Monday, March 26, 2007

Thoughts on Charest and the election

  • The turkeys at Radio-Canada owe him a beer and an apology.
  • He was the only leader who spoke in English (I mean, for crissake, even Lucien Bouchard said a few words in English in 1998).
  • He was (bizarrely) the only leader who openly acknowledged that this election shows Quebec to be divided (I mean, Mario "autonomiste" Dumont was shut out of Montreal and the Outaouais; even Harper has Cannon).
  • At some point, someone is going to have to notice that he is probably the first Quebec political leader since Duplessis to lead his party to a plurality of popular votes in three consecutive elections (1998, 2003, and now 2007).
  • If he's smart, he gives Mario about $100 million to spend in a budget amendment bill, and hope to God that Dumont can't control his troops.
  • Harper cannot claim victory based on this result.
  • We'll be back at this again in a year.

playing catch-up

I had a diary when I was seven. I think my record in terms of writing in it regularly was probably not as good as my frequency as a blogger.

Lots to think about lately. A good friend mine and of my wife, a former classmate of ours back in Montreal, has left the NCR, moved to lovely Whitehorse. We wish her well, I already miss her, and I'll probably come back to this later.

I'm (obviously) from a much younger generation of English-speaking Montrealers that didn't witness first-hand the mass exodus that occurred in the late 1970s. The dispersal of my generation has been more gradual, more quiet, more anonymous. And I admit that I've lost much of the passion that I felt even 10 years ago for my links to the Montreal English-speaking community, such as they were. But today for some reason I feel that loss.

It's been five years since I left Montreal. Five years since I've been living in a milieu that is in certain settings entirely francophone, and in other settings almost entirely anglophone, with only some token bilingualism thrown in here and there. It's definitely not the same. The immersion of the two solitudes here is fleeting, more a matter of convenience or necessity than of principle. Being an English Montrealer meant something that being an English Ouatouais-an (?!?) doesn't. And for every little personal connection to Montreal that is lost to me, I feel a little less myself. I'm becoming someone else, and I don't know who that is yet.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Call me a parochial hick if you want...

I know that, what with all the strife in the world, our soldiers in Afghanistan, the Arctic melting, etc., it probably seems trite to be concerned by something like this.

I really don't care.

To me, it's important that over 80% of Canadian households (including those with relatively high incomes, as in over $80K a year) put in more hours, more weeks of work than ever before and yet have less to show for it.

Call me petty.

Who knew blogging would be so much work?

(Warning: obscure Simpsons references inside)

Not me, obviously.

My online activity of late has been confined to the comment threads over at the E-Group. That's primarily because as a participant in this funky little medium called the blogosphere I've found it infinitely easier to react than to initiate. Plus I'm wanting to have some semblance of consistent moral and intellectual foundation behind what I write, and it's not always there to the extent I want it.

This of course was the point. I'm doing this blogging first and foremost to allow myself a forum to formulate my thoughts and political identity in writing, something that used to seem to come naturally but maybe not.

Christ, I'm navel gazing on the Internet. Everybody watch!!

Seriously, what I've found most interesting - and infuriating - in the discussions over there is how quickly we fall into what Paul Wells so aptly described as a game of "so's your mother" regarding the record of the Chr├ętien/Martin Liberals. And whenever I watch Question Period - gotta love the CPAC online feed - and see Jack Layton wasting half of his opening question making sure he gets in a dig at the party that's been out of office for over 13 months now, or listen to another Tory minister's refrain of "13 years of Liberal mismanagement" in lieu of actually answering legitmate questions, I'm inclined to pack my bags for Cuba or China, where at least they don't bother to pretend they have a democracy.

What attracted me to blogging in the first place was how they had the potential to allow for a discourse that didn't ape CNN's Crossfire (R.I.P). And yet there I was getting dragged into it, and wondering why I was so hot under the collar. And it's nice to think this is all healthy debate and gamesmanship, but often that's just spin or willful blindness to the lack of debate that is instructive and productive.

I'm reminded of a testy email exchange I got into with a classmate many years ago over the utility of conflict (yes, I know, the ironing is incredible). She thought inciting argument was a great tool for moving things forward between people. I felt that most arguments tend to be manufactured and as a result an incredibly inefficient means of resolving disagreements. I believe the gist of my counter-argument went something like: Your ability to initiate and score points in a debate can show you to be an effective asshole but proves nothing about your skills as a problem solver. And the only reason she liked argument because she was good at it. Glove slap! She don't take crap!

Needless to say, she didn't have much after that. So I guess I won my argument against argument. More ironing.

This is where politics and I go our separate ways. Democratic discourse is all about argument, debate, a ruthless marketplace of ideas where the best arguments invariably rise to the top. I happen to be a pretty good debater - and I can be a stubborn prick when I want to be. What I can't stand is the predetermined nature of our discourse, and for the life of me I don't know why we all don't give all our major political parties the finger, shut 'em down and start from scratch.

Because really, none of them have anything to be proud of.

Now, try to imagine how this post would read if I'd written it while drunk.