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LPC 2013: A Promising Start

Party infighting is not the same thing as a good policy debate. Just ask poor Mackenzie Bowell.Admit it: you thought the Liberal leadership race would amount to nothing more than a popularity contest, devoid of substance. Now that I’ve made this arrogant and sweeping assumption about you, I'll add that you were wrong: the race has kicked off with, get this, a debate over policy. I know, it's weird.

Justin Trudeau is in favour of the China-Nexen deal. David Bertschi is opposed. Both seem intent on explaining why. I’m inclined to agree with Trudeau on this one, but here’s the point: the race already looks like a real contest of real ideas, which is a very, very good thing.

Martha Hall Findlay and Deborah Coyne have come out early with interesting policy positions too. And we might expect Marc Garneau to join the foreign takeover debate by reiterating his ideas about the “net benefit” test.

This is what politics should be about, and what the LPC should be about, and what this race should be about: ideas, and discussions thereof. What a concept.

Some in the media may be tempted to portray the Nexen conversation as more Liberal Party infighting, mainly because they are drawn to “Liberals are fighting” stories like rats to a pile of trash. Even some Liberals will confuse this with party infighting, mainly because they are petrified of the press’ occasional rats-to-trash behaviour.

But, lo: a disagreement over policy in the context of a leadership race is reaaaaaaally not the same thing as a party kneecapping itself through infighting. The former is to the latter as David Lee Roth is to Sammy Hagar. In a word, different.

Party infighting is what Martin did to Chrétien; or Chrétien to Turner; or Turner to Trudeau Sr.; or Mulroney to Clark; or Dalton Camp to Dief; or a-bunch-of-people to Dion; or Charles Tupper to Mackenzie Bowell (“a nest of traitors,” he lovingly called his cabinet). I could go on - it’s a long and proud Canadian tradition.

But it's not what’s happening here. This looks a lot more like substantive policy debate, which implies occasional disagreement. It's easy to get jaded in our aggressive hyper-partisan political reality, but surely we can still tell the difference. Debate - make that respectful debate - is the the sign of a healthy party, itself a sign of a healthy democracy.

So props to JT for getting the policy ball rolling. Props to Bertschi for picking up on the cue. Future-props to any candidate who does the same, mega-props to anyone who demands more idea-driven debates, and meta-props* to those who sign up as supporters to get in on these debates with their own ideas, and help choose a leader.

* Props also to me for my relentless efforts to revive terrible 90’s lingo. Word to your mother.


Six Massively Important Super-Astute Observations on the U.S. Election

1. FREEDOM 55%

One of the biggest winners was liberty itself. Freedom is on the march, my friends, further proving my Third General Theory: humanity is on an ascending line of social, intellectual, political and cultural progress.

For the first time ever, U.S. voters - as opposed to judges or lawmakers - decided that prohibition of recreational pot was a bad idea. Both Colorado and Washington voted to legalize by a clear majority (on a clear question) of 55%.

For the first time ever, U.S. voters - as opposed to judges or lawmakers  - decided that prohibiting gay marriage was a bad idea. Following numerous failures for similar resolutions, it succeeded twice last night, in Maine and Maryland.

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11.   Now 99% Goatee-free

10.  Greener Shift

9.    Left Wing, Right Hook

8.    Hair for Canada

7.    Yes and I’d Say it Again Because he is a Piece Of Shit

6.    Le petit prince de Papineau

5.    Vote Justin Sinclair! (Western Canada only)

4.    OMG LIBS SOL. J/K!! UR BFF @JT. PS 420, L8R! LOL #JT4PM

3.    Not an American, an Academic, a Socialist, or a Separatist. What else you got, Harper?

2.    The National New Energy Program

1.    Too Young to Blame For Adscam

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Editor’s note: I’ve met Justin Trudeau a few times and can say he’s a hard-working MP and a good person for whom I have a lot of respect. I wish him luck, as I do all the candidates for Liberal leader. Please give us a good race, a contest of ideas worthy of the word liberal. This is in your best interest, as it will encourage people to register as supporters and help choose a leader. Allowing for that was a great idea, btw, as some pointed out.

PS. Feel free to add your own slogan in the comments


Let's Get Quizzical : Understanding Stephen Harper

 Does he really hate me, or does he just think I'm stupid?  ALMOST SEVEN YEARS after his first victory, Stephen Harper remains for many a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a cold and calculating exoskeleton. But is there a method to his badness madness? To help make sense of it all, zlog has courageously peered into the interstellar depths of the prime minister’s soul, and is pleased to report its findings here, in quiz form. Fun!


Note: this quiz has been reduced to 5 questions from its original 183.

QUESTION 1 : The Conservatives’ next budget will contain pages and pages of unpalatable nonsense, as is their wont. It will also contain a decent idea for MP pension reform. When the opposition parties vote against the bill due to pages and pages of unpalatable nonsense, the Conservatives will pretend the Liberals and NDP oppose MP pension reform. This is because:

a) It’s completely logical that MP pension reform would be in a single budget bill along with stuff like weaker environmental standards for pipelines. If you oppose one, you must oppose the other. That just makes a ton of sense.

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A Rye-and-Coke for Peter Lougheed

I just read that former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed died and it felt like someone punched me in the gut.

Lougheed was not a typical politician. In it completely for the right reasons, he didn’t lie or scheme; he was a friendly, intelligent optimist.

Above all, he was genuine. He never strayed so deep into the political bubble as to become unrecognizable to those outside the bubble. He didn’t have the “politician’s filter.” In other words, when he spoke to you, he sounded like a normal human being.

When I studied at the University of Alberta they gave me a Peter Lougheed Scholarship. I only met him briefly then, but the next year was invited back to the annual awards shindig. It’s not often you see the words “open bar” and “noon” on the same invitation, so I went.

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