The unSenator undone - Macleans.ca
 

The unSenator undone


 

Jacques Demers settles into his new role.

After vowing on the day he was named to the Senate to not indulge in partisan politics for the Conservatives, Senator Jacques Demers, former coach of the Canadiens, has done just that.

Demers, the Journal de Québec reported this week, has been called up from Ottawa to lend a hand to the Conservative candidate in Monday’s federal by-election in the Lower North Shore riding of Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, Bernard Généreux. It is one of four being held in Canada Monday …

Demers has recorded one of those telephone messages parties play to potential voters around election time. This one urges them to vote for Généreux, the mayor of La Pocatière. “This election will be very close and each vote counts,” Demers says in the message. “As a coach, when things mattered I preferred to have my best players on the ice and not in the bleachers. In voting for Bernard, you are giving yourselves the power to act.”

See previously: The unSenator


 

The unSenator undone

  1. Too bad. Hopefully Demers turns in a better performance in the actual Chamber. Kind of have to wonder about the star power of the 10 Conservative MPs in Quebec if they're sending in Demers to campaign. It will be interesting to watch tomorrow though, my guess is the NDP wins in BC, and the BQ wins the two seats in Quebec with the Tories taking back Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodobit Valley.

  2. "Demers has recorded one of those telephone messages parties play to potential voters around election time."

    I've never gotten one of those in my entire life.

    • That could be easily recftified. Just leave here your name, address, tel# and email add. Feel free to add other info like pet names, favourite soap, and religious persuasion (we want to send out the appropriate holiday greeting.

    • I get them on my cell once in awhile. Programmed to turn on as soon as the phone is picked up (ie if you have voice mail you miss the first 30 seconds)

  3. OT – Aaron, just a suggestion, but a post on the 4 federal bye-elections taking place tomorrow in these slow political newsdays would be nice.

    • Why would he do that? The Liberals are expected to lose all four.

      • Hey conbots, the Conservatives expect to lose all four… new message: it's a referendum on Ignatieff's leadership. Thanks for you support, please donate what you can.

      • None were expected to go Liberal. Would be like the Tories being hammered for losing Toronto Centre,

        • Ahem… one of the seats is in British Columbia is in the Greater Vancouver area. Another in Montreal. Another in eastern Quebec. Another in Nova Scotia.

          "None were expected to go Liberal." Such is the state of the Liberal Party that whole swaths of the country are "not expected to go Liberal". Even during bye-elections, which are typically used by the electorate to express displeasure in the ruling party with little risk to upsetting the apple-cart.

          The party once dubbed "The Natural Governing Party". Should we re-baptize it to "The Receding Rump Party"?

          Not expected to go Liberal. You're prophetic WDM.

          • Well, I try….

            The Liberals haven't been in contention for any of these seats in decades, aside from winning the NS one in 1993. Look, the Liberals have been comically inept the last 5 years, but that has nothing to do with why they're not going to win the four specific ridings up for grabs tomorrow.

          • Game, Set and Match!

    • I guess this is a little rude, going OT on a post, but BC did send out the first volley. So here goes.

      Question: why will the LIberals be also-rans in tomorrow's four bye-elections, finishing no better than THIRD in any of the races?

      Answer: because none of the races are being held in downtown Toronto.

      • …why will the LIberals be also-rans in tomorrow's four bye-elections…?

        Here's a better question:

        What do you call "Conservative" also-rans?

        Senators-in-waiting…

        • That's a real knee-slapper SF.

          But let me continue with my Baltimore Catechism style questions and answers on tomorrow's bye-elections.

          How many seats in play in tomorrow's federal by-elections are presently held by the Conservative Party?

          Answer: none.

          How many seats will the Conservative Party of Canada hold this time tomorrow night?

          Answer: At least one, possibly two, and it's not impossible that they'll walk away with three. Although bye-elections are often used by the electorate to send a message to the government, they also tend to follow long term trends. The trend since 2006 has seen the Conservatives inexorably taking political real estate away from all three of the other political parties.

          • But let me continue with my Baltimore Catechism style questions and answers…

            It's best not to use the name of the old Catechism profanely when talking to a Tridentine Catholic, Jarrid. ;)

  4. Aaron, you're missing the big picture here. The interests of the CPC are identical to those of the nation; what's good for Harper is good for you. Thus, shameless shilling for the CPC is not partisanship—it is patriotism. And if you don't get that, you simply hate Canada.

    • Sir Francis, why are you so miserable all the time?

      • Hey! We can't all have your sunny disposition, Jarrid.

        • I guess that's true.

          For a guy who fancies George Grant, and I'm a bit of fan myself, your obsession with the Conservatives in the face of the party led by MIchael Ignatieff, who treats him like a crazy uncle in his latest book is strange, to say the least.

          I would have thought that a party led by Michael Ignatieff would give you the willies. But they get a pass in your books. Pourquoi?

          • I can abide neither Ignatieff nor his party. I've skewered both on my blog numerous times over the past year. I target the CPC more often because, as it is currently the political vehicle for classic continentalist liberalism in power, it is more dangerous than the political vehicle for classic continentalist liberalism currently in Opposition.

            Make no mistake, however–both parties in their current incarnations would have made George Grant heave a year's worth of dinners.

          • I suppose that makes sense from your standpoint.

            Although he had a lot of affinities with the NDP, Grant would have gagged at their current incarnation as well. He split with them on the abortion issue I recall.

            Anyway, the reason I like Grant is that he saw the political implications of Nietzsche's thought. Too many people today are oblivious to Nietzsche's relevance today. He makes today's new crop of atheists look like the rank amateurs that they are.

          • Meh. Grant was never really "with" the NDP. He had what one could call a brief tactical alliance with them for a few years in the late '60s, simply because high-level NDP members asked for his advice and seemed open to his ideas. He had the same brief relationship with Diefenbaker in the late '50's. In both cases, Grant came to feel that he'd been ignored and patronised.

            Grant never really had a comfortable political home. He was a High Tory CCFer, probably–a more conservative Eugene Forsey, in a way.

            Yeah, Nietzsche and Heidegger were Grant's twin obsessions, especially in his later years. His attitude to them was pretty complex, though; it wasn't just a rejection of them–it was also a tragic admission that they both had a profound understanding of the modern condition and of the way Western civilisation was unfolding.

          • And what were "the political implications of Nietzsche's thought," pray tell? I presume you mean Fascism. But Nietzsche was bitterly opposed to, and almost alone in opposing, the proto-Fascists of his day: he never lived in Germany after 1870 because he couldn't stomach the Second Reich, much less what he rightly foretold would be the Third. His writings are strewn with delectable rants against Prussian militarism. Personally, he described himself as "the last apolitical German" because he felt that, having rejected God, the West was sliding towards a political manifestation of nihilism. That was why he disdained democracy: he saw both democracy and Prussian militarism as forms of mass society, built on the rejection of God. When he himself spoke of the "death of God," he was not advocating God's death, he was stating a fact: Western society had definitively embraced materialism, therefore God was dead. You can't blame Nietzsche for the consequences of a phenomenon he merely identified.

          • …[Nietzsche] never lived in Germany after 1870 because he couldn't stomach the Second Reich…

            He also just couldn't stomach <>Germans, to whom he consistently refers as canaille!

            I gave Jarrid the benefit of the doubt, but he did sound as if he were making Nietzsche responsible for the Nazis–an egregious but quite common fallacy.

            As for Grant, he was haunted by the way in which Nietzsche's call for the transvaluation of all values effectively reduces the modern self into a product of its own techné, a being (or a perpetual becoming) that despises anything lying outside the scope of the spontaneous creativity of its constant self-overcoming. Grant was sceptical about the feasibility of sustaining a civil society according to that ethic.

            Incidentally, I've always considered the United States as the first (and thus far only) truly Nietzschean state. It's hard to think of a nation where the wholesale rejection of "reality" as an objective, scientific possibility enjoys a more passionate consensus.

          • I agree about the United States. It's strange that Nietzsche hardly ever mentions the Americans. I can only recall one passage, actually, in The Gay Science.

            What you say about Grant is undoubtedly true, and I would take your word for it even if I hadn't just been reading some of his late stuff on Nietzsche.

            Personally, I think he was off the mark, though — perhaps misled by his desire to rebut Nietzsche on Christianity. Nietzsche's "self-creating" ethos was deliberately not meant to be a political alternative, or applicable to the generality. Insofar as it could apply to any particular caste, it was surely meant for the educated elite; but in a sense it is individualistic in a totally non-political sense, speaking to the reader alone, not to a collection of such readers or to the reader as a type. That's why there's no political programme in Nietzsche's oeuvre; also, it's why I find the explication of Nietzsche to be self-contradictory: one of his virtues is his inaccessibility to people who would be apt to misconstrue his philosophy. Which isn't, of course, to deny that he thirsted for fame.

            Meanwhile, Grant seems off-base. After all, Christianity itself is not a feasible way to sustain civil society: we can't all be Desert Fathers or Fraticelli (or Epicureans or Jains, for that matter). To take a personal ethos and apply it politically is very dangerous; to refute it politically is too easy.

          • You're certainly right about the political impossibility of Nietzsche's thought; I believe the man once called himself "anti-political" quite specifically. Clearly that was a huge part of what challenged Grant's fundamentally communitarian and tradition-bound soul.

            Ironically, though, Grant's ostensibly communitarian conservatism has an element of élitism just as robust and offensive to modern egalitarian norms as Nietzsche's. Grant's Toryism always posited the need for an intellectual, moral, and religious clerisy–the members of whom would be exemplary products of a kind of self-creation, but one that takes its teleology from the historicity of Christ's sacrifice. This radically inaccessible teleological horizon leads to an outward-striving that can be so powerful as to send the subject outside of the community the spiritual values of which he or she embodies the perfection (Saint Francis, Joan of Arc, the aforementioned Desert Fathers, etc).

          • Ultimately, buried deep within the Christian ethic is an essentially élitist impossibility. Grace is capricious. Christ said, "Be perfect, as thy Father is perfect," knowing full well that this was an unfulfillable charge. It's possible that Grant saw Nietzschean ethical impossibility as a logical genealogical outgrowth of the older Christian version and was haunted by what seemed like a terminal socio-political impasse for the West.

          • Jack, I was just goint to take kcm's advice above and call it a night so I'll keep this short.

            "You can't blame Nietzsche for the consequences of a phenomenon he merely identified."

            No indeed. I mean it when I say that understanding Nietzche's thought is important for understanding our culture which includes its politics. And I blame him for nothing at all. His diagnosis of the state of the decadent Western culture was close to bang on. He articulated it well. And he's an atheist I actually have some time for and can respect. He truly was able to imagine and contemplate and come to terms with what it meant to live in a world without God. His was not the highly rationalistic atheist that seems prevalent today. They're second rate. His was a heroic attempt to live out those implications.

  5. Stephen Harper's senate appointments are no different than any other PMs. All that talk about transparency and accountability – pffffft! Pure pantload

    Please tell me again how we have to stack the senate in order to change it.

    Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

    • The bluster over Senate appointments was always asinine. The Prime Minister has a Constitutional responsibility to fill vacant Senate seats and frankly his attitude towards the Upper Chamber for almost 3 years was simply silly. Now, the Liberal Senate Caucus could fall off the face of the Earth tomorrow and the Cons could hold all 105 seats. Doesn't mean anything. They're going to get challenged by at least Quebec, probably New Brunswick and Newfoundland about their Senate reform Bill on its Constitutionality. But will they just show the bill to the SCC first to get clarification? Nope, can't do it. Sorry. Impossible. It's kind of sad the willingness of pols to put partisan talking points over what we all learned in Grade 9 Civics.

      • The Prime Minister has a Constitutional responsibility to fill vacant Senate seats…

        …but there's no constitutional responsibility to fill vacant seats with seal-like partisan hacks. A prime minister has every right to fill Senate seats with responsible, learned, civic-minded Canadians who intend to vote on the basis of independent conscience. To my knowledge, the last prime minister to elevate un-aligned candidates to the Senate was Trudeau.

        Basically, there's no way to drag party hacks into the Senate without signalling an intention to use the place as a trough for well-connected lackeys (and, more recently, journalists in the tank); no amount of high-minded bafflegab about "reform" can change that.

      • When you make "accountability" a cornerstone of your mandate, you open yourself up to criticism. I do not defend or condone the Liberals in either their senate appointments or their scandals (a bloated disgrace), but Mr Harper has been dining out on their misdeeds for several years now.
        In Nov 2005, SH told us he would:
        replace the culture of entitlement with a culture of accountability
        As he morphs into the very beast he swore he would slay, why shouldn't the lens be turned back towards him.

    • "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."
      This message paid for by the Libservative Political Concern.

  6. Toronto, a great Canadians city. A jewel in any crown for a political party.

    • 'Tis a great city indeed. But you can't be a truly national party or hope to form a majority government by becoming a Toronto-centric party. There is a vicious circle forming in the Liberal Party, it is fast becoming a rump inner city party like the NDP. It used to be a broad tent party, now it caters to urban elites.

      What brought it home to me last federal election was when Stephane Dion bragged that if elected Prime Minister, he would become the first Canadian Prime Minister with a Ph. D. I've got nothing against Ph. D's but the fact that Dion thought it worthwhile to trumpet this bespeaks a party that breathes a rarefied air and lives in another universe than ordinary voting folk. Though I'm sure it was the talk of the Toronto cocktail party circuit.

      • Jarrid you’re an embarassment to yourself and blogging in general – time for bed. Dion could have renounced his French citizenship, joined the priesthood and moved to Ulan Bator and you’d stll be calling him a Toronto elitist. When did you last have a shred of objectivity?

        • Dion said what he said kcm. I didn't make it up.

          Trumpeting that you have a Ph. D to get votes?

          He wasn't running for a university faculty post.

          • And if Harper had said he was an economist you’d be critcising too eh? If your point was that Dion was not a good politician you’d get no argument from me. But you have no objectivity at all. Above you claim that the 4 byelections are the libs to lose. You are wrong. What’s more it’s obvious you didn’t even check the facts – you don’t care, because you long ago sold out your objectivity. You’re obviously a smart guy. But you’re fooling no one with you’re pretense of neutrality.

  7. However, Nietzsche failed. He went nuts. His diagnosis was correct. His prescription for what ailed the West was an abject failure. It's a little complicated in a short post to discuss Nietzsche relationship with Fascism, but I mostly agree with what you said. But Nietzsche's explosive writings could be easily expoited.

    This man had spirit, and lots of it, but unfortunately at some point, he took a diabolical turn. His last book is the product of a deranged mind. He looked into the abyss, and not unsurprisingly, it looked back at him, and he fell in.

    His life should serve as a warning: tread here at your own risk.

    • Sorry, I was being paranoid about Nietzsche and politics. Pleased to see we're on the same page.

      I can see how it's tempting to read Nietzsche's semi-tragic, semi-comic last ten years as a consequence of and thus refutation of his philosophy, but that seems rather unfair. He was totally alone in the world, and IMO that's what drove him mad (together with physical illness). Imagine writing all these brilliant books and have each one sell no more than 50 copies. Imagine having no peers who would listen to you. Imagine being an unimaginably proud, romantic soul condemned the bourgeois hell of the 1880's. For my part, I can see Nietzsche flourishing in Paris in the 1910's (pre-War), or (certainly) in Weimar in the 1790's, or in any number of other contexts: but German academe in the late mid-19th century? It would drive anybody mad, if they had the courage to stand by their convictions.

  8. I wonder if there are any ethical violations in Demers shilling for Loto-Québec…

    Ads run everyday featuring a Member of the Senate encouraging Québecois to gamble on sports. This flies?