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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Political Credibility and the Peaceable Revolution

Really, Tim?  Do you feel the same way about Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he says he didn't know the details about the Duffy deal?  Remember that time you fired Peter Shurman after saying he followed the rules?  Or that time you embraced, then backed off of Doug Ford?  Or fired a locally-elected candidate for disagreeing with a policy position, then changed it anyway?
I'm sure you equally had no idea that, when you were Minister of Tourism way back when, bureaucrats actually feared your walk-abouts because they knew that while you'd play good cop, your hand-picked staffer would come around right behind you and bully everyone to tow the partisan line.
Oh, but there's so much more.
First off, love how you implicated your team, too - real leadership there, Tim.  Secondly - you have intentionally, proactively and by your own admission done everything in your power to grind the Legislature to a halt, refused to work with the other Parties to make government work and as a result, have pissed away precious tax dollars with ringing bells.
You've done all this because you want to be where Stephen Harper is, meaning a majority government where you, in turn, don't need to work with anyone but can force through whatever the hell you want.
But Hudak knows he's being a hypocrite.  He doesn't care.  It's both his personal inclination and the advice he's getting from his team (that he just put in the line of fire) to step on Wynne's throat and hold it there until she is gone, or at least reduced to a tertiary threat, at which point the foot will go on Horwath's throat.  Nowhere in here does the public interest play any role whatsoever.
Not that he's alone in this; as with his Federal counterpart, he's merely the worst provincial offender of the moment.  Team Harper continues to do the exact same thing, bullying (and there can be no other term for it) each and every opponent, attacking their character and dehumanizing or de-Canadianizing them to suit his partisan narrative.  Frankly, it's what McGuinty's team did towards the end of his term as Ontario's Premier, too. 
This is simply where our politics is at - unelected backroom partisans playing our democracy like it's a videogame, high-fiving each other for particularly devastating hits.  There's no focus on structural solutions or even properly identifying structural problems - the goal is to kill off one's opponent, full stop.
Backroom political operatives are punting for narrow-minded, aggressive political frontmen and in the process have turned our Legislatures into poorly-written courtroom dramas.
"I met with her on January 28 before these documents were destroyed in the premier's office.  I expected I was talking to the premier of the province at this time."
You could be specifically asking about the nature of the transition and seeking clarity.  You could be probing with Leg Services as to when Team Wynne actually took residency in the Premier's Office.  Hell, you could even be directing your team to craft legislation that could close the loophole that allowed for this to happen or better yet, doing one of your famous white papers on Open Data and Open Government.
But you don't care about fixing the problem, do you?  You're focused on blame.  You want punishment, removal - you think that the way to win is by eliminating all of your opponents. 
What happens when it's not just a couple of Political Parties and Unions disagreeing with you - what about when/if you win and it's stakeholders from every sector, bureaucrats, researchers, parents, employees, service providers, members of the Conservative base?  Are you going to try and bully them into silence, too?
There's plenty of blame to go around, if blame's your thing.  I don't know about you but I'm getting sick of the constant attack-and-defend, bluster and prevaricate when we have clear fiscal, social, structural and even democratic deficits that desperately need fixing.  You wanna talk about switching chairs on the burning platform?  Well, this is it.
Lots of emotional plays, transactional vote-buying projects and attempts to rig the system in favour of one Party or another going on, but because of this we have no co-designed strategies at any level.  This means that whatever programming or nudges that are brought forward are doomed to failure.  Harper can dance with joy that he's cut funding for the social programming he doesn't like; all it'll take is a bad plague, an economic collapse or a civil result for the pendulum to swing  back again, and it'll all be time wasted.
But we don't do long term thinking in politics and it's not about systematic wins, but partisan ones.  A percentage of a win is good enough to hang a campaign narrative on, and that's all that matters. 
What gets me angry is the absolute short-sighted waste of it all.  I don't care if you paint a rusted old Ford red or blue or how much you spend selling it, the car itself is the problem.  It needs fixed or replaced, not promoted. 
The war roomers don't care about that, though.  In fact, they'll spin any such argument as favouring their candidate and putting another nail in the coffin of their opponent because they're so functionally fixed, like a runner in a race, that they simply can't see it any other way.
They're lost, and they're taking us in circles around that afore-mentioned burning platform.  They aren't the solution, they're the problem, but like an addict, they simply aren't capable of seeing it that way.  They somehow literally believe it's possible to oppress oppositional perspectives and paint over one's own faults (in no small part by picking fights and dehumanizing opponents) in perpetuity without there ever being any long-term consequences.
It breaks my heart how wrong they are; it drives me nuts seeing them ignore the advice that can actually help them and help us because they're so convinced in their own infallibility.
There is a solution emerging - not from the top, but from a growing community of virtuous schemers within bureaucracies, community groups and countless partners in the private and not-for-profit sectors.  As the sustainability of our politics is closing, the strength of an emergent responsible society is growing.
At some point there will be a shift in balance from the political laggards to the Open Government innovators.  The only question is whether the political people will have any credibility left when they finally get on board.

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