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Year In Review: The Year The Public Disengaged

This has been one sad year in Canadian politics. Allan Greg said it best when choosing the political moment of the year on the At Issue Panel this past Thursday: “… put’s us in worlds tallest pygmy territory.” No truer a statement has been said by a political pundit. That being said, I have my own Best, Worst and just plain Stupid wrap-up for the year. This is my first one so feel free to comment.

Best Political Moment of The Year : Jack Layton and the NDP pushing to cut the taxes off of home heating. This was       brilliant policy and even more brilliant politicking on the part of Jack Layton. Whoever thought this up needs a huge gold star. Finally, after a year of prorogation, minority parliaments, Helena Guergis and long form censuses, someone was paying attention to the fact that home heating this year is going to put a major dent in earnings of people all over this country. This was the one policy that actually put people and their earnings out in front during a rough year of job losses and savings depletion. The NDP connected in a big way and really pulled a policy coup d’état . It was fresh it was interesting and it was clever. Too bad it got obscured by the gun registry and Afghanistan.

Worst Political Mo ment of The Year : I agree completely with Chantel on this one: the failure of the NDP and the Liberals to form some form of merger or coalition. The left are being picked apart by the fact that the left is so split between the redundant NDP and the weakly lead Liberals and the best thing we can do right now is for all people to throw down their high-minded moralities and come together for the benefit of our social fabric and cohesion. Bring the parties together, hold a leadership convention that is one member, one vote and see who wins. This party would be a serious challenge to the Conservatives and could wipe them out almost entirely in the Maritimes , BC, most of Ontario and most if not all of Quebec. For both parties to not be giving this serious thought, to me, is ludacris.

Most Mind Boggling Moment of The Year : For me it was all the fuss that was made by those on the right wing media about Harper performing at the Tory Christmas party. So many of them were thrilled to see their leader “cut loose” and many said it was a great moment for Canada. Listen you right wing wackos, Harper calculates everything. This had all the hallmarks of Harper trying to make people feel more comfortable with him. Remember Yo-Yo Ma? After that little ditty Harper actually went up in the polls. Harper wants to recapture that, see if it sticks, and use it to bolster the possibility of an election next spring. The right, not surprisingly, ate it up. Many of us on the left just shook our heads.

Most Underrated Politician : Micheal Chong . He is spearheading the movements for more decorum in the House of Commons and this can only bring good things for a largely disengaged public.

Most Overrated Politician : The entire Liberal Party. How often do these guys have to stay in the mid to high teens before they realize that they have to change EVERYTHING. You also have many big big names in the Liberal party and none of them have been able to make any of the big gaffes from this year stick to the government. This shows an real lack of finesse and constitution within the party itself. These guys need wholesale renewal, not just a new leader and some shiny rural policies.

And that’s all she… erm …I wrote. Sorry that I’ve been away for so long from the grind. I’ve recently celebrated my sixth anniversary with my partner Stephanie and on top of that, wrapping up the year with my students, putting on Christmas celebrations and hosting movie nights for parents and students just drains all the energy. I appreciate your continuing loyalty.

10 comments to Year In Review: The Year The Public Disengaged

  • ck

    I have to take exception with a few of your points.

    Namely, your worst political moment of the year . That coalition. Once again, this is progressives thinking that most of Canada is progressive and it really isn’t; it’s centrist and being shifted further to the right, thanks to Harper controlled messages in the now right slanted controlled media. We really have to start stepping out of our comfort zone and start paying attention to Jane and Joe Six-Pack at Tim Horton’s. I guarantee, coming from BC, I’m sure they’re much easier to come by than progressives are. They’re your neighbours, co-workers, family members, friends, etc.

    One thing most don’t like and still react rather violently to this day is the very idea merger/coalition, particularly with any king of arrangement the Bloc Quebecois (let’s face it, they are the most hated party outside of Quebec). Stevie Spiteful knows this. That’s why, in reality, he relishes the idea of a coalition. Best Christmas present he can receive. It facilitates a majority for him, even. Why else does he campaign with it every chance he gets? If Jane and Joe were keen on it or even indifferent toward it, Steve would drop it as it wouldn’t work, he would move on to something else. Stevie Spiteful is the master tactician; as you’ve pointed out above, everything he does is calculated and never random.

    True, coalitions are a regular happening in places like Israel and in much of Europe, but that’s there and our culture resembles that of Amerika, sadly; complete with “winner takes all” mentality. And I’m sure the coalitions of Europe and Israel don’t involve nationalist parties whose mandate it is to break up the country, such as the Bloc Quebecois. Seat counts were projected by pollsters if NDP and Liberals were merged and they don’t come up to a majority; so the Bloc would be needed, which I’ve mentioned, they are hated too much by ROC.

    Besides, Gilles Duceppe, I believe has other plans like sovereignty which would make any potential role for him in any coalition counterproductive. Furthermore, I believe he may well leave Ottawa in favour of a potential run in Quebec City. La Marois will surely lose her leadership confidence vote come April 15 and the elders of the PQ view Duceppe as the best man to lead sovereignty.

    Then there are the parties themselves, in particular, the Liberals. Those blue grits and their blue grit supporters. It is a sure bet that those Blue Liberals would rather cross the floor to sit as independents or worse, join the Harpercons. Stevie would never refuse them; newly aquired seats without having to work too hard for them.

    I suspect a few in the NDP wouldn’t have an apetite to join in such a coalition neither, Layton came out last time and said it was out of the question. I’m sure some of their party brethren would either go sit as independents or form yet another party.

    That last coalition rumour was nothing more than an elaborate attempt by the small Bob Rae faction to oust Iggy in order to give their man his last kick at the can.

    Worst moments of the year?? Too many for me to count. Scrapping of the Census long form, Harpercons’ obvious laissez-faire attitude toward conjugal violence (but kudos to Marlene Jennings for exposing them on it), The G20 fiasco (a very terrifying moment where people by the 1000s got arrested simply for expressing dissenting views toward the government; where even an amputee had his prosthetic leg savagely ripped from his body and worried loved ones calling to find out about their loved ones only to not get straight answers from the police); those mass firings of public servants and funding cuts to NGOs of those who simply disagree with Master Stevie. I could go on…

    As for your most mind boggling moment of the year : well, it just proves a sad reality that the electorate is on the whole very shallow, have short attention spans and only like big shiny things. We also saw Stevie’s numbers shoot right back up within majority territory when the Olympic men’s hockey team won gold, not to mention all those gold medals. Stevie once again, took credit for that, despite the fact that the Own the Podium program was started under the Chretien administration. Just another example of the power of misinformation that I illustrated in my last post.

    I could find other mind boggling moments too that would be right up there, like how do the masses forgive Stevie Spiteful so quickly for his transgressions? And many of them are doozies; like scrapping the long form census.

    Your most underrated politician I have to disagree with your choice for Michael Chong. For openers, why the heck is he still with the Harpercons? Why doesn’t he sit as an independent or cross over to the LIberals where I’m sure he would be allowed to better utilize his talents? Unless, of course, he’s one of the Socon Theocrat faction like Jason Kenney and Vic Toews. I agree he could go places as he is young and smart, but he’s in the wrong party to allow for that.

    It should also be clear in our minds that Stevie spiteful wants parliament to be dysfunctional, otherwise, John Baird the pitbull would not be house leader.

    I would agree with Steve V over at “Far and Wide” and say that the most underrated politician of the year was Paul Dewar. I can see this guy having a future, even quite possibly to succeed Jack Layton as head of the NDP. Quite frankly, Layton’s ego is hindering his own party.

    Most overrated politician : How often do these guys have to stay in the mid to high teens

    Don’t you mean in the 20s? They’ve never been in the teens, nationally. Unless you’re talking break down in some provinces, of course.

    I don’t think a new leader is going to solve anything. It’s been change the leader ever since Paul executed that coup against Chretien. Notice how the NDP and the Harpercons and their respective supporters stick with their leader through thick and thin, no matter what gaffes they may make or whether or not they disagree with an issue du jour their respective leaders take up. The Liberals seem to have a problem with supporting their leaders. If they don’t correct that, it will continue to be a problem with whomever comes after Iggy.

    What I’m afraid of is, as much as I like Justin Trudeau, and other than a few gaffes he’s made (he’ll recover from them; Fur trade xmas card faux pas and that Vaughan campaign video on Youtube with Movember pornstar moustache), he probably could make a great leader, and as such, the party may look to him as the new saviour; the new Obama, if you will. That will lead to disappointment. Harper has done a masterful job propagandizing Trudeau derangement syndrome that having him run against the son would be disastrous. I hope they pick their new leader wisely. Perhaps Domenic Leblanc? Bilingual, smart, young and would have an appeal by not coming from either Quebec or Ontario; doesn’t strike me as too far to the left or the right and could grab the center, which is what the party needs to do. I know, not much media coverage, but perhaps that’s a good thing; less is more sometimes. Let’s remember that Obama turned out to be “No We can’t”.

    However, no matter who the new leader is to succeed Iggy, if Liberals and their members and supporters don’t change their attitude, the problem of musical leaders will still continue. Another thing, progressives, liberal or not, have to remove from our heads; there is no such thing as greatness.

    I got annoyed with a Liberal blogger last night when he was calling for charisma. Overrated. Charisma to me, is synonomous to shiny thing or circus poodle. Let’s remember that Hitler, Sarah Palin and of course, Pres. Obama are said to have charisma; do we really want them to lead us? ‘Nuff said. Harper, on the other hand, has no charisma, yet somehow managed to control the message in the media and have unprecedented controls at the PMO. I prefer my leader to be smart, educated, to be fiscally responsible, but also compassionate enough to maintain programs like medicare and pensions.

  • ron wilton

    Sage, (love that name, like a triple entendre)

    I, on the other hand, do agree with your choices.

    I am particularly struck by the LD logo and party. Sign me up!

  • Skinny Dipper

    Best or worst political moment: It doesn’t matter. The next federal election will change the direction of the polls from stable to volatile. The Conservatives will have campaign messages targeted at different groups of voters in specific potentially winnable ridings. The Liberals will need to branch out beyond the urban regions of Canada. The NDP will need to reach out to the same Tim Hortons crowd that the Conservatives have captured. The Greens will need to switch from the environment to the economics of the environment.

    Most underrated politician: Conservative Jason Kenney. I know progressive bloggers don’t care for him. However, he has been able to reach out to particular ethnic communities, and seek information that will help the Conservatives win support. Multicultural dances don’t cut it anymore; household economics do.

    Future leader: Thomas Mulcair for the NDP. He is articulate and can be in tune to the issues of the day. Jack Layton is a nice guy. However, he doesn’t always have his party focused on important issues of the day. Today, when the media is focused on private and public pension plans, the NDP website is focused on home heating bills in Ontario. Sorry, Logan. All is not lost for Jack Layton. If he can make Harper’s strengths into weaknesses, he may improve the NDP’s standings in the polls–especially at election time.

    Past leader: Bob Rae for the Liberals. No, he was never the leader. I just don’t think that the Liberals will select another so-called superstar leader like Michael Ignatieff. They’ll let Ignatieff run his election campaign, and ask him to politely bow out of the leadership. They’ll chose an original long-time Liberal rather than a convert like Bob Rae.

    Will be gone by the end of 2011: Ignatieff, Layton, and May (spiritually). Harper will be gone by 2012 if he does not get his majority/dictatorship.

  • Logan

    Lord Skinny, I hope you are wrong about Mulcair. I cannot stand him. To me, he represents all that is wrong with the direction of the NDP. He is loud and obnoxious and not only that, is the loudest supporter of the fight against the New-Antisemitism in the NDP caucus. This is deplorable and repugnant. I much prefer Paul Dewar. He is thoughtful and well spoken and always has his peoples interests at heart. I would campaign for him for leader in a heartbeat.

    I agree with Jason Kenny as also being an underrated politician. He is, however, part of the So-Con team, we musn’t forget what that means.

    I agree that Iggy will be gone and I think Layton needs to take more advice from his caucus to avoid being seen as divided. Harper will win another minority and I don’t think he will be gone anytime soon. His control is too firm and there isn’t enough wiggle room within the party for anyone else to even organize. Someone will have to do it in secret and then come out from nowhere. I see perhaps Bernard Lord taking on Harper.

  • Logan

    No LD party yet. CK, I know we have talked about this before and about the Joe and Jane sixpack and while I agree that they have turned to the Conservatives, the majority of Canadians do share the same social values as those on the left of the Liberals and NDP. I think what has happened is between the Sponsorship Scandal and Liberal leadership troubles, the Cons have been able to sneak up and put into the minds of Canadians that they speak for Jane and Joe sixpack. What the Liberals and NDP need to do, and this is just a preview of my next article, is articulate how there coalition will be for the real voice of Canadians and that they in fact are the ones who have always stood by the side of the middle class and underrepresented while the Conservatives are of, by and for big business in this country.

    My next article will parse this out more thoroughly. I also agree that the census issue, for us who keep an eye on these things, was a big issue, but Jane and Joe sixpack didn’t give a flying Iggy. Progressives do need to connect but that isn’t going to happen when a) the left is divided and b) the Liberals are so eaily outflanked by the Conservatives. They need to get rid of their “elder statsmen” like Rae and Brison and get some new blood in there. Rae is toast as he was the one who pushed for a renewall of Afghanistan. He cannot survive the yolk of dead soldiers. Iggy needs to take this winter to give his head a shake and realize that the Liberal party needs the NDP to provide it with strong moral positioning.

    I don’t want to give anymore away. My article tomorrow will be long so I hope everyone looks forward to it. It’s a prescription for a renewed left, perhaps a new party, but definatly a resurgance of progressivism in Canada.


    ck Reply:

    Except, Logan, I realize your party is the NDP, but have you read this article/short essay by James Laxer published in 2006 shortly after Harper first took office. It’s 6 pages, but worth the read.

    Basically, this article asks the same question I’ve been asking of the NDP since 2006; who would better serve Layton’s advantage? Cons or Liberals? And it is a very important question to be asking before one jumps into the Lib/Dem wagon. Give Laxer’s article a read & you’ll see why that the NDP cannot be counted on for full time cooperation with the Liberals.

    Seniors’ groups like CARP do care about the census. Folks do like to be counted.

    The media has been carrying Harper’s messages well. It takes talent of hacks like L. Ian MacDonald to make Home care, National Child care programs and other social safety nets sound really evil and make obscene spending on fighter planes and mega prisons sound fabulous and oh so necessary. They’ve got Jane and Joe believing that Canada is a dangerous place and Canadians are bad people and only the Harpercons can save us all. Next, Jane and Joe will be sold that Harpercons can’t protect Canadians alone and that Americans can do it so much better and will need to take over; watch and see, that North American Perimeter is already being sold to Canadians successfully, all one has to do is check the comment boards at the G&M.


  • Skinny Dipper

    I hadn’t heard Mulcair’s comments about the new anti-Semetism. I’ll take your word.

    I do have an issue with combining the NDP and Liberal Party. Try combining pro-unionists and pro-business party members in a new party. Also, Liberal supporters that I have spoken to do not usually see themselves as leftists but as centrists.

  • Skinny Dipper

    I don’t know if I should thank you or scorn you for calling me Lord Skinny. That may put me next to Lord Black of Cell Block C.

  • Logan

    It was actually meant as a term of fear. I should have written thus “Lord, Skinny, I hope you are wrong…” However, if you decide to thank me, disregard this comment.

  • Skinny Dipper

    I’ll thank you either way.

    Lord Skinny of Cell Block C :)