Saturday, October 27, 2007

One Way Conversation

Well, we now learn that the John Manley panel will be setting up a website to allow "we the people" input.

Isn't that fantastic? There won't be any public hearings of course, because, well...they have a website!

Sigh. It's perhaps a bit early to comment, because it's not really clear what this website will be. At the moment it appears to be to be a forum, through which you can submit your thoughts, just as you could to your MP or the Government. If it is open to all Canadians, other than gauging the mood of the public, (good information to gather in case of an election, but that can be done through polling), what purpose does that really serve? The voices of Canadians should of course be heard but what effect will they have on the larger decisions to be made?

Here's the effect they can have. I can see a narrative being written to better explain, (read sell) the mission by appealing to our compassion or patriotism or whatever shows up as the "burr under the saddle". If the site is indeed a one-way affair, then I think there is an argument to made for that possibility. Too cynical for you? These are cynical times my friends. Call me crazy, but I cannot believe that Manley has free rein. Even if he does, everyone on the panel is a hawk, so you know that it's going to take the shape of a sales pitch. For the record, I wouldn't want the panel to be made up of all doves either. It's time for balanced discourse.

I'm not of the mind that we should just abandon Afghanistan. I am adamant however that we've done our share militarily in Kandahar are due to rotate out of there. Hillier of course wants to stay, as was evidenced by his comments yesterday. They were direct comments and unless you live in a cave, he was sending a message.

Here's the thing. Once again their is no public dialogue and it's long over-due in this country. There is a sales campaign going on. Oh, there's banter on the blogs, but that is usually filled with uninformed individuals spewing rhetoric like, "fight 'em there or fight 'em here" or "the Taliban will take over and beat women" or "you must support the terrorists and hate our troops". Ridiculous stuff.

No, what is needed is a real dialogue, in fact, it maybe too late. Watching the "Reasonable Accommodation" hearings, it's clear there is little understanding of what is going on in the world, it's impact on Canada in the form of it's immigrants and sadly a complete lack of tolerance rooted in fear and ignorance. So myopic are some that they draw parallels between completely disparate scenarios. How we have become so dumbed down is beyond me. I mean no offense to our American friends, but it would seem that we are not immune to what we often accuse them of, a la Rick Mercer Speaking to Americans.

We shall see where this site goes. For my part, my position is this. Troops rotate out of Kandahar, (and replaced), by 2009. Before that happens though, a total reassessment of the strategy there. Much more work and pressure on Pakistan, cutting the US off at the knees vis a vis their opium strategy and a firm training plan to get a national army and police force up and running. Continued NGO support, financial and otherwise. A much stronger focus on assistance with their, I stress their Democratic reforms. That may entail what we don't want to hear, including power sharing with those we're trying to oust. This is a long term shift. Looking at that country's history, you have to know it's going to be a long go.

Will we have these conversations? I don't know, so far it's a one way conversation.

Cynical times indeed.

BTW, looking at body language, what does that picture tell you?


R said...

This is the exact same thing Manley did with his OPG review. Manley is as elitist as they come. He really has no interest in REAL public input.

knb said...

I suppose elitist is one way to describe him, but I prefer to call him out as a centre-right hawk, who happens to be a republican.

Ryan said...

The website reminds me of the Alberta government's public input "hotline." Hey, this means we listen to the people! We do what the people think! Nevermind the fact that no one in power listens to this stuff. Accountability! Woo!

Forget the fact that Harper met with Canadian business leaders without representatives of the public or their elected MP's to negotiate for the SPP.

What a joke.

Though I'm not sure the abolition of the monarchy has anything to do with being an elitist. Though it doesn't lend any credit towards any nationalist sentiment on Manley's part.