Monday, February 27, 2006

Challenging the Vatican

Regular blogging will resume eventually, I promise. There just hasn't been much to inspire me since Stephen Harper appeared in early February, announced his cabinet, saw his shadow, and decided to hide for the next six weeks of winter.

It was interesting this morning to note this story in the Globe and Mail about the group of Catholic priests in Quebec urging the Vatican to revise its stand on homosexuality. I'm glad to see some signs of a reformist current in the Canadian Catholic Church, albeit belatedly. I doubt that this will change much, but it is heartening to see nonetheless.

Meanwhile, I'm busy planning a book launch in Ottawa for next week. If you're interested in official bilingualism, drop me a line and I'll send you the details.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Cabinet appointments - joining the Progressive echo chamber

A few nasty surprises and disappointments in today's cabinet:

1) So, David Emerson has crossed the floor from the Liberals to join the Conservative cabinet. Cue the howls of outrage and sexist epithets from the right-wing blogosphere.

2) Rather than appoint one of his newly elected or long-serving MPs, Harper has chosen to appoint his campaign co-chair. Michel Fortier, as Minister of Public Works. That's the way to show confidence in your back bench.

3) Fortier will enter cabinet by being appointed as a Senator. I'm sorry, I thought that the Conservatives wanted to move to an elected Senate. It seems a bit early to be violating that principle, and for such a nefarious purpose.

4) I'm sorry to see that James Moore, the up-and-comer from BC, did not get a Cabinet nod. I guess that Stockwell Day's credentials were too impressive to pass up.

More to come later, as the dust settles.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Quebec provincial politics: The fragmentation

This is just a preliminary post about an interesting new development in Quebec politics - the formation of a new, overtly left-wing sovereigntist party, Quebec solidaire, which had its inaugural conference this past weekend.

Quebec's provincial politics have long had some rather frustrating allignments. The provincial Liberals, reinvented as a leftish party in the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, defined themselves in opposition to the right-wing Union Nationale. The formation of the Parti Quebecois in the late 60s took over the left-wing of Quebec politics, but also alligned socialism with sovereignty. Ever since the late-1970s, when the Union Nationale collapsed, the Liberals have been the only serious (quasi-)federalist party, but also the party of the right. Left-wing federalist voters have had two undesirable options: hold their noses and vote PQ, and vote against referenda on sovereignty, or hold their noses and vote Liberal and accept less progressive policies.

The arrival of the ADQ on the provincial scene several years ago started shaking up this balance - a neo-liberal, quasi-sovereigntist party. It seems that PQ is also undergoing some internal ideological tensions. Lucien Bouchard started tacking the party towards the right, and the selection of Andre Boisclair seems to have aggravated the party's left flank into spinning off a new party.

I wonder if we are close to seeing a similar fragmentation in the federalist camp? Will left-wing federalists form their own viable party? The allignment of right-wing/federalist/Liberal vs. left-wing/sovereigntist/PQ has been stifling debate over issues in the province. A real change in the party system would be quite refreshing.

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