August 8, 2005


Canadians aren't buying the conservative message (Stephen Brooks, August 06, 2005, Vancouver Sun)

When Seymour Martin Lipset visited Canada during the 1988 election campaign, he remarked that all three federal parties -- they were then the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats -- were to the left of the centre of gravity of the Democratic Party in the United States.

Lipset is perhaps the most astute observer of Canada-U.S. cultural differences of his generation. So although his remarks raised some eyebrows among his Canadian listeners, most everyone conceded that his judgment could not easily be dismissed.

As Canadians approach the near certainly of a 2006 election -- "near" because the smell of campaign bus diesel fumes hung heavy in the air only a few months ago, only to dissipate in circumstances that seem believable only in retrospect -- it seems that we are looking once again at a Canadian party system that is arrayed entirely to the left of the centre of the Democratic Party. A party system in which the torch bearer of whatever exists of Canadian conservatism, the Conservative Party of Canada, presents Canadians with only a tepid and tentative right-of-centre message, expressed cautiously, full of qualifications and reservations, and without much confidence or enthusiasm.

Another example of how social welfare nations aren't going to correct to the Right just because they're dying. For the most part they'll be perfectly happy to vote for parties that just promise to make the death as comfortable as possible.

Koizumi commits political suicide (J Sean Curtin, 8/09/05, Asia Times)

After weeks of fierce political infighting within the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan's Upper House of parliament has decisively rejected the flagship postal privatization bills of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, by 125 to 108 votes.

Even though the LDP and its coalition partner, New Komeito, hold a majority in the 242-seat upper chamber, many members of the fractious LDP joined the opposition to vote down the crucial bills, which were a vital component of Koizumi's reform program.

The humiliating defeat led Koizumi to call a snap general election, probably for September 11, which opinion polls indicate the LDP will find extremely difficult to win, and may herald a seismic shift in Japanese politics. The failure of the postal bills also probably marks the end of Koizumi's political career. Even if the LDP retains power, the desperately divided party is highly unlikely to re-nominate a prime minister who attempted political suicide. [...]

Since becoming prime minister in April 2001, Koizumi has frequently pledged he would either reform the political system or bring down the LDP. He now looks to have hit the self-destruct button, much to the dismay of LDP lawmakers who fear they may lose power in the snap election.

Forget reform--they want peace and quiet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 8, 2005 12:08 AM

This is more a result of the American system than the people. First, the elected senate decentralizes power and, second, the separation of the executive from parliament retards "progress" at the same time as making for nimble decision making.

In Canada, all federal candidates are chosen (or, allowed, may be a better word) by about 20 people in party committees in Ottawa. The elected representatives then must vote according to what those same committees decide -- and, if they don't, they are not allowed to run again.

In other words, all decisions in Canada are effectively made or delegated by 20 people.

Canadians, themselves, are not any different than Americans. Come and visit us sometime. You'll see how nice we are!

Posted by: Randall Voth at August 8, 2005 2:17 AM

Randall, you're very right.

When we lived in Vermont, we visited Canada frequently. We also took a long vacation driving west on the Queens Highway ending up in Jasper. Great time, beautiful country and wonderful people. Didn't meet one flaming hate- America leftie.

I guess the Canadians we met were the workers paying the bills for the shirkers, who probably don't get out much for fear of missing an important development on the soaps.

Posted by: erp at August 8, 2005 11:46 AM

Wow, I must've gotten bad information somewhere, I was under the impression that the Japanese postal privatization was more or less a done deal. Awful shame to see Koizumi get roughed up like this.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 8, 2005 3:46 PM