John Duffy studies #3: Canadian Disagreements (technology, urban/rural and demographics)

-Trudeau is trying to be the first “post-Laurentian Liberal”.
-Laurentian elite: “The whispers in the common rooms at Queens, the easy murmurings at the Rideau Club, the things that happen in a cafeteria at the Place du Portage civil service benevolent society meeting” that way of doing business is gone.
-Trudeau is out of that world/group.
-That electoral coalition is out of his mind map. He is more attuned to young people and new Canadian communities.
-We’re not even going back to the Martin coalition.
-Trudeau: next, post, onward, forward.
-A post-Laurentian world need not be a Conservative one.
-Harper govt. operates with 21% of all men women and children, Harper governments never feel like a majority (they govern like they have to exert force and pressure in order to pass their agenda).
-“The middle class hasn’t got a raise in 25/30 years”.
-There’s great potential in the new supply chains for Canada’s traditional manufacturing communities to get back in the game (with support from governments).
-The future could look like Japan where young people are working their hearts out to provide for the old. It’s not which Canada you want, it’s which Japan you want.
-The question of energy and resources has become big since the 1970’s. We’re going to see more and more issues and political forms pertaining to energy.
-This as opposed to the typical 20th century political divide over the role of govt. in the economy (socialism vs. capitalism).
-“Technopolitics”: a clash between urban and rural. “Green” appeals to urban voters from progressive parties. Offerings to rural voters from conservatives put the environment on the back seat (Keystone, Gateway, drilling etc.). The vastness of the disagreement between urban and rural implies “the eclipse of the rural value system built around self-reliance”. It’s an argument about modernity.
-A scientific/evidence basis for policy is a loose term that the Liberals are running with but it represents something much deeper. The regulation of biotech, the politics of science and technology, the vast explosion of tech etc. are an enormous challenge to our society relative to our tiny attention span.
-Cites Shimon Peres: science/tech are fundamentally ungoverned and more important than politics. The young people are all about science/tech and you should become a scientist or entrepreneur if you really want to make a difference.
-Politics is catching up one buzzword at a time.
-On tech questions there tends to be a pro-producer and a pro-consumer viewpoint (GMO labeled on packaging for ex.). When it comes to technology a rural evangelical voter won’t necessarily take the pro-business, pro-producer argument.
-It’s way more important how technology is governed vs. 2% more or less on whatever tax.
-Andrew Coyne: It’s about technology understood as an existential question vs. lots of actually technological innovation (which isn’t happening).

Conservative Party of Canada MPs as “delegates”

Quoted from Tragedy in the Commons pg. 87-88.

Many of the MPs we interviewed described their roles in ways that corresponded to two classic but competing definitions of a political representative’s role: “trustees” and “delegates.” According to political theory, trustees are representatives who follow their own sense of the best action to pursue. A trustee believes she was elected by the public to use her own judgement to make a decision. Meanwhile, delegates are understood to be representatives who follow the expressed preferences of their constituents, regardless of their own personal opinion. On occasions when an MP’s judgement on a legislative matter differs from voter preference, assuming they can appropriately identify their constituents’ view, the trustee will vote according to her own judgment, while the delegate will allow voter preference to have the ultimate say.

Among parliamentarians from the Liberals, New Democrats or the Bloc Quebecois, no clear preference for the role of trustee or delegate emerged. Each of those parties had MPs in both groups, and in fact, many MPs straddled the categories.

Describing a classic trustee’s conception of the job, NDP Bill Blaikie said: “My job as an MP was to do the thinking and the listening at the committee hearings and the meetings-albeit out of certain perspective that I was up front about when I ran-and then to make judgments,” Blaikie said. “The people who voted for me don’t have the time to do all that. That is what I am paid to do. . . . [My constituents] will hold me accountable at elections and in between with their input with letters of criticism or support.” And Paddy Torsney, a former Liberal MP for Burlington, said, “I think my job was to provide leadership. Not just reflect the discussion, but also to lead the discussion. And I think that is where people get caught up in ‘No, my job is to do exactly what those people say.’ . . . No, you’re actually sending me there to think and bring more information back, too.”

The majority of Conservative MPs, in contrast, approached their roles as delegates. Loyola Hearn describes the job in terms very similar to the word’s definition. “[Voters] select you to be their representative in Ottawa, to speak for them, to vote on legislation and, in some cases, to develop legislation that they feel is wanted. Basically, to work [for their interests] and to deliver for them whatever benefits might flow,” Hearn said. “All of [the constituents] can’t be up there, so you’re the messenger. That’s the job you have. . . . You are the representative for the people in Ottawa, not Ottawa’s representative to the people.”