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Transnational Thursday for March 28, 2024

Transnational Thursday is a thread for people to discuss international news, foreign policy or international relations history. Feel free as well to drop in with coverage of countries you’re interested in, talk about ongoing dynamics like the wars in Israel or Ukraine, or even just whatever you’re reading.

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In an unexpected change of tune Sinn Féin have come out against the controversial hate speech bill, citing their own experience being on the wrong end of censorship and the refusal to include their proposed amendments to the bill. This is especially strange given that they voted in favour of the bill at every stage of the process so far. Leo Varadkar has accused the party of cowardice and falling prey to "an online campaign of misinformation".

They've also come out against the EU migration pact saying that Irish immigration policy should be decided in Ireland. The migration pact seems like it would solve some of the immigration problems the EU is facing so Sinn Féin's opposition isn't a move to the right on the face of it, but they have said they agree with some parts of the agreement so the objection doesn't seem to stem from their being against stemming the flow of migrants.

Pretty weird to talk about an entire political party as if it was one agent in the context of a bill like this. Is that how it works outside the US? In the US it's common for at least a few congresspeople to break party lines. Or at least I think it is.

In a typical parliamentary system political parties are supposed to vote in lockstep. There's a bit of leeway when political parties are in opposition, some issues might be declared "issues of conscience" where there's a free vote (typically stuff like abortion or euthanasia where some MPs might have religious reasons for voting against the party line) and sometimes MPs vote against the party line and get away with it when it doesn't affect any major vote, but especially when parties are in the government, they're supposed to vote the government's policies through without a fail. If they repeatedly go against their party, they'll be kicked out of the group, possibly out of the whole party.

It's also my understanding that Sinn Féin, due to its history, still is particularly regimented and disciplined in its voting, and doesn't tolerate open dissension easily.

Do you think that's a good way to do things or a flaw in the typical parliamentary system?

It's basically a product of the system. When you have governments consisting of coalitions between parties and when elected representatives are reliant on the party for support (particularly in PR systems where the MPs are not really dependent on having the support of some precise geographical one-MP constituency but larger and more inchoate electoral districts), the only way you can get the business of government done is those parties agreeing on a governmental program and then making sure no-one defects, since if defection is allowed, there's too much of a risk that parties start trying to maneuver to get things on the program they don't like busted (ie. even if they don't formally vote against some law they "allow" a sufficient number of MPs required to get it scuppered to vote against it or so on).

Whether such a system is better than, for instance, the American system, is of course a question on opinion. There are probably more important things to consider than the precise methods of representative democracy whichever country chooses.


America has some of the loosest party discipline in the world, because of how we choose candidates and our two party system. In general, parliamentary systems can have news articles saying, "the party has chosen this," and be basically correct, because people who disagree enough to not go along with the party simply become independents or 'lose the whip,' which is a sign they'll be deselected at the next election.

That’s a difference I hadn’t noticed but yes, it’s common enough to see newspapers say stuff like “the party has now said“. Maybe intra-party discipline is more of a thing where elections can be triggered at any time by a loss of confidence in the government.

Canada is having an immigration Crysis (the country can't run that many people on the hardware it has, it would need a huge upgrade to handle the influx). The people are noticing. Like many cities in the USA that are finally having to face up to the immigration policies they have supported and voted for, it is leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

It may actually lead to replacing Castro's secret son this next election cycle.

The change in tone in the Canadian spaces that I frequent online and in person (being a border state and having family there) has been nothing short of unbelievable. Where I was called out as a stupid bigoted American (in less severe terms) for opposing open borders in my own country (while canada had a much more restrictive immigration policy going on I might add (am I including too many parenthetical asides?)), now Canadians are the ones telling me that no one speaks English/French anymore and that pretty soon their downtown is going to look like New Delhi at rush hour.

Wait times at medical clinics have gone from weeks to months to years, housing is 5x more out of whack than the US, and many expats once seeking a kinder Canadian way of life are returning home to the USA.

-Notes from a Canadian adjacent person

Is the problem just ("just") that Canada also has a housing crisis? There's the old joke about how all of Canada lives as close as they can possibly get to the US. Except it's not really a joke, they really do live in just a handful of cities, clustered next to the border. I realize the climate in most of Canada is extremely harsh, but it seems like that should be manageable with modern technology. There's plenty of space, just build more cities.

See also: indigenous nations using their special legal status to bypass housing regulations

There are plenty of cities & towns far from the border -- you could build more houses there if necessary, but the existing ones already go pretty cheap. (particularly by comparison to Vancouver/Toronto, but attractively so even by the standards of saner markets)

The trouble ('trouble') is that hardly anyone who's family hasn't already been in Canada for a few generations seems to want to live there -- no idea what anyone finds attractive about present-day Vancouver/Toronto (Vancouver used to be nice, Toronto has sucked longer than I've been alive AIUI) but nobody is forced to live there.

The immigrants that do penetrate to the hinterlands seem to get along just fine, so I'm pretty sure they aren't being hemmed in by racist rednecks -- maybe they just like terrible cities better? I would fully support a 2-5 year stint north of ~55ish as a citizenship requirement though.

It just feels like a weird idea to seek jobs in the hinterlands? Impressionistically isn't hinterland resource extraction jobs unstable and mostly passed down generationally? In any case for places that the lack a existing immigrant community it is even more alien and harder to figure out how the place works at all for new immigrants.

We're talking about Canada here -- there are plenty of jobs in logging, mining, and O&G plus the processing of these things that more or less need to take place in the hinterlands. These jobs pay much better than anything else an immigrant who isn't already a doctor or something will get, and the cost of living difference borders on an order of magnitude if you're comparing to Vancouver/Toronto.

I'm not sure your second point is actually true, other than the extent to which there are areas of the GVRD/GTA that have been essentially taken over by specific immigrant groups such that immigrants can live indistinguishably from their home country -- if one doesn't happen to be a member of the right group, I'd imagine things could be unpleasant. Certainly the first-gen immigrants that have trickled out to my section of the hinterlands assimilate very well. My impression would be that in many cases they are more Canadian (in terms of the values of 30+ years ago) than the white progressive community. (which is very much the dominant memeplex in the aforementioned urban agglomerations)

I think Immigrants in general just want to be close to other immigrants. I would also feel weird if I immigrated to India and for some reason moved to the rural countryside where there were zero other foreigners and I stood out like a sore thumb.

I live in Southern AB and had a chance to talk to a border guard recently. He mentioned the process of "flagpoling" - i guess new arrivals (visitor visa, education etc.) Can apply for permanent residency but the process takes a few months. What they do is drive across the border to the USA, get turned back, and then just by pulling up to the canadian border on the way back, it expedites the permanent residency application to be days. The border guard said most of his time now was filling out residency applications. Seems bad imo.

The purpose of immigrants is to strengthen Canada for the future in absolute rather than relative terms. The power elite figure that they will be able to command greater respect internationally if they grow their population faster than peer countries. I suspect that this is not true, as further technological advance will render low-quality human capital increasingly obsolete in both military and economic terms. We are already seeing economic growth potential increasingly reliant on tech sector success. The commodities-driven market of Canada is expected to fare poorly and there's no apparent alternative. All these masses of humanity have been brought here, and it is for no reason.

replacing Castro's secret son this next election cycle

Still think about the video of the opposition leader eating an Apple.

no one speaks English/French anymore

Canada's point based system that incentivizes uneducated 18 year olds to move on an instant GC has to be the most brain-dead immigration policy I've witnessed. To repurpose a popular quote : "When Mexico India sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs trucks. They’re bringing crime."

It's sad. Canada is an appealing country to immigrate to. But, their system appears to prefer under-educated and under-resourced immigrants. Compare this to the H1B immigrants in the US. They are high skilled immigrants who pay more taxes than the average American, can't claim social-security benefits and usually takes 5-100 years to get a Green Card. (I am talking about those who aren't abusing the H1B through loopholes)

Wait times at medical clinics have gone from weeks to months to years

Isn't this because the entire graduating class of Canadian doctors moves to the US ? This is a

housing is 5x more out of whack than the US

True. But both Canada and USA are pretty under built by world standards.

downtown is going to look like New Delhi

Dude, get your cities right... It's Ludhiana.

I heard a bunch of complaints too - Conestoga university's apparently been turned into a degree mill for non-English speaking foreigners:

Same thing has been happening in Australia too - our universities get most of their money from foreigners (far more lucrative than domestic students) and try hard to pass them no matter what. There's an epidemic of cheating and the unis are most concerned with trying to arrange a facade where they catch the most egregious 5% of cheaters. ChatGPT made things a lot harder too, though there was already a lot of cheating even before. Some of my friends did teaching and they were in a constant state of shock and contempt at the limp-wristed response to cheating.