By Robert A. Vella
As I watched Canada’s election returns last night on CBC, I realized something I’ve always suspected but wasn’t quite sure about. Canadians are generally more intelligent, more level-headed, and more sensible than Americans are – at least over the last two decades anyway. They make honest efforts to understand complex issues. They try to think rationally, and they are mindful of opposing points of view. Conversely, Americans are descending into anti-intellectualism, reactionary emotionalism, and divisive tribalism. Watching their election coverage was both reassuring and refreshing, and it stood in stark contrast to their American media counterparts who are obsessively consumed with winners and losers. For one night, at least, my confidence in democracy has been renewed.
That’s not to say that Canada’s system is perfect, far from it. Their politics reflect distinct regional differences, much like those in the U.S., which present stubborn obstacles to governance. It also suffers from a lack of proportional representation which is a hallmark of true democracies. Furthermore, Canada’s conservatives are making the same mistake as America’s conservatives by intentionally or unintentionally purging those who won’t conform to ideological purity; and, the French-Canadian Bloc Quebecois continues to see itself as ethnically and politically separate from the rest of the nation.
In yesterday’s results, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held onto power although he will now lead a minority or coalition government. Considering the opportunity handed to them by the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the election outcome represents a huge disappointment for the Andrew Scheer-led Conservative Party. In the links below, compare the number of seats won to the popular vote percentage garnered for each party in order to accurately assess what fundamentally occurred.
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to form a coalition government, and now that task falls to his opponent Benny Gantz. Political support for President Donald Trump is definitely weakening in the wake of continuous self-inflicted wounds particularly his withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria which enabled Turkey to attack the stateless Kurdish people, and his attempt to coerce the Ukrainian government for personal political gain which has also triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. In other news, violent protests have broken out in Bolivia over the results of a highly controversial election (see: Bolivia braces for general strike after vote chaos).
Trudeau holds on
From: Canada election: Trudeau projected to lead minority government
TORONTO —Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has survived scandal and missteps to win a plurality of seats in Parliament in Canada’s federal election, news media here projected, but he failed to retain his majority, leaving his government dependent on the support of smaller parties to advance his agenda.
Trudeau’s Liberal Party has won more seats than Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and CTV News projected shortly after polls closed Monday night, but fell short of the 170 needed for a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons. As of late Monday night, preliminary results from Elections Canada indicated that the Liberals were leading or had won 155 seats — down from the 184 they won in 2015. The Conservative Party was in second with 122 seats, but led in the popular vote.
Without a majority, Trudeau could try to pass bills on a case-by-case basis, negotiating for the support of one or more of the other parties. He could also establish a formal coalition, in which parties share cabinet seats, but such arrangements are rare in Canada. Both the third-place separatist Bloc Quebecois and the fourth-place New Democratic Party appeared to have enough seats to help the Liberals stay in power.
From: 2019 Canadian federal election
From: Netanyahu says he can’t form a government after election deadlock
TEL AVIV — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he could not form a new government after President Reuven Rivlin asked him to try in the wake of a deadlocked election.
Netanyahu’s decision to cut short his efforts leaves the country’s political future — and his own — uncertain.
The opportunity to form a stable government will now fall to his rival Benny Gantz, who leads the main opposition Blue and White party.
Rivlin tweeted that “the president intends to transfer the mandate to Chairman of Kachol Lavan MK Benny Gantz and make available the 28 days allocated under the law.”
The prime minister needed the support of at least 61 seats, but his right-wing block only had 54 and Netanyahu wasn’t able to get any left-wing party to join him.
From: It’s every man for himself right now on Trump and Ukraine
The Justice Department said Mulvaney’s explanation of why Ukraine military aid was held up was “news to us.”
Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney for Trump, emphasized that his team wasn’t involved in Mulvaney’s news conference.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to vouch for Mulvaney’s account on Sunday.
The Justice Department is distancing itself from Giuliani’s actions on Ukraine.
So is Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
So did Kurt Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine.
So have some congressional Republicans.
Even Trump has, kind of.
Sondland wouldn’t vouch for Trump on the lack of a Ukraine quid pro quo.
Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) now says he’s open to impeachment if there is evidence of a real quid pro quo with Ukraine.
And the unwillingness to defend Trump has extended to Syria and plans to hold the Group of Seven summit at a Trump property in Florida, with the White House being forced to drop the idea due to a private uprising among Republicans already weary of defending Trump on impeachment.
See also: Trump Rages Over Republican Defections as Democrats Press on Impeachment
From: Poll: 14 percent of GOP voters say Trump should be impeached
Fourteen percent of Republican voters said in a recent Hill-HarrisX poll that President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.
The survey, released Monday, was conducted before acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said last week that aid for Ukraine was linked to Trump’s desire for the country to pursue a political probe related to the 2016 election.
Still, the 14 percent GOP support for impeachment marks a 2 percentage point increase from a Sept. 26-27 poll that was taken just days after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launched a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.
From: Majority disapprove of Trump Supreme Court nominations, says poll
A majority of Americans disapprove of President Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court and have little or no confidence that he would pick a suitable candidate to fill any potential future vacancies, according to a new poll from the Marquette University Law School.
The survey found that 57 percent of U.S. adults polled somewhat or strongly disapprove of the way Trump has handled filling vacancies on the nation’s top court. Forty-three percent said they somewhat or strongly approve of the president’s approach, a figure that is slightly higher than Trump’s overall approval rating of 40 percent in the poll.
Fifty-six percent said they have little or no confidence that Trump would “select the right kind of person to sit on the Supreme Court” if another vacancy were to open up. Thirty-two percent said they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence, and another 13 percent said they have some confidence.
From: 538 Trump Approval Ratings
Disapprove = 54.8%, Approve = 41.2%
From: Trump Has More Than 2,500 Conflicts of Interest and Counting, Live Tracker by Watchdog Finds
Trump has 2,551 conflicts in the 1,004 days he has been in the White House as of Monday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported in its tracker published on its website.
Trump’s conflicts were sorted into five broad categories by CREW. Here is the tally of conflicts by type:
1,493: visits to Trump properties by government officials including the president
533: miscellaneous interactions between government officials and the Trump Organization
286: instances in which the president or administration officials used their platform to promote Trump properties
176: events by political organizations or foreign governments held at Trump’s properties
63: trademark approvals to Trump businesses in foreign countries during while he is in office
From: White House Personnel Director Tells Trump Top DHS Picks Are Ineligible
Mr. Trump and many of his top immigration advisers favor Ken Cuccinelli or Mark Morgan for the job. Both men have only worked at DHS for the past few months but are ardent defenders of the president’s immigration policies on television. The previous acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan, submitted his resignation this month but will remain on the job through the end of the month.
Messrs. Cuccinelli and Morgan were installed in the spring after the White House pushed out several officials, including former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whom they felt were standing in the way of tougher immigration enforcement.
Sean Doocey, head of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, informed the president that, as a result, neither man is eligible to be elevated to the Department’s top job, according to the people. The federal statute that governs vacancies states that acting officials in cabinet-level positions must either be next in line for a position or hold a Senate-confirmed position.
Under a third option, the official being elevated must have served for at least 90 days in the past year under the previous secretary.
From: Arizona quietly suspends Medicaid work requirement
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona quietly suspended plans to require about 120,000 people to work, volunteer or go to school to receive Medicaid benefits, as courts have taken a dim view of similar mandates in other states.
The decision is another setback to efforts by President Donald Trump and his allies in many Republican-led states to put conditions on low-income people seeking taxpayer funded benefits.
I was encouraged by your praise for Canadians in this post, Bob. I hope you’re right! I have two points I want to make. First, we have had many minority governments elected over the years, but we’ve had just one coalition government – that was during WWI when the Conservatives and come Liberals joined together into a Union Party – which won that election. In a coalition, persons from each member party are appointed to the Cabinet. Minorities here have just the winning party form the Cabinet and then negotiate with other parties to get their bills passed.
Second, both Canada and the USA are gigantic nation-states compared to European countries – so regional differences are inescapable and dictated by geography. The UK can geographically fit inside Ontario – with room left over. We should not be surprised or discouraged by our regional challenges. We need to have the courage to compromise and remain focused on the Common Good.
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Yes, that’s my understanding also. I must say that the CBC coverage last night was vastly superior to the typical American media coverage of U.S. elections. It was very informative, calmly delivered, and it minimized the highly partisan rhetoric which plagues political discourse down here. Even the concession speeches by MPs who lost were remarkably honorable. Thanks, John.
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