Halloween Politics

Despite its title, this post has nothing do with Halloween, but rather the political events happening this time of year. The big news came the day before Halloween: the indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who were both part of the Trump campaign and stand accused of working in collusion with Russia. While it’s important to let the trial play out and not jump to any conclusions, it could be quite serious if these charges are true. My hope is that Trump fully cooperates with the investigation and does not obstruct in any way – although I doubt this will happen. Cooperation means not firing the head of the FBI (again), not pardoning the accused if convicted, or promising to pardon them so they don’t cut a deal with the prosecution and reveal anything damaging on Trump. Congress also needs to do its job, regardless of partisan affiliation, and get to the bottom of this. If it is proven that Trump did work with the Russians to try and interfere in the election, he absolutely must be impeached. Anyone who still opposes his impeachment if this is proven true is telling us that they put their party ahead of their country.

In Canadian federal politics, Andrew Scheer chose Hamish Marshall as his chief campaign manager for 2019. I believe this was a bad choice due Hamish Marshall’s past work at the Rebel. While I don’t believe Scheer or Marshall are racists, one should not be appointing someone to such a position who has a connection with this type of website. It is easy fodder for the Liberals to attack the Tories on, and it just might work. The Tories will only win in 2019 if they can appeal to Red Tories and Blue Liberals, as pandering to their base won’t do them any good because that group will already vote for them. Harper won when he put prominent former Progressive Conservatives like Majory LeBreton, Geoff Norquay, William Stairs, and Hugh Segal in prominent positions, and lost when he relied largely on ex-Reformers like Jenni Byrne, Ray Novak, and Kory Teneycke. Aside from what some Tories claim, the base is too small to win and, there are far more votes to be gained in the middle of the political spectrum than on the fringes. Canada is not a right wing country, and there is little appetite asides from a small minority to take a sharp turn to the right. Marshall can still play a background role in the campaign, but Scheer should get someone more centrist as his campaign manager if he is serious about winning in 2019.

On NAFTA talks, Harper has come out with opinions quite critical of Trudeau. I do think we should take a united stance as a country* , and it would have been better for him to approach some of the Tories on Trudeau’s negotiating team about his concerns privately. But this was meant to be an internal communication, so I think many are making too big an issue out of it. If was meant to be public, I would be more concerned.

Finally, the region of Catalonia in Spain has declared independence, and in response, the Spanish government has taken direct control of the region. I view this as an internal issue; as a country, Canada should not take a formal position on it, but I believe Spain handled this quite poorly. All people have the right to self-determination, and government flows from the bottom, not the top, so if the majority in Catalonia wish to separate, they should have the right to do so. However, to make this kind of change requires a proper referendum with a clear question, clear majority, and a strong voter turnout. The referendum clearly lacked the turnout necessary to be considered valid, but Spain’s refusal to recognize it, even trying to shut down voting clearly tainted the process. The two sides should negotiate an agreement that would allow Catalonia to proceed with a referendum, and only if there is sufficient turnout and a strong majority in favour should Catalonia be allowed to secede. Spain also has every right to veto Catalonia’s entry to the European Union as a separate member state, and I think doing this likely would have ensured the referendum failed, as even many Catalan nationalists wouldn’t support an independent Catalonia outside the EU. However, the poor handling of this issue by the Spanish government has just made a bad situation worse. Here in Canada, we don’t want to Quebec to leave, nor does Britain want Scotland to leave, but neither country stopped a referendum from happening, and in all three cases, secession failed anyway. Holding a politically legitimate referendum is the proper way to handle things, not the way Spain did.

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