"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
-Homer J. Simpson

Monday, December 22, 2008

Policy, NOT Bickering.

I have made no secret over the fact that I am bit of a policy wonk.

I joined the NDP because I agreed with (or thought I agreed with) the policies of the party. Here in Saskatchewan that means balanced budgets, strong crowns, public medicare and investments in social development (for example public housing, schools and universities, and a decent social safety net).

I think the above would be considered fairly non-controversial at an NDP gathering.

But there is one issue in Saskatchewan that is growing to be more important that most other issues, and it is one that our party has a split on.

I am talking about the environment.

There are a lot of facets to this split, there is the pro/anti nuke groups, there is the pro/anti oilsands groups and there are the overall "we have to be moderate and can't do anything that the SP and the media will use to say we are anti-business" group and there is the "this is the global crisis of our generation and the defining issue of our times" group.

Obviously I am in the second one.

But I am more that willing to have the discussion, and the debate. I want to discuss ideas and beliefs and at the end of the day vote on it and let the best side win.

That is why I joined a political party to begin with.

But what worries me is that the so-called leadership race that is taking place in the Saskatchewan NDP these days cannot be called anything of the sort. Look, again, it is no secret that I want a race. I want lots of people in the race. And that is not due to any anti-linginfelter sentiment. I am genuinely not opposed to Link as leader.

What I am opposed to is the stupid, stupid people he has working "for" him.

When it comes to the discussion, the Link supporters are his biggest problem.

I have linked to a couple of discussion groups in the past over at rabble and I will link to another one now. You don't have to spent too much time reading it to see that there is a vocal supporter of Linginfelter that is going out of his way to make an ass of himself.

If this was an isolated incident then that's fine, you have to expect some craziness from supporters during a leadership race, that is to be expected.

The problem is that this is not isolated. It is happening all over babble and other forums. It is happening on facebook, where fake identities are being created for the sole purpose of creating groups to oppose other potential leadership candidates. And then these fake identities go around on the attack. And there is blog posters galore. Heck, one of them has been on here in the past making all sorts of over-the-top attacks. And then there was a letter to the editor in the Regina newspaper from a Link supporter that was personal and way, way over the top.

It is fine to support Link, it is quite another to launch vicious personal attacks all over the place.

Now again, don't get me wrong, I have decided that for better or for worse, even if I don't think I agree with all of his policies, Link is at least willing to let his name stand. That says something about the man. I might have my issues with him as leader, but they are about policy, not about him as a person. From everything I know about him he is a decent man, who obviously cares enough about the party to offer to lead it when we might be looking at 3, 7, or heaven forbid, 11 years without being the government.

Again, that says something about the man.

But the thing that bothers me is the people around him. I don't mean his small brain-trust (although I have some concerns about them) and even the "young professionals" group that he is trying to build. That's fine.

The people working for him online, and in the paper, are complete dicks though.

So this is my problem. Either he doesn't get that this is making him look bad, which would show poor judgement and someone who does not "get" the internet. Or else this is his team's plan.

Either way I have a problem with that.

As I said at the top of this post, I want this campaign to be about ideas. I want to have the nuclear debate, and I want to have the oilsands debate and I want to have the environment debate. And I want to support or oppose a leader based on those ideas. And if my preferred candidate does not win, then I want to pick myself up and work for the man or woman that does win.

And maybe I have to wait for someone else to get in the race for this to happen.

But in the meantime, if Dwain and his people read this blog (and I have no idea if they do or not - I kind of doubt it), please, for the love of god, call off the attack dogs.

Try putting out some policy so we can talk about that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is a Bit Much

So I wrote a post back in November about the Sask NDP leaership race called "when will this race heat up?"

I guess winter is a bad time to ask these sorts of questions.

Nothing has happened yet.

No one else has announced.

I thought the end of session would be the prompt for the sitting MLAs to get involved but I guess not. However, there is no excuse for those who are not in caucus that could be announcing (Pederson, Thomson, Wiebe, Tchorzewski) and yet still nothing.

So the list still looks like this:

Deb Higgin
Cam Broten
Len Taylor
Yens Pederson
** Dwain Lingenfelter **
Andrew Thomson
Frank Quennell
Nettie Wiebe
Dion Tchorzewski
Pat Atkinson

And I am starting to wonder if that is ever going to change. Has the entire party just decided that Lingenfelter is the one? Even if you support Link you have to want a race. A race is good for the party and it gives all of us a chance to discuss the issues of the day and decide where we stand on them.

On the bright side it seems that Link is starting to build-up some of the grassroots activities that we need.

We’re building a network of volunteers who will take on the job of monitoring local newspapers and radio and television stations, so they can weigh in on political issues by phoning the call-in shows and writing letters to the editor.

I am very interested to see if this works. So far the only letter to the editor has been a pretty stupid one from Brian Sklar. I doubt this was the idea. In fact, that letter probably made the Link camp look stupid as well and I doubt they are pleased by it.

I am glad to see that using e-mail to get facts and figures out to party members is being done. There is the commonwire that is generated at our provincial office, which is pretty good but only comes out every so often.

I would dearly LOVE to be comparing and contrasting the leadership candidates' approach to this sort of stuff, their use of the web and new media in general, but there is only one guy in the race so guess I will cover him until things starts to happen.

For the record, this is what they call the "first announcer advantage" If you are the only game in town, you attract 100% of the attention.