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Author Topic: Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story
fern hill
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posted 12 March 2006 11:04 PM      Profile for fern hill        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A discussion was included in this thread here . But I think the program deserves its own thread.

I thought it very well done. Much I didn't know. What is the name of the actor playing Irma? She's great.


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NWOntarian
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posted 12 March 2006 11:11 PM      Profile for NWOntarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I thought it was great, and I can't wait until the second part airs tomorrow. I can certainly see why CBC didn't want to air it during the election -- it's a powerful message for social democracy.

I have one question, though, that I think might have been an oversight on the producer's part. In Douglas' campaign for the premiership, it seemed like the Liberal leader was Gardiner, who he sparred with earlier in the House of Commons. As far as I know, Gardiner stayed in the HoC well after Douglas was elected, and Patterson was the SK Liberal leader in 1944.

And I think the actress playing Irma was Kristin Booth, though I've never seen her anything else. I agree, she was very good.


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Stockholm
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posted 12 March 2006 11:15 PM      Profile for Stockholm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that it was common knowledge that Patterson was just a figure-head puppet to be controlled by Jimmy Gardiner if he had won the election.

Gardiner was old Tammany Hall style politician to tried to run absolutely everything in Saskatchewan.


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radiorahim
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posted 12 March 2006 11:27 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes indeed, it had a very powerful message.

CBC saw fit to keep it off the air during the election campaign...but did see fit to air the Fraser Institute inspired so-called "documentary" called "Medicare Schmedicare" during the election.


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kingblake
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posted 12 March 2006 11:32 PM      Profile for kingblake     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I missed the first part, though I'll try and catch tomorrow's conclusion.

I'm told that a few friends were in it as extras, and one of whom is a babbler...

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Stockholm
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posted 12 March 2006 11:37 PM      Profile for Stockholm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I thought the show was very well done for the most part. I just have two possible criticisms.

1. I think the world of Tommy Douglas, but surely he was only human and he must have had some character flaws. In some ways a biopic like this is stringer when it does show the character flaws that had to have been there. After all nobody is perfect!

2. I think that the spent a bit more time than necessary on Douglas as a minister before he was elected to Parliament etc...This was intertesting, but apparently the second half of the series basically ends in the early 60s and it might have been nice to have included his opposition to the War Measures Act.


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Aristotleded24
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posted 13 March 2006 01:14 AM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stockholm:
1. I think the world of Tommy Douglas, but surely he was only human and he must have had some character flaws. In some ways a biopic like this is stringer when it does show the character flaws that had to have been there. After all nobody is perfect!

I did notice some talk in the trailer for the second half suggesting that Tommy was "running" by taking a run for federal politics when he was needed at home. (Douglas left for federal politics about the time of the doctor's strike.)

Did anyone else catch the comment on the trailer that "the CBC's refusing to give you any airtime?" How ironic.


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NWOntarian
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posted 13 March 2006 01:22 AM      Profile for NWOntarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stockholm:
2. I think that the spent a bit more time than necessary on Douglas as a minister before he was elected to Parliament etc...This was intertesting, but apparently the second half of the series basically ends in the early 60s and it might have been nice to have included his opposition to the War Measures Act.

Ideally, this story would probably be better served as a three-part miniseries than a two-part. I think the early years when he was a minister were important for the sole fact that they set up the situation that existed at the time, and I don't think a lot of people recognize just how bad it was in that era. Everyone's seen the photographs and the grainy videos of the dirt farms, but I enjoyed the human element this added.


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ceti
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posted 13 March 2006 02:08 AM      Profile for ceti     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I love that all the Da Vinci actors where in there. Chief Jacobs as the head of the United government of Saskatchewan? Perfect casting, right down to the evil smirk over the Estevan miner's massacre and the verbal sparring with Douglas.

Nice and brutal touch with the shot of the RCMP machine gun trained on the injured miners (the RCMP had four for the occasion).


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ceti
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posted 13 March 2006 02:24 AM      Profile for ceti     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
They seemed to have roled the Liberal Premier Gardiner and Premier Anderson into one individual, even though they were political enemies (Anderson as a conservative heading a coalition government, worked with the KKK).
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obscurantist
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posted 13 March 2006 02:27 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can't say I liked it that much. It might be that I have trouble stepping outside of my political wonkiness and seeing it as if this was all new to me. Even though I was unfamiliar with a lot of the events covered in the first episode, I found myself continually saying, "It can't have happened that way." It had that gloss of the usual terminal pussyfooting oversimplifying oversentimental insipitude that I associate with CBC productions (e.g., H20 the other year). As Stockholm puts it, Douglas seems just so darned decent, and maybe he really was that way, but it just doesn't make for a very compelling character. Hoping that the events covered in tonight's episode aren't as easily boiled down to pablum, though I'm sure CBC will do their damndest.

Interesting to hear that the series ends well before the War Measures Act declaration. In one sense, I suppose it makes for a better story arc, ending the story at a high point in Douglas' career during the minority governments of the sixties -- the War Measures Act is more of a discrete episode. But on the other hand, it avoids showing Douglas going up against a federal Liberal government that put soldiers with guns in cities, and that's more recognizable as today's Liberals, as opposed to the generic nasty Saskatchewan Liberals of the 1940s.

Still, there was some powerful content in the first episode, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they handle the more complicated subject matter of Douglas' premiership and return to federal politics. If it's really bad, I'll just switch over halfway through to watch 24 instead.


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Sharon
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posted 13 March 2006 03:02 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The shocking thing to me is that the young actor who's playing Tommy had never heard of Tommy Douglas until he was offered the role. And I expect many people watching had never heard of the Estevan miners' strike -- or other such terrible events, in other places -- Cape Breton, to name one.

Meanwhile, did anyone hear why Shirley Douglas withdrew her support? Creative differences -- but which ones?


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VanLuke
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posted 13 March 2006 03:35 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The only thing that bugged me were the damn commercials.

I think it's great even though I too felt he was just a tad too perfect.

But what do I know? Maybe he really was.


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writer
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posted 13 March 2006 03:37 PM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Regina Manifesto for those who are interested.
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Briguy
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posted 13 March 2006 04:01 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I suspect that a lot of viewers had never heard of the Estevan massacre before last night. Certainly, nobody had seen it portrayed on TV or in film so powerfully. In my opinion, the massacre (including the lead up to it, and the aftermath) would make for a good film in itself.

Hell, most history books still refer to it as the "Estevan miners riot".

I like the first half, and I suspect I'll like the second half. Maybe Tommy was without flaw.


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Fidel
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posted 13 March 2006 04:09 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'd never heard of the Estevan miner's strike, I admit. And I've got even less respect for the feds with their "means test." How degrading. How small-minded of the bastards.

I think we need a goddamned revolution to make up for Estevan and all that happened. Payback!

Viva la revolucion!


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sgm
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posted 13 March 2006 04:12 PM      Profile for sgm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There is a documentary called 'Black Tuesday' that deals with the subject of the Estevan strike.
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Reverend Blair
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posted 13 March 2006 04:30 PM      Profile for Reverend Blair   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I suspect that a lot of viewers had never heard of the Estevan massacre before last night.

I first heard of it in a book I read when I was a kid ("Ten Lost Years" maybe?) and the account pretty much matched Prairie Giant's version, as I recall. It was never taught in school though...I guess they didn't want to burden us with the truth.

A lot of what was in Part 1 last night is pretty close to things my grandmother and her sisters used to talk about. I was wondering how much of that would match up and was happy to see that a lot of it did.


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anne cameron
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posted 13 March 2006 04:39 PM      Profile for anne cameron     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Irma is getting disgustingly short shrift in this so far.
From: tahsis, british columbia | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
writer
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posted 13 March 2006 04:54 PM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Tommy Douglas in the CBC archives.
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Sharon
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posted 13 March 2006 05:02 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I first heard of it in a book I read when I was a kid ...

A book was written about it in 2002 by Stephen Endicott. Here are some short excerpts from reviews.

But I wouldn't have known anything about it either except that the author was here in Halifax and was staying with friends of ours.

It is awful, the things we don't learn in school -- or we learn distorted versions of our stories.


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candle
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posted 13 March 2006 06:29 PM      Profile for candle     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm assuming that Tommy and Irma's close friends are composite characters to keep the story moving (e.g. introduce Tommy to the miners, make him aware of the farm problems, introduce him to the Farmer-Labour).

There are a few factual inconsistencies- Tommy first ran as a provincial candidate in 1934 and lost (as did Coldwell which caused a problem in the CCF -SS as George Williams thought he should not only be house leader but leader as well). It was after this candidacy when he was told if he ran for politics again he wouldn't be allowed to minister.

Tommy didn't go up to Bienfait or Estevan after the riot. What happened was the miners were turned away from the hospital in Estevan unless they could pay in advance but the hospital administrator allowed the RCMP - "as the government would pay". The miners however had been making weekly payments as a form of insurance. The miners were then taken to the hospital in Weyburn where Tommy met them. I also don't think Tommy had contact with the miners before the parade and certainly didn't urge them forward. In fact the miners were denied a permit for a parade and in fact did a motorcade which they were led to believe would be legal.

It would also been interesting to see something more on Tommy and the war. Woodsworth and Coldwell were pacifists. Tommy was not and neither was George Williams. This put Tommy in an odd position where he felt that the CCF should take the smae line as Williams (whom Tommy and Coldwell had a strong dislike for when Williams tried to have Tommy expelled for seeking support of SoCreds in the 1935 campaign -interestingly in the next provincial election Williams would come to an agreement with the Socreds and the Tories not to run candidates against each other). Coldwell did eventually come around leaving Woodsworth isolated within the party in Ottawa.

The other thing that bothered me was the timing of the Mouseland stories. I think 1935 was a little early. Tommy didn't write Mouseland, Clarence Gillis of Cape Breton did. Gillis was first elected to parliament in 1940 and as far as I know Tommy first related the story in 1944.


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solarpower
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posted 13 March 2006 06:32 PM      Profile for solarpower   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Aristotle:
quote:
Did anyone else catch the comment on the trailer that "the CBC's refusing to give you any airtime?" How ironic

I caught that one and guffawed.
Odd thought, I wondered why he was driving around with a boxful of baby clothes in the one scene about the 'means test'.

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Aristotleded24
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posted 13 March 2006 06:48 PM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So how is it that Tommy's former Saskatchewan riding has never voted CCF/NDP either federally or provincially for a long time (federally, at least not since the 50s)?
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Stockholm
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posted 13 March 2006 07:21 PM      Profile for Stockholm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, Douglas's riding of Weyburn became a part of the riding of Assiniboia. That seat elected an NDP MP in a 1971 byelection and again in the 1972 election. Then it elected Ralph Goodale as a Liberal in 1974, and went PC from then on (though the NDP came close in 1979 and 1980).

As has been the case in the US, rural voters have swung to the right over the last 20 years while urban voters swung to the Left and so ridings like Assiniboia have have become increasingly unwinnable.


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Paul Gross
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posted 13 March 2006 07:23 PM      Profile for Paul Gross   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Aristotleded24:
So how is it that Tommy's former Saskatchewan riding has never voted CCF/NDP either federally or provincially for a long time (federally, at least not since the 50s)?

There will be a provincial by-election in the "Weyburn - Big Muddy" riding since the Sask Party MLA has resigned abruptly. This was Tommy Douglas' old seat and was held by the provincial NDP until 1999. The NDP lost it by only 400 votes in 2003. So the NDP has hopes of regaining it.

The CCF/NDP has held the seat provincially continually since 1944 except for 82-91 and since 99.
http://www.cbc.ca/saskvotes2003/riding/056/

ETA The Liberal leader will run in the by-election.
http://cbc.ca/sask/story/karwacki-reaction060302.html
http://cbc.ca/sask/story/byelection060301.html

[ 13 March 2006: Message edited by: Paul Gross ]


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Screaming Lord Byron
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posted 13 March 2006 10:31 PM      Profile for Screaming Lord Byron     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's fairly good so far, but the fake newsreels are really sub-par.

The actor they have playing Tommy is strong and convincing - he has the mannerisms and the look, but it's rather strange that having gone so far into Tommy's character - so successfully - that he doesn't attempt Tommy's accent or vocal characteristics. That's a strange choice.


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Sharon
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posted 13 March 2006 10:40 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
He -- and his director -- particularly said that he didn't want to do a straight impersonation. They felt it worked better for him to do an interpretation.

Whatever. I found part two to be enormously powerful. If the CBC had run this during the campaign, there is no doubt that I would have voted NDP.


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Boom Boom
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posted 13 March 2006 10:58 PM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One of the few programs I've watched in a while without channel surfing during the show.
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Timebandit
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posted 13 March 2006 11:01 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Tommy didn't go up to Bienfait or Estevan after the riot. What happened was the miners were turned away from the hospital in Estevan unless they could pay in advance but the hospital administrator allowed the RCMP - "as the government would pay". The miners however had been making weekly payments as a form of insurance. The miners were then taken to the hospital in Weyburn where Tommy met them. I also don't think Tommy had contact with the miners before the parade and certainly didn't urge them forward. In fact the miners were denied a permit for a parade and in fact did a motorcade which they were led to believe would be legal.

It wasn't technically illegal, as the main street was also a provincial highway. The strikers didn't leave their vehicles until Estevan's police chief stopped them. One of the union people got off the vehicle he was riding in to find out what the trouble was, and the police chief pushed him slightly -- he knocked the hat off the cop, and all hell broke loose.

Miners were turned away from the hospital in Estevan, which was run by the doctor (Creighton) on contract to the mine (the weekly payments were to Dr Creighton for treatment at the mine site, not to the hospital itself), who was also an investor and deeply unsympathetic to the miners' difficulties.

I interviewed one of the men who took a mortally wounded striker to the hospital in Weyburn after being turned out of the hospital in Estevan. He died the next day, but might have been saved if he'd had treatment sooner. He left a 16 year old widow and a newborn son. I interviewed the widow, too. It was one of the saddest conversations I've ever had, even over 70 years later.

edited to add: Douglas was responsible for a food drive to help feed the striking miners and their families, so he did have contact with them prior to the Estevan Massacre.

[ 13 March 2006: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


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Jim Schmitt
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posted 13 March 2006 11:19 PM      Profile for Jim Schmitt     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stockholm:
As has been the case in the US, rural voters have swung to the right over the last 20 years while urban voters swung to the Left and so ridings like Assiniboia have have become increasingly unwinnable.

And why would you say this is the case? I remember growing up that states like Kentucky and West Virginia were Democrat strongholds. Not because they opposed things like flag-burning or a strong military. But because they focused more on bread-and-butter issues then (and a populist like Lyndon Johnson could appeal to these people). But now the "left" has nothing to say to rural voters, except that we'll take away your guns. The same is true in Canada.

But I think we can agree on one thing: the NDP won't do better in rural Canada if they move left.
The days of the radical farmers are gone. They'll do even worse.

[ 13 March 2006: Message edited by: Jim Schmitt ]


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M. Spector
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posted 13 March 2006 11:41 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sharon:
I found part two to be enormously powerful. If the CBC had run this during the campaign, there is no doubt that I would have voted NDP.
I now understand what the CBC was talking about when they refused to run this during the federal election campaign. It would have influenced a lot of people.

Which makes it all the more unfortunate that the party wasn't able to find a way to capitalize on the recent revival of interest in Douglas during the election campaign, as I have noted elsewhere.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Stockholm
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posted 13 March 2006 11:54 PM      Profile for Stockholm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And why would you say this is the case? I remember growing up that states like Kentucky and West Virginia were Democrat strongholds. Not because they opposed things like flag-burning or a strong military. But because they focused more on bread-and-butter issues then (and a populist like Lyndon Johnson could appeal to these people). But now the "left" has nothing to say to rural voters, except that we'll take away your guns. The same is true in Canada.


There are whole books written exploring the demographic and sociological reasons why the rural Prairies in Canada and the US have shifted to the right while the cities have shifted to the Left. While Democrats in the US may now have trouble winning West Virginia and Kentucky - it shoudl also be noted that up until the 1990s, states like California, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois were considered Republican leaning states - now they are all roick solid Democrat.

Similarly, in Canada, the Conservatives now cannot win any seats in the major cities. It wasn't so many years ago that ridings like Vancouver Centre and St. Paul elected real, live Conservative MPs!!

Its too bad that the NDP has a hard time winning rural Saskatchewan - but I'll take the urban vote tradeoff any days given that 80% of Canadians live in cities.


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Aristotleded24
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posted 14 March 2006 12:05 AM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think Paul Gross looked very Prime Ministerial. Paul Gross for Prime Minister!

Does anyone have the lyrics for "CCF To Victory?"


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Stockholm
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posted 14 March 2006 12:11 AM      Profile for Stockholm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I want the words to that song too. Its a very catchy tune!
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Briguy
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posted 14 March 2006 12:15 AM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by sgm:
There is a documentary called 'Black Tuesday' that deals with the subject of the Estevan strike.

By Zoot, nonetheless! I lower my head in shame for not cathing this with my cursory Google search.


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tim
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posted 14 March 2006 12:32 AM      Profile for Tim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Re the song - it might be this one:

quote:
A call goes out to Canada;
It comes from out the soil --
Come and join the ranks through all the land
To fight for those who toil.
Come on farmer, soldier, laborer,
From the mine and factory;
And side by side help swell the tide --
C.C.F. to Victory.
...

Full text (image only) available from the Prairie Populism Project - go to page two. This is from "CCYM Sings" - but the rest of the song book is mostly non-political, I think.

From: Paris of the Prairies | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
obscurantist
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posted 14 March 2006 02:42 AM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, this jaded young cynic was thoroughly won over by the second episode. There's some real political drama for you. And like M. Spector, now I can understand why it wasn't shown during the election campaign -- if I supported any other party, I'd've been screaming blue murder about CBC bias in favour of the NDP.

I feel I learned quite a bit about Canadian history, but one problem was that the blurring of fact and fictionalized accounts / composite characters frequently left me wondering which events really happened, and which were a fictional gloss. One of the few false notes in the second episode was a TV attack ad by the doctors during the strike. Did they really have attack ads of that type in the early '60s? I guess that's a minor quibble. And I guess I'll have to go and read up on some of this history to get a clearer picture of what happened.


From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 14 March 2006 08:55 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Briguy:

By Zoot, nonetheless! I lower my head in shame for not cathing this with my cursory Google search.


I didn't want to brag...

I love that doc. I got to interview the last surviving miner who participated in the strike. He was over 90, and passed away shortly after we finished the documentary. I hope he saw it -- he was so thrilled to talk about it.


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saskganesh
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posted 14 March 2006 11:19 AM      Profile for saskganesh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
as TV biopics go, it was decent. the sentimentality was overshadowed by some good performances.

I only watched the second part. we were amused that Saskatchewan never had winter.


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stupendousgirlie
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posted 14 March 2006 11:31 AM      Profile for stupendousgirlie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't know what it is about CBC biopics, but they are always really sappy.
From: Wondering how the left can ever form a national government | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
writer
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posted 14 March 2006 11:44 AM      Profile for writer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
One of the few false notes in the second episode was a TV attack ad by the doctors during the strike. Did they really have attack ads of that type in the early '60s? I guess that's a minor quibble.

I wondered about this, too. Luckily, I was sitting beside someone who had demonstrated for medicare in Saskatchewan at the time. (Too bad they didn't have any sequences of popular reaction in support to counter the KOD protests.)

I asked my friend if any such ads ran. He said that they did.

From the CBC archives: The Birth of Medicare

I highly recommend the Saskatchewan Council of Archives and Archivists website, which steps you through the Act to the resolution of the doctors' strike, using the documents of the time:

The Medical Care Insurance Act | Prelude to a Strike | The Doctors' Strike | Resolution

[ 14 March 2006: Message edited by: writer ]


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Reverend Blair
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posted 14 March 2006 12:00 PM      Profile for Reverend Blair   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
A book was written about it in 2002 by Stephen Endicott. Here are some short excerpts from reviews.

But I wouldn't have known anything about it either except that the author was here in Halifax and was staying with friends of ours.

It is awful, the things we don't learn in school -- or we learn distorted versions of our stories.


Man, I wish I was still a kid in 2002. I would have read about it in the late seventies though. Thanks for the link though...I'll have to find a copy of that.

Did anybody else find that they kind of glossed over Douglas" time in Ottawa?


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Timebandit
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posted 14 March 2006 12:09 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's a terrific book. I highly recommend it.
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obscurantist
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posted 14 March 2006 01:43 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
writer - thanks! I'll check those out.
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Briguy
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posted 14 March 2006 01:52 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Reverend Blair:

Man, I wish I was still a kid in 2002. I would have read about it in the late seventies though. Thanks for the link though...I'll have to find a copy of that.

Did anybody else find that they kind of glossed over Douglas" time in Ottawa?


If by "glossed over" you mean "totally skipped", then yes, I noticed. I suspect they were more interested in telling the tale of all the 'firsts' that took hold in Saskatchewan. I was disappointed that they didn't show anything from his time in Ottawa, though. I wonder if there are a lot of cut scenes available, because the jump from winning the fight against the doctors to his final speech in Regina seemed pretty abrupt.


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timlg50
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posted 14 March 2006 03:17 PM      Profile for timlg50     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
They were unfair to Gardiner. They made him look sneery and mean re: the miners' 'riot,' when he wasn't premier at the time! As someone pointed out, it was Anderson, who was Gardiner's sworn political enemy. Most of the anti-communist vitriole that Gardiner is portrated as levying against Douglas would have been more likely spent against Anderson.
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Stockholm
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posted 14 March 2006 03:47 PM      Profile for Stockholm     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Anderson was politicaly dead after being wiped out in the 1934 Sask. elecetion, but Gardiner was Min. of Ag. right up to 1957 and feuded with the CCF and Douglas every step of the way from 1944 to 1957.
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Red T-shirt
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posted 14 March 2006 08:22 PM      Profile for Red T-shirt     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Innaccuracies and blended characters aside, I watched it, recorded it and loved it. Have talked to several freinds and relatives who also thouroughly enjoyed it and their not all dippers so it has non-partisan popular appeal.
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CMOT Dibbler
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posted 15 March 2006 12:24 AM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What are her acompishments?
quote:
Irma is getting disgustingly short shrift in this so far.

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al-Qa'bong
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posted 15 March 2006 01:05 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I got all choked up at the end.

Tommy gave a "farewell tour" in the early 80s - the Regina speech was part of that tour. The closest meeting to my home was at Canora, Sask.(which lay within what in the 30s and 40s was called "Red Square" - those Ukes were good Socialists), and I didn't go.

I thought the penultimate scene, showing the pier at Kenosee, was good enough - the last scene, showing Tommy's death, diminished the effect.


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Hephaestion
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posted 15 March 2006 08:27 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was one of those who missed the first night of "Prairie Giant" (I was working), but I caught the second night, as well as the two-part radio series "Dream No Small Dreams" on CBC Radio One's "Ideas" program. Some responses and thoughts...

Aristotle said: I did notice some talk in the trailer for the second half suggesting that Tommy was "running" by taking a run for federal politics when he was needed at home. (Douglas left for federal politics about the time of the doctor's strike.)

I found it very interesting that while "Giant" made much of Coldwell's persistent entreaties to TC (and Irma's input as well), there was *no* discussion whatsoever of Hazen Argue's role as TC's main challenger for the leadership. This is most curious, considering that Douglas insider and intimate Tommy McLeod wrote in his wonderful book "The Road to Jerusalem" that TC's mistrust of Argue's motives was the deciding factor that convinced him to stand for the federal leadership, outweighing his immense loyalty to Saskatchewan voters. Going by the material CBC TV aired, you'd think these wacky socialists had created a brand new party with no candidates at all for leadership, and that all that held Tommy back was a desire to remain a big fish in a small pond -- until Irma talked some sense into him, anyway. It couldn't have been because TC was torn between conflicting loyalties, and only his conviction that Argue had secretly been co-opted by the sleazy Liberals convinced him to run for the express purpose of preventing Argue from killing off the new party as fast as possible, eh? Well, that's how McLeod told it, and as it turned out, that's exactly what happened with Argue. Within months of losing the leadership to TC, Argue oozed over to the Liberals, and was eventually rewarded with a Senate seat. Ahhhh.... why worry, it's just facts...

NW Ontarian said: Ideally, this story would probably be better served as a three-part miniseries than a two-part.

I would disagree... to do even an adequate job of it would require at *least* a four or five-part mini-series. Of course, that would have involved venturing into dangerous territory, like what Shirley Douglas calls TC's finest hour, his stand against the War Measures Act. Why, that might even besmirch the myth of Pierre Elliott Himself, and as we all know, We Can't Have That.

NW Ontarian again:I think the early years when he was a minister were important for the sole fact that they set up the situation that existed at the time, and I don't think a lot of people recognize just how bad it was in that era. Everyone's seen the photographs and the grainy videos of the dirt farms, but I enjoyed the human element this added.

I think it was *vital* that this part of TC's life was portrayed, as it played an enormous role in making him the man he was. From McLeod's book, from everything else I have read and heard, and from conversations I have had with several friends of TC's, including Stanley Knowles -- who was pals with TC as far back as his student days at Brandon College -- these experiences drove home to TC that it was incumbent on the working classes to join together and pull themselves up, because no one was going to come along and do it for them out of the goodness of their heart. As Knowles told me in an interview (and I paraphrase from memory) "without those early experiences, Tommy may very well still have been a fine Baptist minister, but I doubt he would have had the resolve that was required to go into politics and accomplish all that he did."

Yossarian said: I can't say I liked it that much. It might be that I have trouble stepping outside of my political wonkiness and seeing it as if this was all new to me. [...] It had that gloss of the usual terminal pussyfooting oversimplifying oversentimental insipitude that I associate with CBC productions...

I had the same problems. In many ways, I preferred the radio shows on "Ideas", as I found them far more factual and less "oversentimental insipitude"... but there were also things in the teevee show that made me glad I'd watched it.

Yossarian again: As Stockholm puts it, Douglas seems just so darned decent, and maybe he really was that way, but it just doesn't make for a very compelling character.

I rather suspect that if they had told the *whole* story, and the *truth*, it would have fleshed things out a lot, showed Douglas to be far more complex than he was portrayed, and made for a far more nuanced portrayal and interesting program.

Briguy wrote: I suspect that a lot of viewers had never heard of the Estevan massacre before last night. Certainly, nobody had seen it portrayed on TV or in film so powerfully. In my opinion, the massacre (including the lead up to it, and the aftermath) would make for a good film in itself. Hell, most history books still refer to it as the "Estevan miners riot".

I won't go into a lot of detail (others have done so already, and Zoot even made a documentary about it). I will say that I remember how astonished I first was many years ago to find out that this shameful episode was *not* common knowledge even within the Manitoba of my childhood, let alone across the country. I grew up hearing these stories from relatives, who knew Coldwell and Woodsworth first-hand, and who were on the ground floor of the CCF, the Pool, western credit union and co-op movements.

The Estevan Massacre was as familiar a story to me as the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, and the lesson impressed upon us from both stories was the same -- that when push came to shove, they weren't "our cops" they were *the bosses' cops*, the enforcers of the banks and the Eastern Establishment. It was told to me how the miners' grave markers in Estevan originally read "murdered by the RCMP", and that all of these grave markers mysteriously disappeared.... only to be replaced with exact replicas by union brothers and townsfolk. And then those markers "disappeared" too. And were once again replaced, with the exact same wording. I was told that as many times as the markers were stolen over the years, they were just as determinedly replaced by the locals, who would *not* let this story be forgotten and glossed over, and that for many, many years Estevan area was considered by the Mounties to be a "difficult posting".

My family were Manitoba farmers, but they knew the story of these Saskatchewan miners well, and had passed down the tale through the years, determined to keep it alive not just for the sake of the story, but for the power of instruction. That's partly why I was so astonished to discover that other kids in my own classes at school had never heard the story, and even saw fit to call me a liar when I repeated it. (Of course, when I was able to prove it, I was told that it was all "ancient history", and that I was "holding a grudge" just because I "didn't like cops" -- and besides, "it wasn't any of today's cops who did that." It wasn't until I left my small hometown that I met anyone who wasn't an "old-timer" who understood the underlying message behind that story: they're not "our cops", they're *the bosses' cops*...

Anne Cameron wrote: Irma is getting disgustingly short shrift in this so far.

I trust the second half pleased you a little better?

SLB wrote: It's fairly good so far, but the fake newsreels are really sub-par. The actor they have playing Tommy is strong and convincing - he has the mannerisms and the look, but it's rather strange that having gone so far into Tommy's character - so successfully - that he doesn't attempt Tommy's accent or vocal characteristics. That's a strange choice.

That's funny. I know that he didn't have TC's voice "down pat", but I rather thought he had made an attempt to capture the cadences and pitch of TC's voice. Of course no one could really do it justice, but I thought he had made a definite attempt at it. You don't think so? As an aside, I was also quite impressed by Don McKellar's efforts -- my respect for him only continues to grow.

Jim Schmitt wrote: The days of the radical farmers are gone.

That's because most of the farmers are gone. They have been largely replaced by "agribusiness", and people who once farmed their own land that had been held in their families for generations -- often since the sod was first broken -- have been reduced to little more than sharecroppers, or employee-cogs in the "agribusiness" behemoth. What is there to sound so fucking PLEASED about?!

Stockholm wrote: Its too bad that the NDP has a hard time winning rural Saskatchewan - but I'll take the urban vote tradeoff any days given that 80% of Canadians live in cities.

On an emotional level, it grieves me to see the Prairies in the clutches of sleazeballs like the Harpokons... but then I remember that it was these "salt of the earth" types who voted these sleazeballs in. And then I remember all the "jokes", about the "drunken Indians" and the "Pakis", and the "fairies". I still grieve, but I'll side with you on that one Stockholm; I'll take the trade-off, too.

Aristotle wrote: I think Paul Gross looked very Prime Ministerial. Paul Gross for Prime Minister!

So *that's* what Paul looks like. Very impressive job (truthfully). I made note of the acting job even before I realized it was Paul Gross. Well done, Paul -- take a bow!

Saskganesh wrote: as TV biopics go, it was decent. the sentimentality was overshadowed by some good performances.

I concur. As well as McKellar and Paul Gross, I was also impressed by the actor (sorry, I forget her name) who was portraying Irma. Again, well done.

Briguy wrote: If by "glossed over" you mean "totally skipped", then yes, I noticed. I suspect they were more interested in telling the tale of all the 'firsts' that took hold in Saskatchewan. I was disappointed that they didn't show anything from his time in Ottawa, though. I wonder if there are a lot of cut scenes available, because the jump from winning the fight against the doctors to his final speech in Regina seemed pretty abrupt.

Agreed with all of that, but (as I noted up-thread, I think the desire to stay well away from "dangerous territory" (ie: anything that might damage the Myth of Pierre) played no small part in the decision-making process about what got told and what got left out.

CMOT wrote: What are her accomplishments?

... I can hear Anne Cameron clearing her throat, even from here...

al-Q wrote: I got all choked up at the end. Tommy gave a "farewell tour" in the early 80s - the Regina speech was part of that tour. The closest meeting to my home was at Canora, Sask.(which lay within what in the 30s and 40s was called "Red Square" - those Ukes were good Socialists), and I didn't go.

Wow, what rotten luck. I not only got a chance to see TC around that point, but because we were dedicating the student union centre at BU to him and Stanley Knowles, Tommy made a special trip to Brandon for the sod-turning and dedication ceremony, and I got a chance to actually meet him (1984 or '85...?) It was obvious that Tommy wasn't well by that point, but it was amazing how much he perked up when he was surrounded by a large group of young people, and he was very clearly touched not only by the fact that we all knew full well who he and Stanley were, but that we were paying him a tribute that the Board of Governors -- the Conservative boot-lickers -- of his alma mater had consistently refused to do. (Stanley was honoured by BU multiple times; Tommy was recognized ONLY by the students' union.)

But what pleased Tommy more than anything else was not having his name on the building, but the fact that it was the students who had scrimped and saved over the years and had amassed the funds to take on this project with their own money, and would own and control their own building. "I'm so proud of all of you", he kept saying. "This is the kind of thing we can accomplish when we all work together, hmmm?" It was a *blast* to see some of that old "piss and vinegar" come back, and even though he was still clearly not well, he was very obviously happy that he made the trip, and even managed a somewhat jaunty air when talking with the students. His speech was a *barn-burner* -- he could STILL electrify a crowd, and I remember one of my friends chuckling afterwards. When I asked her why she was laughing, she said "he reminds me of a feisty little bantam rooster. Gawd, he's impressive enough now; he must'a been *something* in his prime."

And that's how I like to remember Tommy -- a feisty little bantam rooster, grinning from ear to ear, and holding a crowd of students his grandson's age in rapt attention. He really was something else.



My favorite picture of Tommy, looking like a bantam rooster, taken at the sod-turning for the Knowles-Douglas Students' Union Centre, Brandon University. (credit: Dirk Aberson)

[ 22 March 2006: Message edited by: Hephaestion ]


From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Screaming Lord Byron
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posted 15 March 2006 10:22 PM      Profile for Screaming Lord Byron     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thinking about Tommy had me thinking about his hometown of Falkirk, which I knew fairly well when I lived in Scotland (not, sadly, that I'd have known much about Tommy at that point - few Scots would even know his name, let alone his acheivements), which got me thinking of the Independent Labour MSP for Falkirk, Dennis Canavan.

So - without further ado, I will now plug Dennis Canavan, who carries on in the tradition of Tommy Douglas in his own way. He'd have made a fine CCF MP himself.

http://www.denniscanavan.com/details.asp?id=1


From: Calgary | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
obscurantist
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posted 21 March 2006 03:44 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gardiner's family seeks apology for portrayal of character in miniseries

quote:
The family of former Saskatchewan premier Jimmy Gardiner is demanding an apology over his portrayal in a CBC Television biography of another former premier.

They say the miniseries Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story, which was broadcast last week, took too much artistic licence in its depiction of Gardiner as Douglas's political opponent.

"They made Jimmy Gardiner to look like Evil Roy Slade and Tommy Douglas the Man from Glad, " Gardiner's grandson, Mike Gardiner, told CBC News. "To me, it's just a sad portrayal of our history."

Gardiner, a Liberal, was elected premier in 1926, defeated in 1929 and re-elected in 1934. He died in 1962.

Mike Gardiner noted that his grandfather was an active opponent of the Ku Klux Klan and one of the founders of the United Church of Canada.

Instead of highlighting those achievements, he said the miniseries portrayed the teetotaller premier inviting reporters out for a drink, and railing against striking coal miners.

"He loved the people, loved the farmers and loved immigrants, and this was another crack the movie took at him," said Mike Gardiner.

"They sort of made him anti-farmer and anti-immigrant, which simply wasn't the case."

Producer Kevin DeWalt defended the miniseries, saying the filmmakers did not set out to make a documentary.

"We were simply trying to show that there was incredible animosity and we had to use some creative licence to get that message across," DeWalt said.

The Saskatchewan Party took up the complaint in the provincial legislature on Monday.

With three of Gardiner's grandchildren and two cousins looking on, the Opposition demanded an apology from the government over the show's depiction of Gardiner.

Culture Minister Glenn Hagel acknowledged the inaccuracies raised by the Gardiner family. However, he said an apology would not be appropriate because the provincial government didn't have any input on the movie's content.


I was thinking about why the series didn't make any mention of Hazen Argue when it did include such a personalized attack on another real historical figure. I don't think it's so much a matter of Liberals trying to downplay their role in an attempt to destroy the fledgling NDP, or even NDPers trying to paper over an acrimonious episode in the party's history, as it is that they thought it would be too complicated and arcane. The series already had one villain in Gardiner, as someone outside the CCF who was trying to thwart it.


From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Aristotleded24
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posted 22 March 2006 01:38 AM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Hephaestion:
It was told to me how the miners' grave markers in Estevan originally read "murdered by the RCMP", and that all of these grave markers mysteriously disappeared.... only to be replaced with exact replicas by union brothers and townsfolk. And then those markers "disappeared" too. And were once again replaced, with the exact same wording. I was told that as many times as the markers were stolen over the years, they were just as determinedly replaced by the locals, who would *not* let this story be forgotten and glossed over, and that for many, many years Estevan area was considered by the Mounties to be a "difficult posting".

*Drift* Does this explain why Estevan has had its own police service for a long time, despite its small size? *Drift*


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al-Qa'bong
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posted 22 March 2006 02:20 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The Saskatchewan Party took up the complaint in the provincial legislature on Monday.

With three of Gardiner's grandchildren and two cousins looking on, the Opposition demanded an apology from the government over the show's depiction of Gardiner.


This is a laugh. The members of the Saskatchewan Party are the heirs of the Red baiters that the Gardiner character represents.

This attitute hasn't gone away, either. Saskatchewan Liberals (never mind the PC, er, "Sask" party members) still raise the spectre of the Bolshevik hordes when discussing the NDP.

Not long ago I had a discussion with one such Liberal about the Romanow government, and found myself suddenly talking about the Soviet Union, as this guy made a direct link between the Kremlin and the Saskatchewan Legislature.


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rici
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posted 22 March 2006 10:49 AM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Hephaestion:
It was told to me how the miners' grave markers in Estevan originally read "murdered by the RCMP", and that all of these grave markers mysteriously disappeared....

The gravestone is in Bienfait; I found a picture of it here. I haven't read Stephen Endicott's book, but it looks interesting.

From a review of the book by Lorne Brown (emphasis added)

quote:
One such strike among coal miners occurred in and around Bienfait, Saskatchewan in autumn 1931. It was led by the Mine Workers' Union of Canada (MWUC), which was affiliated to the WUL. The most dramatic and tragic event of the Bienfait strike was the shooting and killing of Julian Gryshko, Peter Markunas, and Nick Nargan by the RCMP when they attacked a miners' parade in the streets of Estevan on 29 September 1931. This was the single greatest loss of life of any of the hundreds of similar confrontations of the 1930s. It quickly became known throughout Canada and influenced the consciousness of thousands of workers and political activists. It created the erroneous impression, repeated in many subsequent references to these events, that the miners' strike took place in Estevan, the only sizeable town in the district. The only major events occurring in Estevan were the fateful parade and some of the trials and hearings following the strike.

Two of the strikers who were shot were taken to the local hospital, which refused to admit them; his friends managed to drive them to the next nearest hospital, in Weyburn. One died on the road, the other, Pete Markunas, died in the Weyburn hospital two days later; it is quite possible that he would have survived had he been treated more promptly.

As a result of this incident, miners decided to fund their own health care; the Coalfields Union Hospital (in Bienfait) was entirely funded by mineworkers.


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 22 March 2006 03:03 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Awesome! Thanks for those links, rici...
From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 23 March 2006 02:05 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Hephaestion:
It was told to me how the miners' grave markers in Estevan originally read "murdered by the RCMP", and that all of these grave markers mysteriously disappeared.... only to be replaced with exact replicas by union brothers and townsfolk. And then those markers "disappeared" too. And were once again replaced, with the exact same wording. I was told that as many times as the markers were stolen over the years, they were just as determinedly replaced by the locals, who would *not* let this story be forgotten and glossed over, and that for many, many years Estevan area was considered by the Mounties to be a "difficult posting".
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Drift* Does this explain why Estevan has had its own police service for a long time, despite its small size? *Drift*


Actually, Estevan had a local police force prior to the Estevan Massacre, and was not considered all that small in 1932. The RCMP's jurisdiction was the outlying areas, including Bienfait, and there were some interesting politics within the Force re: the strike. The head of the detachment was removed partway through the strike because he was somewhat sympathetic to the miners and refused to bust heads at the behest of the mine management. There was a quote... Can't recall the fellow's name off the top of my head, but he was from the States: "In Pennsylvania, we use machine guns..."

Anyway, the RCMP were called in as reinforcements for the Estevan Police force, and arrived just as the ruckus was starting and joined the melee.

About the gravestone: It is a single monument for all three slain miners, large and made of concrete. The monument itself did not disappear, and is still in the cemetary at Bienfait. However, the words "Murdered by the RCMP were chipped out, and over time painted back in and out many, many times. The words were painted back in when I was there last, and people now seem inclined to leave them there now, although they are recessed where the original inscription was chipped away.

I was not happy about the way they depicted the Estevan Massacre -- didn't see Prairie Giant until last weekend. There was far more shooting -- 400 rounds or more fired in less than 10 minutes, and some of the wounded were innocent bystanders, not strikers at all. It happened on the main street of Estevan, not on mine property. They did not leave people lying in the street, nor were the wounded housed in a squalid dormitory. Many strikers went home and tried to conceal their wounds for fear of repercussions. Douglas may have been involved in helping some of those, but I have no evidence, really, that he did.

eta: Oh, yes, and Gryshko was not one of the main organizers, so having him drink tea in the Douglas' kitchen was also made up. It would have made more sense to have Martin Day (who was later deported back to Scotland with his wife and kids before he could be tried in Estevan for inciting a riot) come looking for help.

[ 23 March 2006: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 23 March 2006 02:15 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Re: the gravestone... there is a picture of it linked to rici's post, above...
From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 23 March 2006 02:28 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, I got that. What's your point?
From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 23 March 2006 02:40 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, my *point* was to get that long unbroken line of dashes in your post off the TAT page, as it was causing vicious sidescroll for me...
From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 23 March 2006 03:44 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I feel kinda bad for the families of all those red-baiters. You can't choose your family, after all.
From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 23 March 2006 03:51 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Hephaestion:
Actually, my *point* was to get that long unbroken line of dashes in your post off the TAT page, as it was causing vicious sidescroll for me...

I'd be happy to fix that for you, H, if you'd asked me directly. Still would. I don't see the connection between that and anything to do with the link to the photo.

eta: I can't edit the post. For some reason, it wants me to be a moderator to edit that one, although it'll let me into my other posts. Sorry.

[ 23 March 2006: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 23 March 2006 03:54 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Briguy:
I feel kinda bad for the families of all those red-baiters. You can't choose your family, after all.

It's interesting, though, to talk to some of the people in Estevan. There's still a wide range of opinions as to whether the miners were "Reds" or not, justified in striking or not, etc. You'd think it would settle out more in 70 odd years.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Aristotleded24
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posted 25 March 2006 05:25 PM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Hephaestion:
Wow, what rotten luck. I not only got a chance to see TC around that point, but because we were dedicating the student union centre at BU to him and Stanley Knowles, Tommy made a special trip to Brandon for the sod-turning and dedication ceremony, and I got a chance to actually meet him (1984 or '85...?) It was obvious that Tommy wasn't well by that point, but it was amazing how much he perked up when he was surrounded by a large group of young people, and he was very clearly touched not only by the fact that we all knew full well who he and Stanley were, but that we were paying him a tribute that the Board of Governors -- the Conservative boot-lickers -- of his alma mater had consistently refused to do. (Stanley was honoured by BU multiple times; Tommy was recognized ONLY by the students' union.)

It's interesting you mention that, Heph. For the past few years, the university has marketed itself with the phrase, "BU@BU." The university has also capitalised on Douglas having won the "Greatest Canadian" contest, with slogans along the likes of be great, BU.


From: Winnipeg | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 25 March 2006 06:05 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, the government appointees to the Board of Governors are all put there by an NDP government now, aren't they? Granted, it's a Doer-led government, but it IS still marginally an NDP government (I think). Although the president and assorted flunkies are usually right-wing toads, though...

I still think the best option we had for a university president (after we toppled Harold Perkins -- the ONLY university in Canada to ever have a student/faculty revolt that ended up in the eventual censuring and later firing of a university president) was Dr. Bob Brockway, a humanist socialist who didn't really want the job. "Make me president, and I will work toward returning this institution to a truly collegial decision-making process and phasing out the position of president, beyond that of a nominal figurehead," Dr. Bob said. The students loved him; the Board of Governors didn't. He never got the job.

[ 25 March 2006: Message edited by: Hephaestion ]


From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 25 March 2006 09:41 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I didn't much care for Prarie giant. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. My parents, being to a large extent old school NDPers, liked it a lot. It said all the right things (healthcare is a right, workers should have the right to unionize etc.) but there was definitely something missing from this particular CBC production. I found it extraordinarily bland. I don't know whether it's the fault of the writer or the director, or whether Tommy just led a quintessentially Canadian life(thoroughly dull and unremarkable) but I wasn't engaged by it. None of the events depicted in the film, besides the " God bless me and my wife" sermon and the apocryphal speech he gave to the striking workers, really served to fire my imagination. But then again, how the hell do you make discussions with bankers and meetings about Saskatchewan railways exciting?

[ 25 March 2006: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]

[ 25 March 2006: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]


From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 25 March 2006 10:37 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, there *was* that "black bag" covert work that Tommy did for MI6 during Dubya Dubya Too... but the CBC wasn't allowed to talk about that for reasons of state security.
From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 26 March 2006 03:21 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm not asking that the CBC turn out a Tommy Douglas biopic that resembles a Micheal Bay action movie, but they could have at least given him more fiery speeches or shown him heckling the liberals as an MP in Ottawa. Tommy led the first socialist government in North America, he had a long and intensly interesting political career, and inspite of his incredibly Calvanist stand on gay rights, TC was most definatly a great man. But the movie simply didn't have the scope to encompass all of Douglas' accomplishments, and gave us one dimentional characters and an unstimulating script to boot.

Has anyone watched the Trudeau mini series? Was that any better?

[ 26 March 2006: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]


From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Red Albertan
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posted 26 March 2006 03:41 PM      Profile for Red Albertan        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"The Tommy Douglas Story" left me with the impression that after he left provincial politics he accomplished absolutely nothing. From the point he entered federal politics they skipped 20 years and went right to the days before his death. Even though I wasn't in the country at the time, I cannot imagine his life was uneventful for those 20 years.
From: the world is my church, to do good is my religion | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 26 March 2006 04:20 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Exacty. I would have liked to have seen more about Tommy's adventures In federal politics.
From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 29 March 2006 02:15 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What I kept thinking is, imagine if Tommy Douglas had thought, we better focus-group this mouseland story because it might be too out there. We better focus-group our medicare idea, poll to see if we should be using the word "socialism". We better tone down our rhetoric so we can appeal to middle class voters...etc.

I find it odd how some people who idolize Tommy are also able to idealize the modern NDP. I'm very certain that if Tommy Douglas were leading the NDP now, even taking into account historical differences, he would be making very different choices.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rici
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posted 29 March 2006 02:30 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:
What I kept thinking is, imagine if Tommy Douglas had thought, we better focus-group this mouseland story because it might be too out there.

Then the focus groups would probably have reported that the story was great and he should use it.

There is a big difference between basing a campaign on the polls, and using a focus group to figure out how to best present your message. The whole thread on "framing" is effectively a focus-group-type study: it asks the question, how do we best express what it is we want to say?

In fact, I'm pretty sure Tommy did "focus group" Mouseland. He probably told it a few times to friends and family, fixed the delivery, changed the odd word here and there, until he got it right. In the days where you had to deliver speeches over and over again, to different publics, every oration was a sort of focus-group exercise. Today, oratory is (perhaps sadly) anachronistic, and mass media provides a massive dissemination of each communication. So the way you rehearse and the way you get feedback are a bit different. But the principle is the same.


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 29 March 2006 02:43 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well then perhaps the problem is that the modern NDP would never have even thought of something like the mouseland story (btw that story actually drives me nuts)?

But in fact, I disagree with you rici. Focus groups today, as they are actually used, are a highly artificial environment where people are asked to judge fairly minute nuances, not the overall coherence and inspiration of a vision. Often people are paid to be there and show up under false pretenses, and just want to get their $50 and leave. You can't compare this to the organic environment of a social movement.

More importantly though, is the question of how the people conducting the focus group conceive of its use and its goals. Is this about workshopping a vision, in which case a focus group is an odd place to do it, or is this about creating a technical message designed to offend as few as possible and "appeal" to as many as possible, on the product and product quality model discussed in the framing thread? If the latter, then I doubt very much that "mouseland" would come out of it.

Fundamentally, this is about whether you have a vision and leadership, or whether you have a technical approach to politics.

[ 29 March 2006: Message edited by: rasmus raven ]


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rici
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posted 29 March 2006 04:22 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:
But in fact, I disagree with you rici. Focus groups today, as they are actually used, are a highly artificial environment where people are asked to judge fairly minute nuances, not the overall coherence and inspiration of a vision. Often people are paid to be there and show up under false pretenses, and just want to get their $50 and leave.

I'm not sure about that, but I haven't worked at that level of an NDP campaign for more than 20 years. There is a range of competence in organizing focus groups; furthermore, they are not free of bias of either the client or the contractor. Having said all that, I found the process extremely useful on a few occasions.

quote:

More importantly though, is the question of how the people conducting the focus group conceive of its use and its goals. Is this about workshopping a vision, in which case a focus group is an odd place to do it, or is this about creating a technical message designed to offend as few as possible and "appeal" to as many as possible, on the product and product quality model discussed in the framing thread? If the latter, then I doubt very much that "mouseland" would come out of it.

Mouseland wouldn't "come out" of a focus group, no matter how it was conducted, in the sense that focus groups do not generally create communications. It might be approved by a focus group. I'm pretty sure it would have done so at the time when I first heard the story.

What you say is certainly true, though I think it is a tactical error (amongst other things). Focus groups are sometimes used as a weapon in internal discussions on "message", and they can be designed in either of the ways you mention. When I said I found them useful, that was because I watched them, talked to the participants, etc.

Whether or not you hire a consulting company or not, you need to have some way of figuring out if what you think you're saying "grabs" the audience. You need to construct a bit of objectivity around that goal, which is why consultants can be a good thing. But ultimately, you need to interpret the results yourself; you certainly cannot rely on a consultant to do that for you. (I have stories.)

As I said, there was a time when you could let a orator deliver a speech, and watch the results; chat with the audience before and afterwards, watch whether they applauded when they should have, etc. These days, for better or worse, political communications are different.

I have the feeling that you have something very specific in mind when you say "focus groups", a conjunct of ideas which criticizes the way the NDP currently designs its campaigns. I've been away to long to judge whether that is a fair depiction or not, but it wouldn't surprise me. Certainly, the results speak for themselves.

But in the limited sense of a research technique, I don't think that "focus groups" are intrinsically conservative or wrong-headed, provided they are done well.

Most of the time, focus groups are used to decide between different variants of the same message; that is what they are good for. In other words, a political decision has already been made about what the message is. I believe it is that decision, rather than the "focus group", which is what you are criticizing.


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
rici
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posted 29 March 2006 04:38 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:
Fundamentally, this is about whether you have a vision and leadership, or whether you have a technical approach to politics.

(See above as well; I didn't see this line before.)

Can you not have a vision and "leadership", and still use technical aids in constructing messages? If not, what was that whole "framing" thread about?


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 29 March 2006 05:51 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's exactly the opposite of the point of the framing thread, which was NOT about technical language tested in polling (I think this point was made repeatedly there?), but again, language that embeds an argument and a value system in it, language that invokes these.

Again, it's a question of your approach and your objective. Do you start by saying: here is our objective, how do we achieve it? Is this objective political or purely electoral (i.e. increasing seats), on the assumption that "we are good people" and the political agenda will "take care of itself" once we are elected? If you assume the latter, your political agenda is passive at best and you adopt the strategy of converging on a safe position, as opposed to a strategy of mobilizing opinion and shifting the political dynamic.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rici
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posted 29 March 2006 06:02 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:
That's exactly the opposite of the point of the framing thread, which was NOT about technical language tested in polling (I think this point was made repeatedly there?), but again, language that embeds an argument and a value system in it, language that invokes these.

I'm not talking about technical language, I'm talking about language used to communicate with people, particularly potential supporters (which is not everyone). How do you know that your framing works? God sends you a SMS ("A1 -- God")? All of the theoreticians sitting around the table tell you that it works for them? Or you try it out on some people who have not previously been part of the discussion?

quote:
Again, it's a question of your approach and your objective. Do you start by saying: here is our objective, how do we achieve it? Is this objective political or purely electoral (i.e. increasing seats), on the assumption that "we are good people" and the political agenda will "take care of itself" once we are elected? If you assume the latter, your political agenda is passive at best and you adopt the strategy of converging on a safe position, as opposed to a strategy of mobilizing opinion and shifting the political dynamic.

I think we're in complete agreement on this. I'm assuming that we've decided on our political objective and agenda, and are now seeking to communicate it in the best way possible. As I understood it, that was what the "framing" discussion was about.


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged

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