Friday, February 18, 2005


Smooth political operator, eloquent orator, and man about town Stephen Harper is at it again. First it was poisoning the well with the "same-sex marriages will ultimately lead to polygamous marriages will ultimately lead to inter-species marriages" argument—which, I think, if unnecessarily, shifted the burden back onto progressives, a silly ploy since its primary intention was to muddle the debate.

(Conservatives don't actually care or aren't really worried about polygamy—in fact, I'd contend, especially with a peculiar evangelist strain of the western genus, that polygamy isn't all to ideologically disagreeable to Conservatives. These particular Conservatives just don't do the Same-Sex Liberal Cosmopolitan dance.)

This time Harper reached into the progressive grab-bag to use the Punitive Liberalism anvil. Naturally, he dropped it on his foot. In a speech to “kickoff” the coming PR tornado surrounding the same-sex debate, Harper criticized the Liberal’s government’s history on human rights, using the examples of the internment of Japanese and the turning away of Jews fleeing from Germany and Eastern Europe.

Mr. Harper said during the kickoff of the same-sex debate that the Liberals are hardly lily-white when it comes [sic] the protection of rights, noting that Liberal administrations were responsible for interning Japanese Canadians and for closing the borders to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.

"Let us not forget, it is the Liberal Party that said 'None is too many,' when it came to Jews fleeing from Hitler. It is the Liberal Party that interned Japanese Canadians in camps on Canada's West Coast, an act which [former prime minister] Pierre Trudeau refused to apologize or make restitution for."

Understandably, a few people were less than pleased by Harper's comments.

"I don't think that the memory of six million should be exploited to political advantage today," said Harold Troper, a historian at the University of Toronto.

"And I don't think that human-rights [violations] of the past should be used to justify human-rights [violations] today."
Prof. Troper noted that Conservatives at the time did not speak against the policy.

"One could argue that if the Liberals were bad, the Conservatives at that time were either just as bad or worse.

Exactly what point is Stephen Harper attempting to make? That the loyal opposition was mute during these times of deplorable regard for human rights says as much of the Conservatives as it does of the Liberals—if not more. And now, when the debate turns to the extension of civil and legal equality rights to same-sex couples, the Conservatives aren’t mute. The Conservatives are sounding a clarion call for the restriction of civil and legal rights.

One must remember that the issue of religious marriage or ceremony isn’t at issue; religious institutions have never been and will not be compelled to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples: that issue is of their own discretion. The issue is whether couples of the same-sex are constitutionally deserving of the civil and legal benefits that flow from civil marriage—rights that they have been denied thus far.

Via. The Globe and Mail

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Easy Love

It's easy to feel boxed in by the standard psychological definition of Love; all the more so during this brief yet amorous month. But, as with most standard definitions, Aristotelian logic doesn’t cut the mustard. Writing in The Philosophers’ Magazine, Peter Goldie complicates our bucolic concept of love:

An emotion Рsuch as Mary's being in love with Paul Рis typically complex, episodic, dynamic, and structured. An emotion is complex in that it will typically involve many different elements: it involves episodes of emotional experience, including perceptions, thoughts, and feelings of various kinds, and bodily changes of various kinds; and it involves dispositions, including dispositions to experience further emotional episodes, to have further thoughts and feelings, and to behave in certain ways. Emotions are episodic and dynamic, in that, over time, the elements can come and go, and wax and wane, depending on all sorts of factors, including the way in which the episodes and dispositions interweave and interact with each other and with other aspects of the person's life, so that the complex array of interlocking dispositions can evolve over a long period. (Indeed, they ought to evolve; as the contemporary American philosopher Am̩lie Rorty nicely puts it, contradicting Shakespeare, love is not love that alters not when it alteration finds.) And, finally, an emotion is structured in that the emotion's unfolding sequence of thoughts, feelings and actions is narratable: it can fall into a kind of narrative structure.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Is it over?

Is the NHL season over? It's hard to tell, even after Gary Bettman’s news conference in which he formally cancelled the 2004-2005 season. Huh? Yes, during his 1 pm new conference Mr. Bettman left open the possibility that the season could still be saved; this, of course, on the condition that the NHLPA accept the NHL's final proposal for a $42.5 million dollar cap.

Speculation is a buzz in this last hour before the Chief of the NHPLA, Bob Goodnow, is scheduled to speak at a press conference. The NHLPA has conceded on two points of negotiation, offering a 24% roll back in salaries and proposing a $49 million dollar hard salary cap. Whether the Players Association capitulates further on the hard salary cap is still an open question.

If the season is finally cancelled, the off-season will invite an interesting drama, as the NHL and NHLPA both seem steadfast in their position. Though, now that the NHLPA has considered playing under a salary cap, negotiation on this point may be fruitful, despite the likelihood of having to accept linkage —linkage meaning the cost certainty between revenues and player salaries.

Funnily enough, my roommate likened the labour dispute to an acrimonious relationship between obstinate lovers. Each party is unwilling to compromise on key issues that under-grid the viability of their relationship. A painful entente must be arrived at before the relationship can be practically engaged. If not, both parties, it seems, must move on—the players to Europe, the owners to replacement players.

Update: It's offically over.


From today's Globe I hear that two Liberal bills were defeated last night. Although making promises to support the legislation, the Conservative party ended up joining forces with the Bloc and NDP to vote down two Liberal bills aimed at reorganizing the structure of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It's interesting to note that the opposition parties weren't necessarily at odds with the proposed substance of the legislation, instead they saw it fit to punish Liberal arrogance, contending that no real effort at parliamentary consultation was undertook. Nonetheless, since the vote wasn’t of confidence, the Liberals will attempt to reintroduce an amended version of the bill for a future vote.

I'm not sure what this means one way or the other. Either the Conservatives, through some last minutes chicanery, decided to show how tenuous the Liberal minority really is, thus acquiring a modicum of political leverage/capital, or the Liberals, disengaged and cocksure, did a pitiful job in lobbying, negotiating, and counting/courting secure votes. I'd have to concluded that it's a little from column A, a little from column B.