frandroid: We are the Canadian Borg. Resistance would be impolite. Please wait to be assimilated. Pour l'assimilation en français.. (canada)
My friend Jude Macdonald, who was and still is instrumental in the Saganash campaign, asked for my thoughts on Nathan Cullen's refusal to consider the Bloc in an eventual electoral partnership. Apparently his refusal is based on the Bloc being out to "destroy the country".

I'm not too inclined to ally with the Bloc myself. I do respect the party for its progressive policies, but they have been a roadblock for the NDP achieving national prominence. I don't really care that it's a separatist party: it's never really been that, but rather a "Québec party" more than anything else. Now that we have finally managed to overcome this roadblock, I don't see why we should give them a lifeline. With Duceppe gone, the Bloc has lost a lot of its heft. So has the NDP with Jack's departure, but there is more life in the social-democratic electorate than in the separatist electorate.

Now, allying ourselves with the Liberals (even led by ex-NDPer Bob Rae) rather than the Bloc sounds a little counter-intuitive, when the goal is to promote social-democratic values. So let's back up a bit.

The main reason the Bloc has been such a formidable force in Canadian politics is not because a majority of Québécois want to separate, but because we have a flawed electoral system. As it happens, this flawed electoral system is also the reason Cullen has proposed joint nomination meetings. So let's strike this coöperation agreement with all parties that want to join in the fun, even the Bloc, but let's put a condition to this partnership: Let's have a national referendum on proportion representation (PR) as the first order of business for any party (be it Liberal or NDP, or a coalition) that wins the election. If we were to make this condition essential to participating in the coalition, the Bloc could join the coalition, but once we'd switch over to PR, the Bloccould never regain the strength it had in the last two decades. So it's a poison pill which they might be tempted to accept anyway since they've been curtailed anyway.

Québec has a history of voting in waves for charismatic politicians: Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien (!), Duceppe, Layton. We've lost Layton so getting the Bloc on side in a coalition could be essential to keeping many of our seats in Québec, at the cost of giving some away. We're going to lose a lot of seats in Québec anyway during the next election if our next leader doesn't gel with voters in Québec, so why not bargain with the other parties to control our own destiny rather than just let it happen to us?

For the record, I haven't endorsed any of the current leadership candidates but Cullen's proposal is the most interesting thing to have happened in this race, and the most important. There's no point in electing a leader if they're not telling us how they're going to win the next election and actually implement the policies they run on. We're not just the conscience of Parliament anymore. Rick Salutin has written about why many new democrats wouldn't want the Party to enter in such a coalition with the Liberals, but these people need to show us what's the winning alternative.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Quite a few Globe & Mail columnists, among others, have been predicting doom and gloom for the NDP in Québec, post-Layton. These people forget that Layton is the second popular leader that Québec has lost this year; Duceppe's defeat and resignation has also left the Bloc in tatters, and since the wind is out of the sovereigntist movement's sails, there are a lot of political activists, Québec nationalists, out of a federal party. The more separatist among them will stay home, but many militants who were supporting the Bloc for its social-democratic policies will now need a new home. Doesn't joining the official opposition to Stephen Harper sound like the best thing to do in these circumstances? I think many of them will, and that the NDP will inherit a fair chunk of the Bloc's network. Many of them are disillusioned with the PQ anyway, so it's not like they'll just retreat to provincial politics and stay there.

So a party that won Québec on Layton's sheer force of will and 8 years of dedication to bringing the province to the NDP fold will have an organization worth talking about next time around.

But whether the NDP wins big in Québec next time around is not the most important thing. What counts the most is that the Bloc stays down, and if it does, we will be able to credit Layton with putting one of the final nails in the separatist coffin, and bring Québec's left as full participants in the federation. That's a game-changer. This will have an impact for the NDP, and maybe even for the Liberal Party.

* * *

If it wasn't for the fact that Québec Solidaire is a sovereigntist party (I think that's mostly a pro forma commitment, but it's definitely official policy, since until Layton, the left in Québec seemed uncurable of its separatist disease), I think Amir Khadir would make an excellent candidate for the NDP leadership. I don't think he would win the race, but he would be the most compelling standard-bearer of the left-wing of the party in a long time.

F. mentions Judy Rebick. I don't think she's interested in the job at all, but I'd go to the front for her.

I'm curious to see how the caucus will shape up. I hope they won't coalesce around a Mulcair too early and wait for candidates come out of the provincial parties...
frandroid: (stephen harper)
Harper veut acheter le Québec avec deux milliards de dollars [cyberpresse.ca]

So allegedly Harper has decided to make the Bloc an offer it can't refuse. Should the Bloc bring down the government budget on Kyoto concerns, Harper will have a good tool to bludgeon Duceppe with in Québec. If this goes forward, it will most probably guarantee Charest's re-election this spring. Look at how federalism works. Why yes, Harper buys an election now and cuts in services (or skimps on Kyoto, anyway) later in order to pay for the purchase.

It's kind of interesting because Harper would do this mostly with Alberta and Saskatchewan's money, actually, for the perequation part. If you let me take your money to buy off Québec, we will end up with a majority and we'll rule the country from Calgary.

Once this budget goes through, not only Charest but also McGuinty will have to admit that Harper fixed a problem that the Liberals created in 1995 when they gutted social programs. That's going to be some mighty support for the next election.

After I wrote my entry on simultaneous elections (which now makes even less sense), I was thinking that it would be just much cheaper to buy off the Bloc than the NDP, both economically and ideologically. The Bloc has conflicting interests that can be played off each other, whereas the NDP's conflicting interest is the Conservative Party.

This could work for Harper. Be watchful.
frandroid: large crowd of indian women (women)
So with Chile electing a female president, Latin America and Africa late in 2005 joined Asia, Oceania and Europe in the club of continents that have had women as heads of state.

As for North America... Well I guess we'll hav to wait a bit more.

***

Très amusant héhé

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