Friday, August 19, 2016

#bcpoli poll: 38% BCL, 29% NDP, 16% Grn

Quick post today in case people aren't aware of the current state of BC politics - a new poll was released, the first in several months, showing what appears to be an absolute wash for the BC Liberals.

Innovative Research, which is a semi-regular pollster during election season in past BC races, put the race at 38% BC Lib, 29% NDP, 16% Green and 15% BC Con.

Since at least early 2013, and I'd wager probably since the 2009 election, the Liberals have never had something like a nine-point lead over their NDP rivals. If Horgan led his party to that result it would be the third worst result for the party since its name change in the 1960s, with only 1963 and 2001 beating it out. It would be a disaster, while the Liberals would coast on by to an easy majority, despite 38% being their worst result since 1991.

Using the now updated BC election model, I get 55 BCL, 17 NDP, 10 Greens and 5 Conservatives. Ouch.

But it gets worse for the NDP, considering that the numbers for the BC Conservatives are very inflated. As I mentioned last post, the party is disorganized and currently doesn't even have a leader, that honour going to whichever of the no-names wins in September, with little but months to prepare for an election.

There is no way the Conservatives can maintain that kind of strength, but the Greens? Likely they'll fall back, but there is also a good chance they won't. To get to 16%, all they have to do is hit around 35% on Vancouver Island and they can settle for teens or lower everywhere else, and that will likely be their strategy going forward.

The NDP better get their house in order quickly before the Greens start looking to supplant them as opposition.

Monday, August 15, 2016

BC's 2013 elxn on new boundaries #bcpoli

For those interested, I've done a manual transposition of British Columbia's 2013 general election onto the new boundaries finalized by the provincial commission. You can read their reports here as well as view the new boundaries, but I've provided some maps below as well.

Click for full size

You can also look at the transposition in full on my Google Drive.

I did this over a month or so by hand (or computer, whatever), though it isn't as complicated as you might think. I used the boundary files provided by the boundaries commission, the voting area maps and vote tabulations of the 2013 election provided by Elections BC, as well as some general visual use of's BC section. There were 48 districts that needed to have their vote totals modified, though there are more out there that had small bits of boundaries changed, just without affecting actual population count, ie. moving a boundary in the middle of a forest or around a different part of a bay.

Note that I did have to take some liberties and shortcuts to get a workable result without wild speculation on my part. For example, if a voting area (aka poll) crossed a new boundary, I went by the rule that whichever side had higher count of visible residences would receive the entire area's vote totals. While I could have split them apart and divided them up per household, that would have required a lot of guesstimating on my part that, frankly, I wasn't going to commit time to, especially when it likely wouldn't affect the final result by any more than a handful of votes. It's also speculation to say which half voted which way, maybe one half all went NDP while the other Liberal, or both are even, or everyone who voted Green lived on one street - so on and so forth. Decisions like that simplified my task without creating invalid results, often because it would balance itself out anyway.

For advanced polls, special ballots, and so on, I split those votes up by whatever percentage of the vote was moved over into the new riding by the new boundaries, per party, before those advanced and special ballots were counted. So for example, if 85% of BCL voters in Riding A went into Riding B, then 85% of the advanced voters that voted Liberal from Riding A would go to Riding B, while the other 15% went wherever else. Same thing happened to 75% of NDP voters going from A to B, 67% of Green voters, etc. This allowed for the partisan strengths to be reflected when transposing results, so for example when Surrey South takes away the big chunk of Liberal-friendly voters that resided in the southern portion of Surrey-Panorama, their advanced voters went with them, which reflects how voters in the district actually voted. Therefore, Surrey-Panorama became a lot more NDP friendly as those BCL communities, and their advanced voters, left.

The only time I did not do the above with advanced polls was when it was clear that one advanced poll location was so far out of the way relative to communities within the riding that the likelihood of those people voting there was minimal, i.e. the voters of Hope likely didn't vote in the advanced poll locations in Chilliwack, so when Hope was redistributed into the redrawn Fraser-Nicola riding, their advance poll location went with them in whole. I won't say that it's perfect, however as with above, it should be far more reflective of the actual results.

Finally, there are about 3,000 missing voters from the calculations. Taken from the 48 ridings I modified, then we're looking at about 60 votes per riding - which I find acceptable. It's unavoidable that doing this manually in what is probably a far more imprecise manner (relatively speaking) than how professionals at Elections BC might do it, I'm going to lose some folk, basically through the multiple divisions of advanced and special ballot votes I had to do. No riding is 60 voters close, and even the few close ridings where it could matter I don't believe it will make a difference in - every party lost some votes, almost in equal proportions. I'm not too worried about it, but if you are then I apologize.

Anyways I promised a map, so here you are:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Adventures in Minor Political Parties: BC Conservatives

I've decided to start a fun new series giving short but detailed looks at the ongoing travails of minor parties in Canada, whether at the federal and provincial level, because everyone needs someone to feel empathy for.

For the first part, let's take a look at the poor struggling BC Conservatives. Just to be clear, the party really doesn't have any relation to the old Conservative Party in the province, which was last seen as an asterisk at the bottom of the 1975 election.

Well, that isn't true - legally they're the same party, but long has it been since those organizers or ties were relevant. They've been around, sure, but it wasn't until 2009 under the leadership of a religious nutbar that anyone was sure there was still life in the corpse.

However you may remember the BC Cons from four years ago when they were the hit new kids on the #bcpoli block, with longtime federal MP John Cummins ready to come down and whoop some pansy Liberals out of their place as the province's not-NDP party. Those were heady days, when they even once managed to tie with them. They even scared the BC Liberals so much as to bring up the perennial discussion of changing their name whenever it looks like they're about to lose

Unfortunately, mildly preturbing Liberals was all they managed to do. When push came to shove, Cummins and the Conservatives - who received no support from their federal colleagues - ended up with a paltry 4.8% support. In an election where the polls got everything else wrong, their piss poor numbers were the exception. Why did this minor party wearing big party britches fail?

Sad Cummins
In essence, the BC Conservatives came about at the wrong time and fell into the hands of the wrong people. The BC Liberals were in trouble because of various populist issues (HST, scandals, etc.) but were still obviously in control of the not-NDP side of the spectrum, while the Conservatives showed themselves to be inept at handling just one MLA. As the spectre of a NDP wash under the relatively left-wing Dix hung over the heads of donors, organizers, and voters, it was clear that the damaged but functional Clark Liberals were far more preferable to the utterly chaotic Cummins Conservatives. The leader was probably the key issue - Cummins may have been a long serving politician, but it was clear he couldn't lead the party out of a paper bag let alone into an election. They had severe issues with candidate recruitment during the election, Cummins couldn't handle himself in a debate, and overall it was just a super sad spectacle.

Had the party been led by a competent person, or had it come about during a time when the NDP were firmly in control rather than the comparatively right-wing BC Liberals, the story may have been different. However in a province where politics is polarized and where the players of the game know a bad bet when they see it, the BC Conservatives stood no chance.

Oh, and ideology? Who knows or cares, outside of believing in the province they live in. They also have crap logo design, but that's my opinion, unlike the rest of this.

So where are they today?

Currently the party is leaderless after their leader stepped down because the job he sought turned out to actually be a thing he had to take time to do. They're holding a leadership race this September, where a defeated federal candidate, a doctor who says the root of all problems is we suck at money, a guy who's best media exposure is an autoplaying YT video interview with The Rebel on his front page, and, of course, the leader whose resignation precipitated this race, are vying for the top job.

All of them, except Ellis, need better website designers, thus I crown her the next BC Conservative leader.

The party is currently polling at 11%, but would be lucky to end up with bread crusts in 2017.

Friday, August 12, 2016

If Elizabeth May resigns, the Greens likely won't recover for years

Elizabeth May has signaled the likely end of her leadership of Canada's Green Party, with the recent adoption of official support for the anti-Israeli BDS movement by the party's militants becoming the final straw for her. While she hasn't fully committed to stepping down as leader, spending 10 years in the spotlight with both victories and failures would be enough to sap anyone's strength. She basically laid out something I completely empathize with - she's tired of politics, and her inability to control the narrative even within her own party has not helped.

Regardless of what you think of May, BDS, or the Green Party in general, there's no doubt that the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands has made an impact in Canadian politics. Though the party was always going to grow, her well-liked public persona and loud activism allowed for several successes the Green Party might not have made so quickly. Elected Green members in BC, New Brunswick, and PEI have much to thank her for.

Of course, the departure of any longtime leader and national party will likely suffer some - but a resignation prompted by lack of control, lack of success and polarizing controversies would likely wound it beyond repair for a few years at least.

People were leaving the Green Party even before May's resignation, including experienced hands. Now more may go thanks to this BDS resolution, which has clearly cut the party in half. Right away the most vulnerable leader, BC Green leader and MLA Andrew Weaver who faces an election next year, disparaged the resolution with an official statement. And though we haven't seen word from the other provincial parties on the issue, I suspect most leaders will agree with May and Weaver. In particular in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, where large Jewish communities exist, they will almost have to. Quebec in particular is an interesting case, given that at their high point in 2007/2008, many of the Green's top ridings were on the West Island and covering major Jewish communities such as Côte-Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West. Could they be so successful in the future with the BDS issue hanging over their headsÉ

It gets worse. Imagine if you will a leadership race that pits longtime activists with campaign experience promoting May's fuzzy ideology, the "establishment" of the party, versus the pro-BDS side who will likely be flooded with entryists in a bid to keep the resolution from being taken out. This may not tear the party apart on it's own, but as we've seen with the UK Labour omnishambles, the left does not deal with issues surrounding Israel very well. We will see stories about Green anti-Semitism, true or not, making headlines, with shouting matches and rude commentary from activists on both sides. It will stain the party's image for years, because frankly it will be seen as a pattern with the Greens - after all, they ran Monika Schaefer as a candidate didn't they? They are a party of fringe ideas, right? Of course they'd welcome anti-Semites!

It will damage the party beyond repair, and mar the reputation of any May successor who will either have to alienate one half of the party, or try to broach a peace that will brush them with stains of both sides. Unlike May, they will not be given the benefit of the doubt and will not be able to hold it together. Winning any seat in 2019 will become a pipe dream.

The glue holding everything together right now is Elizabeth May, and she's clearly tired of it. What happens if she leaves the helm of the party in these circumstances? Nothing good, not for her and definitely not for the Green Party.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bonokoski and "Screaming Headlines" of Science

Mark Bonokoski, a Toronto Sun journalist, wrote this absurd piece yesterday on why are all those unmuzzled scientists not barking, or whatever.

The entire article doesn't seem to have much of a point beyond being grumpy, and can be summed up by some of it's last paragraphs:
So what is it now? It has been almost 10 months since the election, and almost as long since the muzzles on Canada’s 4,000 scientists were removed by the Liberals.

Surely there is something these scientists can collectively say to qualify their years of outcry, and produce at least one screaming headline during the dog days of summer.
Bonokoski is a news guy, and it shows, because science is not about producing "screaming headlines" - his job is to do that, it is not science's. Science is more often harmed by the idea that they must produce headlines to legitimize their work.

To put it simply, most efforts and work in scientific research go into either reaffirming things we already know (which isn't sexy enough for headlines) or testing theories, often unsuccessfully (which isn't as exciting as if they are "proven") - yet all of it is vital work. If you box scientists into getting out "screaming headlines," you're only hurting the quality of research being done, because funding becomes tied to whoever can interest the most editors. That is not the best way to ensure science is done and we actually learn something, it's done to help someone's bottom line.

Besides, the issue with Harper's silence of federal scientists wasn't simply about producing headlines and releasing info the media, though that was a big issue - it was also about being able to share data among each other, about the actual focus of funding for research, and of course about the government actually heeding their advice on scientific issues. The Harper government pressed down on the scientific community with a weighted hand often because it didn't like what it heard out of it. Bonokoski only saw part of that in relation to his own job, so imagine how much pressure would've been felt for the people actually employed by the former government.

Which, by the way, should've be enough for him to have scrapped the entire article because of how truly awful and stupid those related experiences were. Bonokoski and other Sun conservatives always crow about government bureaucracy, but in that article alone he doesn't treat it very seriously does he.

As to whether or not Canadian scientists actually are producing headlines, I think the better question is why  Bonokoski isn't out there finding them. These people haven't stopped publishing new data and findings, Canadian scientists constantly put out papers. There's also the fact that a lot of federal scientists probably produce reports in house for ministries, not public consumption.

But all it takes is a Google search or simply reaching out. Bonokoski is the journalist here complaining about the lack of headlines - yet how many probably await him? I've found plenty with the first link in a Google search.

Ridiculous to complain about something that is your own fault, certainly not very conservative!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Long rage post on how ignoring immigration concerns will doom us all

The above Toronto Star headline and article is probably the most dangerous thing to the political order today.

I already talked about this at some length in my last post on this blog, talking about the Brexit referendum and how liberal politicians basically ended up screwing themselves because they don't take the people with concerns about immigration seriously. The basic point for those not interested in rereading is thus: listen to people who speak up about the impact of immigration they feel, and maybe we won't end up in the mess the UK is in right now. Also, try not to call them racists for simply saying something.

Then the Toronto Star decided to put out this absolutely ludicrous headline saying that Ontario faces an "epidemic" of Islamophobia, with a subhead focusing on the fact that 70%+ of people do accept immigration, but they feel the government should take care of people already in the country - I would add a "too" to the end of the sentence, because I doubt most respondents felt it's a pure either/or proposition, but the article of course doesn't say that.

The article then goes on to summarize a 52-page report in under 700 words. The very first lines of the article are thus:
While Canada rides a wave of global praise for welcoming Syrian refugees, a new poll suggests we’re also facing a wave of something sinister — Islamophobia.

This scaremongering opener is actually ridiculous when you go through the article itself, because while there are certainly some concerning figures within the article, they don't actually point towards Islamophobia - they point towards the great immigration debate of the UK, US and Europe  that is coming to English Canada, and it may hit us like a tonne of bricks if we aren't prepared.

And who is propagating this rising concern, you ask? The bloody media currently writing clickbait headlines about it.

Let me just lay out the articles actually presented in the article for you before I go any further.
  • ~33% of Ontarians have a positive impression of Islam, and +50% feel Islam, even mainstream denominations, are violent.
  • 72% feel immigration is valuable to society, and 71% say it is a part of their cultural identity
  • ~75% feel that we need to take care of people in Canada, "instead of spending resources on refugees."
  • 46% say we admit too many immigrants, while 45% say we admit the right amount
  • ~60% say the federal government's decision to accept Syrian refugees was right, and ~20% said they participated in welcoming refugees to the country.
  • ~75% said Muslim immigrants have "fundamentally different values, largely due to perceived gender inequality."
  • Non-specified number of those with unfavourable impressions of Islam have higher opposition to Syrian refugees, and are more likely to say Canadians need help at home.
  • 53% said we should only allow immigrants with similar values, and 74% said we need to be more strict about who we accept.
The poll was conducted among 1,009 people with three point margin. And it is the only poll so far of its kind, just to note that as well.

This may or may not be unpopular to say, but each of those data points above have a reasonable motivation behind them that doesn't equal to outright racism or Islamophobia, though all of them can certainly lead to acts motivated by it. All of those people behind the above numbers are driven by a multitude of complex reasons, certainly some of it stemming from discriminatory views, but much more of it by disintegrating political discourse, by rapid change in their communities, by sensational media that inflames their anger or guilts them into submission, and by the feelings of alienation, dispossession and lack of control felt by larger-than-you-think swaths of the province and the country.

But that does not equal out to wide swaths of the province becoming virulent Islamophobes. It points to a growing trend of people feeling ignored by governments that seem more eager to tout how many refugees they're accepting than what they're doing to lower the cost of electricity or help with the cost of living.

In Ontario, and I'm sorry to say this, we have a government and leaders that are tremendously unpopular who make even more unpopular decisions, and they aren't disliked without justification. As much as I love Kathleen Wynne's commitment to combat climate change and bettering transportation and so on, my own family currently pays more out of pocket to keep our home powered than we can actually afford. It would be so easy for someone in my position to see a newly arrived family seemingly getting a better deal than I get to become a little jaded. It isn't hard to see someone with mental disabilities on the street without support, and wonder why the government is scrambling to bring in refugees from overseas but then turns around and says we can't afford to spend more on healthcare. And none of those things has to be true, remember that, because perceptions are what count in modern politics, not the truth.

Add onto it other concerns that this survey probably didn't even touch, such as how people's communities are changing faster than they can cope with. If you lived in an area your entire life, where you're used to certain people and certain surroundings, rapid changes in the demographics of those communities are going to shock you. It will create anomie between the resident and the community they've become attached to, alienating them from their surroundings in ways they never expected, such as seeing new customs like women wearing hijabs or hearing a new language dominate in the local grocery aisle. When they see the school system struggle to try to integrate newcomers who speak vastly different languages, or see in the media articles about new immigrants putting stress on the healthcare system, or hear a politician yell about how everything used to be better before we let "them" in - can you actually blame anyone for falling into negative opinions about immigration, something driven by a government often seen as uncaring and far away from the reality in which they live?

I can't find a fault in the logic, honestly. And it really hurts to say that, because I'd love to follow the Star in saying these people are racist, they're old WASPs soon to die off, but I know it isn't true. Furthermore I know how dangerous it will be to let it fester, we all do now.

The vast majority of people in the survey who responded with varying degrees of skepticism about immigration, Muslims, and the government's actions on this front aren't drooling Islamophobes - they're frustrated, and they have every right and reason to be. Society is changing and they're feeling left behind by any number of institutions and policies, and immigration and immigrants, especially those from foreign cultures (Muslims are the concern now, but before them it was Slavs and before them, the Irish, and of course throughout Canadian history, the French) make convenient boogeyman because they're so pervasive, especially in Ontario.

We tell them they all benefit from immigration and multiculturalism, which in the broad sense is absolutely true, but when was the last time someone demonstrated that to them in a substantive way? How do you do that? And in lieu of being able to do so, how do you cope with their concerns?

I'll tell you one way you don't - by calling them racists and brushing them off as such. Which is why that Toronto Star article is so damaging. Here are the final two paragraphs of that article:

Despite a generally positive view of immigrants, 53 per cent of Ontarians said we should only allow immigrants from countries that have similar values to our own while 74 per cent said we need to be more strict about what kinds of immigrants we accept.
“There are imbalances in the worth of immigrants relative to ‘the people here.’ They are seen as valuable to society but less deserving of our resources,” the poll found. “This shows that acceptance of immigrants is not without its limits.”
Of course it isn't. You cannot have massive changes in communities and societies without people on the other side of those changes saying "slow down." But as I've tried to stress throughout this post, it isn't just because the immigrants are Muslim - we've seen the same complaints about Poles and Romanians, even Germans and Spaniards, in the UK. People want to have some semblance of control over what is going on, and unfortunately a lot of them don't feel they have it. They're going to lash out at those that seem to be getting the better treatment - again, even if it isn't true, because truth is often a casualty in these kinds of arguments, the ones subject to passions rather than reason.

But the Toronto Star seemingly doesn't get that. Instead it is just going to piss off a swath of people who feel their concerns are justified but are just being called Islamophobes instead. This will not help anything, and the Star should be ashamed of that.

So what are the solutions to all of this? Because there is obviously a growing problem, and if we aren't careful, anti-immigrant sentiment will become a political tool for candidates and parties. We know when that happens, when politicians and media stoke the flames of frustration, we will actually get a wave of Islamophobia, one with tragic and earth-shattering consequences on things maybe not even related directly to such concerns, like Brexit. Some say we're already in that position, though I think we aren't even close to a true movement yet.

The top goal should be figuring out a way to demonstrate how immigration benefits people specifically, because we know it does. If we show them how immigrants enrich their lives, personally, economically and culturally, then we're taking the right steps to stop people from blaming those who, in all honesty, are just like them in many ways, with the same amount of control over their new surroundiungs as those already here. We must do this if we want to avoid the backlash seen in the United States, UK and Europe, especially among the struggling in this country.

But I am nothing if not a realist, and what I'm about to say will probably make some people mad, because unfortunately if we want to keep the province and country on a progressive track, we're going to have to make some compromises. It starts by listening.

These are your families, friends, neighbours, and ultimately they're citizens and voters, and we need to listen to the concerns they have and bring it back to the legislatures of the country and actually act upon them. The solutions will range from providing more economic access and support for those in poverty, which we all want anyway - or, to be blunt, it may even lead to discussions about limiting immigration or reexamining how newcomers are integrated into Canadian society. We will have to actually have discussions on these issues, no matter how uncomfortable they end up being, and it may lead us to things that twist progressive hearts. But at least we'll be ensuring these people have their voices heard, and we can find a way forward that doesn't lead to hate.

The alternative is that we act like toffs and condemn everyone who says immigration is having a negative impact on their lives as a racist, Islamophobe, whatever, and act like we can ignore them. We can put up all the posters we want about how that Muslim immigrant is just like you, but if we're not addressing the deeper insecurities people feel, then they will eventually find an outlet that will. The people who will ride waves of anti-immigrant populism to power are the ones we truly need to stop, and we can only do that by getting to the source before they do.

Friday, June 24, 2016

#EUref takeway

It is a sad thing to see a country tear itself as the United Kingdom has just done.

With nearly all the ballots counted, roughly 52% of 72% of voters in the UK opted to Leave the European Union,  with stark divides among demographic, geographic and political boundaries. The young - those who have to live with the decision - voted to Remain, while the old - the, to be blunt, dead and dying - voted to Leave; Scotland voted overwhelmingly to Remain while England, minus most of London and some major cities, voted to Leave; and as some of the authority results have played out, the white working class areas and old country villages voted overwhelmingly to Leave while the urbane wanted to stay.

52%. That number is incredibly close considering the impact the vote will have on the future of the UK. While there is a lot of doom and gloom about the markets right now, it will likely stabilize shortly after. Had the UK been part of the Eurozone, things would be incredibly different, but at the end of the day the UK and the EU countries will figure out a way to work everything out. Nothing will truly change on that front, simply because everyone has too much at stake to allow a total divorce to occur. Like with Quebec's "sovereignty-association" idea, the EU referendum was a lot of bark but little actual bite.

No, at the end of the day, what may truly change is the political landscape. The UK has voted itself out of what many considered an unbreakable alliance of nations, and that will have a greater impact down the road than I think any of us are willing to accept. The UK's referendum has given democratic cover to nationalists and outright fascists to gather the alienated and downtrodden masses, left behind by globalization and capitalism, and form them into a base of support the likes of which liberal democratic politicians have rarely seen and will barely be able to touch.

They're already out there, of course. They're the people who complain about "political correctness" going too far, while openly praising attacks on others. They're the ones who say it'll be a good day when institutions like the EU are gone so "the people" can get their power back, when in fact they're concentrating all of it in themselves. They're the ones who say they're going to fix everything, while causing most of the problems we see today.

The personalities who say the above are powerful because they speak to what people face in their everyday reality - that they're being called out as racist or xenophobic simply for being white, or that some bureaucrat from on high is dictating to them without concern, or that their lives are ruined because of matters out of their control. These are real concerns of real people who have just as much a right to vote as you or I do, and they feel they're no longer being heard. All it takes is for a demagogue to propose an easy fix - "Vote Leave and get your country back," or "Vote Trump and Make America Great Again," or closer to home, "Vote Ford and stop the gravy train" - and they'll listen, even if the demagogue's promised solutions can never be delivered, because at least someone cares about their problems.

When faced with the challenge of the populist demagogue and their supporters, democratic politicians often shrug. They say, "oh we'll appeal to their sense of reason," or "we'll show them how damaging it is to disrupt the way of things." They prattle on about high-minded and even justified ideals of open societies, globalized trade, and the high-tech future, but what they don't get is that those people are no longer listening. Complex explanations of how the modern world works and how it benefits them or the community cannot stand up to the simplistic call-to-arms of the demagogue, who demands everything be fixed through sheer will alone or by God they'll burn it all to the ground around them. Reason and pragmatism mean nothing when up against passion and innate anger at the system. Do the politicians and Eurocrats get that? I have my doubts.

The UK and EU will probably survive the upcoming challenges. While demagoguery now has precious cover for some of its baser and nastier instincts, there still exist an equal, if not greater half of people who resist it. But probably not since the early 20th Century have we been this close to the breaking point, where populist anger boils over into murderous rage. Some countries have already tipped over the edge, like Poland and Hungary, where growing authoritarian leaders and governments actively promote censorship, government crackdowns, and animosity between communities. Russia has been there for nearly two decades.

Could such governments be elected in democratic bastions like the US, Britain, France, and Germany? How about Canada? Why wouldn't they be? Our countries are in many ways no different from struggling Poland and tiny Hungary except in maybe the severity of the problems, but how far away is the tipping point really?

We live in dangerous times. While I believe we'll can get out on the other side better than before, we won't if we continue on as we do. The world is getting better for most people, but those left behind by forces outside their control need to know they can also come with us - we need to listen, not talk down to them.

Does that mean we give into bigotry and racism? Of course not, it doesn't have a place in the society we all want. But it does mean we have to listen to those we consider having disagreeable views, and find out why these issues are coming to the fore. Is the guy complaining about the immigrants just a racist ass, or is he seeing a new community move in with benefits that he will probably never see? Are some simply xenophobes who can't accept people of other faiths, or are they concerned about the loss of their cultural identity in a globalized world? Is the person screaming about men in women's washrooms just a bigot, or do they simply not yet understand what trans people are all about?

People don't come to conclusions based on nothing but simply being an adjective. They feel justified in their opinion based on their experiences or those of others. If we, as people committed to liberal principles, want to avoid getting swept up in a demagogic wave, we'll need to approach these people and find out why they hold these ideas, and what we can do to move forward together on solutions.

My silly concluding analogy is thus: you can continue to drive your agenda forward over all those bumps in the road, but there will come a time when the damage will add up, and not only will progress become stalled but it may even be reversed. To me, its better to lay down the pavement first before we continue on than risk having to tow it all back to the beginning, as the UK has to now.