Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Inconvenient democracy

Climenhaga nails one of the things that bugs me most about the Leap Manifesto. It would be impossible to institute its program in a democracy.

Literally impossible. You could not win power on this program and you could not institute this program even if you didn't spring it on the public until after you took power.

Its a program that casually writes off hundreds of thousands of jobs with an airy 'Oh don't worry, we'll provide training in windmill and solar panel maintenance.'

It's a program that would require confiscation, heavy handed federal control of key extraction and manufacturing sectors, tearing up trade and labour deals, revenue share agreements with First Nations and international contracts.  It would make stakeholders who are ideological friends of the theoretical Leap Manifesto enacting government winners and take people who would be expected to be ideological foes and rubbing their faces into the dirt.

You could do this in China. Indeed, some of the macro steps China is taking now that the way they've poisoned themselves is unmissable seem almost the inspiration here.

You could not institute this program in a democracy.

So this document then becomes the mournful song of the proud loser spelling out just how great things would be in defiantly impossible idealism if you fools would just be smart enough to pick him  - or something more sinister.

There is no persuasion in this document, just ingroup self satisfaction or exclusionary scorn for anyone too selfish and short sighted or possibly some kind of racist capitalist CEO lighting his cigars in boardrooms with hundred dollar bills and for WHATEVER REASON, just not willing to do what it takes to save the world.

People who want to take control of a democratic movement's agenda and possibly its leadership itself who ARE NOT interested in persuasion worry me, and they should worry you too.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Something else to remember.

The NDP hashes out its debates and policy differences and schisms right out in the open. We don't hide, we don't run from cameras and we stand by who and what we are revealed to be in public unhidden and uncensored.

The 2015 Wildrose AGM held its policy debates secretly hidden behind closed doors. The media was not allowed, the contents of these secret meetings were hidden and the results issued forth like proclamations from a shrouded politburo.

If you guessed this was to hide embarrassing rantings about lakes of fire, ungenerous remarks about gay and trans and Muslim and refugee and unionized people, nutty conspiracy theories and paranoid venom... Well how insultingly accurate of you.

Some parties have the courage to stand up forthrightly and say this is who we are, warts and all. We may not all agree and some of the things displayed may even be damaging but at least we aren't hiding our true selves.

A word of warning

To any Wildrosers and Conservatives making hay over the Leap Manifesto or planning to, think seriously about some of the resolutions passed at your own conventions and how much you want the public to believe your party or any government it might form would be bound by them.

The NDP has some people who let idealism overpower common sense. Your parties have some supporters who are straight up hate mongers with extreme and bigoted views far outside the Albertan and Canadian mainstream.

If you want to play dueling embarrassing convention resolutions that is not going to go as well as you think.

What a mess

I'm a proud New Democrat and I've always felt more sympathy for the left wing of the party.   I believe the party made a tragic and mindbogglingly stupid decision to run too far to the right during the election.

Mulcair had to go and deserved to lose.

But the vote to study and debate the Leap Manifesto (NOT adopt it, an important distinction you can expect to be roundly ignored in the coming days and weeks.) massively overcompensated and took the party too far left.

In ten days, and I'm sorry shell-shocked Manitoba New Democrats but its true, there will only be one NDP government in Canada. The convention just made its job far more difficult and its chance of reelection in 3 years far more fraught than it would have been.  That's a pragmatic, unambiguous reality that convention goers were warned against explicitly and chose to ignore.

The Leap Manifesto was a masterpiece of high level manipulative communication.  Long sections full of stuff that all progressives can find to agree with but inextricably bound with poison pills in every section couched in rhetoric deliberately designed to force 'If you disagree with this that means you also disagree with THIS' false conclusions.  I've already had one earnest and slightly hysterical young ND tell me that opposing Leap means 'attacking our environmental and indigenous allies'.  Leap and its supporters rhetoric is explicitly designed to result in such nonsense.

The Alberta NDP and its government and its supporters have been left with no choice but to denounce this manifesto and those who support it in harsh and unforgiving turns.  This will be devastating for party unity and I will be shocked if it doesn't result in increased support for following the example of every other party in the country and disconnecting the provincial and federal parties into separate entities.

All of it unnecessary as the market keeps the oil in the ground anyway and the supporters of Leap congratulate themselves on their moral and political correctness and sneer at the considerations required for basic pragmatic governance.

Saturday, April 09, 2016


My sympathies are usually with the left wing of the party and there's much about Leap that I agree with in principle.

The 'Leave it in the ground' movement is an unforced error damaging to both the provincial and federal party.

Why pick a fight the market is already winning for you?  The oil can't be squeezed out of the sand or pipelines built to ship it at the current price, it would be just barely profitable at twice the price.

OPEC may be finally talking about closing the spigots but Iran has years of sanctions to recover from and will be even more unwilling to follow Saudi lead than usual so an ocean of Iranian oil will be keeping the price lower for quite awhile.

Alberta's NDP government will be improving regulations, promoting renewables and shutting down coal plants in the meantime. 

This is a silly, alienating, unnecessary proposal that looks like an attack on Alberta while the goals of the resolution will largely be achieved by the market anyway.

Popular Posts