Friday Fill(ibuster): Parliaments to come, politics gone by

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Political News Friday, November 14, 2014 View Count = 1115

Friday Fill(ibuster): Parliaments to come, politics gone by


Scott Reid drops some recent history and explains why the idea of a coalition government will be looked at differently in the 2015 election than it has been in the past few contests. Also on the 2015 theme, Canadian political parties stockpile millions for what commentators are saying could be “the longest federal election campaign in Canadian history.”

But what kind of government do we want to elect in 2015, anyway? Leger over at the Chronicle Herald explains the political advantages of ‘governing from the gut’ rather than based on evidence, showing that the basic understanding possessed by Canadians about the country around them is lacking in some crucial ways that let their governments off the hook.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau got some accolades this week for his unorthodox way of dealing with protesters at an event in Toronto on Monday: "Take a minute to explain to people your position and then we'll get back to this," he told the small group. (This flare for listening to other people isn’t impressing everyone though, and Tasha Kheiriddin over at iPolitics suggested this week that his leadership was cut from the cloth of authoritarian French kings rather than 21st century democrats.)

On the topic of party leaders, Paul Wells at Maclean’s looks at reactions on the Hill to the October 22nd armed attack and points out that the language of terrorism has been adopted or rejected by each major party leader for their own particular reasons. He’s got another piece this week about the rough time Ottawa has been having recently: “This month, truth be told, the teeming multipartisan colony on a hill can spare no energy either to lead or to follow. This month, the capital is, in a word, heartsick.”

Speaking of trouble in Ottawa, Hill Times reports that a series of revelations about sexual harassment on Parliament Hill hint at systemic cultural problems at our national legislature. And while the dialogue carries on here in Ottawa, CBC’s chief Washington correspondent Neil MacDonald has passes on some of the lessons American politics has to about how we should have this conversation.

On the topic of America, our neighbours to the south have signed a potentially transformative pact on emissions target with the other global goliath, China. Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board reacts to the abysmal voter turnout in last week’s midterms: “Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent; only the 1942 federal election had a lower participation rate at 33.9 percent. The reasons are apathy, anger and frustration at the relentlessly negative tone of the campaigns […]Showing up at the polls is the best way to counter the oversized influence of wealthy special interests, who dominate politics as never before. But to encourage participation, politicians need to stop suppressing the vote, make the process of voting as easy as possible, and run campaigns that stand for something.”

Although we’re doing our best to get people engaged in politics with contests like Everyday Political Citizen and events like next week’s evening with Marshall Ganz, there’s plenty of political discouragement happening across the country. Take for example a federal nomination race in New Brunswick, which has prompted one woman to say that this will have been her first and last attempt to get involved in politics.

Did we mention Everyday Political Citizen? The time traveling John A. Macdonald comes to us from one of this year's EPCitizens, Richard Pietro. You can read his piece about the state of our Parliament--and what John A. would say if he was pulled through time to see it--right here.

And with ink still drying on the Toronto municipal election results, Adil Sayeed puts forward an argument on the Torontoist that the time for democratic reform in the big smoke is right now.

Our Marshall Ganz event next week will be all about story, strategy, and structure—coincidentally, author Azar Nafisi was on CBC’s The Current this weekend arguing that stories and story-telling can determine the strength of a democracy.

YouTube educator extraordinaire CGP Grey has a slick video explaining the Single Transferable Voting System. Don’t know what that is? Watch the video and that will soon be remedied. Speaking of voting systems, Samara guest blogger Spencer McKay had a piece this week about the topsy-turvy way that Vancouver elects its city council—and what can be done about it. And who says that voting is just about public affairs? A new app called Votee takes voting to the extreme and makes your life choices into a series of referenda for your friends.


Connect the Sector has applications for their 2014 -2015 Fellowship. The fellowship “brings together creative, passionate community builders to lead systems change for a stronger non-profit sector” and fellows have the chance to join as full members of Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Policy and Systems Change Working Groups.

Low voter turnout among young people is not a new problem but Samara friend and Masters candidate Chloe Shantz-Hilkes hopes to help solve it. She’s looking for politically active 18-34 year olds to participate in her research on youth engagement. If you fit the bill, she’d love to hear from you at [email protected].

Oh, and did we mention the Marshall Ganz event happening in Toronto next week? Ganz is a legend of grassroots organizing in the US and he’ll be up to talk about leading change next week, in a Samara collaboration with The Department of Family and Community Medicine, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, Women's College Hospital  and St. Michael's Hospital. Get your ticket now!

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