case he loses. …
    Well, time will tell, come election day the two of us will meet here, I hope. One of us will have egg on the face and should be prepared to say so publicly. Until then. I have resigned my membership in the Liberal Party today to be able to support other local candidates.
    ________________________________________________________________

    But instead of a humble public acknowledgment of the egg on your face, Udo, you make yet another outrageous and totally unfounded slur against Ted Hsu!

    What you fail to comprehend, Udo, is that Kingston and the Islands has a long and laudable history of electing the candidate with the highest qualities of character and intellect, regardless of their political-party affiliation. To any unbiased observer, Ted Hsu's victory is just one more example. This is exactly how the founders of Canada intended our nation to function.

    Dugald Carmichael

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fun, thanks Dugald. I certainly have egg on my face in so far as I thought (think) that Mr Hsu was/is unelectable as a Liberal Party candidate. It turns out that Kingstonians thought/think otherwise. So there you have it :). Egg, egg, and more egg.

    I stand by what I said about Mr Hsu. We will have to agree to disagree. You and I clearly have different definitions of what constitute either highest intellect (Princeton physics really means just that, physicist) or highest quality character. At this stage it doesn't seem to matter anymore, the Liberal Party of Canada has been reduced to a miniature version of what it once was, no doubt because it has become unclear what it actually stands for. I am not surprised any longer that candidates such as Mr Hus managed to get in on the random policy action...

    So there you got my humble (just kidding) public acknowledgment of egg on my face. I was wrong in my assessment of what kinds of candidates are electable in Kingston on the liberal ticket. In retrospect I'm glad that my donations to both the NDP and Greens seem to have supported more progressive candidates up and down the country.

    Happy to buy you a drink if you feel like thrashing this out in person. Not sure I'm greatly inclined to write much more about this. There's bigger fish to fry these days than this candidate and what's left of the federal Liberal Party. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dugald CarmichaelMay 03, 2011

    Udo: As a professor emeritus (geology) at Queen's, I cannot resist sharing a story with you and your followers: It happens that I have known and admired Ted Hsu for more than 25 years (ever since Ted was a 20-year-old chess prodigy driving my 16-year-old son Ian to chess tournaments in Ottawa etc). Last November I sent Ted the URL of your gratuitous attack on his qualifications to be our Liberal candidate, and later I phoned and asked him what he planned to do about it. Ted's hilarious response: " Well, Schuklenk is a professor, right?"

    Seriously: The Liberal Party of Canada, twice in a row, has chosen as its leader a university professor. Surely never again will any Canadian political party make the same disastrous mistake.

    Dugald Carmichael

    ReplyDelete
  5. Right, the hilariously anti-intellectual response by our Princeton physicist is supposed to teach us something, Dugald? Btw, you have not at all addressed (neither has he) substantively the points I raised about him. It's all nice and well to call them gratuitous, slurs and what not, but for better or worse, they're first-hand experiences listening to him during candidates meetings and seeing his underhanded campaign style in action. Good to know tho that he drove your son to chess tournaments! Really.

    ReplyDelete