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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

You get the result you deserve.
National Post editorial writer Adam Radwanski has taken to the blogosphere. And his latest post (as of this writing) is a must read. Maybe our bleeding hearts are getting the best of us, but we both seem to believe that the furor over visible minorities taking advantage of party membership rules seems rather misguided.

The Post is documenting - better than any of our competitors, I wager - how lax membership rules are causing havoc in the political process. But the membership problems and their abuse by ethnic groups seem nearly to be two separate issues. And, it seems, ethnic groups are unfairly being blamed in this regard (sort of directing your anger at the symptom, not the disease).

Take this paragraph from an Op-Ed piece in Wednesday's Post written by a group of apparently concerned analysts:
"All Canadians, including newcomers, should be encouraged to take an interest in the political process. At issue is whether they do so out [of] a desire to seek what is best for the country as a whole or whether they get involved primarily to gain influence and advantage for a specific ethnic group."

Individuals get involved in politics all the time to gain "influence and advantage" for a specific group. Why is it only when these groups are ethnic that we start sweating about our nation's best interests? If plumbers or left-handed people started flooding ridings with memberships in order to place their kind in power, would we be similarly fearful of their prospective tyranny?

The actual problem is obvious: membership rules in this country are flawed. Ethnic groups seem simply to be the only one's motivated to take advantage of these flaws.

Large gangs of old, white, Christian men could do the same. So why aren't they? And, more importantly, why are ethnic groups so eager to do so? Could it be that they feel under-represented in the political system and see this is a chance to gain some influence in a country that is still predominantly ruled by those apparently complacent old white men?

To do then: First, fix membership rules. Second, ask ourselves why it is that these ethnic groups are so much more motivated to take part than the rest of us.

Anyway. Adam said all of this and more with greater eloquence:
"But for now, maybe it's time to stop blaming members of a few ethnic groups for (gasp!) taking an active role in our parties, and wonder where the hell everyone else is. After all, it's pretty hard to accuse Sikhs, Ismailis, or whoever else of some sort of nefarious plot to take over the Liberals or Conservatives when they're only able to do so because nobody else bothers to get involved."

And Andrew Coyne has also commented. The discussion that ensued is a nice example of what a rather complicated issue this can become.

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