There is still good in the world.

I’m listening to a first-rate performance and recording of Steve Reich’s “Music For 18 Musicians”. It’s absolutely fabulous still, after all these years.

In any case, I figure if I can subject myself to “The Rite of Spring” at the TSO and have to deal with music that hasn’t any meaningful harmony or structure, the least I can do to achieve balance is imbibe a great deal of music that’s nothing but.

An analogy about tradition.

The difference between tradition for a reason, and tradition for tradition’s sake is this:

You tell your kid not to stand on the top step of a stepladder. It’s not safe. You’re quite likely to hurt yourself. You tell him this. He tells his kid the same things, but doesn’t pass along the reason. His kid isn’t very bright and starts to think that the top steps of ladders are somehow inherently evil. His kids take it a step further and suddenly the top steps of everything are evil. Their kids take it a step further and the tops of things are evil. Eventually no-one climbs mountains or trees, no-one lives in the top floors of apartment buildings, and everyone is wearing a hat so no-one else can see the (evil!) top of their head.

Of course, no-one falls off the tops of ladders, but not because they’re sensible and can tell that standing on the top step is a bit of a silly thing to do. Instead, its because they’ve vilified the tops of things, which is far sillier than standing on the top step of a ladder. It causes untold more difficulties because those who (rightly) go against the grain have to learn the lesson about ladders the hard way.

One more quick note.

Let me say one more thing to cap off my last post about the situation in Ottawa.

I’ve seen a number of emails and Facebook groups basically parroting the Conservative talking points. This disturbs me. As people in general, but as Christians in specific, we’re not beholden to one party or one point of view. We aren’t bound to vote a certain way. We’re in a corrupt world full of corrupt people and organisations, and we’re called to be wise as serpents yet gentle as dove.

I know I’ve already made this point before, but I’ll make it again. Our identity as Christians isn’t tied up in any particular political ideology. You may dislike the NDP or the Liberals for various reasons, and you have every right to that opinion; but you don’t have to dislike them, and you don’t have to like the Conservatives.

One side note: it’s remarkable how few people actually understand how the Canadian parliamentary system works. Absolutely remarkable. Maybe it’s because politics in Canada is generally so very dull or something; I don’t know. Either way… keep in mind that we don’t elect governments in Canada. We elect Parliaments. Whoever can form a government from that Parliament forms a government. In recent Canadian history, the Conservatives has been able to form two minority governments. A coalition government has ever right to topple a minority government. It may seem like a game — doesn’t all politics seem like a game? — but that’s how our system works. And it’s worked well for over 140 years.

Dear Conservatives: Please Stop the Whining

Dear Conservative Party, can we stop throwing the word “democracy” around like a football please? Is that okay? You know how the Westminster Parliamentary system works: You know it’s not about who “got elected” but that it’s about “who can form a government”. If the people had given you a majority you could steam-roll everyone as you please. But the people in their infinite wisdom (I’ll go along with the trope for a moment, but there’s some bile rising here) decided not to. So that means that you get to form a minority government.

Seats in Parliament are what matters, not which single party got the most votes in the election. We don’t have a presidential-style system where the guy rules as long as he gets the most votes. If the Conservatives have the most seats, but not 50% + 1 of the seats, they form a minority government. If the Liberals and NDP get together and form a coalition, they suddenly have more seats and they can form the government. This is called “having the confidence of the House”, and if the ruling party doesn’t have that confidence, then the ruling party falls and is replaced by another party or coalition that does have the confidence of the house.

This is why, for those Canadians who seem too dense to understand this, we have a Governor-General. She’s there to oversee and make judgment on abnormal situations like this. She’s the ultimate arbiter of our democracy… and she wasn’t even elected. Gasp! Horror! She doesn’t have to answer to the people of Canada — she has to answer to the Constitution, the Ministers of the government, and (theoretically) the Crown. (Not to mention that the Senate isn’t elected either. Gasp! Horror!) She’s there so that, for instance, a Prime Minister can’t just dissolve Parliament and call an election every time he gets a vote in the House that he dislikes. You can google the King-Byng affair for a time when the Governor-General did just that.

The Governor-General is going to be making some interesting decisions. But there’s nothing back-door or anti-democratic about the proposed coalition between the Liberals and the NDP. It’s how the Parliamentary system was designed to work. The opposition doesn’t like a heavy-handed minority government, and doesn’t feel like being jerked around for the next three years with a confidence motion attached to every bill, budget, and bulletin that gets tabled in the House? Well, they’re free to topple the government.

There’s nothing anti-democratic about it. And if the people of Canada really feel like this is a bad idea, they’re going to punish the NDP and the Liberals in the next election. Which, of course, there will always be. A next election.

In the meantime, the Conservatives can jolly well stop their whining, and stop their deceitful attack ads. The Governor-General doesn’t make her decisions based on what the people think, okay?