January 18th, 2006

[BRIEF NOTE] Sloppy phrasing, but my point remains

Regarding last night's post, all that I can say is that trying to squeeze in a moderately insightful post just before a glorious stretch of fourth-season Babylon 5 episodes doesn't work, at least not with a bit more pre-blogging plotting.

Of course I don't think that Harper is Canada's answer to Videla. The only people likely to be killed in the event of a Conservative majority government are going to be Afghanistanis and maybe even Iraqis, on the off chance that Prime Minister Harper dispatches the Canadian forces to those two countries.

I do think it worrying that I am willing to imagine a Conservative government in Canada as being ultimately being good for leftist and centrist supporters, after some time (months? years?) in the political wilderness. I recognize the myth of the heroic epic in here--the defeat caused by pride, the sojourn in the wild, the eventual triumphant return. I wonder whether it's a good sort of myth to have in a democratic polity.

[REVIEW] Kim Bolan, Loss of Faith

Vancouver journalist Kim Bolan's Loss of Faith: How the Air India Bombers Got Away With Murder provides a good overview of the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 that killed all 429 passengers and crewmembers onboard, and the catastrophically flawed investigation and trial of the bombers, Sikh activists hoping to use violence to achieve an independent Khalistan. One of the first Canadian journalists involved in exploring the origins of the tragedy in the radical political movements active in the Sikh diaspora, Bolan paints a convincing picture of a Canadian government that not only failed to take action against the radical activists who were harassing and attacking moderates, but which allowed interservice rivalries between the RCMP and Canada's new spy agency CSIS to kneecap the investigation and exclude the possibility of anyone being convicted for the bombing. This two-decade-long failure doesn't bode well for future investigations into terrorism in Canada, I fear.

[BRIEF NOTE] The French Baby Boom Continues

Libération, among other French news outlets, reports on the preliminary results of the 2005 census. France's rising TFR is propelling continued strong population growth, with 61 million people living in metropolitan France and another 1.9 million in the départements d'outremer.

Le mini baby-boom des années 2000 se poursuit. Sans faiblir. C'est un des principaux enseignements du bilan démographique de la France en 2005, publié mardi matin par l'Insee. Certes, l'augmentation du nombre de naissances n'a rien à voir avec celle de l'après-guerre, mais tout de même, notent les statisticiens: avec 807.400 naissances l'an dernier, le rythme se maintient de façon soutenu et atteint presque le chiffre record de l'année 2000 (808.200). Comme dans le même temps, une mauvaise épidémie de grippe en début d'année a provoqué une augmentation (+3,2%) de la mortalité, explique l'Insee, et que le solde migratoire s'élève à 97.500 personnes, la France compte donc 367.600 personnes de plus qu'il y a un an. Soit 62,9 millions d'habitants, deuxième pays d'Europe derrière l'Allemagne. Ce qu'il faut retenir de ce bilan, point par point, deux jours avant l'ouverture de la nouvelle campagne pour le recensement.

As INSEE notes in a more detailed examination, this growing population is the second-largest in Europe behind Germany. Especially considering the low rate of immigration to France, in my lifetime I might even see the fulfillment of the May 2005 prediction of a France with 75 million inhabitants by 2050 or so. The French exception--in Europe at least, more broadly in the non-American First and Second Worlds--continues.

[BRIEF NOTE] Ignatieff, a parachute candidate and unlucky at the polls?

Rob Ferguson reports in the Toronto Star that the Liberal Party candidacy of writer Michael Ignatieff in the federal riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore might fail. Why? Among other reasons, he has rather fewer links with this riding than his Conservative counterpart, John Capobianco.

"If the Conservatives win one seat in the city, this is going to be the one," conceded the insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That would make Capobianco a good bet for a cabinet post.

The same logic applies to Ignatieff — as long as he wins, the insider adds.

"Voters would end up with a high-profile MP, a possible cabinet minister if the Liberals come back. If not, they have a Liberal leadership candidate."

The thinking is, of course, that Prime Minister Paul Martin would step down as leader if the Liberals lose. Ignatieff dismisses talk of a leadership run as flattering but "presumptuous."

He counters Capobianco's local roots with his own background — Toronto-born and educated at U of T before earning international acclaim as a human rights scholar and author. At 58, he moved back from Cambridge, Mass., in December to teach at his alma mater and begin a career in politics after almost 30 years abroad.

But Capobianco joins the NDP's Liam McHugh-Russell in dubbing Ignatieff a "parachute" candidate with no roots in the riding. Ignatieff's Toronto apartment is in the Annex and he's hinted he might ignore an earlier pledge to move to the riding if elected.

"I'm not sure somebody who has lived abroad for almost 30 years has a good grasp of local issues," says Capobianco, a graduate of Lakeshore Collegiate and York University who lives in the Islington-Bloor area with his wife and 3-year-old daughter.

"He may have a grasp of international issues, but all politics is local."

Might I register, here, my support for Capobianco? Much as I don't want a Tory ascendancy nation-wide, there's worse ridings they could get. Media celebrities may be good people, but they certainly don't automatically have a right to be representatives of an area they've had little contact with.