A Rogue Opinion

I don’t think anyone could accuse Sean Holman (a local political commentator and investigative journalist behind “Public Eye Online”) of being a “Con spinner” by any means, so his opinion on this weekend’s anti-prorogation rallies was, for obvious reasons, quite interesting.

“Many of those criticizing the proroguing of parliament are less interested in democracy and more interested in capturing the kind of undemocratic power that comes with a majority government.”

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43 Comments

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43 responses to “A Rogue Opinion

  1. Ti-Guy

    “Many of those criticizing the proroguing of parliament are less in interested in democracy and more interested in capturing the kind of undemocratic power that comes with a majority government.”

    Who’s this loser?

    That’s just his uninformed opinion. The “undemocratic quality” of majority governments are a function of representative democracies everywhere. Unless you have high voter turnout and a two party system, or proportional representation with a multi-party system, you’re going to get a less than ideal perfect democracy, no matter what.

    Canada’s majority governments have a history of progressive (and inclusive) governance (which is a feature, not a bug), even under Conservatives. Until this gang of course, which has neither representational nor popular legitimacy to support what’s it’s being doing. And needless to say, it had never any intention of governing for anyone else but its “tribe.”

  2. Just because you’ve never heard of him, doesn’t mean he’s a “loser”…

    http://www.publiceyeonline.com/

  3. jkg

    I don’t know; this appears to be another instance of faulty generalization by divine instinct. It is fairly easy to appeal to apathetic cynicism with statements like that with no other indication than ‘well, I talked to some people, and this is what has always been,’ which is the implied premise of his assertion. The problem with such assertions is that they can easily be thwarted by simple counter examples, one being that the major organizer of the anti-prorogation rallies, Christopher White purposefully implored his supporters that the message is not about Harper, which undercuts the idea that it is all about wanting the levers of power once again.

  4. Ti-Guy

    Just because you’ve never heard of him, doesn’t mean he’s a “loser”…

    I didn’t base my assessment that he’s a loser on the fact that I haven’t heard of him. It was less substantive than that. He looks and sounds like a loser.

    But mostly, it’s the churlish and cynical conjecture that “Many of those criticizing the proroguing of parliament are less in interested in democracy and more interested in capturing the kind of undemocratic power that comes with a majority government.”

    From what I’ve seen, I don’t think that’s entered anyone’s minds…not even the politicians. I don’t think any party is seriously thinking it’s going to get a majority out of our fractious polity, anytime soon.

    If he has particular people, out the “many of those” he mentions, I’d like to hear who they are.

  5. Ti-Guy

    To add: When pundit uses “many of those” it sounds a lot like “some people say…”

    These are ways in fact of hiding personal opinion behind a mask of public, or at best, broadly-shared sentiment.

  6. jkg is right on the money.

    Holman’s entire premise rests on the idea that our minority governments are more “democratic” than a majority – which it may be on some levels, and in theory; but the Harper governments have been anything but “democratic” in their approach to governance.

    If a majority bullies it’s agenda through the House, then we ought to confront the reality that Harper has done the exact same thing. From the moment he took office, he bullied the Liberals and NDP by putting forward confidence motion after confidence motion on every issue under the sun – terrorizing the electorate with the constant threat of another election.

    I also believe that Holman has misread the point of the No Prorogation/CAPP rallies. While the majority of protesters were affiliated with opposition parties, there were many non-partisans like Fair Vote Canada, local unions (with no political affiliation) and Church groups. Those who gathered and rallied together were protesting the misuse of prorogation as a legitimate tool in parliamentary politics.

    It just so happens, that the PM has a brutal track record for dodging democratic accountability and transparency.

    No person at the Waterloo rally would have been any happier if Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff or Elizabeth May acted in the same undemocratic way.

    If Holman is concerned about the state of Canadian democracy, he should start with looking at the now-dead S-7 Constitution Act, 2009 (Senate term limits). He should start with a critique of our misguided FPTP electoral system. Not the spirit of the No Prorogue rallies. Trying to colour the protesters and the spirit of January 23rd as nefarious and power-hungry undermines the point he was arguing.

  7. Holman I know of and he digs up stuff of interest now and then.

    In Toronto, anyway, folks pushing for proportional representation had a lot of representation.

    Still, do I think that the NDP or the Liberals would behave themselves with majorities?

    The time to fix this mess is soon, while we still have a minority Parliament which can broker deals.

    The trick is to get the government to introduce the legislation to reform the system. (Well, at least some of it.) That way, it would be before Parliament for sure.

    Far fetched? For sure, but perhaps that’s what us CAPP folks should be shooting for.

  8. Ti-Guy

    Still, do I think that the NDP or the Liberals would behave themselves with majorities?

    With the NDP, that’s hypothetical to the point of being delusional. With the Liberals? Not for a heartbeat. But unlike the Harpies, the Liberals can’t count on a supporter base to open their throats and swallow patently absurd rationalisations for why they’re doing what they’re doing.

  9. I wonder how “many” of those protesters were there because they really want a majority government, rather than the fact that so many bills are lying moribund in a filing cabinet somewhere, because Parliament is not in session, and the bills aren’t being discussed in committees or getting 3 readings in the Senate.

    No doubt “many” other protesters were peeved that MPs are “on vacation” rather than going to work every day like they do, too.

    Let’s not forget that the protests were not organised by Iggy or Jack trying to get their hands on the reins of power, but by “grass-roots” voters.
    Iggy and Jack know darn well they wouldn’t win a majority in an election, which is why they have consistently swallowed their principles every time Steve has tormented them with his famous confidence votes.

    As for the C-Fax guy, whom I too had never heard of, what exactly is he trying to say? I’ve often thought a Minority Government was not so much more democratic as more careful in its wielding of power. However, the way our Dear Leader runs the people’s business, it’s the less than 33% of voters – someone here said around 205 of eligible voters – whose desires are being met. Is that more democratic?

  10. Peter

    terrorizing the electorate with the constant threat of another election

    Ooooh, nasty. Was it the SS or the KGB that first crafted that despicable torture?

    rather than the fact that so many bills are lying moribund in a filing cabinet somewhere

    Typical Harper. Locking up all that progressive legislation in filing cabinets, never to see the light of day again. Oh, sorry, those were Harper’s bills, were they?

    Get a grip, people.

  11. Ti-Guy

    Get a grip, people.

    You can tell a lot about someone who uses expressions like this. One being that they haven’t really had much experience addressing groups of people of any size.

    Gives us a break, Tedious Pete.

  12. Peter

    Wrong again, Ti-Guy. People who use such blunt expressions often address big crowds. It’s people given to fatuous sentences like These are ways in fact of hiding personal opinion behind a mask of public, or at best, broadly-shared sentiment who rarely emerge from their bedrooms.

  13. Ti-Guy

    Wrong again, Tedious Pete. The “some people say” locution was dealt with in the documentary Outfoxed I compared it to “many of those..”

    “Get a grip, people” isn’t a blunt expression used by real people addressing big crowds of real people in real life. It’s used by people performing…usually in front of a television camera.

    You’re whole life has been experienced though the teevee, hasn’t it?

  14. Ti-Guy

    “You’re whole life” s.b. “your whole life”

  15. Ti-Guy

    I mean, can you imagine a group of professionals being told to “get a grip, people?” Can you imagine any manager or any one of in a position of leadership addressing his/her audience as “people?”

    Well, I can’t, but then, I don’t work for Wal-Mart or Amway. I’m used to “ladies and gentlemen.”

  16. Red, I have a question for you –putting aside for a moment the game of guessing the “real” motivation of no-prorogue movement.

    Are you in favour of the reforms to the rules of prorogation that Ignatieff proposed today? Would that be a good or bad outcome in your opinion?

  17. Tomm

    There is more than a bit of hypocrisy and selective perception in the prorogation outrage.

    Regardless what people say, it is also being stage managed by the opposition parties whose apparatchiks are working behind the scenes to ensure that they build and maintain a feverish drum beat.

    But that being said, there is truth to the view that our government is using its authority to unfairly maintain control of the political agenda.

    They all look a little shabby in my eyes.

  18. Aaron — To be honest, I haven’t looked at the proposals being put forward by Ignatieff, but I would support any reform that makes prorogation a less arbitrary procedure in future — e.g., subject to a majority vote in the HOC.

  19. Tomm — Agreed. Although I can hardly blame the Opposition parties for making hay with the issue; after all, Harper rightly deserves to be spanked for abusing his authority as PM and expressing his contempt and disdain for parliament (especially seeing as Scott Feschuk observed, that’s our job!). At the same time, it’s important, I think, not to get too carried away with moral indignation lest the hand be overplayed and start seeming to appear a bit too self-serving and “shabby” as you put it.

  20. Ti-Guy

    Regardless what people say..

    Shaddap.

  21. I like this finger wagging at the opposition for opposing the government. This newfound belief that the opposition making hay out of government screw ups is somehow unseemly and doesn’t belong in our naturally adversarial system. Why can’t politicians just stop playing politics? It’s even better when you consider that this tut-tutting is being used as a defence of what was an incredibly bold, and essentially indefensible, political move by the PM.

  22. Ti-Guy

    It’s particularly rich on Tomm’s part to reproach the Opposition and its apparatchiks for playing a part in this when Harper has basically turned the government into a communications branch of the Conservative Party of Canada. At taxpayers expense, to boot.

    Albertans are so dishonest.

  23. Something struck me today, as I wrote my own blog.

    We have the outrage of the political right regarding the IPCC scientist who basically said:

    “Those opposing my point of view are not worthy of questioning me. Better I hide the contrary evidence than have to listen to their stupid and ignorant questions.”

    Sound like someone else we know?

  24. Albertans are so dishonest.

    Ti-Guy.. you forgot to ad that Jews are lying cheapskates, Indians are lazy and Homosexuals are all closet pedophiles.

  25. Shiner’s point is right on. Conservatives can hardly complain over the Liberals making hay when we send out flyers to Jewish areas suggesting that Liberals are anti-semetic.

    It’s all stupid stuff.

  26. See, I’m not sure it is “stupid stuff” (aside from using public funds for it, that’s certainly not good for anybody). The idea behind our system of government is that the grinder politicians are put through results in enthusiastic debate and, ultimately, good policy. Who are we to point fingers at the CPC for those flyers when they might very well win over a nice piece of the Jewish vote? I think our anger is a bit misplaced.

    Unfortunately, when the system was set up, it didn’t occur to the founders that a sizeable part of the electorate would be stupid. Is it the fault of the politicians that they lie, or the fault of the voters that they’re so gullible? I’d suggest the later.

  27. Actually, let me fix that, the founders did realize that people were stupid and we have institutions that are supposed to deal with that… institutions that we’re now told should be torn apart because they’re not “democratic”, as though democracy is more than a means to an end.

  28. Ti-Guy

    Ti-Guy.. you forgot to ad that Jews are lying cheapskates, Indians are lazy and Homosexuals are all closet pedophiles.

    Why should I say those things? I’m not a Conservative.

  29. A bigot, is a bigot, is a bigot…

  30. Really.

    Think about what you say, TG. What possible point do you think you are making suggesting that all Albertans are dishonest?

    Truly, it’s like you type shit out, but have no faith in your own words, you couldn’t. You’re clearly not that stupid to actually believe that Albertans are all dishonest.

    Or maybe you just came here for an argument..

  31. Ti-Guy

    Is it the fault of the politicians that they lie, or the fault of the voters that they’re so gullible? I’d suggest the later.

    It’s a hugely complex problem. Let’s just say at this point, the politicians aren’t helping, that’s for sure.

    Who I really blame is an entire industry of highly-educated and skilled communications consultants, media strategists and political tacticians (all of whom play a large role in our news and current affairs media) who are not burdened by anything like ethics. I’ve heard this said, many times, that these people don’t believe that supporting a healthy democracy is their responsibility, despite the fact that the only reason their industry exists at all is because we live in a democracy.

  32. A good point. I have a few lobbyist friends who have tried to recruit a couple times. I couldn’t do it. Moreover, I don’t understand how they can do it. They were pretty idealistic in university. Gradually the idealism turned to partisanship and that partisanship turned to cynicism and that cynicism has led them to D’Arcy McGee’s, where they buy staffers beers and get them to grease the wheels for environmental assessments, tax breaks for their clients and all manner of nasty business. Very few of these people start out as bad guys, and they still haven’t grown horns or anything.

  33. Ti-Guy

    You’re clearly not that stupid to actually believe that Albertans are all dishonest.

    Or maybe you just came here for an argument..

    It’s a long story. I never grew up with any prejudices about Albertans (despite finding out later that anti-francophone sentiment was widespread in the province). The first Albertan I ever met was on my way to the train station in Geneva while I was backpacking through Europe. I spotted a woman my age with a maple leaf on her suitcase and started chatting with her and offered to help her with her luggage. When she found out I was from the East, she asked, “So, you speak French I guess?” When I said “yes,” she answered “Figures.” She was noticeably stand-offish after that. It was the oddest experience with another Canadian I’d ever had.

    A decade or more of constant screaming about the long-cancelled NEP, the “what about us?” screaming during every painful national unity crisis, the rise of the hideous Reform Party, the much-loved Ralph Klein’s support for the Iraq invasion (he accused Chrétien of siding with ‘The French,’ two words he literally spat out), the constant drone about transfer payments (which Ontario of course, has contributed the lion’s share), the lardy and bilious prairie gals in grad school, the funding of the climate denial industry, the Calgary School, the ceaseless Ontario- and Toronto-bashing, culminating now with being instrumental in burdening this great nation with a despicable despot have all basically depleted any reserves of fair-mindedness and charity I have when it comes to the province.

    I wish I could be a bigger person, but alas, I’m not.

  34. Ti-Guy

    Very few of these people start out as bad guys, and they still haven’t grown horns or anything.

    There’s a quote from John Dean from a book salon at Firedoglake that explains his transition from what he believed was the way the World worked to how it ultimately does and should work. I find it describes the value systems of a lot (but not all) of these types of professionals:

    Obviously we are the product of our experiences and that was a very maturing experience. Had I not gone through it I might have had a rather unrealistic view of the way the world works. At the time I was in my early 30s, and I kept asking myself whether I understood how the game was played in the big leagues (and maybe deceiving the public, covering up crimes, lying, and using the powers of the presidency for personal political advantage was the norm.) However, by telling my colleagues I would not lie for them, and being prepared to account for my own behavior, I believe I did find the real world.

    All of this feels like “the big leagues” for them and they get convinced that their education, skill and ambition were destined for the role that they find themselves in and that they’re doing very important work, to which the pay and perqs testify. It all seems “right” to them, in a very narrow, self-interested way. I’m not sure to what extent they understand how the propaganda machines they are part of contribute, in the long run, to the decay of the culture and the degeneration of democracy.

  35. Funnily enough, for all of the anti-Francophone sentiment you mention (which is very real in some quarters), Edmonton is surrounded by communities where French is still a vital part of the culture (e.g., St. Albert, Morinville). Much more so than here in Victoria, I might add…

    I’ve said this countless times before, but having lived in Alberta for 10 years (both Edmonton and Calgary) it irks me no end the way the province is cartoonishly imagined by people from other regions of Canada, especially in Ontario. It’s nowhere near as bad as some appear to think.

  36. Ti-Guy

    it irks me no end the way the province is cartoonishly imagined by people from other regions of Canada, especially in Ontario.

    I don’t really care anymore. I kept my opinions to myself for three decades and that did absolutely nothing.

    I quite like the province and the people for the most part, but politically, it’s toxic. I kind of wish Harper’s firewall had gone up. I’d prefer Québécois-like indifference at this point to the active undermining we have now.

  37. I don’t really care anymore. I kept my opinions to myself for three decades and that did absolutely nothing

    I think, TG, beneath your cynical facade beats the heart of a broken idealist.

    I’m still a “believer”.

    I think (again, sorry Aneus for American references) that there were glimmers of principle in Obama’s campaign of “hope”.

    Not that I believe he’s the altruist he might suggest.. but sometimes, the message is more important that the man – because it leads to a recognition that perhaps principle CAN win an election.

  38. I kept my opinions to myself for three decades and that did absolutely nothing.

    File that one in the drawer marked: “UNSURPRISING”

    Yes, politically speaking, Alberta can be incredibly selfish and trés retarded at times, but hardly any more “toxic” than other provinces.

  39. trés

    You’re not doing your argument any favours Red!

  40. Well, fine… I’m just going to prorogue my comments for a while then. 🙂

  41. mat'iibn

    Rogue opinion? Try irrelevant Tory talking point with a twist.

    This prorogation is all about the detainee torture issue and the Tories trying to buy the time necessary to clean the shit off themselves before the next election.

    Let’s keep our eyes on the ball here shall we?

  42. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Rogue Opinion « Red Tory v.3.0 -- Topsy.com

  43. Holman’s comments are right on. We have been blessed with minority governments that have protected us from unbridled arrogance.

    But the politicians are still operating by the old rules. They know they can get a “majority” government with 38% of the votes, so it’s winner-take-all.

    These incentives govern the conduct of every party. not only Liberal, but NDP governments have become arrogant and corrupt with phony majorities. The Greens would no doubt do the same.

    We need a fair, proportional voting system so every vote will count, every voice can be heard, and everyone’s needs can be met.

    Sign Fair Vote Canada’s
    Declaration of Voters’ Rights
    now!
    http://www.fairvote.ca/en/declaration-of-voters-rights

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