Sunday, May 2, 2010

In Defence of Politics

"It's just politics" has become the standard response to any and all government scandals or screw-ups from the CPC, Conservative media, and their fluffers on the internet. They say/write it with a sense of finality, fingers planted firmly in ears to show they're not willing to hear any more about Jaffer, prorogation, Afghan detainees, or, most recently, Speaker Milliken. Just politics, not worth discussion.

Prime example today from Persichilli in The Star today. Headline says it all:

Speaker's rulining not historic, just politics

Isn't that a fascinating point of view? That being political and being historic are mutually exclusive? Screw the referenda on Quebec sovereignty, screw Meech Lake, screw women's suffrage, heck, screw Confederation. Politics can't be historic. To be historic, according to Persichilli, you need to be carrying a gun and defending democracy in Afghanistan.

The fact that a politician tries to make political hay out of an issue should never be sneered at. Politicians should not be chastised for playing politics. Opposition politics are a feature of our political system. Because something might benefit the Liberal Party, or the Conservative Party doesn't void whatever real concerns are lying underneath. To the contrary, we expect a healthy opposition to play politics constantly, especially in a minority situation, in order to hold the government to account.

The idea that Conservatives are now using this tired old defence to wish away something as important as the Speaker's ruling on Parliamentary privilege is a shame. The fact that a good many, possibly most, Canadians accept Persichilli's view is just disturbing.


  1. Well, i think if you try to explain why his ruling was important for Parliamentary democracy, most people who deride 'playing politics' would have their eyes glass over. I never enjoyed this selective moralism that partisans play. Maybe it is the cynicism in me, but the constant claim that each action by a party or leader should be of exalted selfless virtue is downright annoying. Part of politics is acting in rational self-interest, which incidentally is the cornerstone for free market advocates. Strangely, politicians are putatively not allowed to engage in such things lest they are excoriated.

    I find the short memories of some rather telling as now, opposition parties have to, for some reason, act like the government in order to provide a 'viable' alternative. It is not enough to simply oppose, which practically every other opposition party has done in the past.

    Anyway, I see you are commenting over at Gardner's blog as well. Since Red Tory has been inactive, I will probably start commenting at Dawg's place as well.

    On a beer related note, have you tried that Kentish beer Spitfire at the L.C.B.O.? They are promoting it, and I managed to try it. More hoppy, slightly spicy.

  2. There's no reason to suggest that a politician's self-interest and the interest of the nation are mutually exclusive. If a criticism is accurate, and people latch on to it, who is Persichilli or anyone else to wag their finger and say "it's just politics".

    Yeah, I'm a big fan of Gardner, though his regulars are a bit nuts.

    Spitfire is nice when it's good. The clear bottles mean it can skunk pretty quickly. I also recall there being a bit too much diacytl in it, rather buttery. Their beers are well regarded, but there's always something lost in translation when you put these wonderful cask beers in the bottle.

    That reminds me, I'll have to do a beer post today, few good ones in, or coming in, at the LCBO!