Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Defining and Naming Political Ideas

In the lead up to the American election and in its wake there has been considerable debate over labels, meanings, and how we use terms and language. It may be some bizarre combination of ignorance and knowledge of the past combines to result in tying ourselves in knots with definitions.

Before we jump into a more blatantly political side let's use writing about "Facebook news posts" as an example. In most media the false and misleading "news" posts propagated on Facebook has been labeled "fake news". While technically accurate it ignore our context. Fake news as a term has been closely associated with satirical programs like The Daily Show, This House Has 22 Minutes, and the Colbert Report. It communicates harmless mischief, purposefully exaggerating, or mocking. The fake news posts are actively misleading at best and bald-faced lies more often than not. There is a more accurate term for this - propaganda. Definition: "Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view." If anything the definition may be too soft, but far clearer. Why does the media hesitate to use this language? Is it because the word propaganda is associated with totalitarianism and the twentieth century?

After the Cold War and the ascent of liberal democracy and neo-liberalism ideological labels seemed to matter far less. In North America words like communist, totalitarianism, fascism and even socialism, liberalism, and conservatism became fuzzier, ill-defined and less relevant. In Canada the differences between our "left" and "right" became marginal. Then things seemed to change.

In the American mainstream a growing number of politicians expressed views and positions beyond the centrist consensus but we seem ill-prepared to label these movements. Take the Tea Party. I have never heard a satisfactory explanation of their ideology aside from the vague "right-wing", "conservative" (absolutely inaccurate), and "populist". Populism comes up a lot, but it is not a set of policies/ideology. Politicians from Rob Ford to Tommy Douglas have been called populists.

This language barrier has resulted in problems as a culture when discussing these times. Recently the media has avoided calling a Nazi sympathizer, who says "Hail Trump", and receives the Roman/Nazi salute from the audience calling him a Nazi... because why? Because Nazis are a thing of the past, right? 

I do not like the growing use of the term "alt-right" because it too has a fuzzy, imprecise definition. It really just means far-right, or radical right-wing. As I wrote immediately after the election Trump and his supporters may be best understood as anti-liberal. I think there is a growing case to call the Trump's movement's radical element American fascism. To be clear that is not descriptive of all of those who voted for the Republicans. Speaker Paul Ryan is not suddenly a fascist because he will try to work with Trump's presidency. As political cultures we need to come up with accurate terminology and language to discuss our politics. Right now we are either in denial or wandering around in the darkness. There are going to be times when the New Right, in whatever country, will resemble normal governments, but it is important to call out when they use nationalism, authoritarianism and jingoism to impose harmful policies.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Worth Reading - November 24, 2016

Althia Raj writes that Minister Monsef is misleading Canadians on electoral reform. 

Chantal H├ębert writes that trouble is about to hit the Liberals on three sides

From the New York Times an Italian writer suggests how Americans should resist Donald Trump's presidency

Martin Regg Cohn writes that the Ontario Municipal Board needs to be reined in for the sake of our cities. 

Changes in election laws means that Ontarians will soon directly elect their regional chairs. This could cause more trouble for local politics and conflicting interests.

Mayor John Tory announced support for toll roads

Royson James writes about John Tory's chances for re-election, and begs him not to take the easy path

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are getting caught up in a cash-for-access scandal

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Book Review: Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan

Were you to ask most historians what event was most consequential for the world today I believe many of them would say World War I. It wasn't just the conflict itself, but the peace that ended it has defined so much of the 20th and 21st centuries. MacMillan specifically focuses on the six month period in 1919 during which the key negotiations took place between Prime Minister David Lloyd George (UK), Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau (France), and President Woodrow Wilson (USA). Never have three men been so critical in determining the state of the world. In her introduction though MacMillan says that there was a bilateral relationship between the negotiations at Versailles and conditions on the ground. As much as the 'peacemakers' shaped the map of the world it had to respond to political unrest, revolutions, and shifting military situations in the lands they were sitting in judgement of.

Read how flawed men shaped the modern world

The book is divided into thematic chapters focusing on different countries/regions, and then arranged into a rough chronology. It is an imperfect method. The developments in Yugoslavia profoundly impacted Italy and Italy impacted upon Greece and Turkey. Discussing each in isolation can lose the thread, i.e. because Yugoslavia's gain resulted in Turkey's loss, indirectly. MacMillan puts considerable attention on the personalities and characters of the peace conference. Given the degree to which personal relationships decided the fate of nations this seems entirely appropriate.

Of the Big Three Wilson by far comes off as the worst. In many ways he seemed to blunder into the negotiations at Versailles. His grand notions about how the treaty should be negotiated was not reinforced by basic knowledge of the world. His vague commitments led to substantial misunderstanding. When Wilson and the Treaty of Versailles betrayed the Fourteen Points it triggered outrage across the world from China to Germany. This was further complicated by the fact that America was a late entrant into the war and France and the United Kingdom had made commitments to allies that Wilson had no interest in keeping.

The blame, or perhaps more appropriately the responsibility, of Versailles and its accompanying treaties should not be laid exclusively at the feet of the Allied leaders. At several points the events on the ground dictated their approach. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was not the intent of the Allies. They quickly embraced the successor states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, but how to respond to Austria and Hungary was a source of major consternation. This was made even worse when Hungary fell briefly to a Bolshevik coup. The Allies had no notion of how to deal with Russia or the Ottomans either, and to a lesser extent, Germany. They did not foresee the collapse of these empires.

While it is commonly thought that the Treaty of Versailles led to World War II MacMillan takes a slightly different tact. It seems to me that MacMillan suggests that the negotiations, not the treaty itself, led to resentments, political changes and demographic tensions the helped set the stage for the Second World War. It's a fascinating approach. The evidence is clearest for Italy. Italy was the fourth of the Big Four and often maligned by its allies. It sought imperial gains out of the war which the other three rejected. The port city of Fiume in particular became a point of contention and a rallying cry for nationalists and the proto-fascist movement. Japan learned from the experience that they could not expect fair treatment from the European Powers and so instead sought to create their own path in Asia going forward. Germany's ham-fisted treatment by the Allies radicalized moderate elements and gave rise to the myth that Germany was never defeated and delegitimized key aspects of the Weimar government. However, MacMillan says that the terms for Germany were not as harsh as common history would have one imagine. Her evidence is the fact that Germany violated the spirit of the treaty immediately and quickly began rebuilding for the next war well before Hitler came to power.

The consequences of Versailles and the other treaties are still evident across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It is incredible how much can be traced back to the First World War and the treaties that ended it. MacMillan's writing is clear and accessible, though an understanding of the underlying geography and the First World War would greatly aid the reader. I would highly recommend this book for those interested in the subject, diplomacy, 20th century history, and current events.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Worth Reading - November 17, 2016

Following the presidential election I started to see posts and articles about people wearing safety pins. Out of curiosity I looked up what it was. My feelings on it were immediately mixed. Christopher Keetly writes that the safety pin movement has far more to do with liberal and white guilt and the person wearing it than making social change. The part of me that disdains symbolism over action is inclined to agree, at least in part.

A number of unpleasant incidents have occurred in Canada since the American election. One example is the posters that were put up in East York challenging multiculturalism and defending whiteness

Tensions sparked this week in the Canadian Senate between Trudeau's point man in the Senate and the leader of the Senate Liberals.

Ashley Csanady writes that the two by-elections today in Ontario have evolved to become important contests for all three parties. 

The Independent reports that the Trump transition team is considering registration for Muslims immigrants. If such a travesty occurs I think non-Muslim Americans should register in a sign of protest, opposition and in solidarity with their fellow Americans.

Andrew Coyne looks at how the electoral system produced a Donald Trump victory. 

I watched this video this morning, and somehow I thought it fit here. Adam Ruins Everything is a series that came out of College Humor. The host lays out why the common thinking on a topic is wrong. This week he answered the question 'why is weed illegal'. I found the Nixon answer the most compelling aspect. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump, Brexit, the New Right: A Rejection of Liberalism

In the wake of the election of Donald Trump I had some heady conversations with friends about what the election might mean. I think it was my way of dealing with the heady consequences of the election. Even now when I think about what might be in store for America, North America and the world I cannot help but feel a sense of dread. This sense was only exaggerated by the surprise of the outcome. If you read my piece from last week I state the possibility of a Trump victory, but I accepted the conventional wisdom that Hillary Clinton was on her way to victory.

Both the direction of the election and the unexpected outcome caused many to draw comparisons to the Brexit referendum. How do we explain the victory of Donald Trump? Much like the Brexit vote, people who attribute the victory solely to bigotry and ignorance are dismissing the greater picture here. There are proximate causes which are easier to explain but these should not be conflated with deeper, structural causes.

Let us briefly discuss the immediate causes. Hillary Clinton was a deeply unpopular candidate. She may have been the best known candidate to run for office who was not already an incumbent. She had the baggage of years of experience and conflicts. Her greater asset, experience, was also her greatest liability. Her gender should not be dismissed; it is possible America was less ready for a female president than suspected. Donald Trump was the Republican candidate in a two-party system. Since he won the nomination there was, in essence, a 50% chance that he could win. Early reporting I watched on PBS commented that Trump was winning like a traditional Republican, which in many ways is unsurprising. Research in Canada has suggested that negative campaigning suppresses progressive voters more than conservative voters. After the last 18 months it is hardly surprising that Democrats failed to turn out in some ways.

The more I thought about Trump, Brexit and the new right in general I began to sense a pattern - a rejection of liberalism. By liberalism I mean the classical liberalism defined by free markets, freedom of movement/immigration, equality and (recently) globalization. Since the 1970s and '80s Western countries have been moving towards a more liberal version of their economies and policies. Sometimes this has been called neo-liberalism. NAFTA and the EU are products of this thinking as are the pro-business, low tax ideology dominant in most countries. This school of thought expanded with the end of the Cold War. With the defeat of Soviet-style communism it seemed that liberal economics and liberal democracy was ready to dominate the world.

Things have progressed down this road, but not without consequences. In the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada there have been stark winners and losers in the liberal era. If you want to know where look at the maps of the election results; Remain and Clinton voters tend to be concentrated in places doing well. But a new Silicon Valley is not taking root in the Rust Belt or the Great Plains, nor in the North of England. These regions have suffered incredibly during the period from the 1970s to present. Deindustrialization has stripped away their economic base and wealth. I recently heard on the news that Trump did not win the working-class demographic, but he did win the middle-class, who feel even more vulnerable to these changes. They're the ones with mortgages and kids in college with debt.

Many (fairly) have accused Trump have having confused, schizophrenic policy positions. If you look at his stances as a rejection of liberalism/neo-liberalism the picture becomes much clearer. Trump has expressed anti-global sentiments, both in terms of diplomacy and trade. His adoption of America First should indicate his thinking on America's place in the world. Trump's supporters are clearly nationalists, and perhaps white nationalists. Subsuming nationalist impulses to international and global organizations was a huge component to liberalism. Trump has committed to renegotiating NAFTA, America's most important free trade agreement. NAFTA is blamed for killing manufacturing jobs that hurt places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Much like trade, open borders and immigration are components to a liberal vision of the world. Liberals want a free flow of commerce, goods, and people. Both Brexit and Trump arose in response to uncertainty of migration. I studied the history of immigration in North America at Brock. The working class has often had discomfort with new immigration and view them as their rivals. American businesses' relationship with undocumented migrants is exploitative and the reaction from those who have been living in declining areas is understandable. That said, race clearly played a role in the feelings about Muslim and Mexican immigration to the United States. In the case of Brexit race is less clear, perhaps migration and migrants would be more accurate.

Anti-equity is a harder trait to pinpoint. Obviously we could look at treatment of non-whites as evidence, or Trump's comments about women as evidence. Questions of equity have always been controversial in the United States. Policies designed to address inequity are highly controversial, i.e. effective school segregation, affirmative action, criminal justice reform.

Anti-liberalism is not unique to Donald Trump and the Republicans. One could argue that the appeal of Bernie Sanders is a product of anti-liberalism, just from the other side. Socialism is not extra liberalism, in many ways it is anti-liberalism.

Looking around the world at the rise of new right parties, the results of Brexit and election of Donald Trump it is not too far of a leap to think that the global movement towards liberals from the 1970s/90s is facing a backlash. Evidence has existed for years, such as the rise of China's state capitalism and Russia's backslide away from liberal democracy. The scary thing is that anti-liberalism on the right is sometimes known as fascism. The last time there was a global rejection of liberal economics and liberal democracy was the 1920s-40s. I want to be clear, I am not saying we are short years away from a world war. Beginning in the 20th century we have transitioned from periods of openness and closeness on the global stage. The early 20th century was quite open, and then the rise of socialism/communism and the Second World War and Cold War led to a closing, until the 1970s. Perhaps we are entering a world when things are closing. That said, new technologies likely means that things will never close again as much as they have in the past.

Liberalism has left many people behind, and it is not unthinkable that these anti-liberal movements could find a place in Canada. I think this is one of the few ways to make sense of some recent trends. Do not accept overly simplistic explanations of election, we are motivated by complicated factors as voters. Perhaps winds of change are blowing and who knows where it will take us. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Worth Reading - November 10, 2016

I'm sure many of you are tired of reading about the American election so I'll try to make my selections good.

For my first selection here is something different. I want to share my friend Sabina's thoughts on the presidential election's result. She is a financial analyst from the UK and prepared analysis for her colleagues:
For those of you still interested in reading what I have to say - from tomorrow's internal note
The most timeless analysis of American political culture was provided by Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote the following of American democracy:
“The election becomes the greatest and, as it were, the only matter which occupies people’s minds. Then political factions redouble their enthusiasm; every possible phony passion that the imagination can conceive in a contented and peaceful country comes out into the light of day… As the election draws near, intrigues multiply and turmoil spreads. Citizens divide up between several camps each of which adopts the name of its candidate. The whole nation descends into a feverish state; the election becomes the daily theme of newspapers, the subject of private conversations, the object of every maneuver and every thought, the only concern of the present moment. It is true that as soon as the result has been announced, this passion is dispelled, all returns to calm, and the river which momentarily overflowed its banks returns peacefully to its bed.”
Now the Burkean conservative in me wants to agree with de Tocqueville: the passions unleashed by this election will hopefully once again, go back into their box for the next three and half years, only to be stirred up again the next time the electoral cycle comes around. Still, there are two elements of this week’s vote that do raise discomfort.
1) Back in 2004, John Kerry had made the theme of his campaign the problem with the “Two Americas”. And of course, back then Kerry referred to the rich and the poor. But this vote illustrates that the US really is dividing into two countries as the gulf in voting patterns widens along income, education, gender, class, and urban/rural divides. Increasingly, Americans seem to live in self-reinforcing echo-chambers where they solely interact with people who hold the same beliefs and values. Combine this new reality with the news filtering capacity provided by social media algorithms and it is clear that growing parts of the country will never have to confront uncomfortable facts, or opinions. Illustrating this is the fact that, while a generation ago, the median US congressman was elected by a margin of less than five percentage points, once again in this election the median US congressman will be elected by a sizeable double digit margin. This cannot be a healthy development.
2) However one cuts it, the unique feature of the 2016 election has been the rise of the populist vote; Bernie Sanders’ insurgency was by far the best a red-blooded Socialist candidate has done in any big western democracy in recent years. Donald Trump’s solutions to the challenges confronting our societies are broadly in line with those offered by France’s National Front. Although, not even Marine Le Pen would dare propose a ban on Muslims entering France. Clearly, we have entered a new era where domestic discontent, not just in the US but across the Western World, is sky high. And behind this discontent sit factors such as technological disruption, dislocations caused by the ascent of emerging economies as industrial powers, the ageing of Western societies and the shift that immigration has caused to the cultural make-up in these countries.
And this brings us to the timeless observation by Arnold Toynbee who, in A Study of History argued that the role of an “elite” in any society is to handle challenges that allow the group to survive and so move on to the next phase of their shared journey. If bad solutions are offered up then problems intensify and rising pressures eventually trigger a change in the elite. This can happen in various ways. Needless to say, elections are by far the best case scenario (no bloodshed or destruction of property). But if elections do not trigger the required changes (e.g. France during the Fourth Republic and the challenge of decolonization), then this can engender a change of regime (a distinct possibility across euro-land?), or even revolutions. Judging by Donald Trump’s likely win in the US presidential race, it would seem that the US for its part does not believe that political dynasties should be left to solve the country’s problems. Looking forward, the hope must be that the new president will rise to the huge challenges facing the US and the wider world with genuine solutions to real problems.
But I am doubtful, which is why we prefer countries and markets that have the advantage of small scale as entrenched interests tend to run less deep and finding common ground for the “shared journey” is politically easier. It is also why we prefer overweighting countries with the Queen’s head on the banknote.

Sarah Kendzior warns that Trump's election is America's moral loss and a victory for fascism. She certainly speaks for a segment of the American public.

David Remnick writes of the election result as an American tragedy

The New Republic's Jeet Heer writes about the ultra-right Stephen Bannon/Breitbart CEO's plan to transform American politics

Andrew Coyne writes that nothing really matters anymore when it comes to campaigning

Shawn Micallef writes about Toronto's intolerance of apartments

Related to the above, from Strong Towns, the story of a man's attempt to renovate and intensify a property

Candidates for the Niagara West-Glanbrook by-election met in Vineland. The PC's social conservative positions drew attention. 

From Strong Towns, putting your town on the path to good public transit

Finally from Strong Towns, how locally-owned businesses contribute to their communities. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Big Day, the 2016 Presidential Election

Today is the day. Millions of Americans will cast their ballots to select their next president. After two years of polling, debate and drama it has all come down to this. I am not sure anyone in 2014 could have foreseen how this race would shake out, but here we are. Pundits and journalists have gone on and on about how unpredictable this election cycle has been but as we enter voting day I am sure I am hardly alone in anxiously awaiting the results.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be competing to win the electoral college. As a brief explanation, each state is allotted a certain number of votes based upon its population/size of its congressional delegation. The smallest states, Wyoming, and Alaska, for example, have 3 electoral votes and California is the largest with 55. A presidential candidate wins the state by receiving the most votes across the state. A candidate does not need to win the most votes nation-wide to become president.

In the final moments the election has tightened. This is normal. How much it has tightened is a matter of conjecture. It is widely assumed that Donald Trump is behind, which most polling supports. However, as was shown in the last Canadian federal election polls can be inaccurate and how polls play out on a local level can be unclear. This is because getting out the vote (GOTV) is a critical component. It has been said that the Trump campaign has very little ground game. He won the nomination through a mass appeal to voters who were often disengaged from the process. The grassroots support then is suspect. He is unlikely to have rooms full of old church ladies who made calls for George H. W. Bush doing the same for him. An exceptional ground game is what won the presidency for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

The Clinton campaign has a stronger campaign but a dangerous problem. Her voters are not enthusiastic about her candidacy. They fear a Trump victory and that is driving many of them, but for some it is hard to be excited about Hillary Clinton.

That all said, Five Thirty-Eight, a blog that got its start tracking elections, gives Clinton 2/3 odds of winning the election. There is no doubt that her path to victory is clearer, but it is hardly inevitable. One thing I worry about is that Trump voters may be reluctant to express their support to pollsters given the negative associations he has. The 'silent majority' phenomena may be at play, or the Bradley Effect. The American public may be less willing to accept a woman president than they let on.

For those watching at home, there are fourteen swing states to watch for. In order of their polls closing: Florida, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada. Some of these are closer than others, but given the unpredictability it is wiser to keep the list wide. For information on all the polls there is RealClearPolitics.

One of my biggest concerns going into this election is the obsession with the presidential race. A third of the Senate, all of the House of Representatives and number of governorships are up for grabs. I haven't heard anything on these races. I have no doubt that a number of odious candidates are sneaking by with help of the distraction Clinton and Trump have provided. In the fallout of the election, assuming no crisis ensues, attention will likely turn to the new Senators, Congressmen and Governors who America has to deal with.

This presidential election does not reflect the Americans I know and I am sure the overwhelming majority will be glad to have it behind them. I hope a high turnout and lack of issues ensures that the election ends with a clear winner. Best of luck, America, make good choices.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Worth Reading - November 3, 2016

This Tuesday the America people will vote to select their next president. I have been staring at electoral college projections. Join me in my suffering. 

Dave Meslin writes about the ranked ballot initiative available to Ontario municipalities

CGP Grey released a video talking about the mechanics of power and how dictators and representatives maintain power. I've found myself thinking about it a lot this week.

Mayor John Tory takes criticism for Smart Track

This is an unusual piece. Mark Manson writes that the American Dream is a problem and comes from an earlier era that doesn't fit America's present. Get past the lemonade metaphor.

Beyond all sense of rationality, the Ontario government was pondering getting rid of Civics

The Ontario Liberals face charges over the Sudbury by-election. 

In light of the above, Steve Paikin asks if the Liberals have one scandal too many

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

One Year Later, the Election and Trudeau Government

Two weeks ago the anniversary of the 2015 federal election passed and in three days the first anniversary of the Trudeau government will pass. A great deal has changed (or not) since October 19th and I think it might be valuable to reflect on where things currently stand. Let's begin with the Liberals.

For the Liberals and their supporters there are a lot of things to celebrate still. The Liberals are sitting high in the polls, the Trudeau honeymoon seems to be continuing, the media continues to gives positive coverage and around the world Canada and its shiny, new PM is mostly seen as positive. In my opinion many of the voters who supported the Liberals were motivated by two main factors: the desire for the removal or Harper and the desire for a change in tone. The Liberals beat the NDP as the anti-Conservative Party and that is why they are in government today. Liberals supporters may remain in line as long as the new government does not come to resemble the old government.

While writing that I could hear the old progressive refrain rattling in my head "Liberal, Tory, same old story." In recent weeks the Trudeau government has placed support that may be showing very little difference between itself and its predecessors. The LNG pipeline in BC was approved in British Columbia and Aboriginal representatives are beginning to feel betrayed by this government on a number of issues. Prime Minister Trudeau recently caused a controversy by seemingly backing away from his commitment to electoral reform and there is a long list of promises that the Liberals have failed to keep.

The Liberals made, according to Trudeaumetre.ca/, 219 promises. Of those 34 have been kept, 64 are in progress and 26 have been broken. The Liberals overburdened themselves in their platform and it is likely that the most sensitive voters, or one-issue voters, may peel off and return to the Greens, Conservatives and NDP. For example, Bill C-51 was a major issue in Toronto, yet no amendments have been moved. There is no sign that the Liberal coalition is fracturing, but it seems a growing risk for them.

A year after the defeat I think it is hard to say that the Conservative Party was utterly routed. The Conservatives have a strong core in the House of Commons. In the first by-election of the forty-second parliament the Conservatives managed to gain on their wins a year previous in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. This is Conservative territory, but a stronger Liberal support would be a healthy sign. There are fourteen candidates running for the Conservative leadership. The healthy number suggests that there is a great deal of interest and that it is a prize worth having. The Tories still have strong fundraising and the parliamentary leadership has been solid in confronting issues that matter to their supports: spending and the economy.

While Trudeau's popularity seems unassailable at the moment, Stephen Harper will not be on the ballot next time. A new Conservative leader will be well poised to make at least limited gains.

The fortunes of the Green Party are unclear. Elizabeth May had to do battle over the soul of her party this year when they adopted a strong anti-Israel stance. May was most effective as a critic of the Harper government. Most of her focus has been on the electoral reform committee. The success of the committee will dictate to a great degree the future of her party.

Finally, the New Democratic Party. The future of the NDP is unclear at the moment. Since the election the party kicked out Tom Mulcair, though he remains on as interim leader. The party seems uncertain if it wants to contest for power still or return to the role of third party and conscience of the Parliament. Fundraising has plummeted since Mulcair was removed as leader. I think much of that is the membership sitting on their hands, saving for a leadership contest, or to see what the party will do next. Unfortunately, and very worryingly, there are no declared candidates for the federal race. However, it appears that Peter Julian (NDP - New Westminster-Burnaby, BC) will enter, and there are a few others in the wings. Mending the party between moderate and leftist and French and English will be a daunting challenge.

There is opportunity for the NDP. The Liberals ran on a fairly left-wing platform, but appear to be governing from the centre. Progressive voters will be disappointed. There is plenty to criticize, so just as the Conservatives are minding the pennies the NDP should be minding the broken promises to young people, Aboriginal Canadians, etc.

It has been a dramatic year since the election and the formation of the Trudeau ministry. I assume that things will have stabilize as we enter the second year, but by this time next year the Conservatives and NDP will have new leaders and once again the stage will be set for the future going forward.