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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.

Friday 6 February 2015

War Room Language, Reality

Just words, of course; you know, the playful, aggressive, trash-talking banter of politics.  If you can't take some idle threats and tough words, the you clearly don't belong in politics. 
Survival of the fittest, etc.  War room politics, get in early, keep 'em down and keep 'em scared.
All's fair in war and politics, right?

Thursday 5 February 2015

Canadian Leadership

You may have seen the Abacus poll making the rounds, asking about traits of Canada's three main political leaders.

Stephen Harper is a political machine; he messages like it's nobody's business.  He knows how to hit, he keeps his caucus (and government, and increasingly non-government) locked in a steely fist.  Harper clearly loves being the boss.

But does that make him a leader?  

He's a well-meaning guy, that Mulcair.  He'd lend you money if you needed it.  But what would he do to help you earn it?

The flowing locks.  The charm.  He knows how to make whoever is in his gravitational pull swoon, and that's a great many Canadians.  But is that leadership?

Harper's a CEO kind of guy - he tells people what to do and clearly is comfortable sacrificing them for what he sees as the corporation's gain (which tends to be a mix of the Party and his ideology for the country, but after all he is a politician).

Trudeau is nice to be around.  He's a great, inspirational speaker, like a Canadian Tony Robbins.  But making people hopeful about hard work isn't the same thing as motivating them to work hard.

Mulcair?  He's smart, he's focused, he's compassionate, but what does he want?  It never feels like he wants to lead - he wants to be the guy who holds the leader accountable.  What would he do if all the pressures that are now laid at Stephen Harper's feet were to settle upon his shoulders?

The questions asked here are populist ones - this is the kind of stuff people make their minds up over.  But are these the leadership traits we're looking for?

Leaders don't tell people not to worry, they've got it covered, leave it to them.

Leaders don't pontificate on the virtues of humanism.

Leaders don't give you a fish because you are hungry; they teach you to fish so that you may never go hungry.

A couple alternate questions to consider:

- Which leader do you feel would best prepare you to negotiate contracts yourself?

- Which leader would empower you to speak in your neighbourhood - or empower your neighbourhood to speak up together?

- Which leader would you trust to lead your family to survival in the wilderness?

- Which leader do you feel has the best grasp on what the next ten, twenty years will look like?

- Which leader would you follow into battle?

- Which leader inspires you to act, to engage, to be part of the solution rather than a consumer?

I would argue none of them.  There are no Abe Lincolns, no Winston Churchill's on our political landscape, which is unfortunate, because that's the kind of leadership we desperately need right now.

There's a big difference between getting the leadership we need vs the leadership we want.  It's never been much of an issue in Canada; we've had strong economic fundamentals, we've not been invaded since the War of 1812, we've never really suffered.  We have the privilege of looking for the fun stuff from our leaders and weaning ourselves off of engagement, because we've been able to be comfortable.

Times are changing, though - the Canada our children will inherit is going to look pretty different than the one our parents left for us.
We're not going to get it this time out, but we're going to need some real leadership soon.  The question is, will we recognize this in time?

ISIL Don't Know Ford

Good to see they're not doing their homework, at least.
These aren't religious militants.  These are bitter bunnies with martyrdom on the mind.  Not God's people. 
No, it's more and more clear every day who's pulling their strings - a man of wealth and taste.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Post Democracy

It's not just Postmedia, of course.  How often have we heard that our democracy is trapped in a downward spiral?  Our politics becoming more polarized, with less room for actual discourse?  How about burning people alive suddenly being a legit act for somehow justified in the name of religion?
We are experiencing the twilight of an era, a new dark age and yes, even as Prime Minister Harper has suggested, a great evil is descending on our world.
If, that is, you define evil as that which moves us away from civilization.  Sociology, collaboration, dialogue, art and ideas, all that kind of stuff.
Don't give up yet, though - don't barricade your home, hoard canned goods and take up religion in preparation for Armageddon.  This isn't the end - it's an ending, to be sure, but it's not the first one we've experienced, is it?
Of course we have.  And we know how the story goes, too.
How does the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened?
A new day comes; the light of civilization shines out all the clearer.
We adapt, we grow, we diversify and empower.  We always have.  And we always will.


Monday 2 February 2015

Sympathy for Stephen Harper

What happens when government policy threatens the security of Canadians - like, say veterans, or aboriginals, or racialized youth?  What happens when targeted groups stand up for themselves in protest, possibly blocking highways and the like to ensure they have an impact and are heard?
Such acts of self-advocacy certainly interfere with the government's ability to maintain stability.  But then, so was a singular dependence on oil, but that's off-message.
This is the message:
A great evil is indeed descending over our world.  It's nothing new.  In fact, we know exactly what this evil looks like.
Wonder whether Harper likes the Rolling Stones?
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste

Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste


The Political Economy

Buying votes, in other words.  It's no different than the hospitality costs government officials lavish on potential investors, or consultants on themselves. 
It's the cost of doing business, really - people buy relationships first, products second.  It's the kind of thing Preston Manning started the Reform Party to stand against.  It's not Manning's party now.


Shocked - Shocked! by Party Membership Buying

I'm actually happy this anonymous Liberal party official has spoken up against the practice of memberships being paid for by third parties.  It's too bad they didn't use their name, though - but I can hazard a guess as to why that might be the case.
Here's a dirty little secret, one of many in the political closet - this happens all the time.  All the time.  I've had more than one chat with highly successful political operatives - the ones who get party phone calls to come in and put campaigns in order - where they will smile and say they don't really see this as a moral issue, simply a PR issue.
Politics is war, after all - people don't like war, they don't like to hear what happens in war, but they're not exactly rushing out to put their own skin in the game, are they?  If they're not willing to stand up, then the next best thing they can do is stay out of the way of the big boys and girls willing to do what it takes to win.
I have no knowledge of this specific campaign, or any of the candidates involved, nor any of the interactions with the Party.  What I would comfortably hazard a guess on, though, is that this buying of memberships thing was selected as the "official" reason to block Bhullar from getting the nod.  It's simple, easy to explain, makes the rejection of the guy they don't like (or removal of opposition to the one they do like) look like a moral victory instead of a cynical tactical play.
This being the case, one would assume the Party worked doubly hard to make sure there was no chance of any evidence being available that could suggest their preferred candidate, Amarjeet Sohi, had played the same game.  After all, if it came to light that their preferred candidate played just as dirty as the one they openly dejected, it might make them look hypocritical, right?
If all this is accurate and the "shocked, shocked to find their is gambling going on in this establishment" play is being used as a one-off in this one particular contest, it's fair to think that this level of moral scrutiny may not be as present in other ridings.  Meaning that if it came to light that any of the Centre's green-lit candidates had equally committed the moral outrage of blatant vote-buying, the Party should rush to flush each of them out the door.
All of this is symptomatic of a bigger problem, however - the overall ill-health of our electoral system.  If Parties are arranging for preferred candidates to get in and bribing/threatening others to stand down, what message do green-lit candidates take from this?  How much is their fate tied to pleasing the Party vs representing constituents?
Independents don't win.  You need Party brand to have access to the press, to debates, to resources and templates and seasons campaign teams, etc. 
So people don't win - Parties do.  Parties that want to form government.  Parties that place their leader at the top of a rigid hierarchy.  Leaders who rely on unelected inner-councils to do the real administration work of the Party and of government to ensure Party interests are maintained.
It's a system of government, this - just not a democratic one.  It can't last.

Sunday 1 February 2015

ISIL Hypocrites

Really?  How do the folks pulling the strings at ISIL define "our women and children" - considering the fact that they're killing and raping women and children themselves?  Who's paying to house, clothe, feed and arm the militants doing such atrocious deeds?  Who's paying to recruit Westerners to move to the Middle East to rape and kill local women and children? 
ISIL's message to Japan isn't "leave our women and children alone."  It's "don't piss in our sandbox."
If you mess with their authority, after all, you pay the price.  And they've got an army of brainwashed converts who will do whatever their told and actually think it's in the name of Allah.
They're acting like they think they're an empire.  Who would they have picked up that idea from?
Jut a little reminder to all the Empire-builders out there.  History is not a morality play; we're not actors, nor playwrights.  To assume otherwise, well - that always ends in tragedy.