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January 27, 2006

But wait, weren’t they supposed to be on our side?
Posted by Patrick at 10:55 PM * 117 comments

Responding to claims by the US Ambassador to Canada about what are and aren’t Canadian territorial waters in a melting Arctic, Canada’s incoming Conservative prime minister gets testy:

“The United States defends its sovereignty, the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,” he said.

“It is the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the ambassador of the United States.”

As Jim Henley once observed in a post I can’t seem to track down, you know those people all over the world who get pissed off at overbearing, grabby Americans? Like all those Iraqis with rifles and IEDs? Those people are often conservatives, the local variety, devoted to home and turf. Only American “conservatives” are airheaded enough to think that “conservative” automatically means “in favor of the continuing power, glory, and wealth of the United States.”

Comments on But wait, weren't they supposed to be on our side?:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 10:59 PM:

Canadian commenters can skip a step; I'm aware that Stephen Harper is a nitwit who's liable to suck up to GWB at the first opportunity.

My point is that conservative nationalists in other countries tend to be, hey, conservative and nationalistic. Not, in fact, full-time cheerleaders for the USA! USA! USA! This may seem obvious, but it seems to regularly elude the understanding of those inside the American right-wing borg.

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 11:14 PM:

Patrick, some of those in the American right-wing borg are probably still trying to figure out where they are on a globe. After all, isn't the world flat and centered on DC? [/snark at wingnuts]

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2006, 11:15 PM:

There's this 55-year-old woman I know here who's from Austria who finally became an American so that she could vote for Kerry. Some time last year, she visited the home country and had an interesting talk with her mother-in-law, whom she described as definitely of a Right-Wing bent. Even her in-law asked what the Hell was wrong with Bush.

#4 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:15 AM:

Henley:

...most of the world consists of "Red States." They just don't happen to have Americans in them.

http://www.highclearing.com/archivesuo/week_2004_04_18.html#005268

#5 ::: R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Just a clarification - Harper is actually the newly-elected Conservative Prime Minister. (Premiers are the heads of the provinces.)

#6 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:04 AM:

"Premier" is widely used in the English-speaking world as a synonym for "Prime Minister." It may not be the exact Canadian idiolect but I'll bet lots of non-Canadian newspapers and other media refer to the current Canadian PM as the "premier" all the time.

#7 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:08 AM:

Just a clarification - Harper is actually the newly-elected Conservative Prime Minister.

Prime Minister-designate. Clarifying the clarification simply because I want to put off having to acknowledge him for as long as humanly possible.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:10 AM:

DonBoy, that's the one.

#9 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:26 AM:

Re premier and prime minister: the usage is the same in Australia as in Canada. But we could tell what you meant, Patrick.

#10 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:37 AM:

It may not be the exact Canadian idiolect but I'll bet lots of non-Canadian newspapers and other media refer to the current Canadian PM as the "premier" all the time.

Except perhaps for US media, I'll bet that very few non-Canadian media outlets make that mistake, just as one seldom sees references to the "Australian Premier". It's nothing to do with an idiolect*, it's simply wrong, and seems an odd mistake to make -- and attempt testily to defend -- in a thread that starts with a lamentation about the insularity of (some) Americans.

*as I understand the term, it refers to a single individual, making "Canadian idiolect" a nonsense phrase.

#11 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:47 AM:

In Australia "premier" means the head an Australian state government, much as in Canada it means the head of a Canadian provincial government. It does not mean "Prime Minister", ever. Nor have I ever heard the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom called a 'premier' in the UK, though of course there is no second tier of government there, as such.

I believe you are quoting US media standard usage. When last there, I noticed that all other nations' leaders were called 'premiers' notwithstanding the real titles of their offices. So much less confusing that way.

#12 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:19 AM:

Damn. Double posted to get rid of typo which actually distorted my meaning; please delete the messed-up one?

Only in Canada do we have Conservatives (who are in fact mostly neo-cons and therefore as someone says neither new nor conservative, but merely Old as Sin and Evil as Hell) manage to frequently in fact be nationalistic ABOUT ANOTHER COUNTRY.

*facepalms*

But, um, yeah. Meanwhile, if any of you had anything to do with this, via mind rays or something, please accept my thanks.

*listens to the sweet sweet sound of the soft Conservative vote imploding*

*grins nastily*

#13 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:33 AM:

I was figuring he was making a fuss about Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic in order to counter the impression that he is too close to Bush and the US. Now that he has boldly established his manly Canadian credentials, he is free to um, suck up to Bush, on all the things that really matter.

#14 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:35 AM:

Marna, Weyrich needs no help making a fool of himself.

I gather our Ambassador made a dumb remark or two as well within the week. Somehow that doesn't surprise me either.

#15 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:37 AM:

TomB, that's what it was! Thanks! Something about Canadian rights in the Arctic, and us (and the Russians) claiming that part of the ocean is international waters, or something?

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:22 AM:

Oops. If this were a spreadsheet, my previous post would have given me a formula error: "Circular reference."

Never mind.

#17 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 04:15 AM:

"This may seem obvious, but it seems to regularly elude the understanding of those inside the American right-wing borg."

the right-wing borg are too stupid to know who is on their side. Back when the Lomborg controversy was going on the Prime Minister of Denmark promised an investigation into the matter and set up a little commission. I remember there was a big thread on one of the conservative blogs where they were all furious over this, one prominent idiot sneered "not to worry, Rasmussen is on the case", implying that nefarious liberal interests would be protected. Of course Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a conservative, who employs Lomborg as a consultant on Environmental matters, who is a great sucker upper to the U.S and whose commission in the end said there basically was nothing to the controversy.

#18 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 06:37 AM:

Conservative just means "Believes that the status quo is a good thing and therefore doesn't want it to change too much". They therefore agree reasonably well, differences determined by perspective.

NeoCons aren't Conservative, they're Reactionary - i.e. want the status quo to leap backwards to A Better Time™ (probably 20 years ago in the case of the US case - ours (Britain's) seem to prefer Queen Victoria)...

#19 ::: Idealistic Pragmatist ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 07:10 AM:

Patrick,

Actually, I was with you more on the post than I was on your first comment. Stephen Harper is hardly a "nitwit" (he's actually quite intelligent, even eggheadish) nor is he likely to do much sucking up to Bush unless their agendas match up exactly. That's the American spin on our election that has been making my Canadian friends living in the U.S. right now want to gouge their eyes out with spoons.

You might do well to read some Canadian news sources to find out what Harper's really all about. I'm not in agreement with most of his agenda (which is why I, like the majority of Canadians, didn't vote Conservative), but he's hardly a Bush clone. And there are a few things--particularly on the democratic reform front--that will clearly be of benefit to the country if he has a chance to pass them, and which the other parties are likely to support his minority government on.

Incidentally, the Harper Conservative government is the slimmest minority any party has ever won, in the whole of Canadian history. And it happened only after the ruling Liberals had not only appeared corrupt and tired in public for years, but had also run what may have been the most inept national campaign ever. In case you or some of your readers were tempted to fall victim to the "Canada's turned into a red state" handwringing.

#20 ::: mangala ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 07:47 AM:

I didn't vote for Harper, and disagree with him on most everything, but I actually think it's a good thing for him to assert our claim to the Arctic waters, if he follows through and actually puts some boats and people and so forth there to make the point. The Liberals, particularly in the last few years, seemed to spend a lot of time needling the US without actually doing anything substantive.

I personally wasn't worried that Harper would suck up to the US on everything - but I do worry that he'll suck up on things I disagree with!

#21 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 08:50 AM:

From the article Marna linked:

His contribution to the Harper election effort was to distribute an e-mail last week urging fellow U.S. right-wingers not to talk to Canadian reporters.

"Canadian voters have been led to believe that American conservatives are scary and if the Conservative party can be linked with us, they can perhaps diminish a Conservative victory," he warned.

Maybe they've been led to believe that by statements like these, from the same man:

The pessimistic view was that Harper, lacking a parliamentary majority, can do little to make Canadians "adopt a more reasonable view of the United States" and abandon Marxist principles "such as same-sex marriage and abortion on demand," Weyrich says.*

and

"As has been the case in the United States, cultural Marxism largely has been foisted upon Canada by the courts. If judges who respect the Constitution were to be appointed they would confirm that such rights are not to be found in that document. Sound familiar?"

*The article comments: "He does not say how these things are linked in his mind to Marxism, a doctrine better known for concepts of class warfare. "

#22 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 09:22 AM:

And while they argue over whose ice it was, it just keeps on melting...

#23 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 09:36 AM:

The Arctic claim assertion is a good thing, yes.

The means chosen aren't ideal, but oh well. It's not an ideal world.

One of the things I'm very curious about is just how much Mr. Harper is, or is not, going to get told about the various tucked-away contingencies and deterrents.

No way to find out, of course, but one wonders.

#24 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 09:59 AM:

Marna, I vaguely recall a British comic strip that appeared briefly in the '80s, that featured a terrorist organisation called the RCMP, which purportedly stood for something like the Revolutionary something Marxist Partisans. To add surreality to confusion, they dressed in Mountie uniforms while going about their business in whatever British city the story was based.

Reading your link, it occurs to me now that maybe they were meant to be the real RCMP, and that the author wanted to warn the world that Canadistan was a covert marxist state. But then again, maybe not.

#25 ::: Doctor Slack ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:02 AM:

IP: Actually, I was with you more on the post than I was on your first comment. Stephen Harper is hardly a "nitwit" (he's actually quite intelligent, even eggheadish)

Unfortunately, being eggheaded does not preclude being a nitwit (as Condi Rice's career in the Cheney Administration attests). It's a question of judgment, not raw processing power.

nor is he likely to do much sucking up to Bush unless their agendas match up exactly.

Actually, he's not likely to do much sucking up to Bush precisely because he is indeed running the most precarious minority government ever. The core of the CPC really is practically a branch transplant of American-style movementarianism (see the link Marna posted to a bizarre Conservative victory rant about Canadians' supposed "cultural Marxism" if you doubt this), and really does see America as a model economy / society, is upset that we haven't joined in on the National Missile Defence boondoggle yet, is irritated that our troops (such as they are) aren't fighting in Iraq right now, and so on.

Not to "pull rank" on your Canadian friends living abroad, but I say this as someone who lives in Harper's riding and hears what a lot of the party's membership actually believe, instead of what the party says publicly during an election in which they finally managed to muzzle most of their extremists. (Although that, apparently, didn't last long.) What you can glean about Harper from Canadian news sources would tell you relatively little, since his representation of his party's agenda was probably, shall we say, more than a little Straussian.

Having said all of that, it's safe to say that even the most rabidly pro-American of the neoconucks isn't interested in being an American protectorate or colony per se. It's more like they fantasize about being more-equal partners in the Team of Invincible Super-Heroes that they think of the US as leading. Or as the redoubtable Adam Yoshida puts it (in a post that begins with a deliciously wingnutty quotation about "tyranny"):

On matters of foreign policy, Prime Minister, you should follow the words, but not the spirit, of the Liberals. They claim that they want Canada to have an “independent foreign policy.” What they really mean is an anti-American foreign policy. What I propose instead, Prime Minister, is that you chart a genuinely independent course for Canada. You should do this not by making sanctimonious speeches before the United Nations, but rather through rebuilding our Armed Forces and aggressively asserting Canadian values – those of individual liberty and security of the person – all over the world, with force if necessary.

There is no reason why Canada shouldn’t be a genuine Middle Power worthy of serious weight in International Affairs. Britain is. Australia is. We should be one as well.

Yeah, Britain and Australia have had great luck "aggressively asserting their values," haven't they?

But the thing is, Harper's bit of Nationalism Theatre is canny in that it will play well outside his base as much as within it. There's a rising thirst for greater assertion of sovereignty and military independence from the US right across the political spectrum, as much from people who no longer trust the US as a benign neighbour as from those who suffer Adam Yoshida-esque "Justice League Syndrome."

#26 ::: Doctor Slack ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Oops. The Yoshida quote is two paragraphs, BTW.

And I agree with sennoma, incidentally. We know what you meant... but it'd be best to correct the "premier" thing.

#27 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:14 AM:

Some googling around indicates that the word "premier" really is wrong, not just informal, so I've corrected it. Although, sennoma, surely we can be simply mistaken without being "insular."

Idealistic Pragmatist, I probably read more Canadian news than 99.9% of Americans. I lived there for several years. Also, plenty of "intelligent (even eggheadish)" people are also "nitwits"; for representative examples, I give you the entire neoconservative intellectual movement.

If you want my take on the immediate Canadian political future, it's that I think Harper will live to regret that Canada's particular version of parliamentary democracy allows a party to form a goverment with a mere plurality of seats, without having to build a formal coalition in order to reach a majority. Because, having run on the Nobody's Any Good Except Us platform, Harper's Conservatives are going to find it vanishingly difficult to find anyone in the Liberals, NDP, or Bloc willing to return their phone calls when they need to pass even routine legislation.

Corrections, amplifications, better-informed punditry, all welcome. We're always up for a good discussion of Canadian politics here at Making Light.

#28 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:17 AM:

Cross-posted with Doctor Slack, who made exactly the same point about the orthagonality of intellect and nitwittery.

#29 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:33 AM:

Re: 'Cultural Marxism'. I'm familiar with the Marxist canon, and have spent time both studying and teaching it as part of my work, but I don't seem to recall Marx or Engels (nor for that matter Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, nor Stalin)state that the victory of the proletariat in the class struggle involves same-sex marriage or legal abortion. Where do clowns like Weyrich get their knowledge of Marxism? Out of their rectal cavities?

On Canada: The Liberals, it is clear, ran a bad campaign. They lost. The Conservatives did not win; indeed, they may be dependent for support on the NDP in many cases. I foresee a couple of interesting years in Canadian politics. I suspect that Harper will call elections within the space of two years in the hope of getting a majority. Maybe even in less than one.

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 10:55 AM:

By the way, Fragano, someone should explain to people not familiar with Canadian politics that the name of a Party doesn't necessarily mean what it means to an American.

I remember a few years ago when I was living around the Bay Area. Canada's Liberal Party had won the election and one of my co-workers was all excited about that until I pointed out that the Liberal Party is rather like the right-most wing of the Democrats, or the left-most wing of the Republicans. But things may have changed since I left 20 years ago. For example, the idea of the National Democratic Party, which used to be like the left-most wing of Democrats, allying itself with the Conservatives sounds real strange to me.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:01 AM:

Serge: You're right. I should have made clear that the Liberals are a bit more conservative than American liberals, and the Conservatives a bit more liberal (on some issues) than American conservativess.

Left-Right coalitions are rare, but they do happen on occasion. In Greece in the late 80s, the Socialists were displaced for a while by an alliance between the New Democracy (conservative) and the Communists (communist).

#32 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:13 AM:

Serge --

There's no straightforward map between Canadian political positions and American political positions.

The liberals are centre-left, but that's centre-left in a context in which private health care is significantly illegal and this unlawfulness has at least narrow-majority public support.

The various movement conservatives in Canada hate this, but there you go.

The Democratic pro-Second Amendment position makes them at least Hard Right (and plausibly Loony Right) in Canadian terms.

Different country, very different history, very different politics.

#33 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:17 AM:

Patrick: Except really, nobody wants another election right now. The Liberals have a leader to elect, we've just had two in two years ... nobody's going to be in a hurry to pull them down. We'll wait for them to screw up big, probably.

Unless the CPC do something really egregious, they're probably okay for about 2 years.

Mind, that's a biggish 'unless'.

And they're not going to get a lot of support on the really conservative stuff. The Bloc is, if anything, to the left of the NDP in a lot of ways. It remains to be seen if they can play nice with the Liberals. The NDP has 29 seats, which even with the CPC isn't a majority.

This is going to be almost as much fun as the last one.

And contrary to what that article says, if Harper starts appointing judges all over the place, I think the electorate wil get behind a new election really quickly.

Current bets are on an election in 24-30 months.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Current bets are on an election in 24-30 months.

Didn't it take something like 6 months after the 1975(?) election, Marna? The Conservatives's Joe Clark had won but within a few months Trudeau had managed to get him kicked out of office. If memory serves me right.

#35 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Serge wrote:

Didn't it take something like 6 months after the 1975(?) election, Marna? The Conservatives's Joe Clark had won but within a few months Trudeau had managed to get him kicked out of office. If memory serves me right.

That may be true, but our political leaders are lesser men these days[0].

[0] ... and there's also that technical detail about needing to come up with a new leader for the Liberal party. I agree on the 24-30 months.

#36 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:56 AM:

I love you guys, you make me look up words. Patrick: what does orthagonality mean? My American Heritage dictionary doesn't have it and no, I don't have an OED and it's too early to call Debbie, who does...

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:57 AM:

Then again, Xeger, wasn't Trudeau an anomaly even for his era?

#38 ::: Idealistic Pragmatist ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:59 AM:

Serge,

I concur with Graydon (wow, haven't seen you for years, Graydon, how's by you?): As a now-Canadian who grew up in the U.S., I can say that you couldn't be more wrong about the reach of the Canadian political spectrum. In fact, if anything, the bulk of the Conservative party is more aligned with rightish Democrats like Hillary Clinton, and everybody else is to the left of them. And I say this as a card-carrying member of the NDP who doesn't agree with the lot of them at all. "Different country, very very different politics" indeed.

Patrick,

Part of me hopes you're right, but I still think you're not. I suspect Harper is going to temper the Conservative agenda even beyond the mostly harmless version they came up with for this election (except possibly the same-sex marriage free vote, which he can't win in this parliament, but probably doesn't really want to win anyway), and do his best to work with each of the various parties on the parts that he can cobble enough votes together on. The positive side of this: the other parties will each have the right to demand concessions in exchange, and this may mean there will finally be some movement on electoral reform. The negative side: it means that when this government does fall, there might be enough goodwill toward the Conservatives to elect a majority next time.

I wouldn't hold my breath--this is a country that loves its Liberals like it loves its hockey--but it could happen.

#39 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Like I said, Idealistic Pragmatist, I left Canada a long time ago and it does seem like things have changed.

#40 ::: Idealistic Pragmatist ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:21 PM:

Possibly. Although the NDP is still the "New Democratic Party," as it was then, not the "National Democratic Party". :-)

To clear up some of the confusion about that, by the way: the NDP will probably be willing to align itself with the Conservatives only with respect to the very limited things that the two parties are already aligned on (mostly in the area of cleaning up government corruption) or could reach a compromise on (mostly in the area of democratic reform). Luckily, those are some of the most essential things any Canadian government could do at this particular point in time, so it might actually work out just fine.

#41 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:23 PM:

Lizzy L, I'll take a stab at it.
"orthagonality" = "at right-angles", with the sense that the two characteristics are totally independent variables.

One can be at any point on the "intelligence" scale and also at any point on the "nitwit" scale", because they are independent variables.

That is, knowing the value on one scale tells you nothing about the other. Which explains the existence of very intelligent nitwits.

#42 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:30 PM:

The New Democratic Party... I stand corrected, Idealistic Pragmatist.

#43 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 12:33 PM:

I dunno. I'm one of those expat Canadians, so I've only been able to follow Canadian politics at arms length for the past decade. But I just don't see Harper as any kind of Bush clone. To me, he looks much more like, say, Mitt Romney -- a conservative leader presiding over an entrenched liberal populace. People wanted a change, but within limits. He doesn't have anything like the kind of power he'd need to be able to do anything radical -- for once, I am incredibly grateful for the Canadian electoral map for seeing to that. Harper won a narrow election, and unlike Bush 2000, he's going to be forced to govern like it. Minority government means that he'll only be able to change any laws with the support of at least one of the other parties.

A forecast: any significant change to abortion policy will get nowhere. There will be a vote about gay marriage, but the status quo will stand, and Canada will get a few years to get used to a policy that's got a bit out in front of mainstream sentiment anyway. There's no significant constituency in Canada for any bullshit about creationism or school prayer -- that's not even on the table. About the only social-progressive trend that will really stall because of the Tories is weed decriminalization, and it's sort of unclear how much was really ever on the table anyway.

Harper may be able to run a more business-friendly economic policy, but I have enough libertarian leanings to think that's a good idea. He'll tap a complicated foreign policy dance, more pro-American than the Liberals were, but careful to maintain as much independence as possible. Most of his attention will be absorbed in the usual traps of Canadian politics, Quebecois nationalism and Western alienation. None of this seems scary to me.

For the record, since a lot of people don't seem to know what's up with the Arctic sovereignty issue and newspapers hardly ever trouble to explain: there are several questions, but I believe the principle one is whether the Northwest Passage constitutes international waters. Parts of it are clearly within any reasonable Canadian boundaries, but then, the Dardanelles are clearly within Turkey, but yet legally form an international waterway. There also appears to be an issue something like with trademarks, that if Canada fails to respond to challenges to its sovereignty, its claim can lapse. If anyone can provide a better-informed explanation than that, I'd be grateful.

(Aside to Serge: NEW Democratic Party, not Nat'l.)

#44 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:08 PM:

LizzyL, if two things are orthagonal to each other, they are independent variables or traits. In other words, someone can be:

1. a nitwit AND NOT an egghead;
2. an egghead AND NOT a nitwit;
3. a nitwit AND an egghead; and (one presumes)
4. NEITHER a nitwit NOR an egghead.


:)

#45 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:12 PM:

Idealistic Pragmatist --

Pretty well, thanks. You?

Feeling moderately croggled at the moment; was out taking pictures of leafing trees. (just barely starting to leaf, but it looks and smells like late March out there.)

It makes me think that most current political issues are going to be rather moot quite soon.

#46 ::: Idealistic Pragmatist ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:17 PM:

Graydon,

I know just what you mean. In Edmonton, we had essentially no snow for the entire election, and even now, where it's finally dropped below zero, there's but a dusting out there. Record high temperatures nearly every day. Troubling.

#47 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:19 PM:

Since there are several Canadians posting on this thread, and several ex-pats as well, can one of you point me in the direction of a decent history of the country? I don't know enough, despite listening to As It Happens every M-F.

#48 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:21 PM:

"Didn't it take something like 6 months after the 1975(?) election? The Conservatives's Joe Clark had won but within a few months Trudeau had managed to get him kicked out of office."

1979 election. There was no election in 1975. Indeed, even that underestimates the speed with which Clark's government went south. The defeated Trudeau had announced his resignation as Liberal leader, but before his party could convene to choose a successor, Clark's government fell on a no-confidence motion. (Perhaps it had something to do with all that chicken pie. Scholars differ.)

#49 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:23 PM:

I note that Lizzy is having trouble looking it up because everyone is consistently misspelling "orthogonal" as "orthagonal". Orthogonal meaning "at right angles" or "along separate dimensions", from Greek "ortho-" (straight, upright, perpendicular) + "gonia" (angle)

It's one of those very useful math terms that has gradually percolated into colloquial speech by way of geekdom. All hail geekdom!

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:31 PM:

Not 1975, Patrick? OK. That's why I had put that question mark near the year. By the way, how come you know so much about Canada and/or its politics?

#51 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Fragano Ledgister writes: "Where do clowns like Weyrich get their knowledge of Marxism? Out of their rectal cavities?"

The short answer is that it all comes out of the American red scares of the 1920's and 1950's, and the peculiar ways our reactionaries responded to the social upheaval of the 1960's and the mythology they've created about the fall of the Soviet Union.

Multiple generations of wingnuts have been compounding these distortions by piling them one on top of the other in a kind of right-wing oral history of their tribe. It seems like they pulled it out of their rectal cavities mostly because they haven't consulted the primary source material at any point in the process for the last seventy years.

To guys like Weyrich, The Communist Manifesto has the same sanity-loss inducing power as The Necronomicon. Merely possessing a copy of it in one's library can reduce perfectly sane people into gibbering pools of mindless protozoa.

#52 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Going back to the 'premier' problem at the beginning of the thread, I'd just like to sow confusion & puzzlement* by pointing out that each Australian State has both a premier & a governor. (And the federated Commonwealth has a Prime Minister & a Governor-General, in the place of the UK monarch.)

Re "cultural Marxism" and gay marriage, I wonder if it's because of the cliche phrase "godless Communism", so that anything seen as anti/un-Christian gets conflated with it. To give further examples might infringe Godwin's Law.

*aka 'stirring the possum'

#53 ::: Doctor Slack ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Linkmeister: Canada: A People's History is a useful and respectable recent effort (sponsored by the CBC; there's also a television mini-series by the same name).

#55 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:36 PM:

JH: That makes sense (as long as the brains turning to porridge are on the right). That's a very good explanation.

Epacris: You have a point there.

Oh, btw, every Canadian province has a lieutenant governor as well as a premier.

#56 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:40 PM:

"By the way, how come you know so much about Canada and/or its politics?"

I don't know all that much compared to an actual expert, but I did live and work there for some years (1975-77 and 1983-84), and I've maintained an interest.

(You can probably measure my exact level of well-informedness from the fact that, right now without looking anything up, I can name the Conservative, Liberal, and NDP leaders, but I can't quite remember the name of the current leader of the Bloc.)

#57 ::: Doctor Slack ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Patrick says: but I can't quite remember the name of the current leader of the Bloc

That would be Gilles Duceppe, who was rated the most charismatic of the leaders in the debates, actually. Too bad he wasn't a federalist candidate, otherwise I'd have voted for him, actually.

(While watching the Anglo debate with a couple of friends, we joked that it would make a pretty good drinking game to take a shot every time Duceppe said the words "fiscal imbalance." Shortly after that, we realized that we'd have had alcohol poisoning inside about a half hour...)

#58 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Epacris writes: "...I wonder if it's because of the cliche phrase "godless Communism", so that anything seen as anti/un-Christian gets conflated with it."

Yes, and especially so in the case of Christian dominionist wingnuts like Paul Weyrich. This all started a long time ago when the first anti-communists quote-mined the Manifesto and other writings for tools to identify and tag the Reds.

Weyrich's predecessors jumped pretty hard on the idea that Communists must, as a matter of ideology, embrace atheism. I know— it doesn't make sense, but they did. It's why Americans inserted the words "under God" into their silly Pledge of Allegiance— it was supposed to be a mechanism for forcing Communists to surface by making them take a stand for atheism, thus identifying them as potential Reds. It's also why we get other silly crypto-ecumenical ceremonies and mottoes woven into our civil religion, e.g. currency that says "In God We Trust" all over it. For the last seventy years, anti-Communists have been using symbolic initiatives to implement these things in our legislative process as a blunt instrument for purging the Communist moles they're sure are hiding in plain sight among our public servants.

It shouldn't be hard to see how, after we've gone three generations of wingnuts into the process, especially after the New Age spiritual revolution of the 1970's, the conflation of Marxism with not just atheism, but even just a downplaying of fundamentalism and dominionist monotheism, is a natural development of their whacked ideology.

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 02:57 PM:

What is the Bloc exactly, Patrick? Oh, that's the Bloc Quebecois, right? I never quite understood the concept of being for Independence AND being in Ottawa. If that's what the Bloc indeed is. Then again, I never could get into either side of the whole Independence thing.

#60 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:17 PM:

If people here are actually interested in Canadian politics, what the heck. Here's a couple of pieces of context on ways Canadian politics is different from American. On regionalism and the history of the Conservative party:

Publius, "On the Eve of Destruction": [Mulroney], unlike Trudeau and Diefenbaker, did not think along national and ideologically lines, but was in many ways was an old fashioned regional coalition builder. Of course this is a necessity for anyone wishing to become Prime Minister. If the first job of the President of the United States is to defend the Republic against external and internal dangers, the first job of the Prime Minister of Canada is to ensure he still has a country to lead. In this we are not unique, only unique among leading developed nations. Trudeau, Dief and to a certain extent even Pearson tried to bind together Canada with ideas rather than pork barrel politics and ethnic power brokering. These were necessities of power, certainly, but another element could be added they hoped, something closer to the British and American model, where right and left were more important than East, West and Centre. ... Mulroney calculated that the West wouldn't walk. He was wrong.

On Québecois separatism:

Laurent, "Le Bloc, le mouvement souverainiste et l'élection 2006": Of course, this all changed very quickly in the wake of the Auditor General's report on the sponsorship scandal and of the Gomery Commission. Suddenly, sovereignists were showing strong momentum and their project, instead of being headed for the dustbin of history, seemed to be nearly impossible to stop. In the 2004 elections, the Bloc repeated its 1993 performance by winning 54 seats and 49 percent of Québec votes. Helped by the unpopularity of the Charest government, the Parti Québécois reached new heights in polls in 2004 and 2005. Support for the sovereignist option was also rising, with some polls showing that the YES side could have won by 54 percent had a referendum been held in 2005 with the same question than in 1995. ... With a Liberal Party tainted by the sponsorship scandal and the Gomery Commission, most people expected the Bloc to do even better than in the 2004 elections. ... If the Bloc had won a mythic 50 percent + 1 votes, its performance would have been hailed as a triumph and as a dress rehearsal for a sovereignist victory on the glory night of the referendum.

Instead, the Bloc won 42 percent of the Québec vote and won 51 seats, a net loss of 7 percent of the popular vote and of 3 seats. ... Of course, what deprived the Bloc from winning an absolute majority of votes is the rise of the Conservative Party in Québec.
#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:27 PM:

The rise of the Conservative Party in Quebec... Things HAVE indeed changed, colin. What I'm curious about is whether or not Quebecois younger than 50 really care that much about Independence, or if it's mostly a thing for the old farts who came of age between 1960 and 1970.

#62 ::: Mote ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:29 PM:

I think the word is actually "orthogonality." So says the online version of the OED.

#63 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:30 PM:

Serge: see also Scottish National Party. The BC/SNP parallels are remarkable ...

#64 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:31 PM:

DonBoy quotes Henley: ...most of the world consists of "Red States." They just don't happen to have Americans in them. http://www.highclearing.com/archivesuo/week_2004_04_18.html#005268

Is that what Patrick was looking for? I thought it sounded like this one:

Jim Henley, "The Barber of Beirut": It’s a conservative world. Sorry, liberals among you, but it’s true. From continent to continent and country to country, most people prefer the familiar to the strange, whether in terms of people or folkways or governance. The West did not invent ethnocentrism, we just named it. I pluck you down anywhere in the world, outside of a major metropolis, and I will be plucking you down among people who like their own tribe better than the next tribe and the next tribe better than, well, you. What bothers Mr. Nawaf about the history of US intervention in Lebanon is less that the interventions were “bloody” - Lebanon’s neighbors and its own factions far excel us there - than that we weren’t Lebanese. ...

#65 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Whoops, I dropped the link to Laurent. It should have been: Laurent, "Le Bloc, le mouvement souverainiste et l'élection 2006".

#66 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:40 PM:

Serge --

The Bloc is perfectly well aware that Quebec would be a third-world country under effective American corporate occupation very, very quickly if they were actually to achieve sovereignty. (Never mind the "at war with the Cree" part.)

So they're playing what amounts to a very complicated game of bureaucratic chicken, along with suffering from the hangover from the usual fascist[1] economic delusions. (Pre-Parti Quebeçois, Montreal had the economic position in Canada that Toronto has now. The change was not a net win for French language and culture in Canada, and it was entirely voluntary.)

Since most of the things that were driving historical popular support for the separatist movement have been changed, all they've really got going for them is the 'fiscal imbalance' canard and representing the views of actual Quebecers, which are typically pretty sensible. (They are, thankfully, a something-wrong-with-me rather than a that-woman-is-broken culture when it comes to the whole gamut of dick-shrinkage issues to which politics is prey.)

If they'd drop the sovereignty plank (more like 'give it a formal burial'), deal convincingly with the hangover (pretty easy; the right thing to do is push economic activity in Quebeçois), and run candidates outside Quebec on their current platform, they could easily form a government. The rest of the platform is that sensible.

[1] Yes, it is. Politest fascist movement yet recorded (partially due to having had the fear of Pierre put into them in the early seventies) but it has the whole arbitrary sacred borders, charismatic leader, and triumph of will over facts thing going on, most particularly about economic policy.

#67 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 03:55 PM:

The change was not a net win for French language and culture in Canada, and it was entirely voluntary.

It was a disaster for the economy of Montreal, and like you say, not a win for French language and culture in Canada. But then, the separatists don't care about the French in the rest of Canada (they do exist, notably in New Brunswick, and pockets of Manitoba and Nova Scotia). If you look at it only from the point of view of French culture in Quebec, chopping the knees out from under anglo Montreal quite possibly did leave them with a bigger share of a smaller Quebec.

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 04:07 PM:

No disagreement there, Graydon. When the first Independence Referendum came up, I voted against it for reasons of my own, one being that I dislike nationalism (a very different beast from true patriotism), but I think that most of the 'no' people voted with their wallets, especially since the 'yes' side was rather vague about what kind of economy people would wind up with. I do wonder if the younger generation is the one that's going for the Conservative Party because they are afraid for their financial future.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 04:10 PM:

One more thing, Graydon... The suggestions you make about what the Bloc should do are interesting. And ironic. Unless I'm remembering my high-school History all wrong, the Liberal Party started in Quebec in the early 19th century as a nationalist movement. I'm not certain of that though.

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 04:12 PM:

Thanks for the link, Charlie. I had heard a bit about the Scottish Independents, and that Sean Connery had donated to their cause, but that's about it. I can't imagine that they're getting much traction when the world economy is so uncertain.

#71 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 04:16 PM:

Colin --

My take is that they were very committed, generally pretty smart, but totally, hopelessly, abjectly clueless about economic matters, and shot themselves in the foot, then spent some time staggering about before realizing they were going to lose the whole leg.

Even by pure relative standing measures, even for a very narrow definition of Quebec-city pure lain types, the whole thing was a net loss. Taking out Anglo Montreal (Anglo largely because the Francophone upper class moved back to France after 1750, one of the worst choices ever made. I could wish I knew enough of the appropriate history to construct an alternate history where the divergence point is that not happening) took out effectively all of Quebec-the-province's non-resource-extraction economy. The near-complete loss of import replacement activity really hurt them generally, not just or mostly Anglo Montreal.

The focus on "fiscal imbalance" is the official party line for the cause of the problem to avoid acknowledging that the party was the cause of the problem...

There are substantial francophone communities throughout Ontario, too, particularly northern Ontario. The political judo to take up the cause of the French language in Canada would be very powerful, and one way to give that separatist plank formal burial.

#72 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Montreal is an import-replacing city. It wasn't, for a while, it staggered under that blow, but it is now up again and has been improving for about the last ten years -- it's possible to walk around and just look at those new divisions of labour go. This is largely due to the actually quite sensible economic policies of the Landry government. The Bloc aren't fascist, at least provincially they're reasonable mild socialists with one nutty idea that, regrettably, they can't put down. (And Duceppe looks like a replicant. I'm sure this didn't help in the election.)

The loss of the rich Anglos quite precisely parellels the loss of the rich French two hundred years ago, and has been interesting for the resulting social position of the remaining Anglos here. I think it's too soon to tell if it was a good thing -- it was certainly a terrible thing in the short term, medium term it seems to be working out.

Montreal is really different from the rest of Quebec though.

One thing that does seem odd to me is that in Britain in the last quarter-century there's been a move towards cities becoming their own counties, and leaving the rest of the county to look to its own interests, which are, naturally, sometimes with and sometimes against the city, but seen much more clearly without the city's weight. This "city is province" status, which would seem to be the obvious provincial status for both Montreal and Toronto, which unbalance their provinces terribly, seems unfortunately to be quite beyond possibility here.

#73 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 05:41 PM:

ESR and his suggestion that to assert Canadian sovereignty is to ratify claims of appropriate sovereignty by other nation states aside - what about a league of cities that crosses current national boundaries? It is certainly true that the world is full of cities with more in common with each other than with their own hinterlands. (lots of obs sf)

#74 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 06:16 PM:

Jo -

Montreal is certainly an import-replacing city now, yes. (Exporting, too -- we're buying custom software from a Montreal just-post-startup firm.)

There was a period of darn near twenty years when it wasn't, though, and there was no certainty of the present recovery when the late sixties/early seventies separatist movement had its initial economic policy effects.

The Quebec sovereignty movement has had almost all the hallmarks of fascism -- appeal to a specific ethnic identity, insistence on absolute and inalienable geographic borders, self-definition through struggle, and a charismatic leader.

The core movement didn't get violent, and I think the basic cynicism of the Quebecois prevented it from getting truly silly, but the trend was there. Less so now, and if the focus shifts to something less economically dubious (as it probably will), even less.

Clark --

The problem in Canada is that provinces are artifacts of 18th century communications tech and 19th century limitations on transportation. (You want to talk about hinterlands? Start driving in Kenora. It will take you about a day to get to Sault St. Marie, and another day to get to the urban centers of Southern Ontario.)

It would make much more sense to have cities (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, about four from the Lake Ontario conurb, Ottawa, 2, maybe 3 from Montreal, and Quebec City, possibly Halifax for semi-historical reasons) and abolish the provinces.

I can't think of any way to get this to fly, politically, but it would be in many respects the right thing to do.

#75 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 06:21 PM:

Graydon, our dogwood are budding, which is not going to be good if we actually have winter soon.

I just saw the Bollywood . Boy, that's good. The consort sort of reminds me of Patrick

#76 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 06:24 PM:

Clark: It sounds like you have an interesting question, but your telegraphese is much too dense for me to puzzle out. Where does ESR, by which I assume you mean Eric Raymond, come in to any of this? A new Hanseatic League sort of thing sounds interesting, but where do you think it fits into this conversation?

#77 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Marilee --

It would, yes, but the disturbing thing is that we're not supposed to! (Most of Asia is getting theirs and ours, from the sound of it.)

The current La Niña is a weak one, but apparently enough to keep the jetstream well north.

#78 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 07:37 PM:

C'mon, Graydon... I had little love for separatism, but to call its proponents fascists, that's getting silly. Yes, fascism is motivated by exarcebated nationalism, but not all nationalism is fascistic. I was there from the inside, you know. Maybe we should change subject.

#79 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 07:55 PM:

Serge -

I'm not calling anyone a fascist. I'm noting that the movement in question had a lot of the characteristics of fascist movements.

I think this is interesting, in the same way that noticing that pretty much all successful post-industrial-revolution revolutions are reactionary -- make the change stop! -- revolutions is interesting.

What do you do when the minimum change rate needed by the circumstances (rapid entry into an Oligocene climate regime, say) is faster than the maximum change rate the society can cope with?

I think that's an important question.

#80 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Omigodthere'sanonlineeditionoftheOED...

*hits self on head*

Of course there is, stoopid! Much happy googling and bookmarking and other stuff in my future. Thank you all for correcting the spelling and coming up with definitions.

Apropos of Marxism being anti-Christian, which I agree it profoundly is -- there's no denying that certain communitarian ideas and ways of being look suspiciously like the ways the early Christian communities related to each other, i.e. sharing food, holding possessions in common, caring for one's neighbors and for the poor, and so on. That's why the recent FBI (or was it NSA, I forget) surveillance of The Catholic Worker on the grounds that their behavior appeared Communist was, well, beyond irony.

#81 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 12:10 AM:

colin roald
Clark: It sounds like you have an interesting question, but your telegraphese is much too dense for me to puzzle out. Where does ESR, by which I assume you mean Eric Raymond, come in to any of this? A new Hanseatic League sort of thing sounds interesting, but where do you think it fits into this conversation?

Folks may be interested in ESR's take on Harper's statement at the head of this thread - see ESR's own blog at http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=254#more-254

...Harper is such a clever bastard that he’s setting this trap right in front of their faces and daring them to notice. Read that quote again:
“The United States defends its sovereignty; the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty.”
By invoking Canadian national sovereignity, and justifying it on the direct analogy with the U.S.’s right to act as a sovereign nation, Harper just kicked transnational progressivism in the nuts. But by making it look like an anti-American, anti-Bush move, he has made it almost impossible for anyone in the Liberal Party to argue with the anti-tranzi terms in which he has framed the issue – because arguing would look like rolling over to the Americans!....emphasis added - hence transnational progressivism which might be associated with aligning like interests such as "blue" cities wherever they lie and "red" hinterlands.

My further query was a request to expand, an * if you will on the comment by Jo Walton including This "city is province" status, which would seem to be the obvious provincial status for both Montreal and Toronto, which unbalance their provinces terribly, seems unfortunately to be quite beyond possibility here.

Our times have been full of things that seemed quite beyond possibility until they were seen as inevitable - there has been considerable serious discussion about the natural divisions of North America and some interest in a zen butcher division - that is don't actually rip and tear anything but make apparent the divisions that are already there. Be nice to have mutually respected live and let live boundaries instead of shield walls and all that implies. A Friday style fracture would be at least as nice as the futures I expect.

#82 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 12:42 AM:

Clark wrote:

Folks may be interested in ESR's take on Harper's statement at the head of this thread - see ESR's own blog at http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=254#more-254

Why on -earth- would ESR's take on how he thinks Canadians think about Harper be useful for anything more than tawdry amusement at how the US right wing think about things outside their borders?

#83 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 03:21 AM:

Taking out Anglo Montreal (Anglo largely because the Francophone upper class moved back to France after 1750, one of the worst choices ever made. I could wish I knew enough of the appropriate history to construct an alternate history where the divergence point is that not happening)

Graydon: After 1760, I suspect -- after the French and Indian War, which is the USAn name for what the rest of you call the Seven Years' War. It was in that war that France lost title to Quebec, including Montreal.

The obvious divergence would be France winning, or at least not losing as badly. Giving Montcalm more resources to defend Quebec (and his not getting killed), for starters.

The F&IW happens to be a favorite bit of history for me since it got started in, around, and over my neck of the woods, by a 22-year-old kid named George Washington. Winston Churchill, in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples, called it the real first World War. (Britain gained a lot of other territory besides Canada in the war, too, including India and large bits of Africa.)

PBS is currently showing a miniseries on the war and its aftermath (including its influence on the American Revolution, which was to some extent a sequel), called "The War that Made America" produced by WQED Pittsburgh. I recommend it.

#84 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 06:38 AM:

Lois -

I believe they started moving back in response to the Seven Year's War; it certainly became total after 1760. And yes, I do get the decade wrong; 1759, fall of Quebec-the-City, 1760, Fall of Quebec-the-Province. Though the Seven Year's War side effects do blur into the Conquest side effects, especially since it was some time before anyone thought that particular conquest would be permanent.

If France wins the Seven Year's War, everything subsequent goes completely higgledy-piggedly; the French Revolution does not happen, if Napoleon happens he almost certainly defeats the British, if the American Revolution happens (less likely) it won't have French support and will almost certainly fail, and so forth. That's way more than I feel able to cope with.

What I'm after is "how do you get the French upper classes to stay after the British conquer Quebec?"; since they went back to become extinct in the Terror they're arguably much better off this way, but have no way to know that.

If they do stay, no or much less 'anglo overlord class' pattern in Quebec the (eventual) Canadian province, a rather different confederation (probably), and at least the opportunity for different kinds of stupidity, especially after the rest of the French Aristocracy dies in the Terror.

#85 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 09:05 AM:

Re: Eric Raymond. Bwahaha. As if "transnational progressivism" was even on the first page of Harper's problems. And no commentator on Canada can be taken seriously if he's dumb enough to say something like, "But really! Over a bunch of ice floes on the sub-zero ass-end of nowhere?" and then talk about how other people are tone-deaf. This sort of thing goes back to the Treaty of Paris and "What is Canada but a few square miles of ice and snow?" (I wish I could find a citation for that one. Is it apocryphal?)

#86 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 01:00 PM:

Lizzy L wrote:

Omigodthere'sanonlineeditionoftheOED...

*hits self on head*

There is indeed, but unfortunately you have to pay to subscribe, unless you are affiliated with an institution with its own subscription.

I consider use of the online OED to be an important fringe benefit to my graduate stipend. (I'm in engineering, but I use the OED recreationally.)

#87 ::: Marjorie ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 01:40 PM:

Didn't it take something like 6 months after the 1975(?) election, Marna? The Conservatives's Joe Clark had won but within a few months Trudeau had managed to get him kicked out of office. If memory serves me right.

Clark brought the non-confidence vote on himself to a large extent. He was governing as if he had a majority. I doubt Harper will do the same, especially with his slim majority.

I doubt they'll last more than two years though.

#88 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 03:31 PM:

Here's what an observer with some actual Canadian expertise thought about the Arctic sovereignty comment:

Steve Janke, "George W Bush tests Stephen Harper":
... I think this was a test from the US. The American administration pushes, and studies the push back. Here's what I noticed:
* No nasty words for the US.
* No coupling with, or even mention of, trade issues or terrorism or gun control or health care.
* No mention of the United Nations or "international law".
* No attempt to personalize the issue or to score partisan points, for example, by claiming to be the only prime minister of the only party who can stand up to George W Bush
To me this suggests a mature and constructive relationship is possible, and that areas of disagreement can be resolved.
I think the folks at Foggy Bottom are thinking the same thing, having designed this test.
And who doesn't think Stephen Harper and his people saw this from a mile away. I've met some of these people -- they are sharp.

I don't know know if I believe every word of Janke's analysis, but it has a hell of a lot more to do with the real world of Canada-US relations than Raymond's does.

#89 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 03:46 PM:

colin roald:

"Vous savez que ces deux nations sont en guerre pour quelques arpents de neige vers le Canada, et qu'elles dépensent pour cette belle guerre beaucoup plus que tout le Canada ne vaut." -- Voltaire, Candide, ou L'Optimisme.

To be fair to Harper, the Conservative party is a very broad coalition of everyone from the extreme cultural conservatives who can't bring themselves to waste their vote on the CHP or the FCP to various Red Tories who are still hanging on (and who, inclidentally, were much to the forefront in the election -- I hadn't seen that many Mulroney ministers in public for a long time). Harper seems personally to be mainly a fiscal conservative and somewhat of a pragmatist (the latter at least recently), so he's likely to last longer than Clark (I remember sitting in a student pub and watching that government go down in flames). Minority governments can be unpredictable -- they can range anywhere from deadlocks to the equivalent of the Pearson governments which enacted much of the symbolic and actual foundations of the ensuing quarter-decade in Canada.

#90 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 04:17 PM:

That was a Gibson Guitar commercial I screwed up above there. It looked fine in preview.

#91 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 04:20 PM:

Francis:

"NeoCons aren't Conservative, they're Reactionary - i.e. want the status quo to leap backwards to A Better Time™ (probably 20 years ago in the case of the US case - ours (Britain's) seem to prefer Queen Victoria)..."

I'd guess American neocons want to go back to the 1920s or '30s, myself. Pre-New Deal, monopolist's paradise that it was. I'll bet they get weepy-eyed thinking about all that cheap, desperate, Okie labor begging for work. Right here in America, too! Didn't have to outsource to Asia back then. Good old days indeed.

Graydon:

"[1] Yes, it is. Politest fascist movement yet recorded"
"I'm not calling anyone a fascist. I'm noting that the movement in question had a lot of the characteristics of fascist movements."

Fascism has a lot of elements in common with other nationalist movements. It's hardly like fascism has a monopoly on the charismatic leader meme, after all. The elements that you describe could be as easily applied to almost any nationalist movement in history. Fascism is a much smaller, more particular subset of nationalism.

From Wikipedia: "...fascism opposed laissez-faire economics, socialism, Marxism, and liberal democracy....Fascism is typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic." This doesn't sound like what you are describing. From what you and others have said, the Quebec separatist ideology all sounds very nationalistic, certainly, but not quite fascist.

#92 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 06:12 PM:

I think one of the major differences is, if this Canadian wingnut screws up, a vote of no confidence can be called as soon as a majority of Canadians are fed up, where as in the US, we still have to put up with Junior for 3 more years and no matter how badly he screws up we won't be rid of him, since CW has another impeachment off the table.

#93 ::: enjay ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 08:52 PM:

Caroline wrote:

Omigodthere'sanonlineeditionoftheOED...

*hits self on head*

There is indeed, but unfortunately you have to pay to subscribe, unless you are affiliated with an institution with its own subscription.

You can get free access to parts of the OED till February 13th. Limited by letter, but still enough to keep one busy. Enjoy!

http://www.oed.com/bbcwords/

#94 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2006, 09:32 PM:

James: Thanks! I ought to have remembered that it was Voltaire.

#95 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 09:09 AM:

Keith: Yes, indeed. The more I see of the way other countries do it, the more of a fan of parliamentary democracy I become. Minority governments and new elections are excellent options to have when a country really is divided.

#96 ::: Alison ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 11:00 AM:

The correllation between Marxism (or Communism since they mean the same thing in the right-wing dialect) and abortion or same-sex marriage is that the right disagrees with them. Since the US government in various incarnations did such a wonderful job of demonizing the Soviet Menace, Marxism and Communism have become synonymous with evil in the minds of people who care not to question their government's motives. Therefore, in the right-wing mind, if you are calling something Marxist, you are calling it an evil attack on the American (or in this case I suppose, Canadian) patriot. It's totally erroneous, but they don't care.

This argument is what first sold me on George Lakoff.

#97 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 02:41 PM:

The biggest problem I've historically had with parliamentary democracy was the conjunction of the legislative power with the executive.

Now, of course, the US is getting that (and the ongoing "buy two, get the third free" sale of branches of government as well), but without the advantages of a parliamentary system. Sigh.

Jo: is the Warwickshire/West Midlands division an example of the city/county thing you're describing?

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Alison: That's a good way of putting it. Of course, sometimes Marxism turns out to be the American way.

#99 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Christopher --

You can fix that executive problem by having a powerful monarch. (One who can meaningfully refuse to sign legislation, for instance...)

Canada has historically been really, really lucky at maintaining the balance between Prime Ministers, Parliament, and the bureaucracy. (The deputy ministers have lots of power in practice; you will see variously grumpy comments about the "Ottawa Mandrinate" in diverse places in Canadian political writing.

#100 ::: jrochest ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 06:40 PM:

a vote of no confidence can be called as soon as a majority of Canadians are fed up

Well, it'll be as soon as a couple of the other parties sense that it's a good time to win an election. But it will need to be the Liberals and the Bloc -- so if Harper chops the country into isolated little feifdoms, which he'd very much like to do, he's not going to have any trouble.

There are 308 seats. You need 154 seats for a majority, which allows you to pass a bill with no help from another party. The Conservatives have 124 seats; the Liberals 103; the Bloc 51 and the NDP 29. There's one independent.

Conservatives + NDP = 153 seats
Conservatives + NDP + indie = 154 (just!)
Conservatives + Bloc = 175 (easy)
Liberals + Bloc = 154 (just!)

What this means, I'm assuming, is that Duceppe is the kingmaker: this is probably good for social policy -- since the Bloc is left of centre - but bad for national unity, since both the Bloc and the neo-cons are regionally based...

And to explain why that's a bad thing I'd have to explain the CONSTITUTION, the night of the long knives and Meech Lake. Which I'm not going to do since I'd bore everyone. The link is pretty good, though.

#101 ::: jrochest ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 06:43 PM:

And I apologize for the pedantic post: I just figured that since no-one had put up the numbers I would, for the benefit of our Neighbours to the South.

#102 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 07:16 PM:

Harking back to the premier/prime minister discussion above, in a nice piece of serendipity (or perhaps purposiveness on Patrick's part), the Sidelighted BBC style guide includes this:

Premier
Only for Australian states, Canadian provinces and some West Indian islands. Otherwise Prime Minister is correct. Phrases such as "The Israeli premier" will do only for the tabloid press.

#103 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 07:41 PM:

It's important to remember that "kingmaker" can shift on a vote-to-vote basis. The Conservatives can pass decentralizing legislation with the Bloc's support[1], but other bills may get Liberal/NDP support, or may simply work on a game of chicken basis -- parties don't want an election for other reasons and tell enough of their MPs to stay away from the vote.

[1] Which is actually irrational of them. If they really want to encourage separation, they should really be pushing for greater centralization to build resentment in Quebec. Shows that they haven't read their revolutionary theory.

#104 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 08:49 PM:

The question is whether, in 2006, the Bloc actually want to push separatism, or whether they see something else as promoting the economic interests of Quebec and the survival of Francophone culture.

Tories+Bloc is iffy at best, given Harper's anti-gay stance (which Duceppe said, pre-election, would rule out a coalition). Tories+NDP+Independent also seems iffy on any kind of long-term basis, given that the independent in question is a Libertarian from Quebec City.

#105 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 09:03 PM:

It's probably not even stable by party; all of Harper's MPs are not of one mind, and there isn't a strong liberal leader right now, so they're not going to have the best party discipline imaginable, either.

It's the sort of Parliament in which free votes are outright dangerous, leaving results challenging for the party organizations to explain.

#106 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 09:26 PM:

Concerning jrochest's numbers: one missing detail is that one of the 308 members must be elected Speaker of the House, who will then not vote except in cases of a tie. Normally, the Speaker will be a member of the ruling party, but looking at those 154-vote combinations, Harper must be at least considering asking the current Speaker, Liberal Peter Milliken, to continue on.

But I don't know the real mechanics of Parliament well enough to say whether that would be a good deal for the Opposition or not.

#107 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 11:51 PM:

Patrick - from what i've seen among my many Canadian friends, resentment of the United States over this issue is widespread. It's one of the (few) things liberal Canadians and conservative Canadians agree on.

#108 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2006, 11:51 PM:

Serge - there was an entertaining period in the 1990s, after the Progressive Conservatives imploded, when the Bloc was the second largest party in Parliament. The official opposition was a seperatist party.

#109 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 02:24 PM:

An observation: any discussion of why American politics is the way it is takes about five minutes to end up back at the Civil War. Any discussion of why Canadian politics is the way it is takes about five minutes to end up at the Seven Years War.

#110 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 12:16 PM:

And oddly enough, it moves on to the Civil War shortly after that.

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