Political Contrasts

by Glen

So, my Huffington Post piece from earlier today raised the ire of Warren Kinsella.  You can read his response here.

Let me just say that he is fully correct when noting that I was basically a nobody in politics during my time as an MP.  I never made it a secret that I felt ineffective during my time in the House of Commons and there’s nothing wrong with Kinsella pointing that out.  He’s also correct that I took longer than allotted for my nomination speech for Stephane Dion at the Liberal leadership convention.  He couldn’t have known that Dion took me aside just prior to my speech, asking me to take more time to win over some swing votes of those delegates interested in the environment.  Ironically, they did come over and the result we already know about.

Kinsella concludes that I was a loser and that it was something we could all agree on.  Fair enough.  The reality is that the politics of Ottawa weren’t my kind of politics.  I was in the Liberal shadow cabinet and Maclean’s magazine called me “The Last Decent Man in Ottawa,” but as an adherent to the politics as usual in Ottawa I was of little use.  So let’s just declare it: Warren Kinsella is an important figure and I’m not.

But what is at issue is the intersection between the two kind of politics mentioned in my Huffington Post piece.  Whether he likes it or not, Kinsella has to deal with the reality that Canadians have grown fed up, even angered, at the kind of politics he espouses.  And whether I like it or not, his view still prevails in the corridors of power.  What is sad is that our communities still suffer an overall neglect as these two ideas duke it out over what the next generation of democracy will look like.  The political establishment has yet to affirm that its interest in our communities is anything greater than the ability to acquire votes, and thereby power.  What communities themselves have yet to affirm is that their citizens actually care enough to actually claim the kind of engaged democracy they actually seek.  The jury is still out.

Our communities are quickly concluding that the regular form of politics represented by the usual political players no longer carries substance.  What they have to prove now, through hard effort and community engagement, is that they are ready to build a new kind of politics built on compromise and debate, without the searing partisanship and “divide and conquer” of the old order.  At its heart, the argument between Kinsella and me can hopefully serve to bring out the contrasts.