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January 2007 Blog Archive

My archived blog articles for January 2007 are below. You can also click the respective links for my current blog articles, my featured blog articles, and my complete blog archives.

Ethnicity, Merit, and the State
28 January 2007, 01h30 EST (GMT-5)

Last week, in response to the rise of Obama Barack as a serious contender for the US Democratic Party's presidential nomination, CBC television's The Hour interviewed Bob Rae, John Tory, Olivia Chow, and me on the question of why Canada has yet to see a visible minority party leader.

I have videocasted the segment at my Television page.

Rae and Tory offered studiously anodyne remarks about their hopes for broader representation in parliament, but Olivia Chow, in her inimitable fashion, casually called for "affirmative action" in the selection of parliamentary candidates. The public reaction has been predictable, and in my view, appropriate to such a shallow position.

A yawning asymmetry between government and the governed erodes public confidence in the state not because it is aesthetically displeasing, but because it demonstrates that politics have become divorced from merit.

Canadians recognise that a truly meritocratic system would necessarily produce representatives who reflect the people they represent. An ethnically unbalanced parliament can only mean that we are being denied the full range of talents of the nation.

Affirmative action is not the solution, because it merely removes the visible symptoms of an unmeritocratic candidate nomination process, while doing nothing to create a genuinely meritocratic replacement.

From my perspective, the ethnicity and gender of my prime minister is meaningless; his or her intelligence, character, political philosophy, and effectiveness eclipse all other considerations. Any candidate nomination process that is not first, last, and always about merit is a calamitous disservice to our country, whether the results are ethnically diverse or ethnically homogenous.

Noble Friends and Odious Enemies
12 January 2007, 03h45 EST (GMT-5)

Earlier today, I found that I had the great honour to be slurred by the Conservative Party of Canada. In politics as in life, though it is best to have noble friends, it is almost as edifying to have odious enemies, and I therefore read their release with much delight.

In an interview with Toronto's NOW Magazine, I stated that all federal parties must co-operate to enact a forceful Clean Air Act, and that the issue is too important for sterile political gamesmanship. NOW duly quoted me as saying, "Any party that wields the knife," to kill progress on environmental protection for political purposes, "will pay a price with the electorate."

I emphasised that unfortunately, the Conservatives obviously can not be trusted to produce meaningful legislation on their own initiative. In a minority parliament, however, the Liberal Party might be able to craft and push through an act with real substance, with the support of the other opposition parties. Hence, NOW also quoted me as saying, "the ideal position for the Liberals is that we have a Clean Air Act and that we are the authors of it."

Paradoxically, even while they twice cited my first quotation, the Conservatives released a "talking point" claiming that my second quotation means that the Liberal Party is assailing their supposed environmental legislation for purely partisan purposes. It is a laughable argument, and I can only assume that the Conservatives have now decided to pass from tragedy to farce in their posture towards the environment.

Canadians are not the fools that the Conservatives take them for, and will recognise that a party that can only reply to its critics with mis-representation is a party that is too ashamed of its own positions to defend them.

I wear the Conservatives' enmity as a badge of honour.





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