Saturday, December 02, 2006

Liberal sound and fury, signifying... not much.

The federal Liberal Party conference is going on at the moment and it's the worst of all worlds - partly Canadian, partly American. Thursday night's content was execrable - mawkish tributes to Bill Graham and Paul Martin, interminable speeches. It also warned of the "CPAC TV" to come - the incessant Franglish made even more unbearable by the translators. There was Howard Dean because apparently none of the 33 million living Canadians could be trusted to be a keynote speaker without being seen to favour one of the candidates.

As for Friday, say bye-bye to two hours of CBC and CTV prime time (although this probably constitutes an INCREASE in CBC viewership). The hoped-for absence of thundersticks was not to be and undoubtedly as I type on Saturday morning balloons and confetti are being hoisted to the rafters for a proper Republicat/Democran finale.

Can't politicians speak English then French, or French then English then French? Why must it be Engfrenengfrenengfrenlish? Why can't closed captioning be used to avoid the flat tones of the translators? Why can't they even use male translators for male speakers and vice versa?

Why must there be an immediate pundit scoring of how much French was spoken and whether Quebecers (not Acadians or Franco-Ontarians mind, Quebecers) will be okay with it? Will Bob Rae's failure to speak the required amount increase the odds of a separation referendum?

This muddled and bland content delivery is all fine and well for the Supreme Court of Canada or the announcement of more EI for Atlantic Canadian fishermen but isn't this supposed to be about oratory?

This conference has dragged 4,942 people from all over the country at $1,000 a head plus travel - and now they have to stand in two lines, one to get their ballot in the name of their mandated candidate and one line to cast it. The last system I heard of matching this level of futility was Moscow retail circa 1982. Constituency delegates stood for two hours (one delegate collapsed) while "ex-officio" delegates (MPs, senators and party nomenklatura) got a bypass - pick up a blank form and mark it for who you want.

Why were the mandated delegates voting in the first round at all? Their numbers are already known - even if you want to exclude delegates who didn't show up, they had to be registered by 9am anyway (although apparently alternates were still being registered at 3pm which delayed voting). This meant the result of the first round was announced at midnight eastern time - you know, where three quarters of the voters live. The Party hacks are pointing out the vote also selected members of the national executive - let's just say it's best not to try and walk while chewing gum when the cameras are rolling.

If the candidate speeches were to mean anything, the only people voting should be the uncommitted and ex-officio delegates - better still they should vote after the speeches because you'd still get the votes counted by midnight anyway! Instead the speeches are largely moot because many of the people who actually can make a first round choice have already voted!!

That's it for the pre-game, read on for the speeches...
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