Thursday, October 31, 2019

Writer's blog

I've heard educators who teach about writing say that "writer's block" is not a real thing - or at least that it shouldn't be considered as a factor when students claim that they are not able to write. The answer, they say, is to encourage students to keep writing even if they don't feel like they have ideas or things to say; the "block", such as it is, will be resolved by the act of writing.

On the one hand, I agree with them, as the research and examples they cite show that statement to be true: what many of us perceive or project as "writer's block" is merely something in our own heads. On the other hand, there's the reality of my recent life, as I have not written much at all over the past two years, during which I have been experiencing something like writer's block, myth though it may be.

So, to appease the writing teachers and my own conscience as a writer and as a teacher, let's avoid using the term "writer's block"; instead, let's call it "writers' blog". This post, then, will serve as an investigation as to why I might be experiencing this "writer's blog" and what I might do to solve it. And with that in mind, it makes sense to start by determining just what has actually happened over the past two years.

The unwritten posts


Other than a very prolific publishing year in 2016 (thanks largely to writing while I was substitute teaching), I had settled into a fairly good rhythm of posting around 50 times per year, or an average of once a week. Posts were often released in bunches (usually depending on when I was working), but my annual rate had mostly settled. But then I mostly stopped publishing early in 2018, and aside from a few topical posts about the Oscars and the Toronto Maple Leafs, I have not blogged consistently for almost two years (although I did publish a reflection on the recent Canadian election earlier this week).

It's not that I have not wanted to write - in fact, I have either conceived of or have begun drafting dozens of posts - including at least one previous post about posts I wanted to write - since I was last posting consistently in the fall of 2017, but I have not written anything publishable outside of those subjects in that time.

Many of these unwritten posts were about external media or current events, but I also had a number of ideas for posts about things that were going on in my life, like buying a house or having a baby or starting a new job or being a teacher-librarian or any of the other various changes in my life that have happened in a short span.

I miss having these posts to serve as a time capsule of the things I was thinking or experiencing, but yet I still found it very difficult to find or make the time to write, despite having many ideas. I certainly had enough to write about; even if I had not posted about my personal life, I could easily have posted two or three times per month just based on what I was watching, reading, hearing, or experiencing.

For example, I have wanted to write posts about movies (Avengers: Infinity War; Blade Runner 2049; Spider-Man: Far From HomeStar Wars: The Last Jedi; Thor: Ragnarok), albums (U2's Songs of Experience, Muse's Simulation Theory), TV shows (Disenchantment, Arrested Development), or even more about the Academy Awards (a further exploration of the "Popular Film" Oscar in August 2018, or an examination of Best Pictures after the recent Green Book win).

It was not until May 2019, however, that I really started to feel the pull to start writing again and that I distinctly regretted not writing and publishing a variety of topical posts: the impact of Rachel Held Evans on my life after her unexpected death in May; a review of Avengers: Endgame; thoughts after (finally) watching through The Wire; or a celebratory post commemorating the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Championship.

In the summer of 2019, the inspiration continued, even if the posts did not actually make it past draft (or often even idea) form: ranking all of the movies of the MCU after the conclusion of Phase 3; a review of Season 3 of Stranger Things; a review of the limited series Good Omens with a particular focus on the intersection of religion, media, free will, and faith; and a film-by-film commentary on the work on Quentin Tarantino.

Some of those ideas may end up being published in some form at some point - perhaps upon rewatching Endgame, or upon the publishing of Evans' posthumously released book, or in the midst of the seemingly inevitable campaign for Tarantino's Once Upon A Time in Hollywood to win Best Picture in February - but I think the window has passed for most of them, so I mention them here mostly for posterity.

Of course, that still does not explain why did not finish these posts in a publishable form, and since part of the reason for this post is solving that mystery, I have spent some time trying to figure out what's going on in my own head and why I have been experiencing this "writer's blog".

Trying to explain my "writer's blog"


There are, as I indicated earlier, some practical reasons for my absence from the blogosphere - the aforementioned list of life changes is a good start. But that's not a sufficient enough explanation to satisfy me; after all, I have still found time for other hobbies like board games, so why couldn't (or didn't) I find time to write for two years?

On some level, I felt pressure to "do it right" when I started writing again. It didn't feel like I could just start making posts about random topics again, even though that has been my modus operandi since I started publishing my work two decades ago (!); I think that I felt like I needed to have a vision and consistency and branding and a relaunch and a purpose and space to keep it up. I have wanted for almost a decade to launch my own site and to do it really well, and so I think I wanted to do that and not just to "keep blogging" as I had been, and I didn't want to start again just to stop and then try to start again and... well, the point has been made.

Then, the longer it got between posts, the more I felt like I had to justify my absence; even this post, in a sense, is a form of appeasing that unease with just launching back in (even though that's what I did with my recent political post). I have actually tried to start writing a form of this very post at least twice in the past few months in an attempt to kickstart myself back into blogging on a semi-regular basis, and I have been able to incorporate pieces of those past misfires into this post.

I realized, then, that I also often put pressure on myself in each post I write for it to be a "definitive" publishable work. I tend not to just put out a couple of half-baked paragraphs on an idea, as some bloggers do; I like to put in the time and go through the writing process and research and publish a post that is ultimately a presentable work that ostensibly could be published on a website (often with some editing, of course).

As my style had developed, I often ended up crafting these large opuses of several thousand words in which I attempted to create an authoritative response to an issue, even if that was an issue that only came up in my life, and so I felt like every post needed to be at that level, rather than just getting some ideas out.

Perhaps in the midst of those reasons is the source of my "writer's blog" - the actual writing was lost somewhere in a fog of my own ambition and my own expectations, even though no one else was agreeing with those or indeed even aware of them. But I was letting those things get to me and to prevent me from writing, even though I have consistently been encouraged by others to start writing again.

Conclusion


So, as it turns out, my "writer's blog" was almost entirely in my own head, and the solution seems to be just starting to take the time to write again - or, in other words, exactly what the writing theorists and teachers say happens with writer's block; go figure. I am thankful that I have learned a few things through the process of writing this post.

First, I really did need the catharsis of publishing a post like this to get going again on my blog, as I have experienced a not-insignificant amount of relief upon its completion and publishing; as silly as it is, I now feel like I can blog again, even though there was nothing stopping me at any point over the past two years, and this post has alleviated much of the emotional angst I experienced in not writing.

Second, I need to be aware of the constraints of my own expectations and pressures, and I need to allow myself to write what I can when I can. I would far rather publish shorter timely responses than to have to spend hours and hours that I usually do not have to write longer indepth definitive posts, so I will try to do that. The problem for me is that I start small and end up writing much longer (as this post even ended up around two thousand words), so I probably need to make some adaptations to my writing and/or publishing habits in order to accommodate the grace I need to give myself in order to write and publish regularly.

Third, although I really enjoy the act of publishing ideas and putting them out into the world for consideration, writing is really valuable for me as an exercise and as a hobby, and it's worth it to write even if no one else ends up reading it. Whether it's a reflection on my life or thoughts on a current event or a review of a piece of media, it's worth it to write just for my own well-being.

I just need to make time to write, period. I feel so much better when I do write (and publish); it's kind of like how I feel when I actually go to the gym and exercise. It's not easy to find the time to write, as my recent stretch has indicated, but it's very valuable to do so. I am lucky to have some extra time now to write, since my job situation has changed yet again and I often find myself with unexpected pockets of time in which I can do some writing.

With all of those conclusions in mind, I will need to remember to be gentle with myself - to write when I can and not to get too stressed out if I can't. I am hopeful that I can (and will) start writing more regularly again, regardless of whether I end up being able to publish weekly or biweekly or whatever interval works.

I think it's best for me to try to incorporate writing back into my routine and to publish what I can when I can and to let this blog be what it will be for now. There may be a point at which I can be more directed and intentional and meaningful in my blogging, but for now, the solution for me is just to write, period.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Ten reflections on the 2019 Canadian election

I was relatively quiet for the duration of this Canadian election, which came to its (fairly predictable) conclusion a week ago. It has been a dynamic week in the news as they are trying to sort through the fallout of this election, and I have had my own thoughts both as a result of the campaign and the results, but also about the coverage in the week since.

As I started to sift through my thoughts, I began to realize that I had a lot of them - over four thousand words' worth, actually. I have done my best to avoid partisanship, and although I imagine that my disdain for certain players in current Canadian politics will likely be clear, I think that I have been mostly successful in my attempts to provide a more neutral position as much as possible.

I have organized my thoughts into ten general categories, which vary from the campaign itself to thoughts on some of the leaders to some of the possible ramifications on various issues that have arisen throughout this campaign before a short concluding summary. Let's start with the campaign itself and go from there.

An unenjoyable election


This was a thoroughly unenjoyable election - perhaps the least "fun" election (if that adjective can be used to describe such an enterprise) of the nine I can recall;' I was alive for 1984 and 1988, but I don't remember them. Canada's three most recent elections had their lowlights - the treatment of Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff in 2008 and 2011, respectively, and the mess of mudslinging, robocalls, and Islamophobia of 2015 - but this election felt grosser and more politically unnecessary than any election I can remember (2008 being the next worst in my estimation).

There was so much value signalling and identity politics and scandal and misinformation and disinformation - Trudeau's blackface, Scheer's morality, Scheer's citizenship, racism against Jagmeet Singh, SNC-Lavalin, and so on - that it felt like anyone who was substantively discussing policy was sidelined and the actual campaign was just not enjoyable at all. I just hope that this campaign does not create a template for future elections.

On race and gender


I don't think that this election topped 2015's campaign, with its "barbaric cultural practices hotline", in regard to overt racism (other than Trudeau's blackface scandal), but I think that it was nevertheless racist, although on a much more subtle level. The presence of Jagmeet Singh, the first federal party leader to be a member of a visible minority, meant that it was likely that race would be an issue at some level, but other than one or two confrontations with voters, there was not much publicly directed at him.

The racism in this campaign, in my estimation, was more about what was implied or not said than what was said. The Conservatives didn't say anything as directly racist, but Scheer did appear at a border crossing to make a point about immigration. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals wanted to appear as if they were opposed to Bill 21 - the law that forbids public servants from wearing religious symbols in Québec - for fear that they would lose votes in La Belle Province.

Perhaps the most disheartening - and most subtly insidious - racism in this campaign was in how little many of the issues affecting minorities was actually discussed - particularly those regarding First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. There are many issues to address with those groups, and although some of them are quite complex - self-government, land rights, etc. - several are not, like having access to clean drinking water.

There was also some discussion about how there were more women elected to the House of Commons in 2019 - 98 - than in any previous parliament; then again, that number reflects just under 29% of the total elected, so our representation is still overwhelmingly male (and white). Justin Trudeau has indicated that he will again seek to appoint a gender-balanced cabinet, which is a positive step, but his various missteps toward women and minorities in the past year have indicated that he and his party still have a long way to go.

There were some encouraging signs in this election, such as the re-election of Jody Wilson-Raybould, the First Nations woman who ran as an Independent after being unfairly released from her position as Attorney-General and from the Liberal caucus in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, but overall, the picture is bleaker than it should be in regard to women and visible minorities in our federal parliament, and there is a long way to go for all parties in regard to ensuring better representation for traditionally marginalized groups.

The identity (soul?) of Canada


If I had to strip this election down to its most basic elements, I would say that this election came down to Canadians choosing their identity as a progressive country, as just under two-thirds of the two-thirds of eligible voters who voted chose progressive policies over "small-c" conservative policies at a federal level by voting for either the Liberals, Greens, NDP, or Bloc (whose policies apart from "Vive le Québec!" are actually fairly progressive).

Sure, the Conservatives had the most votes, but they still earned barely more than a third of the total votes, which means almost twice as many people voted against them than voted for them. And since there was not much policy to debate between the two front-runners (more on that later), that means that this vote was a vote as much against the kinds of nasty politics that Conservatives have been using over the past decade.

Of course, they are far from the only party using those kinds of tactics, and it is overly reductive to state that they are the only source of such politics, but I still think it's not out of order to claim them as Patient Zero for the general coarsening and vulgarizing of Canadian politics - or at least this iteration of it. (Jean Chrétien may always be the true master of sneaky character assassination, after all.)

This election was a clear statement that, if the Conservatives want to get back into power, they will have to actually come up with policies that appeal to Canadians and that reflect at least some sense of progressivism in their policies and their politics. They will also have to remember that American-style politics does not work here, and that Canadians do seem to hold to a higher ideal for our politics.

Trudeau as leader/Prime Minister


The secondary storyline was that this election served as a de facto referendum on Justin Trudeau's leadership; as it turns out, a large portion of the country is okay with how he has been leading in spite of what has arguably been the worst eighteen month stretch any PM has had (up there with Diefenbaker and Mulroney, at least), starting with last year's trip to India.

Some of the issues (ie. SNC-Lavalin, accepting gifts from the Aga Khan, his glib treatment of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott in cabinet) are certainly of significant concern (arguably even extreme concern, depending on how much he actually tried to influence the RCMP in the investigation), whereas others (his repeated use of blackface when he was younger) are less so, given that they don't appear to affect his current policy or identity.

But the problem, regardless of how severe (criminal?) some of those charges are, is that the combination of Conservative Party rhetoric and conservative media has turned everything about criticizing Trudeau up so loud that it has been almost impossible to have any kind of reasoned conversation or analysis about Trudeau and to determine what he has actually done or not done. There is so much noise all the time that even I, a relatively informed person, am still unclear as to what the real charges against Trudeau actually are.

If it sounds like I'm being charitable to Trudeau, it shouldn't; by any estimation, he has been a terrible Prime Minister, a condescending politician, and a person of questionable character. In fact, in my ranking of the twelve Prime Ministers (of 23 total) who have served for at least two Parliaments (as Trudeau will with his re-election), Trudeau is arguably only above Diefenbaker and maybe Mulroney (depending on how much you rate Mulroney's second term vs. his first).

At the very least, I would like to be able to judge him on his merits as a Prime Minister, a politician, and a person, and I hope that this next term provides the opportunity to do that (even though I don't expect that it will). Moreover, I hope to see improvement in his policy and his character.

The (lack of) Conservative policy


Much is being made of the Conservatives' loss (moreso than the Liberal's win), particularly in their inability to make any inroads in the Greater Toronto Area - the Liberals repeated their sweep of the core GTA (25/25 seats) and duplicated their feat in the larger area (49/55). There are a lot of criticisms coming from both inside and outside the Conservative Party, but I think the biggest criticism is that they had a lackluster platform (at best).

I would argue that the Conservatives, even though they increased their seat count by a quarter, lost this election more than the Liberals won it; I would further argue that they bungled it even more than they did in 2015 when they dropped from a majority to under a hundred seats in Parliament. Even though they are still the Official Opposition, I would argue that their outcome is still barely higher than their previous lowest point in 2015.

Their announcements early in the campaign were underwhelming at best - mostly rewarmed rehashes of Stephen Harper's lesser hits - and most of their arguments amounted to little more than schoolyard taunts and straw men pointing fingers at Trudeau, even after the overdue revelation of the few scraps of policy that they introduced as a platform in the last two weeks of the campaign. (In case you couldn't tell, I was less than impressed.)

The polls that have been released since the election indicate that CPC voters were the most likely to be confirmed in the first week of the campaign, as 50% of Conservative voters were decided right away; that fact could be used to make the argument that policy wouldn't really matter. Then again, their inability to gain ground in Ontario and Québec might indicate that introducing a well-composed platform may have kept undecided voters away from the party, so policy would matter.

Andrew Scheer claimed in his concession speech that Canada was founded on "conservative values", which is not an entirely untrue statement; then again, Canada was founded shortly after the American Civil War by a bunch of old white dudes who immediately set about trying to figure out ways to eliminate the First Nations in order to take their land, so I'm not so sure that we should hold onto those "conservative values" for much longer. This Conservative Party will have to create policy that reflects new conservative values in order to succeed

I would argue that Canada would benefit from coherent, well-considered Conservative ideology and policy, even if that serves mostly as a strong opposition and occasional government; after all, I went on the record as being cautiously optimistic about Stephen Harper's initial election in 2006. But this version of a Conservative platform was none of those things, and I do sincerely hope for the sake of our future democracy that they make some significant improvements. But their (lack of) policy was not the only reason for their (relative) downfall...

Andrew Scheer as Conservative leader


Andrew Scheer, as I had predicted when he was selected as leader of the Conservative Party, was ineffective at best, and he was a large part of the reason for the failure of the Conservatives at worst. The career politician has been leading the Party since 2017 when he survived the leadership race to be elected as leader by dint of being the most palatable (or least offensive) candidate not named Maxime Bernier.

The 2017 race for the leadership of the Conservative Party was perhaps as significant for the list of people that declined the opportunity to run as it was for its winner. There are several possibilities for the dearth of solid candidates: perhaps they saw the Trudeau juggernaut and wanted to stay out until there were clear signs of fatigue; perhaps they didn't want to be the leader after Harper; or perhaps they knew that provincial governments would be a lot friendlier to conservative ideology than the federal government would be - but whatever the reason(s), the race was underwhelming, and so was the winner.

Considering that (ex-)Conservative Maxime Bernier was the odds-on favourite to win until Scheer received a bump from social conservatives to win with under 51% of the vote on the 13th round of balloting, it is likely not too far of a stretch to say that his position as party leader was never that secure, and that it even less so now since this was easily as winnable an election as it could have been for the Conservatives.

There has already been a lot of discussion about what will happen with Scheer at the party's next convention, when there will be a mandatory leadership review of Scheer which may result in a new leadership race. It means that Scheer will have to work on shoring up support in his own party, which will divide his focus from being the Leader of the Official Opposition, which may also hurt his chances of being elected in the future. Either way, it is a very difficult spot for Scheer to navigate from now until the next election.

I tend to think that the Conservatives will (barely) side with consistency and that Scheer will have one more shot to run as leader in the next election (unless he chooses to resign as leader). After all, the party has spent a lot of time, energy, and money to build his brand in the past two years, and their current brand is very strongly tied with his. If he cannot form government, I think that his time will be up and he will be replaced whether he wants to be or not. It's entirely possible that at that point there are an entirely new group of leadership candidates who will attempt to seize on the likely fading of Trudeau's Liberals.

The First-Past-the-Post system


One of the most disheartening aspects of this election was that it was conducted under the First-Past-the-Post system, particularly since Trudeau had promised that 2015 would be the last election decided under that system. I, for one, was skeptical about that claim at the time, but it was nevertheless discouraging that there was not even an attempt at electoral reform.

I get why Trudeau did not pursue it; he only had ground to lose, and he must have realized that there was no chance that he would form a majority government under a revised system - whether that be proportional representation, single transferrable vote, or some other mixed representation method. In fact, there's an argument that eliminating FPTP nearly guarantees Conservative minority governments in our current party structure.

Then again, it's really hard to know what would happen if the system were changed because our current voting patterns are so significantly affected by the current FPTP system. Polls indicate that around a third of voters made strategic choices to keep a party from winning, rather than voting for a party that agrees with their views, and it is not hard to imagine that many of those voters would change their minds with a different system.

It's hard to say what system would work better, and it's even harder to see that any Liberal government would want to change to a new system, because they would lose their position as the default governing party. The Conservatives might want to change the electoral system given that they had the higher popular vote, but there is an argument that they have maximized their vote (at least in their current iteration), so they might shy away from any drastic changes.

It's still an unfortunate feature of our particular system that some votes are worth more than others and that the election is usually decided by the time Ontario's votes are counted, but it does not seem like there will be the political will to move away from First-Past-the-Post anytime soon, which is even more unfortunate.

Western Alienation, Third Parties and Disinformation


There have been a lot of comparisons of our current Parliament to the electoral map in 1993, when the Reform Party and Bloc Québecois rose out of nowhere to become federal presences with strong regional bases. The BQ returned from relative obscurity in the past two elections to take the third-most seats in this Parliament, and the Conservatives almost entirely swept Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Western alienation was certainly already present before this election, but it seems to have gotten new life in this campaign thanks to the combination of Conservative party rhetoric, third party disinformation, conservative provincial premiers who have stoked regionalism, and a federal leader named Trudeau. It was no surprise, then, that "Wexit" was trending on Twitter in the wake of the election, and that the past week has featured an apparent amplification of the turmoil after Trudeau was re-elected with no support from the Prairies outside of Winnipeg.

It's not a surprise that Westerners are not happy with the rest of Canada, nor is the vitriol from voters; what I do find surprising is the way in which Scott Moe and Jason Kenney are actually working against their own interests by contributing to the negative discourse rather than presenting a rational alternative of working with the federal government. To do so would be against the brand they have cultivated, even if it would be in their provinces' best interests.

The anger fomenting here really feels like the disenfranchisement in states like Wisconsin and Minnesota that led to the election of Trump in the U.S. in 2016 or the rise of the Tea Party in the 2010 American mid-term election as a response to Obama's election in 2008: it's irrational, widespread, and palpable, and it's probably not going to get better anytime soon.

So far, there has been little success in reasoning with Wexiteers, whether that's in the comparisons between policies under Harper and Trudeau that reveal Trudeau to be more friendly to Western economic interests or in the discussion that Alberta's budgetary woes are almost entirely due to their unwillingness to match the lowest tax rates in Canada. This is a deeply rooted hatred of Trudeau and the Liberals and fear of social change as much as it is a reasoned argument for the connection of economic prosperity of the West and of Canada as a whole. And it's not going to get better anytime soon.

I am interested to see what will happen with this movement and whether it will continue to gain momentum or eventually fade, as it has in the past. There has been a lot of discussion of a "divided Canada", which seems to be true on first glance, but when this has happened in the past, there has almost always been some kind of movement away from the extreme back toward the centre. I'm not sure if that will happen this time, but I feel confident in saying that there will not be a complete Conservative sweep of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the next election.

One final thought on this topic: I really think that this Parliament would be well served to pay close attention to the rise of the influence of third parties and the misinformation and disinformation that occurred as a result. I sincerely hope that they strongly consider legislation that will regulate the manner in which these organizations can advertise, and consequences for spreading falsehoods.

To be honest, I'm not sure how this can be done, but I would start with conversations with Elections Canada to try to ensure that the problem, which was worse in this election than it has ever been in Canada, is less of an influence in the next election.

Parliamentary Convention


As soon as it became apparent that a minority government was the most likely outcome by far - or at least when the Conservatives and Liberals grudgingly acknowledged the possibility of such a result  in the final few days of the campaigns - there were suddenly a lot of armchair analysts running for office who became experts on Canadian parliamentary convention and obscure historical precedents in Canadian minority government history, many of whom twisted certain facts to benefit their own narrative.

There was a lot of talk about "modern convention", particularly in regard to the Prime Minister and parliamentary procedure, but the general revelation was that there is a lot of what Canadians assume about our Parliament that is actually not true. Of course, there are the patently untrue beliefs that are constantly debunked - for example, Canadians do not directly vote for the Prime Minister, despite what many seem to think according to surveys that occur during every election - but then there are the common assumptions that are also not true; for example, that the leader of the party with the most seats is not automatically named Prime Minister.

The reality is that there are a lot of procedures in our Parliament that are merely convention and that are not legislated; there are even some that surprised me, and I have taught this stuff for years. There is certainly an argument for continuing to observe convention as is, but there is an equal argument that the way our world - and indeed our country - is going actually likely necessitates further legislation - rather than mere reliance on convention - to prevent the abuse of power.

It's a hard balance - between legislation and flexibility - that I have found difficult to preserve even in the relatively low stakes of governance of local organizations and non-profits. There is a delicate balance between ensuring that there can be no manipulation of the rules and writing so many rules that the entire system becomes unmanageable. Any system of governance requires a certain amount of flexibility, but it also requires an equal - if not greater - amount of oversight to ensure its continued success in addition to a general understanding of convention among its participants.

I'm not sure that we can count on convention being upheld, or that those running for office are of strong moral character, so it could be argued that there should be more conventions that are legislated. I recognize that there will have to be a balance between the conventions that are enshrined into law and the freedom for our parliaments to make their own decisions about governance, but at the very least, it seems as though there will - and should - be further conversation about the way these conventions are realized in the future.

The Constitution and the Charter


One of the concerns after Alberta's recent provincial election was that a federal Conservative government, if elected, would have enough provincial support (7 out of 10 provinces) to start amending the Constitution willy-nilly. Although that will (thankfully) not be able to take place, I do think that there will nevertheless be conversations about the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with the thirtieth anniversary of the Constitution coming up in just over two years.

There are enough concerns remaining about the Constitution and the Charter that it would certainly be worth restarting the conversation about what could and should be included, particularly in regard to the rights of groups such as First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Québecois, and LGBTQ+ communities. And it would make sense for Trudeau to try to cement his father's legacy - not to mention his own - by accomplishing with Mulroney's governments could not back in 1987 and 1992.

That said, it does not seem at all likely that the provinces will work with Trudeau to accomplish anything federally - or at least, that there are enough provincial governments who are too busy stumping politically (AB, SK, ON) that any such initiative would be able to pass. But I do believe that if (and it's a big if) this conversation were to happen that there could be some valuable progress made, and that it is a discussion worth having.

Conclusion


If the general online discourse over the past week is any indication, this is not going to be a very effective parliament unless there are some significant changes in the operations of our main parties (which I tend to think will not happen). There is a significant division in Canada right now, and I'm not sure that Trudeau would be able to mend that rift, even if he had the inclination or the ability to do so.

I tend to think that this parliament will be relatively short-lived, and that Canadians will be back at the polls by the fall of 2021 (at the latest). That gives Trudeau and his Liberals a mere two years to do their best to reverse course, to do some real policy work, and to try to establish enough momentum to take them into the next election. (For what it's worth, I am predicting a Liberal majority in the next election, since I don't know that the Conservatives with Scheer as leader can do much better than they did in this election.)

Although I remain skeptical (with good reason), I am hopeful that Trudeau means what he says this time around, and that there will be improvements in his governing, particularly as he works with other parties to get anything done in this parliament. I really don't know what this parliament will be able to accomplish, but there have been many significant advances in Canada as a result of minority governments, so there's always the possibility of a positive outcome (regardless of how bleak the reality may be).

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