Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Posts Tagged ‘Montreal

Canadians think Justin Trudeau represents the real change from Stephen Harper

leave a comment »

The Liberal Party of Canada is back in power after a 9-year absence during the reign of the Harper Government. For the first time in 11 years, the Liberals have a majority government.

Canadians had the longest campaign — 78 days — in modern political history. The country wanted change, but had to decide between Tom Mulcair of the NDP or the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau. Though Mulcair and the NDP had the early edge, perhaps they got a little cocky. Trudeau took awhile to find his voice, but once he did, the Liberals rose in the polls.

Stephen Harper wanted nothing to do with the English language broadcast consortium debate. Tom Mulcair took the Conservative bait and said he wouldn’t be there if Harper wasn’t showing up. Mulcair made that decision when the NDP was doing well. By the time of the scheduled debate (which wasn’t cancelled), the NDP was in 3rd place. A chance to debate with all the non-Conservatives would have been valuable.

There were more debates than usual: 4 instead of 2. But that 5th debate would have helped the NDP.

Here are links to our 2015 Canadian election coverage courtesy of our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

2015 Canadian election: Some final thoughts

Section 331 of the Canada Elections Act gets attention south of the border

Justin Trudeau begins new era as Canada’s newest prime minister

Our 2015 Canadian election coverage comprehensive guide

Canadian Crossing.com Canadian politics coverage

Advertisements

Stephen Harper, Pauline Marois import GOP dirty tricks to reduce voting

leave a comment »

This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

Stephen Harper and Pauline Marois rarely have something in common, but that something is a trend that has been sweeping throughout the United States.

Though using different methods, Harper and Marois are trying to deny the right to vote to people who are eligible. We’ve seen these “voter ID” laws in several U.S. states designed to prevent those likely to vote against Republicans a chance to cast their ballot, even though they are registered to vote.

While the target audience for Harper and Marois are different, the target audience for both is those who aren’t likely to vote for their party.

Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, is working its way through Parliament.

Canadians have voter identification cards, which help identify them, and Elections Canada has allowed their use with another form of ID as proof of being able to vote. Bill C-23 would take away voter identification cards as a proof of ID. The bill also disallows vouching, where someone in the precinct of the riding can vouch for that person.

Bill C-23 allows bans Elections Canada from encouraging turnout, especially among groups that aren’t as likely to vote: youths under 30, ethnic minorities, Aboriginals and the disabled.

The legislation also removes the Commissioner of Canada Elections (investigators) from Elections Canada to be a separate office. The Conservatives have been the target of numerous allegations from overspending their budget to robocalls telling voters their voting spot had changed when it hadn’t. The change reduces the impact they can make on parties that violate election laws.

Previous coverage:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper copies Bush tactic of ejecting people from campaign stops

Like their U.S. counterparts, conservatives in Canada don’t have actual examples of voter fraud. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, conservatives have the power to change the law nationwide.

In Quebec, university students who are otherwise eligible to vote are being told that they aren’t eligible. The requirements for voting in Quebec is to be a “Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old, be domiciled in Quebec for six months.”

The key word is domiciled. The stories are pretty consistent. Even if people have been living in Quebec for longer than 6 months, and can prove those facts, they are still denied registration.

The Civil Code of Quebec states that “change of domicile is affected by actual residence in another place, coupled with the intention of the person to make it the seat of his principal establishment.”

In other words, you can be a student in Quebec, but if you no intention of living in Quebec after university, you can’t vote. And since that can’t be proven, those who aren’t francophones are being targeted as not likely to stay in Quebec.

These students are primarily living in Montréal, where anglophones and allophones are much more likely to be found.

Previous coverage:

2014 Quebec election preview; election set for April 7

Marois was also vocal about those outside Quebec (i.e., Ontario) were trying to pull the election away from the Parti Quebecois. The premier said there was an influx of illegal anglophone voters in 5 ridings. However, Chief Electoral Officer Jacques Drouin said that there was no abnormal rise in registrations.

Vote fraud would be if these students or anyone else were voting in Quebec and in the province where their parents live. There is no proof or accusations of that happening. In fact, if a student from Quebec were going to school in Ontario or New Brunswick, by Quebec standards, they wouldn’t be eligible to vote where they go to school and would also be legally barred from voting in Quebec.

The students can’t vote in two places, but legally have to be able to vote in one place.

Reading the mind of the voter is literally an impossible task. As to whether graduates will stay in the province, this would depending on being able to find work. Quebec’s jobless rate is not good, yet the campaign has been more about sovereignty and language than the economy or infrastructure.

Residency is where you live. College students in the U.S. run into similar troubles, especially with the new anti-democracy “voter ID” laws since these states “magically” won’t take a college ID as proof of identity.

Voting is a civic duty that comes with being a citizen. The voting process is about opportunity and choice. Political parties — Republican, Conservative, and Parti Quebecois — that take away opportunity and choice from citizens are no better than the Third World dictatorships that the First World likes to admonish.

Canada has done a much better job in running elections than its southern neighbor in great part because a non-partisan group such as Elections Canada works to open up voting to citizens and fights back against rampant partisanship. The Harper Government wants to make elections more like the United States in the spirit of their cousins, the Republican Party.

Politics is supposed to be about ideas. When you run out of ideas, you try cheap, undemocratic stunts such as these. These tactics go against being a democracy. The best way to punish them is to respond at the ballot box.

Montreal student protests may impact Quebec election

leave a comment »

For all that we’ve written about the student protests over the tuition hikes in Quebec, you almost feel like you have to see the story to the end. Jean Charest, Quebec’s premier, has launched a provincial election for September 4.

The student protests have been somewhat quiet this summer, but when I was in Montreal, so much of the concern against the government were specifically targeted at Charest.

The rise up against Charest is not just tied to the student protests. And Charest has been in office for three terms, two of them as a Liberal. So a fourth term doesn’t have strong odds of success.

Then again, the Parti Quebecois, the strongest chance to oust Charest and the Liberals, hasn’t been that strong. And Charest’s opposition hasn’t always been strongly unified.

For more analysis on this election cycle, check out this column from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

U.S. protesters can learn lessons from Quebec student protesters

leave a comment »

I covered the NATO protests in Chicago with an eye to what was going on in Montréal. The MSM has its way of delegitimizing protesters, whether they be against the Iraq War or NATO or the Afghanistan War or any other action that has fallen into the status quo. The local coverage in Chicago was particular nauseating since journalists went out of their way to critique their signs and how they didn’t conform to the same message.

The fact that the signs were against action taken by NATO, current and future, and that taxpayer money going to war could be better spent on domestic problems — all that escaped the mindset on the TV screen.

Such trivial nonsense wasn’t found in the ongoing coverage of the student protesters in Montréal. The coverage, in English, at least was mostly shallow and worried more about how the protesters upset tourists and summer highlights, including the Canadian Grand Prix, the Montréal Comedy Festival, and the Montréal Jazz Festival.

As for the French coverage, from what I have been told, the slant depended on which source you read. But they didn’t belittle the protesters for “inconsistencies.”

Can American protesters learn lessons from the student protesters in Montréal? Absolutely. Even if American protesters follow every lesson, will the MSM give their cries the same legitimacy as it treated the teabaggers? No. But the coverage of U.S. protesters will improve because much of the ammunition against them will be detonated.

Uniformity of message: The student protesters were chanting the same thing. The rhythm of wooden spoons hitting pots snd pans was catchy and I heard it long after they weren’t around. Not that the teabaggers had consistency, but the MSM usually loves consistency in a message.

Age diversification: When the protesters were mostly students, the cries were that they were young, or spoiled, or didn’t understand the world. When the Quebec government passed Bill 78, making it more difficult for students (or anyone) to protest, people outside the student realm started marching along with the students. Having people of different ages march together shouldn’t give a protest more legitimacy, but the media coverage did soften.

Keep the protest going: NATO had a limited shelf life of 4 days, counting the G8 summit that was supposed to be in Chicago. When you have a limited amount of time, you have to cram in more than you should. And Chicago pressured businesses to keep their employees out of the Loop on Friday and Monday. The student protesters in Montréal have been going longer than 100 days with a consistent message.

Incorporate symbolism in your protest gestures: I heard the terms “le casserole” and the banging of the pots and pans, but didn’t understand the symbolism. Fortunately, I had bilingual people explain this to me during my stay in Montréal, so hopefully this won’t get lost in translation.

Loi is French for law; l’oie is French for goose. The pots and pans are to cook the special goose — the special law. Le casserole is French for saucepan, though that might have been obvious.

Give people a chance to support you without protesting: Too often, we hear the MSM cries implying that only those people out in a protest care about the issue. In Montréal, people wore the carre rouge — red square — to support the protesters. Often, those who were protesting at night wore them during the day. But the streets were filled with people wearing the carre rouge who weren’t visibly protesting.

I saw a tall guy with a Army buzzcut in a 3-piece suit riding one of the rented bikes you see throughout Montréal through a street in the Little Italy neighborhood, and he was wearing a red square of support. I couldn’t react fast enough to take a picture nor to ask him about it.

I was told some people wore green squares (against the protesters) and white squares (neutral in the debate). For what it was worth, I didn’t see a green square or a white square in my 6 days in Quebec’s largest city. But when you can get people against you and for you to wear a symbol of support, you have passion in a movement that has been missing on the American side of the border.

The good news for the students is that government was willing to listen and make change. Early on, the Jean Charest government (province of Quebec) changed its stance to spread out the tuition increase from 5 years to 7 years. The students have had enough power to get more done, but negotiations haven’t gone well. The problem, and this isn’t the students’ fault, is that the fight is about the tuition hikes AND Bill 78. The special law is only temporary, and hasn’t been fully implemented (in part because the police weren’t sure how to do so, and it became virtually impossible to enforce).

At some point to any protest, both sides need a conclusion they can live with. Bill 78 could easily die if the students stop protesting, but the students won’t stop protesting until Bill 78 is removed. As for the tuition hikes, the hikes might go through with a lot more concessions from the Charest government. When protests go on for too long, public support can easily slip. The parties involved don’t always know when is the best time. In this case, thanks to the students’ consistency and passion, they have more power than those who have protested on the American side of the border. The question is how will the students use that power to get concessions. That is a lesson we are still learning.

Quebec student protesters media coverage misses truth on street level

leave a comment »

Though I only saw 5 nights on the streets of Montreal, what I did see was nothing like I had taken in via the Web and through English-language accounts.

They were having fun, though they had a serious message. They were happy when people took their pictures. They didn’t even care if we were American. If anything, people were happy that an American didn’t freak out over the prospect of  the protesters during his vacation.

I didn’t seek out the protesters on my trip, but they weren’t hard to find. Often, they started in different parts of the city. As I noted at the time, they didn’t bother my vacation one bit.

For more on the protesters, pictures included, check out this update from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

Quebec students stand up for education access

leave a comment »

Back when Rick Santorum was a candidate for president, he said President Barack Obama was a snob because he wanted everybody to go to college. Okay, President Obama didn’t say that. Obama understands that higher education can take on several branches of possibilities — trade schools as well as college and universities. What we missed was the chance to have a dialogue over access to education.

Students in Quebec are protesting tuition hikes. In North America, Quebec students pay at or among the lowest tuition on the continent. And the tuition hikes aren’t that bad. But the students are fighting a bigger battle: access to education.

Protests have been going on for about two months, and are starting to get noticed outside of La Belle Province.

The job market is changing for both Canada and the United States, and a lot of math and science related jobs are being filled by people from outside these countries. Access to education would seem paramount, yet Americans are asking the young people to take on ridiculous financial burdens long after college. And Quebecers are the ones protesting in the streets?

For more on this story, check out the latest from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

CBC stands to lose viewers, American and Canadian, thanks to August 31 digital conversion

leave a comment »

We’ve been praising Canada lately for its ability to produce jobs and even a small riot. But your sympathy can go out to Canada on one issue that troubled Americans back in 2009: converting analog TV signals to digital TV. Remember the clamor over the coupons for converter boxes? This is when Americans knew they were going to get all the digital signals, unless they lived too far away from the digital signal.

Well, a significant number of Canadians and some Americans are going to lose access to CBC on the August 31 deadline unless they go to cable or satellite. Saskatoon, SK, London, ON, Kitchener, ON, Moncton, NB, and most of Quebec among others will lose English language service; Calgary, Windsor, ON, and Halifax among others will lose French language service.

For more, check out the coverage via CanadianCrossing.com. And scroll to the bottom to relive magical memories of American TV conversions with archival material from Democracy Soup.