30 March 2008

Stupid Question of the Day

"In the next few years, under a new president, will America regain its lost status as the world's only superpower or will its current decline continue?"

Leave it to the Globe and Mail, eh? I'd really like to know what criteria they used to determine how America is not the world's only superpower. Are there others? Has American power declined to such a significant extent that it isn't super anymore? Because any rational examination of the global situation, even with the troubles in Iraq factored into the equation, cannot realistically claim that the answer to either question is yes. No other country comes close to being able to put forward the amount of power and legitimacy that is required to maintain the international system as it stands today. That same system remains strong and intact because of American power.
Further, the question implies that the next president, be it Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John McCain, is going to go out and ramp up American power again. Will America seek to re-establish its "strategic preeminence" in the world, or will there be that "humble foreign policy" that candidate Bush spoke of prior to being elected president? Just a few years ago folks like the Globe et al. were bemoaning the supposed "American empire." Are they getting nostalgic? There's just so much wrong with that poll question that it's not even funny.

28 March 2008

Cool Habs Fan Site of the Week

Found here:


I hear that the author is a wonderful person.

Very Poor Word Choice

"The statement directly attributed to me in this morning's La Presse is entirely false. I was in Montreal to raise funds to repay my leadership debt. I have worked tirelessly for our Party and our Leader and will continue to work with our strong Liberal team to ensure we win the next election. No one has the right to call my loyalty into question."
- Michael Ignatieff

I like Michael Ignatieff, despite accusing Israel of war crimes a couple summers ago. He remains among the brightest of the bright lights of liberal internationalism, even though he spends far too little time doing that sort of thing these days. But this, whoa. Every single person in this country has a right to question his loyalty to the leader of his party. They may not be credible, they may be flat-out wrong, but they still have a right to say such things. The Charter told me so. As long as people aren't calling his loyalty into question by doing so in a very defamatory or libelous manner, they've certainly got a right to wonder aloud whether or not Ignatieff is trying to pull a coup.

24 March 2008

An Olympic Boycott is Worth Considering

Human rights are an issue very important to me. I make a monthly donation to Amnesty International, I work for women's rights through the White Ribbon Campaign, and I regularly denounce vile dictatorships which persecute, torture, and murder their own people. What is currently happening in Tibet is an atrocity, and is has many people calling for a boycott of this summer's Beijing Olympics. I have no love for the Chinese regime that suppresses the rights of its people, holds Taiwan hostage, and is now attempting to label the Dalai Lama, one of the world's great men of peace, a "terrorist."
Those of us who stand for human rights cannot turn a blind eye towards what is happening in Tibet, especially not for the sake of the Olympics. While sport is something which I regularly enjoy, and is a uniting tool for people all over the world, is it worth giving China a free pass on its repression in order to have the two-week festivities? China will receive billions of dollars for the Games, in the form of tourism and everything else associated with the Games. This is money that can be used towards further persecution.
Is it worth it?
What if the repression stops in the immediate term? When the event passes out of the news cycle, to be replaced by the latest issue du jour, what happens? Do we forgive and forget? What about the dead, estimated to be over one hundred already (though the official Chinese response places the figure closer to 20--still, one unjust murder by a government is an atrocity, so we're already at that point times twenty)? Do we say that their lives mean less than a sporting event?
It is time for some serious discussion, with our Prime Minister and the government at the centre of it, whether or not Canada should turn a blind eye to what is happening in Tibet and whether it should send its finest athletes to participate in the Beijing Olympics.

10 March 2008

Bon Chance!

Good luck with that then.

In other news, the Liberals are going to introduce a motion condemning the other opposition parties for bringing down the Liberal government in 2005.

Good luck with that then.

06 March 2008


In early 2006 I wrote a paper in my Advanced Seminar in Canadian Politics course at Dalhousie. I chose to focus on the notwithstanding clause and the exceptional level of hesitance on the part of the federal and provincial governments to even broach the subject of utilizing it. The notion of a taboo on its usage came to me after reading an essay on the nuclear weapons taboo and the self-imposed embargo by governments of using those deadly weapons. If there is such a thing as "off-limits" in Canadian governance that is almost universally agreed upon, it would be using the Charter provision to override Charter freedoms. Political suicide, you might say.
After getting the paper back from my professor I believed that I could go further with it. I heard about a graduate journal called Federal Governance, which specializes in Canadian politics and government, run out of Queen's University. I tinkered with the paper, removing the discussion about the provincial governments to focus squarely on the federal taboo, something which made the paper more succinct and got it under the 20-page maximum allowable for publication. It took a long time to get here, but now I can present you with:

McAdam, Richard. "The Notwithstanding Taboo." Federal Governance 6 (2008): 1-20.

05 March 2008

Confidence for Days

The power of victory can be inspiring to one's confidence.

Case in point: Hilary Clinton. After appearing to be on the ropes, down and out, ready to concede after a valiant last stand, she has emerged from the primaries in Ohio and Texas rejuvenated and talking boldly about her future prospects. There is simply no other explanation than a serious jolt of confidence that can rationalize her proclaiming that she would be happy to have Barack Obama as her VP candidate. She still trails by over 90 delegate in the race to cinch the nomination, yet she's moving to put Obama on the defensive. It's a brilliant tactic. People latch on to confident leaders. The Clinton campaign will use this boost to propel them for at least two weeks, maybe more if momentum continues to build.

Meanwhile, John McCain can prepare salvos against both candidates, having sewn up his own victory last night. You can rest assured that the Republican machine will spend a lot of time and money crafting messages for both Democratic candidates, unleashing their full arsenal probably well before one candidate emerges.

02 March 2008

When Writers Stop Writing

I've identified myself--in part--as a writer for a long time now. Ever since I first got interested in politics I've found myself writing about it. Short letters to the editor, term papers, essays, a thesis, policy papers, discussion forums, this blog. It's what I do--have done--and it's a very large part of how I define myself. You'll notice that I haven't done a whole lot of that this year. It's not that I'm not paying attention or that I'm not interested, I'm just going through a period where I don't feel as though I have a whole lot to say, or much that is interesting. There's only so many times, I feel, that I can write about Stephane Dion's abstentionism and find it noteworthy. Normally the budget is a bit of a big deal. I can't really say that I found anything in there interesting enough to me to write at length about. That may be a problem, I don't know. After all, if you can't write about billions of dollars being spent by the government, are you really a politico anymore?
Of course I am. But I'm not as knee-deep as I was a year or two ago, certainly not neck-deep as I was when I was with the Liberal Party. It's interesting to look at the level of my participation--even when I was trimming lettuce in that awful store years ago I kept myself very involved in what was happening. I was engaged and connected; today I'm not quite the opposite, but the scale and scope has certainly been scaled back. I think a lot of it has to do with the, and I don't know if this is too strong a word, contempt I have for the political class in this country and the manner in which it approaches foreign affairs. That's another one of the areas around which I define myself, and having to constantly watch it being kicked around like a political football where the parties (and the media) hope to score points is pretty insulting. Harper is a great politician, sure, but he's no statesman. The opposition leaders barely qualify as good politicians. The city councillor wants to play field general with Canadians' lives in Afghanistan, and it makes my stomach turn. It's hard to take seriously people who discuss whether or not Canada should have tanks or armoured vehicles when we're in combat missions. Honestly, no matter what one thinks of Hilary Clinton's absurd pledge to be out of Iraq within 60 days of her administration, one can never honestly see her going on national television to state that American forces in places like Afghanistan or Iraq don't need tanks to protect them. It'd be utterly alien to that audience. So I've largely tuned out.
It helps that this government has demonstrated competence. It reminds me a lot of the Chretien days. People don't really pay as close a level of attention because they're more or less content with the job that is being done. Whatever little hiccups appear from time to time are smoothed over, the opposition media and parties have their little tempest in a teacup for the day, but Canada continues along, true, proud, and free. This is a hallmark of conservative government: no big projects, no glitzy and glamourous new spending sprees to get government more involved in the lives of citizens, no major initiatives. It's pragmatic. It's kinda boring, and maybe that's why I'm not writing as much as I used to, but it works.