Monday, October 15, 2007

Andrew Coyne is on a warpath

So, Andrew Coyne is mad as hell. See, he liked MMP. MMP lost. Now, he's trying to figure out a way for him to be right and not be against popular opinion. First, he tried to claim that the people were cowed by Islamophobic propaganda. This is of course absurd. First, there was no mention of a possible Islamic party on behalf of the No MMP campaign and almost none in the media (a brief half-mention in the Globe). Secondly, this makes no sense considering the plethora of Muslim candidates elected in ridings that rejected MMP. Ontarians are not bigots. Finally, I can guarantee that the Canadian Islamic Congress was not motivated by Islamophobia when they rejected MMP.

Now Mr. Coyne has changed tack. He's now decided that in fact MMP won. Well, after all it got almost the same percentage as the premier. Well, if we're going to play games with the numbers, let's play games. Under FPTP the Liberals won a plurality of the votes in a majority of the ridings. How did MMP fare? They won 5 ridings out of 107. Reslicing the pie doesn't change the result. He also levels the ridiculous criticism that the low voter turnout invalidates the result. Every Canadian has a rigt not to vote. If you want to change that, bring in mandatory. I think it may be a debate worth having (I'm actually not sure where I stand on that one). If 48% of Ontarians didn't think it worth their time to vote, all we can interpret is that they didn't think voting was a priority. There are millions of reasons why people don't vote. We can't judge it to be any one of them with any certainty. However, their absence does not invalidate the result. Bad things happen when we allow the absent to delegitimize the actions of the present (see the Weimar republic). No one was disenfranchised.

He's also claiming that people were actively misinformed. I stand by every statement I made regarding MMP. The rise of fringe parties has taken place across Europe. It has been fostered by PR systems. It is not surprising that France and the UK (who use non-PR systems) remain the two major countries without a major Christian Democratic or Green movement. France also has had the most success in rejecting the right-wing nationalist movements that have swept Europe. Marie le Pen has lost the popularity that he once had and has remained out of power. Meanwhile, PR based countries of seen the inclusion of nationalist movements in government from the Netherlands to Denmark. The Belgians are still trying to form a government while a Flemish nationalist party threatens the destruction of Belgium. Not in Germany you say? Well, there are laws against nationalist parties in Germany. Seems that they had a bad experience with nationalism back in the day. MMP wouldn't have stopped the kind of xenophobia that has spread across Europe. The Swedes who use MMP (a slightly different version but built on the same principles) have seen a fringe nationalist party gain prominence all across their regional councils. Analysts predict they will be in the Riksdag after the next election (they were just under the threshold last year). This would throw the normally stable Riksdag into chaos. The carefully built coalitions would have to realign in order to accommodate the new party. In other words, they would get power, king-maker power. These new parties are not popular movements. They represent a tiny portion of the population and receive a disproportionate influence.

The rise of a Maori party in New Zealand is not a good thing as some people claim. The fact that there are Maori voters in New Zealand who feel they can only be represented by fellow Maoris is a failure. Integration is important to the success of any minority group. Note: integration not assimilation. There is a major difference between the maintenance of a distinct culture and the feeling that no one outside your culture can possibly represent you. This is the failure Canada has felt so profoundly in French Canada. The rise of the Maori party should be viewed in the same light as the rise of the PQ and BQ in Canada. A failure of political leadership. The line of argument that sees the rise of an ethnically based party as a success is the same argument that supports the segregation of our schools and the division of our country.

I said what I said during the campaign, not to scare people, but because I believe them and want to share my beliefs with my fellow citizens. Civic duty propelled me. It is insulting in the utmost to insinuate that I was acting out of some sort of malicious intent. I'm a university student. I was not trying to hold on to my own power (as Mr. Ferguson et al. may claim). If you disagree with me, fine. Don't call me a self-interested, bigoted liar.


James Bowie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Bowie said...

I'm a big fan of AC's, so I was concerned at your claim. I had a look at AC's post "Strife" and read it twice.

At no point do I see that he suggests a relationsip between Islamophobia and MMP. Rather, he suggests that McGuinty preyed on Islamophobic tendancies to defeat John Tory's faith-based school funding proposal.

I did a search on the page for the term "MMP" and no results were returned.

Anonymous said...

who gives a shit what coyne says, hes a disillusioned right winger who has would sell out his mother, as long as his right wing buds are in power, remember him and his buds have to accept the fact, that harp cant do anything with his suroundings, he has to hire liberals, and act as a liberal, as for mmp, it was doomed to fail, because it was not canadiana, simple as that, and anyone who didnt know that, was in dream land, talkin about coyne makes him feel important, and thats what the main media is doing with blogs, they knnow, they are in trouble, so they are trying to take it over.

Anonymous said...

This whole notion that people were uninformed is bunk. I received a brochure in the mail, our local (rural) newspaper had articles about it, there were debates on The Agenda and CPAC about it.

If people were uninformed, it's because they chose to be.

Enough of this already.

Coyne can't accept being wrong, that's his problem.

People just didn't want it, end of story.

Perhaps they should attempt to come up with something better because it's not working in New Zealand and they are considering holding a referendum on it.

aginsberg said...

James, this is really my fault for being to lazy to link. I was referring to Coyne's "Shouting Fire in a Crowded Province" article. Here's the quote:

"Much the same hysteria surfaced in the accompanying referendum on proportional representation: the first thing those opposed were likely to call to mind was, what if a Muslim party started up? Never mind that the entire Muslim population of Ontario, at 3% of the total, would have to vote for the Muslim party -- and only one -- to get over the 3% threshold the plan entailed. This was Ontario’s version of Quebec’s “reasonable accommodation” hearings, and Ontarians, it was clear, were not in a mood to be particularly reasonable."

"first thing" when the No side never mentioned it... riiiiggght.

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