Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Not about the American election

History of voting and parties;  They just had a non-binding plebiscite on electoral reform in Prince Edward Island.  Vote was about split, with a small majority* in favour of the MMP version of proportional representation for the political parties.Here's a clue about the importance of the issue: hardly anybody turned up to vote.

Meanwhile, I got a phone call from an NDP telephone fundraiser, who led with "We're working for electoral reform."  Not pipelines and climate change, or treaty implementation and First Nations reconciliation, or CSIS and C-51 and national security abuses, or  even fair trade and inequality. They seem to see PR as a money pot. We actually had a nicely serious chat about electoral systems, the fundraiser and I, but no minds were changed. And he didn't raise any money with that call.

Mostly gratuitous history, but:  Some genealogist has reported that if you go to Hillary Clinton's mother, and back to her mother, and to her mother, and so on, as far back as you can get in North America, you don't find a Mayflower pilgrim, you find a good Catholic francophone fille du roi, Jeanne Ducorps. (Jeanne Ducorps, arrived 1666, married Martin Massé 1670 at Sorel, four surviving children, died 1727 at Montreal).

Meanwhile Ann Coulter is reporting that if only Americans with four grandparents born in the USA could vote, Donald Trump would win every state.  So there's that.
* [Update, Nov 24, 2016:  Actually they used a ranked ballot system.  On a straight plurality count, First Past the Post had the most support. PR moved up on the transfer of second, and third choices.]

Year without books?  Is this a dull year in Canadian historical publishing? I skim the publishing lists, but I'm not finding much I'm on fire to post about.  (It's probably me.  If there's a book to change my mind, let me know.)

The Giller Prize last night reminded me I did not report on last week's Writers' Trust Awards (Nagging question: did I not get my invitation, or did I delete and forget about it? Unsettling either way). There was not a lot of historical work in the running, but west coast writer Deborah Campbell won the main nonfiction prize for A Disappearance in Damascus which has indeed had good notices for its meditations on the fraught relation on western reporters and the local people they rely on in covering Middle Eastern politica and war:
“In a seamless blend of storytelling and reportage, Deborah Campbell’s A Disappearance in Damascus draws us into the struggles of Iraqi refugees settled in Syria after the fall of Baghdad. The principal character, an Iraqi ‘fixer’ who is also a grieving mother and a nurturing humanitarian, is taken by secret police. Campbell’s account of the search to find her, written with compelling prose, nuanced context, and intimate narration, illuminates the dangers of life and work in a conflict zone through a riveting tale of courage, loss, love, and friendship.”—2016 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury
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