Wednesday, April 8, 2009


At the risk of commenting on a contentious issue that I know little of nor hold a strong opinion about, I had to chuckle this week when I saw Parliament's spring session agenda. The Oyu Tolgoi mining agreement was 12th on the agenda, pushed down the list by higher priorities like a bill on competition (#4) and a bill on restricting the use of plastic bags (#6). Honestly, every bill up for debate in the range 1-11 is probably of great importance, even #4 and #6, but the list does make me question what Parliament's priorities are. I am making the distinction here between something being important and something being a priority. Priorities are by definition important, but they are focused on at the expense of other important things in order to get something accomplished. If one tries to do all things, one often ends up doing nothing. Prioritizing saves us from our over ambitious selves.

Of course, there is a flip side to this. Possibly Parliament has put things on the agenda first that are relatively uncontroversial and easy to decide on so that by the time they reach #12, #13 (Motherland Fund), and #14 (Bill on gas funds), for example, which have a much greater risk of being unresolved this session, everyone can look back and say, "What do you mean we did nothing? We got 11 items resolved during the session!"

Or, there is the possibility that #12 is just far enough away to be unreachable but still appear within reach, punting the issue for another session. As an uninformed plastic bag user I may be unaware of a very powerful tote bag lobby in Mongolia that will stop at nothing to mire the debate on plastic bag usage for weeks. Nevertheless, seems like an unlikely and strange tactic to me for numerous reasons, but this is one political issue that has become surprising for its inability to really surprise anyone anymore. If a tactic is possible, it has, is, or will be tried on this issue. At least it sometimes seems that way with all the stakeholders.

This is the wondrous joy of analyzing politics. Is there method in the madness or is everyone completely mad? Part of the fun and part of the problem is the rest of us speculating which it is.

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