Shouting into the wind
The politicians have fled Ottawa, but the opinions remain.
As soon as the next American president is inaugurated, the Toronto Star‘s James Travers says the Canadian government should be full steam ahead encouraging Washington “to adjust its current muscular enforcement model and return to the risk management approach”—that’s Traversian for loosening up on border security—and to “expand the NAFTA platform to open other markets.” Unfortunately, he notes, while John McCain is the presidential candidate more likely to be open to such discussions, cozying up to a Republican is a politically risky move. (And it’s official, we’re officially sick to death of this argument. Canadians are not going to reject border security negotiations because the man in the White House has elephant cufflinks.)
The Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe doesn’t have an awful lot that’s new to say about Stéphane Dion’s Green Shift, but fundamentally she believes the backlash is worth the risk for a party that was desperate “to grab the spotlight on a prominent policy issue.” (Previous attempts, she notes—notably Stéphane Dion’s ironclad insistence on a February 2009 pullout from Afghanistan—didn’t end so well.) But she notes that one of the most trenchant criticisms of the Liberal plan, especially given the idea that it’s such sound policy, is the fact that it includes “poverty reduction measures.” One might reasonably ask: Is this meant to fight climate change after all? Or is it “a vehicle to steal votes from other left-wing parties”?
The Financial Post‘s Terence Corcoran sifts through the Wall Street Journal‘s pro- and anti-nuclear energy pieces, published on Monday, and concludes that “the only reason for backing nuclear power is that ‘nuclear power plants emit no carbon dioxide’”—i.e., because of climate change, which “may or may not exist as a global catastrophe.” Balance that against “the safety issue, risk of terrorist attack, problems with nuclear waste and cost,” and the fact that it’s economically unsustainable without massive government investment, and Corcoran is, as one would expect, wholly unconvinced.
For someone who fairly regularly deplores the media’s habit of focusing on optics and scandal over substance, The Globe and Mail‘s Lawrence Martin seems terribly concerned about the prospect of an oil pipeline running across Afghanistan, and the “unsavoury” prospect of Canadian soldiers fighting to protect it. But hang on: “Afghanistan stands to reap a windfall in transit fees if the pipeline goes ahead,” he writes—which sounds to us like a welcome addition to the nation’s opium-and-dirt-based economy, even if it doesn’t help the West liberate itself from “foreign oil.” Ah, but there’s the rub, see? Iraq’s oilfields are now open to greedy American investors too, so Afghanistan is now—gulp!—like Iraq. And this, says Martin, is sure to resurrect all that talk of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—well, much less so Afghanistan, but they’re basically the same place, remember?—being “chiefly about oil.” And suddenly—super-big-gulp!—Canada will be in the middle of it.
Last stop: economic ruin
The Globe‘s Gary Mason rides the bus with Michael Byers to English Bay Beach, where the UBC academic announces his intentions to unseat Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre and bring the riding into the New Democratic fold. “He would be to the federal NDP what his friend Michael Ignatieff is to the Liberals,” Mason opines, but can he win? Fry’s been around for 15 years and is “a good constituency MP,” Byers concedes. “But she’s had her run and it’s time for a change.” Also, he adds, “I … think she embarrassed herself with her race for the Liberal leadership two years ago where she failed miserably.” Meow!
Amidst all the economic “cheerleading” by the BC Government, the Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer is the bearer of ill tidings from the provincial statistics mavens: per-capita GDP has been below the national average since the mid-1990s, Alberta seems to have permanently supplanted BC as the country’s third-largest economy, private sector investment is “stagnant,” and only Nova Scotia has fewer exports. “Nova Scotia?” Palmer laments. “Are we to be spared nothing?”
Civilized debate about Henry Morgentaler
“Except for a few backwaters in the United States, safe, legal and accessible abortion is the norm throughout the Western world,” says the Globe‘s Margaret Wente (who either doesn’t know about Ireland or doesn’t consider it part of the Western world). And for making “abortion a woman’s private choice, subject to no one’s approval but her own,” Wente believes Henry Morgentaler’s Order of Canada is well-deserved. But the “mantra” in the 1970s was “safe, legal and rare,” she recollects, and she believes Canada has some work to do on the latter. With 30 per cent of Canadian pregnancies ending in abortion, she says, “it seems plain that a lot of women are using abortion as a substitute for birth control.”
The Montreal Gazette‘s Henry Aubin argues that Morgentaler’s investiture is “not only an affront to his pro-life adversaries, [but] also offensive to a middle-ground type like myself”—i.e., someone who’s basically pro-choice but finds it “impossible to ignore that the fetus is an incipient human being.” Considering that Quebec has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, and considering that women seeking them tend to be in their mid-to-late 20s—”an age bracket that’s been well-exposed to contraceptive techniques”—Aubin thinks expressly honouring an abortionist is simply a step too far. “It’s one thing to tolerate abortion. It’s another thing to applaud it.”
The Globe‘s John Ibbitson files a more-newsy-than-opinionated take on Rush Limbaugh’s new $400-million contract with Clear Channel, his relentless campaign against “Barack HUSSEIN (as they love to say) Obama,” and his goal of “pushing Mr. McCain farther to the right.”