Monday, October 15, 2007

An Ontario provincial election follow-up...

One interesting note from the Ontario provincial elections that happened last week: it was probably the first and only time that a political commentator will accuse the electorate of racism for not voting Conservative. The Conservatives lost to the Liberals by a huge margin, largely because the former pledged partial funding for private religious schools and then rescinded the offer when it proved unpopular.

The commentator (Mike Duffy, I think) was surely right to suggest that the Liberals and NDP were playing a race/anti-Islam card in saying that they wanted to allow kids of all types to grow up together, (especially disingenuous, since they both support the continued existence of a public Catholic school board) though it's ridiculous to reduce the entire race to this one factor. More likely, given the emphasis that past North American elections have put on the decisiveness* of political leaders, the major factor was Conservative leader John Tory's inability to inspire confidence when he backed away from the most widely-known element of his party platform.

Me? I'd do away with the Catholic board as well. The problem is that only the Green party was making that offer and they weren't going to win any seats in the legislature; I voted NDP, despite the subtly racist implications that this choice implies. But when the choice is between a subtly racist education platform and the less subtly racist, sexist, and classist assumptions underlying the Conservative party's entire platform? Not so hard a decision.

* I've chosen 'decisiveness' not because it's necessarily accurate or even a word that commentators use in describing a leader - it could, after all, just as easily be called 'stubbornness'. The difficulty here is that decisiveness is always described negatively by pundits: a "bad" politician is a 'flip-flopper', a 'ditherer', unsure, lacking. A "good" politician is usually only defined as not one of these things - presumably because he or she could flip-flop at any moment. (Of course, this logic fails to perceive that it's often better to change your mind when your plan is failing or that staying the course may be a disastrous proposition.)

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