1.10.2006

two scary weeks to go

We watched the debate last night - although we talked through parts of it, doing our own not-so-trenchant analysis, like making fun of the candidates' facial expressions. (We're mature, yeah.) I also watched the analysis on The National.

There's no shortage of post-mortems out there, and mine's not worth adding to the pile. Feel free to expound if you feel like it. I'll just repeat: I'm worried.

One overall criticism I've been hearing that I don't understand is that none of the candidates is offering a vision of Canada. One of the undecided voters that The National has been tracking felt the campaign was bogged down in specifics, without a big picture. Personally, I can do without - as they call it in the US - "the vision thing". A country doesn't need to be remade every time it goes to the polls, especially in this Parliamentary system, where that happens fairly often.

I do think the Conservatives have a different vision of Canada, which they're purposely not spelling out too clearly. The NDP has one, too, and I can only hope they win enough seats - in any election - to help the country inch slowly towards it. But in an election campaign, I prefer specifics over vision. Vision often comes down to who has the better slogans and speech writers.

I wanted to tune in to the French-language debate tonight, just to see if Stephen Harper sounds as funny in French as Gilles Duceppe does in English. (I told you, real mature.) But while they're having at it, we'll be wining and dining in our week-late anniversary dinner.

* * * *

I never highlight silly little news items, but this was just too funny. Do you think this person watches too much TV? Do you think they changed the channel for her once in a while?

29 comments:

James said...

Personally, I can do without - as they call it in the US - "the vision thing".

Likewise. To my mind, what I want from an election is a competent administrator who can keep the things that work running smoothly, and fix the things that are running poorly. The last thing I want running the country is a "Glorious Leader".

Charisma -- even the faux-charisma that Bush's handlers have convinced so many that he has -- is immediately suspect.

nataleo said...

One thing that disturbed me last night actually reminded me of the big long thread the other day on media corruption (100+ posts!). Let me preface this by emphasizing that I mean no disrespect to those that were mentioned-it disturbed me those that were NOT mentioned.
The question posed was in regards to gun violence and specifically stated examples were the 4 RCMP officers slain in Alberta this year, the young police officer slain in Quebec and the senseless boxing day murder of a Toronto teenager-I was very disappointed that the other 57 people murdered in Toronto were not mentioned in this group-to my mind, this is a faux pas similar to the bias reporting of missing persons in the US. Not to take attention of the debate question of todays thread, but it REALLY bothered me to see this on Canadian broadcasting.

As for the election....I have a really bad feeling that I will have a hard time sleeping the night of the 23rd....

M@ said...

nataleo -- I agree with what you're saying, absolutely. This whole question of "crime" comes up not when crime is a problem, but when crime is spectacular. I wonder if the officer shot in Quebec would have been given the same amount of attention if she were a 50-year-old overweight man, for example. It smacks of CNN's Missing Attractive White Woman coverage.

But the public has to get past this idiocy of "tough on crime". The USA is tough on crime; that's why their incarceration rate far outstrips most other democratic countries, and why they have to spend such a huge proportion of resources on jails. (Correct me if I'm wrong on that -- I don't think I am, though.) And crime is far from defeated by these measures.

So when I hear "we're going to be tough on crime", I worry.

I've yet to hear any party connect the problem of crime with the root causes of it. I expect the NDP might have said something about this, actually, but I don't remember.

The great thing about being tough on crime is that it's a rhetorically strong one. "You don't want to be tough on crime? What, you want crime? You want criminals running the place?" It's kind of similar to "You're against the Patriot Act? What, you want terrorists running around in our country?"

Give me the four-hour political speech any time.

L-girl said...

But the public has to get past this idiocy of "tough on crime". The USA is tough on crime; that's why their incarceration rate far outstrips most other democratic countries, and why they have to spend such a huge proportion of resources on jails. (Correct me if I'm wrong on that -- I don't think I am, though.) And crime is far from defeated by these measures.

You are absolutely correct. I mentioned this recently (always longer ago than I think), although you've said it better here.

If there is sensationalized street violence - and someone who the media can label as "innocent" is killed - during an election campaign, you can be sure there'll be "tough on crime" talk.

I did appreciate both Martin's and Layton's talk about getting to the causes of crime. Whether that's worth anything in terms of spending or policy, I don't know, but it's more to the point than "lock 'em up".

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Then again, politicians rarely have any useful solutions to problems anyway.

Usually, the only successful way social problems are dealt with is with volunteers and community support at the local level. Politicians always have half-baked "solutions" because they have to look like they're doing something, but the time it takes to understand and resolve these issues is usually greater then a 4-5 year term. Still, people expect them to do something, amd so they usually come up with inane, expensive solutions that don't help.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

As for the election, I'm pretty much assuming the Conservatives are going to win.

One of those things that you might not know is Ontario has a history of electing opposites at the federal and provincial level. The last election was too close to the provincial one, but this one I think will continue this phenomenom. During the Mulroney years, Ontario had Liberal and NDP governments. During the Chretien years, we had Harris's conservatives. Now that McGuinty's Liberals are well entrenched in Toronto, it's very likely Ontario will swing Conservative at the federal level.

M@ said...

Full disclosure: I didn't actually get to watch the debate last night. I did see an hour of coverage afterwards though.

Laura -- I do remember you saying that now. I'm particularly fed up with the whole question at the moment, though, after hearing people phone in to the CBC this morning and demand crime-toughness. Ugh.

Kyle -- I agree with you about the solutions to problems like crime. Wouldn't it be nice to hear a candidate talk about encouraging the actually successful solutions like the ones you mention (local and community support)? I don't know if I ever have.

L-girl said...

Usually, the only successful way social problems are dealt with is with volunteers and community support at the local level.

But those programs need government support.

I know what it's like to work in programs that have none (Nick, a social worker, knows a lot more about it). Nothing can happen without the community, but the community can't do it without money.

Government policy can make a huge difference too. The different policies that come out of "lock 'em up" vs "let's try to reduce crime before it starts" are huge.

Policies take time to implement, but if the government is committed to them, real changes can be made in people's lives and neighbourhoods. I've seen it in cities - from both directions, positive and negative.

L-girl said...

Wouldn't it be nice to hear a candidate talk about encouraging the actually successful solutions like the ones you mention (local and community support)? I don't know if I ever have.

The NDP talks about that all the time.

sharonapple said...

I wanted to tune in to the French-language debate tonight, just to see if Stephen Harper sounds as funny in French as Gilles Duceppe does in English. (I told you, real mature.)

I wonder what you would have made of Chretien, the previous PM, who was said to speak neither official language. I respect a man who threw himself into learning English only after he was elected and sent to Ottawa, but he and the English language never got along. (Funniest mistake: when an American reporter asked him what Chretien thought about the drugs crossing the border, and he said it was more trade. Apparently, he mistook drugs for trucks.)

As for the election....I have a really bad feeling that I will have a hard time sleeping the night of the 23rd....

Yeah me too. I'm planning to get drunk. I'm just hoping Brian Tobin has another smackdown of David Frum.

If there is sensationalized street violence - and someone who the media can label as "innocent" is killed - during an election campaign, you can be sure there'll be "tough on crime" talk.

The worst part was listening to Harper claim that tough penalities would actually deter people from using guns. Hey, well, the death penalty is show not to deter people from murder.

One of those things that you might not know is Ontario has a history of electing opposites at the federal and provincial level. The last election was too close to the provincial one, but this one I think will continue this phenomenom. During the Mulroney years, Ontario had Liberal and NDP governments. During the Chretien years, we had Harris's conservatives. Now that McGuinty's Liberals are well entrenched in Toronto, it's very likely Ontario will swing Conservative at the federal level.

Well, here's some hope. The Liberals might have been able to win Ontario under Chretien, they led in early polls, but Lyn McLeod fumbled a number of issues badly, including withdrawing support for a same-sex package... and there was the whole issue of sexism (with 20% of people voting against her because she was a woman... but then it's possible that these people would have voted conservative regardless of who was the Liberal leader). Harris was popular mainly because of all of those bleeping commercials he had between elections trumpting his government, and because the NDP and the Liberals ran bad campaigns.

Earlier, under Trudeau, Bill Davis was known for his moderate stand, even moving to the left a number of times. He worked against Clark, the federal PC leader, and supported Trudeau with the Constitution, one of the few provincial premiers who did.

Lone Primate said...

The problem with the NDP is that in situations like this, they're spoilers for the left. The notable instance was the 1988 election where 57% of Canadians voted against Free Trade... but because of the personal unpopularity of John Turner, the NDP ate the Liberals' lunch on an important issue and handed a large majority over to the Tories -- who would have, should have, otherwise lost the election on the merits of the issue. That's what we're facing this time. Disaffected Grits voting with the NDP may very well wind up effectively electing a Tory government. Well, it's not like the Grits haven't earned a timeout. But really, it's Canada that stands to be punished if it happens.

L-girl said...

I wonder what you would have made of Chretien, the previous PM, who was said to speak neither official language.

Chretien seems too easy a target - and too cruel, since his face is screwed up from a medical condition.

I find it quite amazing that people who speak one language every day, day in and day out, can command another language well enough to debate in it. I would love to be multi-linguagal. The rare occasions when I've been able to think in another language, to speak without translating first, are so gratifying.

L-girl said...

That's what we're facing this time. Disaffected Grits voting with the NDP may very well wind up effectively electing a Tory government.

Always the problem for the party on the left, yes. Voters have to weigh that as part of their decision.

Surely I'm an NDP voter (if I could vote), but I'd vote Liberal to keep the Tories out, if that's what it took.

Lone Primate said...

I suppose we could take Rob's Rx and gather the GTA together to secede and apply to join the EU. How many € do you think that would cost? :)

L-girl said...

I suppose we could take Rob's Rx and gather the GTA together to secede and apply to join the EU. How many € do you think that would cost? :)

Another emigration?? I just got through with the first one! :D

I wonder if Rob is avoiding wmtc during the campaign. I can't blame him, I wouldn't hang around a Conservative blog right now.

(Of course, I wouldn't ever hang around a Conservative blog...)

redsock said...

CNN's Missing Attractive White Woman coverage

This is officially known on many liberal/progressive blogs as:

Where The White Women At?

The duck thief said...

I watched the debate but it was boring as all heck. For me it's choosing the lesser of the evils.
They all seem like old, power hungry, white men.

One thing I would like to say about the whole "gun control" issue. Wouldn't it be smarter to make bullets $500 each instead of trying to get rid of all the guns? Any thoughts?

redsock said...

Chris Rock:

You don't need no gun control. You know what you need? We need some bullet control. Man, we need to control the bullets, that's right.

I think all bullets should cost $5,000. $5,000 for a bullet. You know why? 'Cause if a bullet costs $5,000, there'd be no more innocent bystanders.

That'd be it. Every time someone gets shot, people will be like, "Damn, he must have did something. Shit, they put $10,000 worth of bullets in his ass."

People would think before they killed somebody, if a bullet cost $5,000.

"Man, I would blow your fucking head off ... if I could afford it. ... I'm gonna get me another job, I'm gonna start saving some money ... and you're a dead man! ... You better hope I can't get no bullets on layaway."

L-girl said...

Chris Rock, LOL, very good.

Wouldn't bullets be available cheaply on the underground ("black") market?

They all seem like old, power hungry, white men.

I was certainly struck by the thought: here's four white guys trying to run Canada. At least the NDP seems to truly understand the value of diversity, not just in a token way.

James said...

Chretien seems too easy a target - and too cruel, since his face is screwed up from a medical condition.

Chretien's got a good sense of humour about his unique accent. Possibly the funniest thing ever on the TV version of the Air Farce was Chretien and Roger Abbot (who does Chretien for the Farce) arguing over how you pronounce "poopoolar" (The Farce Chretien's version of "popular")

You don't need no gun control. You know what you need? We need some bullet control.

Wiley Katt: "Gun control? I gots gun control, boy. I think there are some holes in yer studies."

Reporter: "Where?"

Wiley Katt: [blasting the report with his rifle, Betsy] "Right there! Haw!"

-- Walt Kelly's "Pogo"

I really miss Walt Kelly these days.

Masnick96 said...

The one thing I respect Canada for is the fact that it funds it social service programs. Even though up North it may seem like they have cut back...trust me it's nothing like down here.

doug said...

yea in regards to crime and the politicians handling of it, they don't grasp the notion that like individuals that need a support network so does society.So that when Harris cut funding to the schools the first thing to go were the youth care workers in the schools that connected with students that needed connecting with, about 3-5 % of any schools population

then on top of that you have programs in the community, etc that are cut back and the support network is further diminished...

we are talking about like 3% of the youth population that are in crisis, or a threat to become violent, carry out acts of violence..

then the courts, correctional programs that serve a need are also cut as a result of funding, programs such as open custody facilities etc..

so that 3% what was reduced to 1 or 2% has now stagnated at 3% or increased due to followers, the influence those few have on such a much larger group, in terms of peer pressure, threats, etc...

we had a program at the psych hospital that cost 10 million a year that was cut, but it served a specific need in terms of dealing with the most violent, acting out adolescents in a locked treatment setting, the success rate was large, in the 40-50% range which is huge, but it was cut...

so it's not a coincidence that youth crime has increased in the last 10-15 years the support net is non-existent, and dealing with it with increased penalties, jail time is nonsense it's only dealing with it's impact, it's not a preventative measure

Lone Primate said...

I really miss Walt Kelly these days.

Oh, you miss him these days... the guy probably died before you were born. Why not miss Abe Lincoln while you're at it? :)

The duck thief said...

redsock thanks. I knew I'd heard that bullet thing somewhere. I'm sure that's where I got the idea because I thought Chris Rock was absolutely right.

But at the same time, couldn't people just start melting down their utensils or scrap metal for bullets?

Lone Primate said...

Well, I heard the words "Conservative majority government" on the radio this morning. Anybody else wake up nauseous? :)

Scott M. said...

BANG!

Did you hear that?

It was the Liberals shooting themselves in the foot with their new attack ads. They're horrible... so horrible that they've already been forced to pull one.

The question will be whether or not the infection caused will be leathal... it's not unheard of in Canadian politics. The attack ad on Chretien led to the eventual destruction of the Progressive Conservative party of Canada.

Between that, and Martin's dismal performance in last night's debate (he accused Layton of being anti-abortion! I understand flubs, but mixing up Harper and Layton???!). It's well worth watching it on-line on cbc.ca or for free on Rogers Video on Demand if you have digital.

Unfortunately, it probably means a Harper MAJORITY... yes, I'll say it. We can only hope he doesn't live up to most of his promises...

Scott M. said...

Completing thoughts is a good idea...

Between that, and Martin's dismal performance in last night's debate (he accused Layton of being anti-abortion! I understand flubs, but mixing up Harper and Layton???!) they've authored their own doom. Sad, isn't it?

sharonapple said...

Well, I heard the words "Conservative majority government" on the radio this morning. Anybody else wake up nauseous? :)

Me.

It wouldn't be so bad if Clark, Borden, or even Diefenbaker were leading the party... heck, I'd even feel more comfortable with Mulroney at the helm (he at least wanted to be liked and he took a stand against Apartheid) or if Stronach had managed to become leader.

Harper's too much of an ideologue. If given power, he could end up like Bennett, who followed his conservative principles to workcamps and arresting Communists... all during the Depression.


The question will be whether or not the infection caused will be leathal... it's not unheard of in Canadian politics. The attack ad on Chretien led to the eventual destruction of the Progressive Conservative party of Canada.


Two points, the ads attacked Chretien over his face... which isn't something he can control. The Harper attack ads are point out his policy. (In the past such ads were successful. Trudeau beat Clark in 1980 with similar ads attacking his age.... Poor Joe Clark. He would have made a great leader with a majority behind him.)

And the ads against Chretien were successful.

But polling done for the party over those two days showed an increase in support for the beleaguered Tories, Gregg told Kinsella. "We went from 21 points down to 11 down and then 10, on the two successive nights. That's hard to read a lot into, but it's something."

http://www.cbc.ca/canadavotes/analysiscommentary/negativeads.html

sharonapple said...

He would have made a great leader with a majority behind him.

... had a better grasp of French and had better political instincts (he didn't have to call for a party vote after he failed to win against Trudeau. He had the support of the PC party.)

And the ads against Chretien were successful.

To a certain extent. It wasn't the commercial as much as it was Mulroney's unpopularity and the Little Red Book (Liberal platform) that won the election (and we've been cursed with election platform books ever since).

(And I think Chretien's disabilities made people overlook the fact that he had one of the sharpest political minds in Canada. As Will Ferguson said, he can convince a person to slit his or her own throat... and even be delighted about the prospect.)