Friday, March 22, 2013

Joyce Murray Follow-up. .. .

Earlier today I engaged in a small thought experiment in which I asked Joyce Murray for an explanation of her participation in the cabinet of Gordon Campbell. My language was intentionally provocative because when it comes to human rights issues in particular I think we often need to be a little provocative. I continue to stand by my blog because I still believe that an explanation should be forthcoming (though I am not holding my breath).

With the exception of one Anonymous and spirited comment in my defence, the comments were negative. However, I don't believe the comments were very cogent for the most part.

Kyle H. had a nice little, tongue in cheek comment which suggested that I was "stupid" for judging Murray "solely" on her past actions. I wasn't. Fortunately, Kyle is blessed with clairvoyance and judges people on their future actions. Not being fortunate enough to have such skills, I am generally forced to judge people on their past. Too bad really.

All kidding aside, all people are judged on their past actions, perhaps doubly so in politics. This is not to say that people can't or don't change. They do, of course. However, when it comes to questions of associating with deeply problematic people (ideologically speaking), change needs to be clear and publicly addressed. As far as I know, Joyce Murray has never condemned the many (horrible) faults of the Gordon Campbell government, though I am certainly open to updates in this regard.

One comment suggested that Gordon Campbell is not really very right wing. I will let others judge on that issue generally (though this is a great site). As for me I think it is clear that Campbell and Harper are cut from the same political cloth.

Beside significantly increasing child-poverty in the province, Gordon Campbell was a terrible Premier in general. Let me just site one important issue that took place while Joyce Murray was in Campbell's cabinet - the passing of Bill 29. This was a radical and outrageous attack on the principles of collective bargaining and an attempt to tear-up contracts that had already been signed. As such it was a genuine attack on human rights. It took five years and millions of dollars in legal fees and person hours for the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) in BC to take Campbell's government to court but eventually HEU won a very decisive victory in the supreme court. The Court determined that the entire spirit of the Bill was illegal and extended the ruling to suggest that it is unlawful for governments to interfere with the bargaining process (a decision that both Harper and the Ontario Liberals have ignored - instigating more legal battles that will take years). This Bill was typical of Campbell's attack on rights, on labour, and on women (since women were overwhelmingly the ones who suffered for his illegality). Now Joyce Murray was not the Labour Minister in Campbell's cabinet but she lent her support to what was an illegal, immoral, and profoundly anti-democratic effort. If Murray has changed, or regrets her association with this, then let her say so.

As for bluegreenblogger's claim that I was specifically claiming that Murray's past associations "trump" her present merits. This is rhetorical nonsense. The issue here is clear - to wit:

Joyce Murray is campaigning to replace Harper because she thinks his policies and his style are bad. However, Murray chose to sit in the cabinet of a man who shares many of the same policies and certainly the same political style as Harper. This simple inconsistency demands explanation  It is a simple as that.

PS. I would just like to say that I appreciate being contacted by someone from the Joyce Murray campaign. She made a spirited defence of Murray's environmental record and the simple fact that she took this effort to reply to one insignificant blogger is arguably a great defence of Joyce Murray's political style and intentions and certainly puts on mark in her favor.


Anonymous said...

The BC Liberals align more with the Harper CPC than with the federal Liberals, although on some specific points, such as the carbon tax, that is not true. People do switch parties, but they also are often asked to speak to that switch. Here, as you point out, one has a cabinet minister in a government more aligned with Harper and now running for leader in the federal Liberals. Furthermore she proposes electoral cooperation with the NDP.

It is fair to have her explain this as it does seem quite a substantial shift. One might worry about opportunism over values.

Bionic Liberal said...

I'm not a Joyce Murray supporter, full disclosure, because I don't support her platform for electoral cooperation in the context of a LPC leadership race. What I've observed is that people across the broader reaches of the electoral reform movement were more comfortable with Nathan Cullen as the standard bearer for electoral cooperation than with Joyce Murray for all the reasons you've mentioned. The Liberal Party does not have a long history supporting or advocating electoral reform, particularly not in the form of proportional representation and I know that causes a lot of concern. Personally, I think electoral cooperation is a paradoxical platform for any political party. You can't be a partisan and honestly support it. The majority of NDP members rejected it. Many Greens are uncomfortable with it. And these are the parties that are traditionally the strongest proponents of electoral reform. I think a lot of people brought to Joyce Murray's campaign through electoral reform and cooperation groups did so with certain expectations about what her political values would be and I've seen this cause even more concern. I think electoral cooperation has to be achieved outside the party framework and people like Joyce Murray could be more invaluable working as non-partisan participants.

kirbycairo said...

Thanks for the comment Bionic. My real interest in electoral cooperation is tied to the need for some form of electoral reform. I really believe that the "first-past-the-post" system is an antiquated form of electoral politics and needs to go in favor of something more reflective of the actual will of the population. And I think to achieve some kind of reform we are going to need cooperation of at least two significant players. Once electoral reform is achieved then more cooperation necessarily comes in its wake.

The truth is that I suspect that given Murray's participation in Campbell's cabinet, it is difficult not to see her talk of a more inclusive and cooperative politics as convenient rhetoric from which she hoped to launch a more significant political career. If people are really paying attention they would realize that the only thing that really separates the BC Liberals and the Federal Tories is that the Liberals have played a more significant environmental card - but that is really only motivated by the political necessity of BC politics. And given Christy Clark's record and Campbell's record since he left office the BC Liberal environmentalism looks like a house of cards. For these reasons, and her failure to condemn her former partners in political crime, Murray's talk comes off as rather hollow.

Bluegreenblogger said...

As I commented previously, this is your blog, and you are perfectly entitled to sound off in any way you see fit. That is what blogs ARE, your personal take on whatever you want to post about. I really did not take a lot of time commenting, I simply saw some harsh commentary about locking all your political opponents up in prison, and it read like you really meant it. I spent many years working hard in the Green Party, and one thing always drove me nuts. The language of consensus politics was like holy writ to the Greens, and yet they subscribed to such over the top rhetoric as well. They actually blew their chance to seperate a lot of rational conservationists from the koolaid drinkers with their 'Conservatives are Scum' campaigns. Fact is that IF consensus politics is to have any meaning, then the basis for it to ever come about is a modicum of respect. You cannot just pick and choose WHICH elected representatives are worthy of talking to. If you have such respect for the will of the electorate that you want to enact proportional representation, then you should remember that the electorate includes a lot of people whose opinions you will be sharply opposed to. Actually, that is one of the reasons why I reject proportional representation as a sound model. Some political viewpoints do NOT deserve recognition with any tiny slice of political power. When a fragment of the population subscribes to some ideals that are anathema to the overwhelming majority of the populace, (like imprisoning their political opponents), they can get stuffed as far as political representation goes. And it would not matter if our opinions were 100% in synch, I would call out anybody who proposed such illiberal opinions.

kirbycairo said...

Apparently bluegreenblogger you believe that holding politicians responsible for their actions is somehow "Illiberal." The original dilemma concerning Murray that I pointed out is still clear and glaring and nothing you have said moves me in this regard. As for your arguments for a rejection of PR, I find them weak, unfocused, and failing on logical and moral grounds.

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