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A brief historical above-the-49th parallel

Mandos's picture

[Much shortened version of a much longer post I accidentally destroyed by hitting a wrong key but am too lazy to rewrite.]

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a Canadian Prime Minister named Jean Chrétien from the Liberal Party who took over when the Conservative Party was weakest and proceeded to hold his political enemies at bay for more than a decade. He did so because he had no compunction about seeing politics as war, and never accomodated his opponents for high-fallutin' reasons of unity. No Unity Ponies for him!

He was a relatively conservative politician but he did not scruple to use politically liberal legislation to hold his enemies down. And sometimes vice versa. However, within the party there were rumblings of discontent, because certain wings felt stymied in their plans of self-aggrandizement through National Healing. He took a good long time to even respond to them, and when the din grew to loud he threw in the towel and took his marbles and went home.

The party was left in the hands of its New Saviour, Paul Martin, who, after a successful history as Finance Minister, proceeded to attempt to fix what wasn't broken, was totally inept at it, and completely misunderstood that his opponents on the right and in Québec weren't interested in *actually* cooperating in healing national divisions and "cleaning house" in the governing party. He eked out a minority government once, and then, being too neoliberal to cooperate with Canada's left party, the NDP, went down in defeat, leaving Canada as it is today under the aggressive (but minority) wingnuttery of Stephen Harper.

The moral of the story: in our systems and societies, politics is war, and treating your political opponents with contempt is usually the correct strategy, because your opponents are usually sharks who see you that way.

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Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...are amusing on "Liberal" and "Conservative" because they mean something different in Canada than they do in the US. There's some analogy but it's not complete. Right now, however, the Conservative Party of Canada is just the Canadian Republican Party.

Submitted by lambert on

... and I hope I don't offend, Mandos, is that Chretien fucked the PQ but good using whatever tools came to hand, and that was a good thing not just for Canada but for the world, because a mosaic of cultures is better than a collection of petty nationalities. Much as I love Quebec, and I do.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

Québec is always a rather complicated issue, because Québec nationalists are right to point out that it is a captive nation. Currently one that is in voluntary captivity, but they have a point that this fact prevents it from having a Normal Life in some ways at both a provincial and federal level. It's only because I think that the consequences of breakup are worse for both Québec and the RoC ("rest of Canada", common Canadian acronym) that I'm not fully in agreement with their goals.

But you're right to say that Chrétien's very intransigence helped to delegitimize the PQ, contrary to all the Martinite handwringing.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

Another interesting parallel was how the Canadian media and much of the Liberal Party made it Conventional Wisdom that Chrétien and his faction (his close henchwoman Sheila Copps, Stéphane Dion, and so on) were Old Hat. This persisted straight through at least one victorious Chrétien election (majority).

Come to think of it, yet another parallel was the example of Sheila Copps. Chrétien was an "old school" rural Québecois, but he knew political talent when he saw it. The media despised Copps and could never contain its revulsion over her. Why? No one's ever been able to explain it to me. Certainly, her constituents in Hamilton had no trouble reelecting her again and again (but then it is claimed that that was dynastic politics because of her father).

In any case, she ran for the Liberal leadership when Paul Martin did and was surely the more capable candidate (having, among other things, been mentored by Jean himself), but she was run quickly out on a rail.

godammitkitty's picture
Submitted by godammitkitty on

That's actually not a bad parallel, Mandos. In fact, I just flashed-back to those ridic stories about Sheila going ballistic on fellow airplane passengers. And how mean Rick Mercer has been to her over the years (cheap shots like, "she's off her meds" etc). Ugh. And yeah, as with Sen. Clinton, I hardly agreed with Sheila Copps on everything, but we could have (and have) done a lot worse :(

Viz Chrétien and Martin: This is a nearly-perfect parralel, and one that Monsieur Kitty & I have been thinking about a great deal, since ~February. I haven't been as clued into the Canuckistan PB aggregator lately, but it would be interesting to do a scatterplot of Obot-support v. Martin-support. Or Iggy-support. But why, oh why have so many Dippers become Obots? I kinda understood their affinity for Edwards, but the O-stuff escapes moi.

godammitkitty's picture
Submitted by godammitkitty on

Stewart's cracks about Sen. Clinton? Pas exactement, mais c'est à peu près la même chose.

For non-Canadians: Mercer is a comedian w/a political comedy show on the main public network, CBC. He used to be hilarious, but now he's kinda 'hit or miss,' IMHO.

Link to "Sheila Copps should probably check her meds" crack.

Link to Mercer's annoying interview with Copps in Jan 2004.

Submitted by lambert on

... really are Canadian. I mean, this is serious Canadian geekage!

It's like Corrente is Rick's Café, or something. Everybody shows up here sooner or later, on their way to this or that war zone...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

It seemed to me that the boys got together and went after Copps precisely because she is politically savvy, smart and capable. Let her get the Leader's job and there goes any opportunity for anyone else for a decade - maybe more.

Paul Martin, however? Opportunity abounds. Put him up to take the heat; better Paul than me, eh? Let him be the one to lose an election, and even if he gets back in as PM he'll screw it up again. Copps would have eviscerated Harper, and even if she'd lost she'd be on him now like a terrier on a rat.

Or not. What does a Yank know?

Major Strasser: What is your nationality?

Rick: I'm a drunkard.

Captain Renault: That makes Rick a citizen of the world.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...Martin ended up being the Liberal Kim Campbell. Now THERE is a woman who was hung out to dry. It was so tragic. I remember Campbell polling consistently higher than her party, which she nevertheless led into a defeat that didn't belong to her. She was the last of the establishment Tories who were also feminists of a sort. Now it's pretty much a contradiction.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...is that Paul Martin cannot in any way be considered inspirational.