Recently in Politics Category

IMG_20111011_001430.jpg

http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2011/polls/

Update (2011-10-16): Indeed, I've now added the political parties layers (the colors represent the proportion of votes by a party over the total number of votes) and a voters' turnout layer (nb of votes compiled over the nb of registered voters). If there are problems in interaction or information layout, please tell the interaction designer (me).

I finally got around last week to update my election maps to 2011. The new interface now lets you get the maps in good old 2-D Google Maps if your system doesn't support the Google Earth plugin.

The new version also lets you compare layers between each other. For now, I'm only offering the default "margin of victory" map for 2008 and 2011. Pretty soon, I will post maps specific to parties and the turnout rate. You are welcome to submit ideas of other geographic analyses.

Also, I've decided to release the code for this project to the open on GitHub.

Screenshot-Contributions - Google Chrome

After a few sleepless nights, the political financing map (carte des contributions aux partis politiques) is finally out.

The great thing about doing this project is that we started with what is supposed to be public data and made it actually public. We downloaded it, refined it and mapped it. Although I didn't get around to posting the geocoding results, essentially all the raw data of about 500,000+ entries is made available to the public through Google Fusion Tables. I even used the data I extracted to create my own non-Cyberpresse visualisation (en français).

I think the amount of data displayed will be overwhelming to anyone. Users of the map will be interested to see around places where they live and places that they know, so I think it will be a great platform for crowdsourcing too. I hope you enjoy the map!

Montréal en trois temps

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Dernière d'une série de trois, voici un tracé de la provenance des contributions faites aux partis politiques et associations de circonscription en 2009. L'outil d'où proviennent ces captures d'écran sera publié tard vendredi soir, heure de l'est. Samedi matin, la surprise sortira.

Contributions aux conservateurs 2009 - région de Montréal
Parti conservateur

Contributions aux libéraux 2009 - région de Montréal
Parti libéral

Contributions aux bloquistes - région de Montréal
Bloc Québécois

(Les dons au NPD et au Parti vert dans la région métropolitaine sont trop minimes pour être montrés ici.)

Vancouver en trois temps

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Like I did for Toronto, but this time for Vancouver.

Contributions to Conservatives 2009 - Vancouver area
Conservative Party

Contributions to Liberals 2009 - Vancouver area
Liberal Party

Contributions to New Democrats 2009 - Vancouver area
New Democratic Party

Toronto en trois temps

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These are the compiled financial contributions to national instances of political parties and riding associations for 2009, distributed among polling divisions (from postal codes of contributors, geocoded when possible). The data was obtained from Elections Canada's website. More to come later, links to come later.

Contributions to Conservatives 2009 - Toronto area
Conservative Party

Contributions to Liberals 2009 - Toronto area
Liberal Party

Contributions to New Democrats 2009 - Toronto area
New Democratic Party

Toronto: Electoral Donations in Canada

Sometime in early 2009, I came up with the Canadian electoral financial contributions project. At the time, I thought it would be awesome to do something with the data that Elections Canada, an independent federal agency in charge of conducting elections and referendums in Canada, releases publicly about funders of political parties. The website contains different ways to access the information, whether it is political party or riding association annual returns or by candidate's expenses during an election.

I wrote a basic how-to, pointing out how obfuscated the browsing of the data was. You can technically download CSVs of the data, but Elections Canada's servers would time-out if you asked for the entire dataset at once.

Screenshot-Financial Reports: Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return - Mozilla Firefox
Try to do mashups with this

There were also some cleverly hidden public data that consists in the postal code of a single contributor. Using a Web browser, it was impossible to compile this data into a database. But using simple scripts with a command-line tool like curl, it was possible to know the location that a donor used to make its donation, including private residence. It might be of questionable good taste to reveal those on a map, but in an era of data mashups and visualisation, it makes perfect sense for what is after all public data.

Michael Sabia: Electoral Donations in Canada
Michael Sabia (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec President / CEO) gave money to the Liberals

At the time, I demonstrated my method with only 2008 data and let the project die for lack of interest and time. In the meanwhile, I moved to Hong Kong and started a new career over here, and have been working on data projects.

Now that elections are looming in Canada, and with an improved skill set, I've unearthed the project a week or so ago, and started really digging into it since yesterday. I already reached the stage of collecting all the 2007-2009 data from annual transaction return, and the postal codes of contributors. I am now geocoding the postal codes and will be thinking of ways to offer a better filter and search the data. Aside from mapping the data geographically, I think that it would be interesting to show trends in the data, of where the money went, etc. For the public, it would be interesting to offer a focus on where celebrities and important people put their money, just like the Huffington Post's Fundrace did in the US.

---

Update 2011-04-16: This is the raw data

Might be at the other end of the world, but I'm not missing this election for nothin' in the world... These are links to results by poll in the October 2008 election for the four ridings in play. They're all safe to stay in the same hands (Cumberland's Bill Casey was an independent, but formerly Conservative who voted with them as well).

Cumberland - Colchester - Musquodoboit Valley: http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/#12007
Hochelaga: http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/#24021
Montmagney - L'Islet - Kamouraska - Rivière-du-Loup: http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/#24058
New Westminster - Coquitlam: http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/#59017

Thornhill

Papineau

http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/

Inspired by Stephen Taylor's post (and my own past project from Fall 2008), I set out to produce a website where people could navigate election results by riding, but also by poll.

I used cartographic data from the Geogratis.gc.ca website. I imported the Shapefiles to a PostgreSQL database with Postgis. Then, I processed results by polling divisions from the 2008 election, data available on the Elections Canada website. It was put in a separate table on the same database. A custom program in Python using the very handy libkml (a code library developed and supported by Google) took the data and outputted pretty KML code. It was packed as a KMZ and uploaded to my webspace. [E-mail me, if you want to exchange ideas on the code]

The webpage itself is rich in JavaScript and the code can be seen here. I use hashes to make the webpage bookmarkable and loadable with a given riding pre-loaded.

For instance, the Papineau riding (24048) can be accessed through this link:
http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/#24048

The website requires the Google Earth plugin, available for Windows and Mac. It works very smoothly on my old computer (bought in 2003).

You could also download the individual KMZ files (they are in fact zip files, so on Windows you would rename them with .zip and unzip them with your usual utility). They are at: http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/ridings/ . However, if I post updates (which I will), you won't see them.

Toronto: Electoral Donations in Canada

Montreal: Electoral Donations in Canada

Download the KMZ / Téléchargez le KMZ

Finally finished the first phase of my data visualization project for electoral donations to political parties. The data is for individual contributions during the 2008 election in Fall. Here is the KMZ file: contrib40_2009-09-11.kmz

Finalement, j'ai fini la première phase de mon projet de visualisation de données de contributions aux partis politiques. Les données sont pour les dons de particuliers lors de l'élection d'automne 2008. Voici le fichier KMZ: contrib40_2009-09-11.kmz

Here are a few examples of stuff that I found while fooling around... / Voici quelques exemples que j'ai trouvé en me promenant...

David Kilgour: Electoral Donations in Canada

David Kilgour gives to the Conservative Party. We think it's _the_ David Kilgour, because wife Laura is also listed for the same postal code. For the notice, Kilgour was a former Jean Chrétien minister (originally was a Progressive Conservative). Retired as an independent in 2006 and known to be a Falun Gong sympathizer.

Michael Sabia: Electoral Donations in Canada

Michael Sabia, the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec CEO, formerly a Bell Canada CEO, naturally gives to the Liberals.

Edit (2009-11-11): I completed the project a few days after describing it in this post. This link gives you an overview of what it does. Here is the web version (requires Google Earth plugin): http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/contributions/

***

Some time ago, I wrote a lot on this particular project without providing much specifics. This said project is the electoral contributions project.

The idea is pretty straightforward. Once a year, Elections Canada releases data on donations to political parties, whether it's from individuals or companies, directly to candidates or the party itself.

They have some database behind to power it, but none of it is open to the public. The only information available is under the form of webpages such as this one:

Screenshot-Financial Reports: Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return - Mozilla Firefox

Also, you can click on the name of a contributor and find basic info such as the address where he sent his contribution from, specifically on this popup:

Screenshot-Contributor Information - Mozilla Firefox

So, what if you got the data and tried to use the postal code to put every contribution on a map? It's been done in the States by the Huffington Post, the well-known web media outlet.

How to do it?

To get the 100-something pages containing the data, you write a shell script with wget on the address (check the post data with Firebug) and download all the pages. Then, do the same for the pop-ups (you find their script's URL by reading through their JavaScript code, all of which is ungarbled).

Then, parse the pages with a script. I wrote mine in PHP, because I didn't know better. I'll post it if there is interest for it. Then, the same script does the INSERTs to the PostgreSQL database. You can download this following database dump:

contrib40.sql

I chose the columns to be of a super permissive datatype, because the data in those webpages is surprisingly not very well normalized. You also find invalid postal codes and basically no practical way to identify two different donors with, say, the same name.

Then comes the interesting part that I've finished once but did not save anything useful, that is to visualize the contributions geographically with the postal code. I made a separate table called "postalcodes" which is a unique list of postal codes contained in contrib40, and the geographical point representing this postal code. I obtained the point coordinates using a script that called the Google HTTP geocoding service. It's for Postgis that I used PostgreSQL.

Now it's maybe the fun part, that is to fetch the data and make it into something useful, either using MapServer + Google Maps, or libkml (to generate a file for Google Earth).

Interesting, telling uses? Since we only have access to data up to the end of 2008, we could show the rise of the Liberals in the post-electoral months of November and December, when Stéphane Dion stepped down in favour of maybe-Michael Ignatieff. We can surely superimpose donation origin and actual voting patterns at the poll level.

If you have more visualization ideas, feel free to drop me a line: cedricsam@gmail.com. I'd like to hear your ideas, propositions. I think that this data ought to democratized, and using graphical methods like maps is one of the best methods nowadays.

Canada 2008 election - Montréal

S'il y a des luttes serrées sur l'Île de Montréal, ça risque fort bien d'être celles que se livreront le Parti libéral du Canada et le Bloc Québécois pour Papineau et Ahuntsic.

Ces deux circonscriptions du nord de la Ville de Montréal se sont promenés entre le bleu-vert et le rouge durant ces dernières années. Autrefois des châteaux-forts libéraux, ces circonscriptions sont maintenant des toss-ups sur l'Île de Montréal (avec aussi Verdun).

Circonscription de Papineau - carte des résultats électoraux aux fédérales 2008

Papineau, qu'on voit ci-haut, c'est la circonscription de Justin Trudeau, fils de feu Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau Sr. avait d'ailleurs occupé la circonscription voisine de Mont-Royal, maintenant siège de l'ancien ministre de la Justice et prof à McGill Irwin Cotler. Papineau fût le siège du ministre Pettigrew du temps de Jean Chrétien. La Bloquiste Vivian Barbot n'aura siégé qu'un peu plus de deux ans aux Communes.

Si on regarde les résultats par scrutin, on voit bien que la portion Parc-Extension de Papineau vote en masse pour les Libéraux, alors qu'entre le Parc Jarry et le Parc Villeray (tout autour de la rue St-Denis), on préfère le Bloc. Plus loin à l'est, dans St-Michel, on a tendence à voter pour les Rouges.

Circonscription de Ahuntsic - carte des résultats électoraux aux fédérales 2008

Dans Ahuntsic, c'est le duel entre Maria Mourani (BQ) et Eleni Bakopanos (PLC) qui retient l'attention. Ces femmes se sont bataillées pour le siège pendant trois élections de suite et peut-être une quatrième à venir, si fédérales 2009 elles y ont lieu.

Ahuntsic est l'autre circonscription remarquablement divisée, avec une forte majorité d'électeurs votant pour les Libéraux vivant au sud-ouest de St-Laurent et une majorité d'électeurs pour les Bloquistes au nord-est.

Greater Toronto - map of 2008 federal election results

Toronto - map of 2008 federal election results

In these two shots of Greater Toronto, I coloured the polls per winner, with shades representing the margin of victory.

Not too surprisingly, the NDP dominate the most urban neighbourhoods, while the suburbs are shared between Conservatives and Liberals, with a greater dominance by Deep Blue in the outer rings, and that of Deep Red within the inner suburbs.

Canada 2008 election - Montréal

Canada 2008 election - Montréal

In Montreal, the portrait is a bit more interesting, with very deep divisions. Most of the area outside of the island of Montreal votes Bloc, so does the North-east part of Montreal, where a French-speaking majority resides.

The only places that're notably blue? Hudson, an old English-speaking town and NDP leader Jack Layton's hometown, too. And Saint-Lazare.

This is another follow-up for this project.

I've managed to now make results that are shaded by the margin of victory. The alpha, or transparency, is a value proportion between 0 and 1. Because the margin of victory rarely goes above, say, 0.4 (40%), then we have to transform that number so that the map doesn't look like a succession of transparent polygons. To each proportion value, I crossed it with a root 8 ("** 0.125" in python). So, a 0.1 margin of victory becomes around 0.75, and 0.2 is 0.8.

Here is a part of the code that I used to customize the poly style:


if totalVotes > 0:
    prop_votes = (maxVotes - secondVotes) * 1.0 / totalVotes
    alpha = int(round(prop_votes ** 0.125 * 256)) * 0x1000000
    color += alpha
if maxVotes == secondVotes or totalVotes == 0: # votes of top two are equal
    color = 0xffffffff
polyStyle.set_color(kmlbase.Color32(color))

Here is the result for Greater Toronto:

Greater Toronto - 2008 election results per poll

Toronto - 2008 election results per poll

Next step, balloons...

Google Earth - Results per poll on Island of Montreal

This is a follow-up to the project discussed here.

I have now advanced my code (about 120 lines in Python) to generate the maps color-coded with the poll's winner in the 2008 federal general election. With an example such as the island of Montreal, it would probably be even more interesting to merge it with census data, for instance the % of francophones or % of people born outside of Canada. From one's informal appreciation of Montreal's linguistic diversity, one can definetely see where the Bloc votes mainly come from. As well, we can't really see polls voting massively for the Conservatives, besides a few in the West Island.

Like we say, the future is now, and it's way simpler than we think.

The KML file for each riding is at this point around 200-300Kb, which becomes almost nothing once compressed to KMZ (expect a 1/10 size reduction). This becomes a very "portable" product, as the KMLs could be pre-generated, editorialized and served to the general public without any need to "carry around" the back-end. A more custom version of the script (coloured by proportional votes per party, say) could even be used by political parties to plan the next campaign, which could happen in Fall 2009.

Next steps: 1- transparency that will give an idea of how deep the margin of victory is in each riding and 2- clickable info windows. When I'll finish these, I'll have re-built my 2008 app from scratch, albeit with a much cleaner infrastructure (now with Python + libkml and PostgreSQL/Postgis, instead of a bunch of PHP scripts and non-spatial MySQL), which should allow me to speed up development time by a lot for customizations, etc.

For client-side performance issues, we can eventually use a combination of MapServer and TileCache, and then serve the data from a platform like Google Maps or any other competing one.

Polls on Google Earth / Westmount--Ville-Marie

So right now I am working on an experimental project to produce a mashup with the electoral data down to the polling station level.

Right now, I imported the data from the Shapefile provided free of charge on Geogratis to a PostgreSQL w/ Postgis database.

I am then using the libkml library (with SWIG bindings) to merge the data from postgis. Postgis conveniently has a SQL function called "ST_AsKML()" that outputs the geometry as the corresponding KML code. Here is the code that I used:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import sys
import pg
import kmlbase
import kmldom
import kmlengine

def usage():
    return 'usage: riding.py [fed_num]'

def main():
    if len(sys.argv) > 1:
	if len(sys.argv[1]) != 5:
	   print usage()
	   return False
	factory = kmldom.KmlFactory_GetFactory()
	docu = factory.CreateDocument()
	docu.set_name(sys.argv[1])
	kml = factory.CreateKml()
	kml.set_feature(docu)
	conn = pg.connect('postgis', '127.0.0.1', 5432, None, None, 'DB_NAME', 'DB_PASS')
	rows = conn.query('SELECT pd_id, pd_num, pd_nbr_sfx, pd_type, adv_poll, ed_id, fed_num, ST_AsKML(the_geom) as boundary FROM pd308_a WHERE fed_num = %05d ORDER BY pd_num ' % int(sys.argv[1]))
	res = rows.dictresult()
	for poll in res:
	    pl = factory.CreatePlacemark()
	    pl.set_name(str(poll['pd_num']))
	    kmlfile,errors = kmlengine.KmlFile.CreateFromParse(poll['boundary'])
	    mg = kmldom.AsMultiGeometry(kmlfile.get_root())
	    pl.set_geometry(mg)
	    docu.add_feature(pl)
	print kmldom.SerializePretty(kml)
    else:
	print usage()

if __name__ == '__main__':
  main()

Run this on the command line with python (my version is 2.6). This code generates a KML file with all the different polls as separate placemarks for any given federal riding. For now, there is no styling or balloons.

Edit (2009-08-17): Here is the result if I randomize the polygon's colors. Federal Electoral Polls on Google Earth / Westmount--Ville-Marie

Download this generated KML (for Westmount--Ville-Marie - 24075)

Almost a year ago, I created a web app that would generate Google Earth maps with electoral districts and present/past results. This same app was adapted for use on national television (my employer until recently) and again adapted for the provincial election in Quebec, two months after the federal one.

Recently, a new app created by well-known (small c) conservative blogger Stephen Taylor (see video here below) was brought to my attention. What Mr. Taylor brings is in fact a very important and interesting level of granularity to the results. Elections Canada raw data for polling stations has for a long time been made available to everyone. What wasn't originally available last year was geographical boundary of the territory covered by each polling station comprised in an electoral riding.

This data is now available along the electoral district data that I originally found on GeoGratis (a Canada Natural Resources website).

The format provided is Shapefile. My original system relied on a MySQL database that kept plain decimal coordinates of electoral districts. Now, I've learned more about spatial geography tools such as PostGIS (a PostgreSQL extension, and the premier way of storing purely geographical features) and geo libraries like GDAL. Using shp2pgsql, I imported the data of this Shapefile to my database. This is currently where I am at.

I think that from there I will be looking at ways to import the results data to my PostgreSQL db. Then, I'll try to use Google's libkml library (code in Python) for managing and creating KML data (which is just XML really).

Because the ridings data is so heavy, perhaps it will be difficult to make a web-based app with every single one of the 308 ridings.

Maybe if this project takes off, I will try to start my contributions project again, which has taken a rest for lack of editorial need.

Stéphane Dion caves in

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Stéphane s'écrase - Réplique de Stéphane Dion (2 of 2)

We like Stéphane Dion, but some three minutes into his response to Stephen Harper's address to the nation, the camera awkwardly zooms in into Dion, without maintaining the LPC leader in the middle of the screen. On TV, it was even more noticeable, as he had the RDI ticker right below his throat...

On the other hand, with how closely they shot this, we are able to appreciate the names of some of the books composing Dion's bookshelf. First, he read Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge, by Jeffrey Simpson et al. And then, you have 365 Jours pour réfléchir à notre Terre, a photo book by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, famed for his aerial pictures.

The black chair combined with the dark suit made Mr. Dion look like a hunchback...

Maybe they did this quickly to make it a "live" reply to Harper - or maybe the Liberals or the Opposition Leader's office are really out of funds to make a truly compelling video (which also came late to medias and looked a little "warmer" in the colors).

Cyberpresse talks about it.

Île de Montréal et Laval - Résultats élections Québec 2007

Been getting less than 10 hits per day on earth.smurfmatic.net and about half of them are going to the Canadian election map.

So yes, in fact I did a map of Quebec provincial electoral districts with colors representing results of the past elections. The info balloons give you election results dating back to 2003, which is the first general election since the 2001 redrawing of the electoral map (the one that the Elections Quebec CRO deems obsolete).

Here's the link, and please link it back on your blog or website if you like it:
http://earth.smurfmatic.net/quebec2008/
(Google Earth plugin required only for the web version)

Google Earth - Québec 2008 - Circonscription de Gouin (Montréal)

Québec méridional - à la dissolution le 5 novembre 2008

Lien ici :
http://earth.smurfmatic.net/quebec2008/

Après la carte des élections fédérales au Canada, voici maintenant la carte des provinciales au Québec à être déclenchées plus tard aujourd'hui.

Les couleurs de celle-ci représentent les partis ayant remporté les dernières élections dans une telle circonscription, que ce soit la dernière générale ou une partielle (aucun gain, donc c'est la même chose - et aussi, on ne tient donc pas compte de la défection des deux adéquistes dans Iberville et Champlain). La profondeur de la couleur indique la marge de victoire (modifiée par une fonction carrée, ensuite ajustée de 15%).

Encore une fois, on obtient les résultats historiques (entre 2003 et 2008) en cliquant sur le graphique circulaire de chaque circonscription (qui représente les derniers résultats). Bon, voici d'autres captures d'écran:

Couronne du 450 de Montréal - À la dissolution le 5 novembre 2008

Île de Montréal et Laval - À la dissolution le 5 novembre 2008

Parlant d'élections, Google a publié une fantastique carte historique (jusqu'au comté près) des résultats de présidentielles américaines de 1980 à 2004. J'imagine que celle de 2008 s'en vient elle aussi. (Lien KMZ)

Depuis quand le NPD a 100% de la députation en Alberta?

Cette application Flash est très complète, et contient toute l'info socio-économique par circonscription (c'est de l'info que n'importe qui peut obtenir en CSV de Stats Can). Mais alors qqu a fait une bourde en programmant les données, et qqu d'autre n'a pas vérifié la livraison... Regardez de plus près: tous les députés albertains sont orange?

star candidates

The Archives de Radio-Canada team in Montreal, in one of its many web hits, found old footage of several star candidates of the coming federal election from across the country. Enjoy watching NDP's Thomas Mulcair, Whig's Michael Ignatieff (as an author and "Count Ignatieff"), Justin Trudeau (in cegep), and Bob Rae (then a provincial NDP), the Bloc's Vivian Barbot (name mangled by R-C) and Serge Menard, the Tories' JP Blackburn, and even the Greens' Gary Caldwell (going on food show L'epicerie, no less) as they were in the late 80s, 90s, or even the 60s!

buzzz.tv prise deux

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layton et buzzz.tv vers 15 minutes

buzzz.tv +20 mins (English debate)

Hey, I finally get to use buzzz.tv on the Canadian party leaders' debate. Harper's getting gang-banged again. He sounds very patronizing by calling every other leader by their first name while they in turn keep calling him Mr. Harper. The host is nothing as good as Stéphan Bureau.

(Hey, it's like Elizabeth May is defending Stéphane Dion!)

Île de Montréal / Élections fédérales canadiennes 2008 sur Google Earth

Update (2011-10-11) - The 2011 edition of my electoral maps is out! I also open-sourced the scripts used to generate the KMLs (although not the same scripts used in 2008-09).

http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2011/

Update (2009-01-18) - Check out my newest project at http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/polls/. It lets you navigate between ridings, but most importantly gives you results at the poll division level, using new geographic data released earlier this year. (See this post for more details)

Interactive map here:
http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2008/

Une version de cette carte a été utilisée à Radio-Canada lors de la soirée électorale. / A version of this map was used on Radio-Canada Television during election night. (link)

Buzzz.tv -6min

On a beaucoup parlé de Buzzz.tv, dans les derniers jours. Mais quoi, y'a juste 663 participants à six minutes du débat? Pis il est 20h maintenant, et on est 721... J'espère que ça plantera pas!

Mise à jour: bon, finalement, y'a eu trop de monde...

In the world of tagging (attaching metadata to stuff on the web), very unlikely associations can happen due to exhaustion of particular acronyms.

Yesterday, I took the following picture, and posted it on Flickr:

The Conservative candidate, sandwiched by its party's foreign policy

I initially did not tag it with anything, but had in the title the word "Conservative", describing our riding candidates' poster being sandwiched between two signs of "Canada get out of Afghanistan". Later this morning, I get invited to the Conservative Party of Canada (International) (sic) group.

And then, I see Asian girls in various poses (SFW). I go around looking at the pictures, and end up realizing that they belong to... the Cebu Photography Club!

So, is someone in Cebu, a well-known resort island in the Philippines that caters to all East Asia, following the Canadian elections? Well, according to Flickr pictures of the Conservative Party of Canada (International) group owner, he is a probably of Filipino origin, living in or with ties in the Vancouver area (mentions Seattle, but is also getting stuff at Costco that is bilingual English/French)...

On the same run, I also found out that Stephen Harper, not just as Prime Minister, but as the Conservative candidate, may have a Flickr account. Someone accepting those Flickr automated (?) group requests is maybe not doing his job well (or maybe doing it too well).

Stephen Harper in Ajax, ON

Culture en Péril (with subs)

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I've been following the elections - yes, the federal elections in Canada. Wrt cuts in culture, the whole media/culture is raising their arms up in the air. But I can't believe that the Conservatives are doing it w/o paying attention to public opinion. So, will they really get away with it? I have the impression that they might. Just like how they managed to demonize the Liberals' Green Shift. Tough and populist - that's how at least you win a part of the electorate!

This is an interesting involvement of well-known Quebec artists in viral marketing (of themselves, ultimately). Less than three days after it was released, the original video gathered 235,000 views (the entire Quebec population is about 7.5 million), and whose channel is now #3 most subscribed to this week! But it pokes fun at anglos, in a way that would be scandalous if anglos portrayed francophones in a similar way.

It's sort of odd that Stéphane Dion is now the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and alternative to Stephen Harper at the next elections. For followers of The West Wing, they would be delighted to hear that what is wished for in the States could become a reality in Canada: Dion was a professor of Political Science at the University of Montreal, before jumping into federal politics as a Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs. He was also very close to former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and was one of the only ministers under Chrétien to have remained a cabinet minister with his successor, Paul Martin, as a very successful Environment Minister. Stéphane Dion had then chaired the Conference of Montreal on Climate Change. But, it is often being reminded that the Libs have failed to even come close to their Kyoto targets (I don't remember the figures - but I know they exist, having heard/read about them).

In the Province of Quebec, probably because of his strong views on the place of Quebec in Canada, Dion is probably not the most popular politician out there. And he basically has the image of a geek (well, not only the image - IS a big geek, writing academic papers and shit before doing politics; just like the front-runner during the whole race, the ever-vulnerable Michael Ignatieff). On the other hand, is also someone with an image of someone clean, playing the game for real political convictions, rather than the attraction of power.

Edit: Here is the BBC News site talking about it.

So it's the parliamentary break currently, but I just came across the news that the Libs held another debate, this time in French (and where a member of the audience blasted most candidates for not being able to speak proper French).

Stephane Dion, probably the nerdiest (ex-)Minister in recent memory. He was hated by Quebec sovereignists when he was an inter-provincial relations minister, but gained a bit of love when he was in the Martin cabinet as environment minister and who then got to chair the Montreal talks on climate change.

All this to say that while there's only a remote chance that he actually wins the pretty dull Liberal leadership race (which has few of some big names formerly touted as leaders-to-be, like Brian Tobin or John Manley or Frank McKenna), checkout the Google Search for Stephane Dion, and the top hit is the PM Office's site! Now, a former university prof as PM, wouldn't that still be pretty Bartlet-ish? :D

(He's the only candidate from Quebec, and who's perfectly bilingual, except for former Ontario premier Bob Rae, and Stephen Harper is *never* going to win enough votes in the Greater Toronto, so...)

So I went to the Montreal consultation for the head tax issue this afternoon, at the new Chinese community centre in Chinatown. The room was packed with victims of the Head Tax and Exclusion Act. The head tax was a tax imposed on every immigrant of Chinese origin starting in 1885, and until 1947. In the meanwhile, the Chinese Immigration Act was adopted by the House of Commons in 1923 to limit Chinese immigration to 50 per year (link). I've never heard of the head tax or exclusion act until the last federal election campaign, nor did my direct family on both sides been affected by it.

The consultation was hosted by Heritage Canada, and the minister herself, The Honourable Bev Oda was present. It was said that the venue held about 300 people, most of whom were elderly citizens of Chinese origin, and at most 20 people of my age or younger.

Canadian elections results

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Well, that's it, I guess. In Quebec, I overestimated the Bloc's ability to hold on to the protest votes 'gainst the Libs in the region of Quebec, and east of it. I underestimated the NDP and Liberals, and overestimated the Conservatives. Current scores, at 11PM:

  • Cons: 123
  • Libs: 101
  • BQ: 50
  • NDP: 32
  • Ind: 1
  • Total: 307 (+1)

The independent one is a well-known (to French-speaking Quebecers, and soon, the rest of Canadians) and extremely controversial/virulent radio talk show host. If the numbers stay as they are, the NDP are going to hold the "balance of power", which is, in a parliamentary system, nb of seats to give the leading party a majority to do what they want to do in the House... Potential pairings, threesomes... I wonder if people fanfic about these things. More exciting in Canada than the US, for sure.

(Tony Valeri, and Anne McLellan lose, so I win!)

Edit: here are the final results throughout Canada:

  • Cons: 124
  • Libs: 103
  • BQ: 51
  • NDP: 29
  • Ind: 1
  • Total: 308

The most surprising result of the night, in Quebec, was probably how well the Conservatives fared. Based on the good opinion polls since New Year, most analysts agreed on the four main star candidates getting in (Verner, Cannon, Bernier and Blackburn), but then, 6 more in the area of Quebec City? Final results for the province of Quebec:

  • BQ: 51
  • Libs: 13
  • Cons: 10
  • Ind: 1
  • Total: 75

A few numbers

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Quebec

  • BQ: 56
  • Libs: 14
  • Cons: 4
  • Ind: 1
  • Total: 75

Canada (incl. Qc)

  • Cons: 145
  • Libs: 82
  • BQ: 56
  • NDP: 25
  • Total: 308

Misc

  • Out is Anne McLennan in Edmonton Centre.
  • I'd venture to say that a few ministers in Ontario would be out too, such as Tony Valeri, and a few I don't know of in the Toronto area...
  • gg thinks that Goodale should be safe in Regina Wascana, but w/o the prospect of a ministerial status, would he be as safe?
  • Consequently, the prospect of a Conservative win, could make it a domino effect, to make the Liberal lose in a way worse than expected (choosing star candidates with chances of being in the cabinet, ousting cabinet members, and the usual if-my-neighbor-does-it). In any case, people are begging for a minority, so that's the suspense, very obviously from all the media).
  • wtf, hockey night in Canada host and commentator duo Ron McLean and Don Cherry are going to be on the CBC coverage of the election? I kid you not!

The Super Bowl is on Monday

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Well well. I have meant to throw in some election predictions. Earlier this week, I commented this: 10 Liberals, 5 Cons, the rest of it, Bloc.

Now, I do not have my electoral map in front of me (for some reason, the Javascript is screwy on my machine...). I am guessing that the Libs are going to make huge losses, but will conserve most of its English-speaking Montreal ridings, including the one I'm living in, Lac-Saint-Louis. A few elections ago, when Brian Mulroney was PM, we were part of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, with a Conservative MP I believe (who was even a cabinet minister). This riding went to the Liberals, after 1993, and was a surprise loss in 2004, to the Bloc. Would it fall back to the Conservatives? I have not heard of the regional polls, and it's a race to follow, with former astronaut Marc Garneau as the running Liberal (and who campaigned with politically weird declarations à l'emporte-pièce).

Liza Frulla's Jeanne-Le-Ber could be a Liberal loss, in the popular district of Pointe-Saint-Charles. Idem for a bunch of ministers, like Pierre Pettigrew's Papineau. Stéphane Dion's Saint-Laurent-Cartierville is safe, so is Lucienne Robillard's Westmount. (It seems that every downtown Montreal riding is either a minister or PM) Some far-fetched reports are saying that Paul Martin could lose Lasalle-Ville-Émard, but if it were to happen, that would be, plainly said, vraiment poche.

It would be a night full of surprises, and that is enough thrills for an end-of-January political faceoff. Love the blood.

A Conservative minority, short of a few from majority. Landslide Annie, hold on tight! Anything like the 1993 debacle would be a surprise, perhaps not a pleasant one.

And in the case of politics, well... Least to say that on January 23rd, it is expected that no other occupants of my house will be watching the elections with a bottle of coke and a bag of chips. It'll be nonetheless the most exciting election night since 1993.

negative campaign ads

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Turns out that on the radio, the Liberals use either 1- modern/deconstructive music or 2- military music with soldiers footsteps and regiment drums, in their ads to discredit the Conservative Party. I think it's going to be all blue (Bloc and Cons) in Ottawa next Monday.

This documentary (originally aired July 1st, 2005) is really really good. I don't know if it's good, as in "quality good" - it talks about a familiar place. Probably good, like congee (or a dong qwa tong) one's mom makes when one's sick.

The girl at the end says, "we are free to speak our minds, but there isn't lot to speak out about". Democracy in Asia. Democracy as a policy choice, rather than universally good political system. Hmm.

Yearning for a motherland, or not yearning for it. Rhaaaa. Like a lot of Hongkongers, I like being "Chinese", but there is another level of cool, that of being overseas Chinese. Hmmm.

The next Joe Clark

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If I weren't living in Quebec, I'd hold my breath and go with the momentum to oust the Libs (and vote for the Conservatives). I do remember voting for Joe Clark (not based on his policies, more per his positive image versus Jean Chrétien), when he peeked back on the federal scene two elections ago, but voting the Cons this time is not like voting for the Progressive-Conservatives back then. It's a party purged from all the (mostly) urban social values, and voting for that is like voting for the Devil (in a very ironic sense). So yeah, with the latest polls in, the Conservatives in front by a point, and even two in Ontario only, there might be a chance for a minority Conservative government. And on next election, we go back to our wife.

La quête du vote chinois

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http://radio-canada.ca/radio/sansfrontieres/67843.shtml

An interesting documentary about a place in Canada where the Chinese vote counts.

Related: I still can't get over the fact that two Asians are challenging leaders of the political parties running in Montreal. Interpret it like you want, but I think the controversy (interviews of concerned parties in French) is just plain embarassing for the candidate and the BQ (and the community, yo). Not that she had a hint of a chance against Paul Martin.

My take on the ethnic vote is that the sovereigntist learn from their (Jacques Parizeau's) 1995 mistake, and that their strategy is working (from 5% support of cultural communities in 1997-98, to 25-35% among younger people). And that immigrants seek stability in what seemed to be a stable country to have emigrated to. Separation, what the sovereigntists ultimately seek, is a direct contradiction with that stability. My father says, he emigrated to "Canada". I think I like Quebec, everything that's French, but breaking it up from the rest of Canada is not worth it. It's not as if someone in the relationship is being exploited so bad that you need to call for a divorce. So I disagree, and if Canada breaks up, and it could well happen in the next 5-10 years (with the expected election of the PQ in the next provincial election probably in 2007), I wouldn't know what to do, where to go - b/c I am no more attached to Quebec, Montreal, than I am from The Rest of Canada. It's not as if I'd be happier living in Toronto or Vancouver, if one day it wasn't in the same country as Montreal. So going back to China, like HK, melt back into the country my grandparents left for a better life? (Was it actually that hard for them to leave China than it would be for me to try and reintegrate it? So much hypothetical beyond-my-own-life talk/think...)

Re: Asians in Quebec politics

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Regarding this, there was a report on "Les coulisses du pouvoir" just now on RDI (the whole show is replayed later today at 5PM), and it turns out that the Lib candidate was Cambodian, and that the BQ candidate is also pregnant (and for the drama, is saying she would give birth on ballot day, January 23rd...).

Have you seen the Clinton speech?

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Because if you didn't, you really should see it.

Asians in Quebec politics

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There are no Asians in Quebec politics, perhaps b/c we're not a large-enough portion of the population, or that I don't really follow politics for real. But the weird thing is that both parties with a chance to elect anyone in Quebec have decided to pit Asians against the other team's leaders...

One Chinese community leader for the Bloc against Paul Martin in LaSalle-Émard, and one of unknown origin (my money's on Cantonese Chinese) against Gilles Duceppe in Laurier-Sainte-Marie. Look for it yourself, I don't want to be listed on Google (and I will empty the Google cache by year's end - cannot cope with tens of hits for some Utada Hikaru material I may have but don't have (can you believe that I'm hit #10! What's my opinion worth! T_T)). But the comment is that neither candidate has a chance (besides running against party leader, they're running in strongholds of the opposite party) but aren't they just poster boy/girl, as there is never ever any Asian in Quebec politics, even on the federal scene? And on top of it, shit happens.

(As I complete this entry, the night show on the Première Chaîne plays Chinese-sounding instrumental music - one by Mara Tremblay! Must check out that newest album that came out a few months ago already!)

Design Patterns

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As I read the preview to Design Patterns, I recall that it was the recommended textbook for the object-oriented software design course (and true bible for all software programmers), one that I almost failed b/c I kept on not listening and fooling around in class (yes, even a senior undergrad...). The course, even if taught in Python, would've been infinitely useful today, as I get another design panic attack.

It is not so difficult: sleep a good night of sleep, get a hot choco - if you had a laptop, find the most comfortable sofa-chair at the nearest coffee shop, put a pen in your mouth and think.

So, I have memory leak problems. That's probably with the webserver setup, or something abusive in my program (my personality points me to #1). Hmm, I need a picture-viewing-submitting applet tied up to the framework. I have an insane obsession with clean elegant code - somewhat that seems to me necessary to be a good programmer, just that too much of it leads one to design panic attacks.

I guess it's not even a problem of knowing how to do it (it's all there in the docs), but just one of knowing the steps to take to solve a problem (any given sort of problem). Some people adopt a head-first attitude - which is not bad when you are unexperienced (and learn from your errors). You could over-prepare, out of insecurity, and nowhere will you ever get. Same goes for social interactions...

As reported on Radio-Canada, the Bloc is digging up dirt on Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant (and former Bloquiste) Jean Lapierre!

I was awaiting the survey on Canada since it was announced last summer, and the timing couldn't be better. Also, a story of the Quebec sovereignist movement for non-Quebecers/Canadians. "...few immigrants -especially the dynamic Asians- want their children to learn French rather than English.", which is neither a sad thing, or happy thing, just a demonstration of socio-political realities. I don't hate speaking better French than English, but did I have a thought I'd rather have my descendents (if they were to exist) speak Chinese? What a strange thought - I shall never have it again.

Woaw, Gilles Duceppe's got wide shoulders!

Bumping into HK's protest marches

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One was the commemoration of 6/4 (and then I was on one of the shots taken by local cameras, retransmitted around the world), and the other was the very anti-climatic 1st of July march. But today's was larger than expected [of course, I wasn't there - I was in a different country]. Interesting to see what's going on. It's like being there when the anti-Japanese protests in Mainland China occured last April (it coincided with my first tour to China, in the Shanghai region, and I did see some broken windows of Japanese restaurants - in Hangzhou, probably owned by unlucky Chinese entrepreneurs...).

Let's feel important for a sec

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An issue with Canada on its cover! It made BBC news front page yesterday, but what's all the fuss about it? Here we're just like, haha, another minority govt! Start doing like continental Europe! :D Summary.

There goes the government!

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Elections for mid-January. Campaigning served on the side with ya turkey.

Hockey is the lifeblood of Canadians

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It's election time soon, and you can tell it's election time *in Canada* when the Heritage Minister announces she will get try to get the Canadiens' (the hockey team) games back on public TV (as of now, you will only see the Canadiens on non-cable TV on CBC games when the Habs are playing the Maple Leafs). >_> That reminds me of the Foreign Affairs minister (another cabinet member from Quebec) today comparing the sovereignist movement with a game of hockey (along the lines of, electing the Bloc is the first period, electing the PQ in Quebec City is the second period, and holding a referendum is the third - ha-ha!). Some reports earlier this week also pointed to the Conservatives trying to lure former Habs captain (and who won the cup here in 1993) as a candidate in Kingston. Ha?

(Remind me: lifeblood, not bloodlife. >_>)

Sunday Night Medley

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1- First, hi to the few people who may've added me to their blogroll in the past week or month. I used to have the habit of sticking up a few blogs on the sidebar too, but the turnover's been so great that I gave up I'm really a lazy person. Maybe some time again soon. I think it's nice to have at least a few infos about the owner of the blog. Project for the Holidays: embellish the contents of this blog. It's like getting a new haircut, buying new shiny clothes. (I syndicate my blog on Livejournal - this too I will add to the sidebar, eventually)

2- After pondering about Windows/Mac/Linux the other night, I decided to submit the question to the g33k list. Besides what I anticipated to be the next great things to come to the world of home computing, I also asked, well, if Apple is switching to Intel chips, would it mean the same Intel chips used by Windows computers (ie x86/AMD64)? The expectation was that, yes, this is probable, while possibly Intel could still develop a different architecture to fit in the new Macs. If yes, I wondered, wouldn't I just be able to build myself a computer with cheap parts and run a MacOS X deemed superior to Windows, thus save from giving extra bucks that I would have to fork out on an Apple-manufactured machine? Then Rob points out, maybe not, b/c of Trusted Platform Module. In other words, while potentially running on the same sort of chips as any Windows computer runs on, I still wouldn't be able to, b/c of some sophisticated mechanism that locks me out during the installation/running process. This is very evil. In some sense, Apple is even more "evil" than Microsoft, b/c it doesn't just control the software, but also the hardware! (which is not news, and not threatening/considered evil, while Apple's still the underdog)

3- Genies en Herbe trivia compete today. 4 wins, 2 losses (we did not win last year - but then we merged my duo with Felix, with Nicolas', acquaintance from way-back-then cegep, but most importantly top-scorer in combined GeH leagues for several years I believe). My average score has plumetted, as a result of Nic's contribution to the team. But it is to point out we never won before (20 something losses, one tie game last year).

4- My grandparents are leaving for HK next Saturday (and will be coming back right when the snow starts melting). I don't know how to say this. I've taken conscience in the past years about my mortality and realize how little time there is to see/talk with those we love, and even to live our own life the fullest? There are many periods of relaxation, but too many of them to my own taste. Since the August to September two-month hiatus after coming back, I've been thinking that what I would really long for is work hard, party hard - along those lines. Surely have freedom as an inspiration. Work, is what you give to society. And money, is a way for society to say, gee, thanks for being useful! I am drugged up from the lack of sleep of yesterday night from the irregular sleeping times, and having to wake at 9PM for item #3. I like to speak with old people - and I enjoy speaking with family members, b/c I know they won't be there forever. I often wonder why I am not extending this to friends, or even strangers. Setting social barriers to not be overwhelmed?

5- One former co-worker invited a few of us (myself, other former co-workers I know, have seen around - who aren't so "former", b/c I work in the same old moldy building, just on different floors) over to her flat for a home-cooking night. Maggie is Shanghainese, and so cooked a few local dishes, like "Shanghainese salad" (potatoes, ham bits, green peas, carrots, with mayo sauce - which actually reminds me of a salad I was served at another home-cooking happening they had at Uri's Japanese teacher's home when I went over to that fishing town where he teaches English - maybe it's just b/c we don't make cold dishes with mayo/peas/carrots/potatoes), fish pieces sauteed with Chinese 'shrooms/fungi, or one more Sichuanese-style stir-fried chili chicken with cashews. We then sipped some oolong, plus the jasmine and "one-leaf" tea.

6- Canada's going to election! And we'll get yet another Liberal minority! This country is in an impasse. It will probably never go for the Conservatives, still painted as red necks from the West by the media (I need to read more about their platform). In any case, due to Canada's political system, my vote will not count as my riding has been Red Liberal, like, forever. The Conservatives will never carry a majority, simply b/c they are the incarnate devil in Quebec (while the Libs can at least expect to get a few ridings in Qc, mostly in the Montreal area and other urban zones). The Bloc has Quebec, the Liberals, Ontario, and the Conservatives, the West; and fill in the blanks with Orange NDP.

7- My father loves Jewel In the Palace, but even my mother, his inseparable dramas-watching partner, finds it totally cheesy.

Breaking Point: The DVD

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CBC archives, and Election Night from the Radio-Canada archives (in French).

I bought the DVD, in its French version. I wanted to get the English version, so that I can eventually show it to non-French viewers. A passionate story, my plan B has recently been to escape to China, although it doesn't make much sense, b/c I don't feel more attached to Canada that I am to Quebec. I am still more proficient in French, although I work and write (here) in English. Damn Jacques Parizeau! Or bless him, b/c all he did on his concession speech was to divide the country even more with his famous "we lost 'cuz of money and ethnic votes" (which is probably true). I think it's none of my business. I also think I am confused (like a lot of Quebecers), but I like the idea of protecting Quebec culture, rights; while Canada looked for its breaking point by rejecting constitutional reforms at Meech Lake talks earlier under the reign of the Conservatives in the late 80s. So much drama, loving it every second.

Ten years after 93.52% of the Quebec population participated in the vote (The No won by a margin of 1%!), people have hanged the constitutional debate back in the cedar wood closet. There was no change, and Canadians are currently enjoying the release of the Gomery commission drama on the sponsorship scandal.

I think the point to make the rest of Canada understand is that Quebec is different, made up of people different from them, by their culture and the language they use. Actually it's a whole, Quebec with its Anglos and Francos; it's pretty different from the rest of Canada.

Manifeste pour un Québec lucide

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This manifesto for a lucid Quebec was published last Wednesday by a group of well-known personalities from many backgrounds (including political bg - an exceptional thing to obtain, where the federalist<->sovereigntist divide remains). A former Prime Minister, a few former Ministers, a movie producer, a design firm president, a former UdeM rector, a La Presse editorialist; you get it, some twelve members of the Quebec elite.

I unfortunately do not love Quebec, but I am very fond of it, for having lived here all my life. If I loved Quebec, then I'd embrace this manifesto for change. It's one from what seem to be well-read and well-travelled people. The impression I had from travelling to Asia was that, Quebec, Canada, forget it, you have no chance against China - just give up. A society would be doomed if it is indulgent and wasting. (Former Quebec PM) Lucien Bouchard probably draws from his personal experience as negociator for the govt part in the SAQ labour dispute. I saw him talk on Radio-Canada, the French-language national media network, and he was absolutely passionate about defending politicians... I don't think politicians are all bad. I think the perception that people have for their leaders is closely conditionned by their treatment in the media, which is probably in turn a result of the popularity of their policy decisions (which comes to say: we mistrust our leaders b/c they don't do what we want them to do - and in other words, the population immaturity/irresponsible attitude in a relationship similar to a parent vs teenager one).

"Unprecedented competition from Asian countries" sums up what I think is by large the motivation of this manifesto. The document seems to embody the reaction of my so-called latent love/fondness for Quebec/Canada, after seeing first-hand the China-bulldozer. You don't understand the extent of China's potential until you've been there and lived there for a while (HK probably counts too - you see it just by travelling across to Shenzhen, or by reading the SCMP). So, does it concern me? It would be high-treason in certain countries if I said I didn't. Hah!

The thing with elections

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The thing with elections in countries that I don't care about is that the result is exciting. Just take the vote in Japan last week and Germany, yesterday. In one, polls predicted a reelection of the LDP, ruling party for, like, 50 years, except for a year break in the mid-nineties. A passionate vote, where people had "lady assassins" and young unconventional entrepreneurs going after old farts of the old LDP guard no longer in the plans of the party. And in the other, for month people predicted a crushing victory of the centre-right-ish CDU then-opposition party to top the 7-year rule by the centre-left SDP. Hmm, not that Canada doesn't have interesting elections (Canada is like the UK, a 100% first-past-the-post system). Mind you, the previous one had the most improbable of all results, not handing the Liberals and the NDP a clear majority together (the predicted arrangement in case of a minority government people started expecting during the campaign), but instead gave the balance of power to a bunch of independents. We're supposed to have an election (they were saying in the Fall, but probably going to be next Spring), and depending on whether the Gommery Report is going to damage the Liberals. If we had the elections today, Liberals would have a majority certainly (and one would say it's b/c the opposition parties keep a low profile while it's not election time yet). To me personally, going to vote is non-happening. My riding is one populated with Anglos in a French-speaking province and city. While the rest of the Province has the Bloc Québécois as an alternative to vote for, it's unthinkable for anglos to vote for a "separatist" party (pejorative term), even it has re/defined itself as a left-leaning one.

I was listening to the 10th anniversary of the 1995 referendum. The sovereignists (as they like to be called) lost by a margin of a percent, another one of those closest, exciting races. I remember, as a 15 year-old kid back then, wishing they voted in support of sovereignty, just because a change would be nice. Currently, I enjoy Quebec's distinctiveness, but would not go as far as offer it a city. Word from a Chinese-born Canadian. XD In fact, I was told (b/c I've known of just a few instances) that ethnic Chinese, usually Anglophones (we're an exception, as even my parents speak a better French than English) living in Montreal, flocked out of the country in the years of instability surrounding the referendum. I was listening to the documentaries, and one thing that they recalled was Parizeau's (then Premier of Quebec, and leader of the Parti Québécois) impassionate speech the night of the defeat, remembered for the wrong reasons to the eyes of sovereigntists, because it was then that he blamed money and the ethnic vote. Probably that the ethnic vote counted, and as a recent movement I didn't single out until watching it on TV, was the multiplication of ethnic candidates for the Oui camp, either as Bloc Québécois on the Federal scene or PQ candidates on the Provincial scene. Many French-speaking ethnic groups (Haitians, Maghrebians, Greeks - no Vietnamese or Chinese or other Asians yet - we're either not numerous enough or not so overly interested in the politics of the country we emigrate to) have their elected poster boys and girls rooting, not for the usual federalist parties, but rather for those who are portrayed as country-breaking parties. As a reuninting force is the French language and culture.

But in any case, I personally seek statu quo. Let Quebec be French, and preserve itself that way, but it isn't worth declaring independence (what they want is a common economic zone, but with sovereignty over foreign affairs and tax collection, say). I might have remembered that the soon-to-be-crowned (until the press decides he more evil than he is young-ish and charismatic - a gay man who doesn't identify himself by his sexual orientation, but by with his nation and countrymen) leader of the PQ said he did not believe a referendum was in the immediate plans of the PQ, despite sovereignty is the "Article Un" (first point) of the party's consititution. Just isn't worth breaking a couple for, b/c, has anyone thought of the children?

On the other hand, people like to vote for the PQ, because of the alternation thing. If you dislike the current Provincial Liberal government, you vote them out by voting PQ (except in the anglo suburbs of Montreal, where people vote for the Liberals no matter what - except when there was this anglo party, the Equality Party, back in the 90s).

Ced and the monthly Politics column

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I am someone relatively soft regarding political opinion, but I am also someone who likes to gather information from all sort of newspapers, current affairs magazines. Reading about politics, how the world is going, has something inherently "fun" to it, just like someone likes following showbiz or sports.

Anyways, among the things that caught my attention this weekend:

1- The death of Justice Rehnquist: I don't trust that Roberts guy, who was originally supposed to replace O'Connor, a Republican, named by Reagan to do the deed for the Conservatives, but who turned out less prone to advance the conservative agenda after all (a fair judge, as they are expected to be, in the purest of all intentions). He is now Bush's nominee to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist... There's nothing to indicate he's as conservative as they think he is, because there is no way to know (except that he was nominated by Bush), until he actually starts rulling on cases as a Supreme Court Justice. the guy's pretty young too, and SC judges are appointed for life. Scary, eh?

2- Gas prices (and War in Iraq). Hmmm, I angst against the people who're against the war in Iraq and complaining that their gallon is above 3USD (it's almost 1.50CAD per litre in Canada), which is still much cheaper than anywhere in Europe where it's about twice the price. There's a moral price to pay to sustain a sort of lifestyle. To me, misery in the Third World is tightly related to how comfortably we live and waste on the non-essential. I am part of that, and when I think about it, it makes me sad. So, soaring oil prices? Just learn to do without cars. I am going to get my license this month, but I'd rather live in a city where mass transit is more ubiquitous.

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