Letters: April 2017

Postmaster_General_James_A._Farley_During_National_Air_Mail_Week,_1938
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The End of Strategic Voting?

Re: “Time to Get Woke to the Threat of Slick Rich Guys

For those of us pitiful wretches who are hopelessly addicted to making outrageous political predictions for which we can offer no rational justification, David Tough’s commentary on Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and the duplicity of the Liberal’s budget offers a delicious buffet of tempting possibilities. Tough is spot-on when he claims that the Liberal’s putative campaign promise to go after the richest 1% by increasing their taxes “was about as convincing as the Liberals’ promise to end first-past-the-post (electoral system), given that the Liberals were largely responsible for Canada’s growing income inequality and given that Bill Morneau, the man put in charge of the file, came into government fresh from (one of the) two loudest right-wing think tanks in Canada.” Run from the Left, govern from the Right is a time-honoured Liberal tradition.

All of which leaves left-of-centre voters with a dilemma. Many NDP and Green voters in our riding held their noses and voted Liberal to defeat Harper. Many of these reluctant strategic voters have been dismayed by Trudeau’s swing to the right with his support for pipelines, his amnesia over election promises about higher taxes for the 1% and his retreat from electoral reform. How will they vote in 2019? And what might the Liberals do to entice these NDP & Green voters to stay on board? Fear of the dreaded Harperites worked very well in 2015. How to recreate that same tidal wave of fear in 2019? Enter a frightening Conservative leader, one who can stimulate strategic voting. Faced with the threat of a Prime Minister O’Leary or Leitch, might the same progressive voters be lured into voting for the Liberals again? What other dominoes would have to fall into place for these voters to turn away from Team Trudeau? A credible NDP leader who is not ashamed to be a social democrat and does not tack to the right when the polls swing favourably? (Charlie Angus?) You can find declarations from non-Conservatives on Facebook who are joining the CPC so they can vote in the May leadership contest. Some of these temporary Conservatives are saying they will vote for the most progressive Conservative running, perhaps Michael Chong or Lisa Raitt. What effect would the election of a moderate like Chong or Raitt have on the general election? The fear vote might evaporate, and the NDP/Green voters might return home, leaving the Liberals with either an election lost or only a minority. Alternatively, there are centrists like Warren Kinsella who see an O’Leary or Leitch leadership victory as galvanizing swing voters into supporting the Liberals again. These temporary conservatives believe that a Trump-style Conservative leader would condemn that party to the political wilderness for a decade or more.

Tough concludes with “Class, as awkward and rude as it is to talk about in North America, is as much a factor in Canadian politics as it clearly was in the US election.” All party leaders have to be prepared to address the issue of inequality of opportunity in the next election. Class loyalty has replaced party loyalty for millions in the US. How strong is this trend in Peterborough? And will the Liberals attempt to address this issue before the next election? Or will the blue Liberals, like Morneau, listen only to their biggest donors?

Bill Templeman

Stop Giving White Supremacists a Platform to Rationalize Their Behaviour

Re: “Trent University Campus Clash

The last thing that Corey et al. need is a platform for them to spread their fascist rhetoric and rationalize their behaviour. By taking a centrist, “non-biased” approach to writing this article, you are making the same mistakes that the Trent University administration have made in responding to concerns about the Trent Conservatives: by failing to explicitly condemn the Trent Conservatives’ actions, you are sending the message that their oppressive and harmful conduct is acceptable. Corey’s claims that any offensive tweets made from a Twitter account in his name were merely the works of a smear campaign against him do not explain the countless other racist statements he has made on social media (primarily Facebook), proof of which can easily be procured from any students involved in Trent’s political scene. Furthermore, you do not mention the Trent Conservatives’ involvement in the blatantly racist “Trent Colonial Heritage Society” Facebook group, nor do you write about the well-documented transphobic comments made by Trent Conservatives affiliates. These omissions, and the ambiguity of your position in this article, serve to downplay legitimate criticisms of the Trent Conservatives and does a disservice to those who are justifiably frightened by the Trent Conservatives and, more broadly, by the rise of the alt-right on our campus. By interviewing the Trent Conservatives, you are lending them a degree of legitimacy and respect that they are far from having earned.

Anonymous

Reflections

Re: “Trent University Campus Clash

I have a few thoughts reflecting on this well written article. Ironically, those I would criticize I would expect to lack the care and mental tenacity to read it to completion—lest I state that explicitly first resulting in their completing the read out of spite responding to a slighted ego for having said such.

#1: Sacrifizio Dell’Intelletto. Neitzsche once spoke, in Beyond Good and Evil (Maxims and Preludes) of how some states of consciousness can be so desperate for validation of its own significance in existence that a soul may go so far as to harm itself to verify it could even feel the pain and thus prove itself real at all. In my estimation, a modern day troll is a “Sacrifizio Dell’Intelletto” completely lacking courage, and instead seeks to confirm its relevance perceiving the harm it can do to others instead.

#2: Empathy. I grew up in an age where, when you said something hateful, you were right in front of the person to see first hand what your impact on another human life was. There was no keyboard, internet, time-displacement removing one from that visceral interaction. You feel what you did to people, and that is lost to many today.

#3: The River. The path of least resistance. It’s a very natural thing. Electricity follows it. Water follows it. It is literally the easiest thing in the world. It isn’t typically the right thing, just the easy thing. We live in a world laden with models of instant gratification fine tuned to a point of parody in foreign films. If we want to be something more than base animals, it takes a commitment to excellence, to know who it is you want to be as a person, to know the kind of impact you want to make in the world, to know what it will take to see yourself in the mirror and continue to like that person you see. Afterall, the path of least resistance is what made the river crooked.

#4 Art. That which evokes a reaction, be it good or bad—it is meant to be provocative in a constructive, purposeful, and intentional way. Art is to wisdom, as skill is to knowledge. The more we cut the arts, the less capable we become in our ability to create unique original thought. We are several generations into an educational framework which formally devalues the arts. We see that in budget cuts. We see so many schools without arts programs.

#5 Identity. If we have a natural tendency to seek out and define ourselves, realized and affirmed in having meaning in this world, and on the journey, have our mental arsenal limited without developed arts, without developed empathy, and a natural underpinning to follow the path of least resistance, we will undoubtedly end up with trolls who are lacking originality, mimicking something that they relate to emotionally, right-or-wrong, not caring for the effect it has on others, just hoping that it affects others, and thinking this is validation for the souls right to find purpose in life—except you haven’t forged a new path, made a positive impact, said anything meaningful, said anything new. You’ve become an echo to someone else, feeding on the thrill of the attention gotten through negative reaction. It is also a forgery to take the desire to inflict pain onto others armed with ignorance rather than being versed on topics well enough to know better and call that “Conservative”. Historically, whether or not you liked the Conservatives, politics in Canada was debated among people whom had personal knowledge to what they spoke of, and experts to consult on said topics. It’s far too easy to spit venom without education, call it free speech, and hide behind a political moniker, all while emulating another person. I call counterfeit.

#6 Guns N Roses. When I was a kid, you needed insanely developed musical ability to seem cool being an asshole to others. I think specifically upon the 1991 MTV Music Awards, but even here, no one was harmed. What does it say that anyone with a hat and a Twitter account thinks that they can do that now? It is intellectually lazy to not try as best you can to know yourself, the world you are in, and to not try to have a positive impact.

We have the power, as individuals, to learn what we react to, determine why we react to it, and how we react to it, and evaluate if that reaction befits who we want to become as a person. We hurt ourselves and others to not master ourselves, and to not try to understand the world around us, the people in it, and appreciate the nuances.

If we want to realize human potential, we can’t take the path of least resistance. The path we need, as the article stated, is not clear. However, the path that needs to be avoided is quite clear.

I will expect a troll offended by this to target me now. It is predictable, and what trolls want. Easy targets handed to them. Lazy, just like the rest of the equation.

Vagenda

A Correction

Re: “Destination Canada

Doug Tilley’s remarks on Canada’s health care needs a small correction. He writes, “what’s a six- month wait [after your referral] when you’re dealing with crippling stomach pain? Nothing!” I obviously cannot speak for the Canadian health care system as a whole, but for Peterborough, a six-month wait is about nine months off – from testing to actually speaking to a doctor about the results, I’m in the middle of a 15-month wait.

Anonymous

Charter Rights

Re: “Abortion Ad Snafu

Thank you for covering the sad spectacle of Peterborough allowing graphic anti-abortion ads on the back of its buses. Congratulations to those councillors who have demanded a report on how to strengthen the City’s advertising policies. That’s exactly the right direction to go in.

Your article attributes the following statement to the City: “The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently refused to take into account the content of the speech when ruling on cases under section 2 (b) of the Charter…” That statement is hopelessly incomplete. Your article implies as much, but some readers might like a fuller explanation.

The process of deciding section 2 (b) issues is a step by step process. The first step is for the court to determine whether section 2 (b) is engaged at all, i.e. whether the communication in front of the court is speech, or is something else. It is in this first step of the process that the Supreme Court ignores the content of messages. In simple terms, advertising is constitutionally protected speech, regardless of the content of the advertising.

Assuming that section 2 (b) is engaged, the court then has to consider whether the constitutional right protected by section 2 (b) has been limited by government. The City of Peterborough is a branch of government. Any policies which the City may develop which restrict what kinds of advertising can go on the back of a City bus would be a limitation placed by the state on constitutionally protected speech.

Then the court has to determine, as your article points out, whether the limitation involved is (to collapse a broader discussion) one that can be justified in a free and democratic society. That analysis is ultimately a harm based one. In this final and exceedingly important part of the analysis, a careful review of the content, context and harm (if any) created by messages that the limitation addresses is a crucial step.

Blair Mackenzie

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