Sunday, October 19, 2008

Toronto Star: Still A Bad Paper

The Toronto Star, every day, is showing that it is not a voice for progressive politics in this country. It is in fact the voice of racism, the voice of fear, the voice of the smug few who run this country for the narrow interests of money and greed. After backing the ill conceived campaign of a tired and moribund federal Liberal party, and seeing that campaign crash and burn in utter failure, the Star is in a fighting mood. Is it fighting against the Conservative Party? No. Is it fighting the bankers on Bay Street? No. It is fighting the idea that the way we elect our parliament is unjust and undemocratic.

This morning readers of the Star were "treated" to an editorial entitled "PR: Still A Bad Idea". For those of you who are from outside of Ontario, you should know that the Toronto Star and its writers were the propaganda shock troops for the anti-reform forces, during the referendum on electoral reform last year. Now, having witnessed yet again, the undemocratic nature of our electoral system and worried that people might start to get ideas about changing things, they have sprung back into action. The editorial begins:
Last week's election results have prompted renewed calls for a change in our system to "proportional representation," or PR, as it's known.

An electoral system used in many European countries, proportional representation allocates seats in Parliament according to the share of the popular vote attained by each party. Thus, the Conservatives, with 38 per cent of the popular vote in last week's election, would have just 117 seats, not 143. The Liberals would have 81 seats, up from 76, and the New Democrats, 57, up from 37, while the Bloc Québécois would fall from 50 seats to 28. As for the Greens, who were shut out last week despite winning 7 per cent of the vote, they would get 23 seats.
All of this is true. Even the Star, which can stretch the truth to beyond the breaking point, can't deny this and so they don't even try to deny the fact that the Greens were skunked. They can't defend against the truth, so they acknowledge it and then ignore it completely.

In the eyes of the electoral reformers, this would mean that the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens – with 161 seats among them, a bare majority – could get together in a coalition to topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and form a government.

Overlooked in this analysis is the potential for the Liberals, NDP and Bloc to forge an anti-Conservative coalition under our existing system. The same factors that are preventing that from happening today – some in opposition dislike the other parties more than they do Harper's Conservatives – could work against a coalition forming under proportional representation.
Note the neat little bait and switch. They are saying that the Bloc and the Greens are interchangeable parties for purposes of coalition building. Only someone who was either ignorant of Canadian political history or trying to build a case for a lie would make that claim.

The last section of the editorial is where things really get odious.
Furthermore, the analysis is backward looking – transposing last week's results onto a new system. In all likelihood, if Canada had a system of proportional representation, the outcome would be very different, given the demographical and geographical diversity of the country. The pro-life Christian Heritage Party, for example, might win enough votes to get seats. And new parties might emerge to win seats – say, an Alberta First party or even ethnic parties.

So Harper might be kept in power by entering a coalition with pro-life and Alberta First parties. Now that, indeed, is a scary prospect. (emphasis mine)
This is the tack the Liberal Party and its allies took during the last provincial election. When in doubt, raise the ethnic vote as the nuclear weapon of public discourse. Maybe "ethnic parties"? What does that mean? Are the Ukranians going to rise up and vote as block? How about the Irish? No, it is pretty clear here and elsewhere that the Star and its allies are talking about ethics of a darker persuasion, who might go to mosques rather than churches. This kind of race baiting is the lowest of the low and the Star should apologize immediately. The authors of this piece of crap need to come out into the open and explain what they mean and why they are using racism as a means to block democratic reform in Canada.
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  1. Contrasting Dorothy Smith's critique of sociological discourse with one proposed by post-structural feminists, we argue that Smith's standpoint epistemology based on women's experiences, although an important contribution, is limited as a critique of sociological discourse.
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  2. Thanks adolfo. Write for the Star, do you?

  3. I was waiting to see what you'd say to that Star piece...

    They really are an organ of the Liberal Party, aren't they?

    Well, if my guys have the Post, the Globe goes back and forth between the CPC and the Libs, and the Liberals have the Star, it may be time for the NDP to find itself a national paper to have as a backer...

  4. I had the same reaction to that editorial you did, but it wasn't until just now that it occurred to me -- back in the Ontario referendum it seemed the Star's most strident PR opponent was Queen's Park columnist Ian Urquhart, who has since left that post to ... become editorial page editor!