The Week that Was #5

Many silly bits this past week, including Ontario’s now-former Finance Minister who earned two “Are you kidding me?” looks by referring to his trip to Barbados in December as being “pre-planned”.

Is there another kind of planning, sir?
And does the planning make any difference?

But I decided to go with a single winner. I think Mr. Selley might have given us the gift that keeps on giving.

Best Insult (subcategory: Fully Justified)

The context was Premier Ford asking/demanding that the Federal Government test the tens of thousands of international travellers arriving at LBPIA every week: A request/demand he likely made to divert attention from his own government’s slow deployment of vaccines.

The saddest part about Ford’s press conference
was knowing his perfectly reasonable demands
had instantly become less likely to be fulfilled,
simply by dint of him being Doug Ford.
Fifteen thousand isn’t too many dead people
to stop partisan lizard-brains from making airport testing a partisan issue.

– Chris Selley, National Post, Dec 28

I like it.

Partisan lizard-brains.

I might even use it.

I ran headlong into the issue of partisanship when I mounted my campaign for a Senate seat. A commentator I respect dismissed the Liberal pre-plan to make non-partisan Senate appointments. He sees being partisan as being committed to a coherent political philosophy. In his view, to be non-partisan is to not know what you believe, what you stand for: In practice, it means standing for nothing, having no principles to direct action. From that perspective, partisanship is necessary to facilitate the public and non-violent clash of different ideas about what is good in and for society, and what mechanisms are effective for achieving that good. (And, even with all that pre-planning, in practice the Liberals appointed folks who were liberal, just not Liberals. So much for different ideas.)

I take his point, but I think that the word has gradually acquired more negative connotations, such that to be non-partisan doesn’t so much imply floating with the currents as it does standing for principle above the interests and election success of your party. Being willing to work with someone of different views.

A partisan is a committed member of a political party or army. In multi-party systems, the term is used for persons who strongly support their party’s policies and are reluctant to compromise with political opponents. A political partisan is not to be confused with a military partisan. – Wikipedia

These days, it’s not so clear to me that political and military partisans *are* distinct. Both seem to partake of a no-holds-barred, fight-to-the-death mentality. The mentality that automatically opposes and ridicules a reasonable if self-serving proposal from political opponents, even with 15,000 dead.

Yup, partisan lizard-brains about sums it up.


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5 Responses to The Week that Was #5

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    I found Michael Dowd’s explanation of brain functions (which starts with “lizard brain” as the most primitive part our brains, perched right on the end of the spinal column) exceptionally informative. He has at least one book, but I found his TED talk very helpful.

    Jim T

  2. Tom Watson says:

    I think party politics has been doing us a great disservice – here in Canada as well as in the U.S. What we need is people willing to work together to solve the issues, and less entrenchment of “toe the party line or else.”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – I agree. How we get there, though, I don’t know. The strength of the party structure has been increased federally by prime ministers retaining the authority to sign nomination papers. We might start by winding that back.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    My local MP says that removing “whipped votes” would be a good start.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Yes, another good idea. John Robson, who’s a Magna Carta hound, laments that our legislative branch has forgotten that their role is to keep a tight rein on the executive branch. That was easy to understand when the executive was a monarch with real power; it seems to be less intuitive now that the executive is the Prime Minister’s Office and sub-agencies. And the general public is not on-side with that view. We see the Prime Minister and the MPs from his/her party as one team, and the Opposition as another team.

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