Canadian culture.ca being shuttered

News from Michael Geist today that Culture.ca, the (well, one of several from the same department) Canadian culture portal, has closed effective April 1, 2008. I know a couple of people who are directly affected by this news, though I’m not sure what the impact will be or what impact the site has had.

Take action on copyright

It is widely rumoured that between now and Christmas, the Conservative government is going to introduce new Canadian DMCA-style copyright legislation. Michael Geist has written a useful list of actions Canadians can take to address this: The Canadian DMCA – What You Can Do.

New Digital Information Strategy released

Library and Archives Canada has released their new Canadian Digital Information Strategy. This release is a draft – comments are welcome from “any interested person or organization” by Nov 23, 2007. I haven’t looked at it yet, but given the current climate in Canada, it’s certain to be an interesting document. (Via Michael Geist)

Today was by-election day

in three Quebec ridings, and it has proven to be as exciting as politics in Quebec have tended to be in recent years. It’s hard to see what has been happening both federally and provincially as nothing less than a sea-change, not a temporary post-scandal correction as many (including myself) feared it might have been.

The results are interesting. In my new riding, Outremont, the winner was Thomas Mulcair of the NDP (and the former provincial environment minister for the Quebec Liberal Party). In Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean, the winner was Denis Lebel, a Conservative (and sitting Mayor). In Sainte-Hyacinthe, the winner was Ève-Mary Thai Thi Lac for the Bloc Quebecois. Most striking is that none of the Liberal candidates were successful, even now that the scandals are behind them and despite (well, maybe) having a new leader.

Some bullet-point reactions:

  • The NDP have to be careful how they interpret their victory in Outremont. If they have any illusions that this is a vote of confidence in the party as a whole or in Jack Layton, I think they’re sorely mistaken. On the positive side of things, Mulcair, and Mulcair alone, is the reason for their victory. If anything he has such personal popularity and universal respect that he won in spite of how the NDP is viewed in Quebec.
  • It is pretty shocking to “traditional” interpretations of Quebec voting tendencies that neither of the MPs in the Saguenay region are sitting for the Bloc Quebecois.
  • Stéphane Dion must be – should be – pretty scared. For the party with the second most seats in Parliament to not win any of three by-elections? Not a comfortable spot for the leader. When he was selected as leader of the Liberal Party, I was cautiously optimistic that he could do a decent job – certainly better than Ignatieff – but so far, it has been nothing but setback after setback. He’ll probably stick it out until the next General Election, but it looks like he’s already finished.
  • Back to the NDP, after years and years of living in Montreal but never having any hope of my candidate winning, I’m kind of amazed that someone has done it. Again, though, if the NDP over-estimate the significance of this victory they’re going to be in trouble. I’ve almost only ever voted NDP, but party had pretty much lost me as a supporter over the past two or three years. The NDP’s foreign policy is nothing more than naive and pandering, and the fact that they have done nothing to truly address their chronic problems in Quebec is more than frustrating – at this point it smacks of a mix of disrespect and fear. I hope they can get over it – and the first step would be a radical re-thinking of their traditional (and idiotic) strong-centralist federalism. It does them no good and a lot of harm.

From Torontoist:

Bon Cop, Bad Cop. A great video showing some, ahem, experienced protest leaders strongly suggesting that some supposed fellow protesters drop their rocks and cease being violent… until they figure out that the “protesters” in question are most likely police provocateurs trying to rile things up and create a riot. There isn’t any firm evidence at this point that the three “bad guys” were really cops, but check out the video – it’s pretty clear that they were when you see the pathetic “takedown” performed by the uniformed police once the ruse was up.

Personally I’m not surprised – I’ve been a witness to a couple of “riots” in my day and every single time the police were the aggressors.

Boisclair

quitte/has quit. Hmmm.

On-target (and funny!) reaction from Paul Wells: Andre Boisclair: Frequently Asked Questions.

The results of Quebec’s election

yesterday confounded all predictions and proved to be among the most interesting elections in contemporary Canadian history. I think this will prove to be a watershed election for both Quebec and Canada, though I am not sure how things will play out.

Some impressions:

  • It’s annoying to note the interesting showing by the Green Party and then to remember all of the coverage that the foundation of Québec Solidaire received in the press.
  • I think that Charest is secretly disappointed that he didn’t lose his seat last night. He’s never had either a taste or a feel for Quebec politics, having ended up there via a series of events beyond his control.
  • Plus, there’s not much Charest can do to fix things in the PLQ. I think the main reason for their lack of success last night is that Charest will never be seen as anything but a strong Federalist, whereas his predecessors (i.e., Bourassa) retained a great deal of aloofness towards Ottawa.
  • I think the socially left side of the PQ has gone beyond what the non-Montreal voter in Quebec will accept – and mixed with the emphasis on civic (not ethnic) nationalism that Parizeau’s “money and the ethnic vote” comment in 1995 provoked, sealed their fate.
  • I don’t think we can escape the fact that Boisclair’s being gay had an impact on the results. I don’t think Quebecois outside of Montreal are homophobic in general – far from it – but this part of his persona cemented the close identification of Boisclair with Montreal, which most Quebecois seem to believe is completely out of step with the rest of the Province. So it wasn’t an anti-gay vote but an anti-Montreal vote. Being gay just reinforced Boisclair’s Montreal-ness.
  • I don’t think either the PQ or the PLQ will be capable of truly addressing the problems that surfaced for them in this election, at least not for some time.
  • I think we get a Federal election sooner than later following this result, if only because the Quebec voters have clearly demonstrated that they’re willing to experiment with new things. Right now, I would predict a Harper majority.
  • Paul Wells made a great point in his blog last night: “…how does Stéphane Dion feel, knowing that 46 Quebec seats are now held by Liberals who agree with Stephen Harper on federalism and 42 Adéquistes who agree with him on everything else?”

Overall, the whole thing was as stunning political theater as we’ve seen in years. There are still too many wildcards in the deck to know how this will play out, but I suspect that notwithstanding the wild results, Quebec won’t have to go to an election for some time. Only time will tell.

From Paul Wells:

well-placed sarcasm about Jean Lapierre’s resignation from Parliament. On a more serious note, whether or not Martin Cauchon steps up to take back his old seat in Outremont will be an important indicator of the current health of the Liberal Party with respect to the Martin/Chretien (or is that a Trudeau/Turner?) split.

I watched last weekend’s Liberal Convention

with rapt attention as my (mildly) preferred candidate Bob Rae looked like he was gaining some early momentum only to see it collapse in very short order. The winner, of course, was Stephane Dion, and as Paul Wells has summarized this morning, most of the media reaction is focusing on Dion’s negatives in Quebec.

While they aren’t all wrong – Dion does have significant problems in his home province even among federalists – I think the pundits are, for the most part, making the same error that they have been making for quite a while with respect to Quebec voter behaviour.

In fact, a leader’s or candidate’s positives/negatives on Quebec nationalism are only about half of the story, if that. As important – nah, MORE important, truth be told – is where the candidate stands in terms of policy. And on this front, even a Dion that’s despised for his Clarity Act may be able to succeed in bringing Quebeckers back in his direction. Quebec voters need candidates who are socially progressive in nature, and environmentally conscious, and I predict they’ll overlook a lot of Dion’s negatives on the “unity file” if they hear the right things on other policy issues.

In other words – it’s a non-starter to analyze a candidate’s potential in Quebec by only looking at the nationalism side of things.

I should also say that I have always thought that sovereigntists should welcome and embrace the Clarity Act – which will be their single greatest source of legitimacy should a referendum ever succeed

It’s early for a Saturday

morning, but I’m already moving – specifically, I’m sitting in a conference room at a hotel here in Ottawa listening in on the Alternative Telecommunications Policy Forum. There are a lot of very strong thinkers and activists here – people whose names I’ve been hearing and whose papers I’ve been reading for years. I’ll be reporting back here with any findings I have in the next few hours.