Saturday, May 21, 2011

Conservatives did not win

By Susan Delacourt, Toronto Star, May 20, 2011
(A)s political scientists have been sifting through the data of May 2, they’re learning that immigrant voters did not flock to the Conservatives in any large way in the election.

This was among one of the most surprising revelations last week when Canada’s leading political scientists held their annual conference in the immediate aftermath of the vote.
The professors who’ve been heading up the prestigious Canadian Election Study shared some of their early findings on the final day of the conference at Wilfrid Laurier University. And when it came to the issue of the immigrant vote, it appears that this study is going to be doing some myth-busting.
“Across the board, there doesn’t seem to be anything but a minor shift in terms of the immigrant versus non-immigrant vote where Conservatives are concerned,” said Stuart Soroka of McGill University.
“Up to this point, there’s a bit of gain there, but it seems tiny,” said Patrick Fournier, of the Université de Montréal.
The Canadian Election Study bases its analysis on a huge amount of polling data, carried out by phone, mail and over the Internet, during and after the campaign, and it is generally deemed to be the most accurate look into election dynamics. Political junkies can get an early peek at the findings in next month’s issue of Policy Options, the magazine put out by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
Certainly not to dispute the findings of the study by political academics but, it may be that the vote needs to be analysed on religious affiliation, as much as on ethnicity.
The Jewish Canadian community have certainly garnered the impression that the Harper position on Israel is different and preferable to the position of either the Liberals or the NDP. We know that the NDP have for many years been more favourably disposed to the cause of the Palestinians in the conflict with Israel. And, as for the Roman Catholic community, there were headlines in the Catholic Register, prior to the election, championing Jason Kenney as the Moses who was leading that group into the Conservative side on voting day. Whether the academics wish to delve into the "religious affiliation" of the voters, or whether the availabla data makes such research possible, we will have wait a little longer to see.
As for Kenney's not being "promoted" in the Cabinet announcements this week, he now heads a very important committee charged with seeing that the priorities of the government actually are carried out by the various ministries or departments, as Ottawa prefers. That is no small task, and it involves a deft, but certainly heavy hand, to generate the kind of discipline needed to "watchdog" the way Cabinet directives are implemented down the line of both the various Minsiters' offices and throughout the bureaucracy.
 On another front of the ethnic issue, just today, Chantal Hebert, in her column in the Toronto Star, argues that making peace with the people of Quebec will depend on Stephen Harper. And one might suggest, in response, that Stephen Harper is not interested in anyone's ethnicity, or in developing an authentic relationship with various ethnic groups, but only in his party's harvesting the votes from various communities come election time. Stephen Harper is not interested in people, their individual and legitimate human needs and concerns; he is interested in numbers: numbers of dollars, numbers of people unemployed, numbers of people he can control, numbers of dollars he can cut from the budget, numbers of (fictional) criminals needing new prison cells, numbers of F-35 Fighter Jets, numbers of military personnel, numbers of days and months of their deployment in Afghanistan, numbers of digits by which the government has reduced the taxes of the rich, numbers of dollars "saved" by the cut in the HST and the list could go on for pages....
His is the business of policy, not people. And if you doubt my words, just watch the next time he appears  "surveying" a disaster scene like those in Manitoba (floods) or Alberta (wildfires) and catch his wooden responses. He has no concept of the depth of suffering, fear or anxiety these people have experienced and continue to experience. And what's worse, he does not care that he does not understand.
Empathy is not a word in his world view. Compassion is not a guiding principle in his political quivver.
People, and the raw experiences of the people in this country have been reduced to a digit, in the political view of the Prime Minister, and the sooner the country understands this, the better.
It is the human side of the "enterprise" that is Canada that has been erased from his conscious, intellectual and objective and detached perspective...and immigrants are just another number to him.
Harper's concept of "customer service" would be a mere "greeting" at the front door, a la WalMart and always with a phoney smile!
He is certainly not going to open another cash register whenever three people are in line to check-out.
And the Canadian people are not his "customers"; we are his employer, and we must not permit his reduction of our needs, identities, hopes and dreams to his mere digits.

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