This is why we can’t have nice things

by Aaron Wherry

Alex Himelfarb considers what we want, what we’ve got and what we need.

Politicians and their professional advisors learn quickly that we don’t much like our leaders to bring us bad news. Bad news is bad politics. They learn too that it can be political suicide to propose more taxes or to stand up for public servants or to defend the human rights of those we don’t much like. They learn that playing to our growing distrust of government is easier than rebuilding that trust. And federal leaders learn very quickly the risks of taking on issues that create jurisdictional friction or regional conflicts. Politicians need to win if they are to govern and they either learn what it takes to win or they disappear.

And so we get the politics we deserve, or is this, more accurately, the politics we have learned to want? Leadership matters, preferences and priorities are learned; if our leaders are not saying much about poverty or climate change surely that will have an impact on how much we think about those issues. The trivialization of politics – the avoidance of tough issues, the preoccupation with polls and often brutal tactics, the pandering – is self-perpetuating.




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This is why we can’t have nice things

  1. Our current government has learned to say nothing at all – and to quiet those who might dare to speak in the House of Commons.

  2. Oh dear, it's all our fault again. What should we do?

    We're not getting the politics we deserve. We have no control over that unless we make activism our full time jobs. We're getting the media we deserve, however.

  3. Ironically, politicians who provide good news are often castigated for doing so, even when the good news is perfectly accurate. When Harper said "Canada is better placed than many countries to weather the global financial turbulence and worldwide recession", the Opposition leaders lost their heads and became a bunch of Chicken Littles, shrieking about the looming catastrophe. Problem is, Harper and Flaherty were perfectly correct.

    Check out Dan Gardner's excellent piece on the subject. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/When+about+

    • Yes, hindsight *is* 20/20.

      We're not out the woods yet, by the way. Courtesy of the Liberals, Canada avoided much of the mess the collapse of the financial economy caused the rest of the World. But how that plays out for the real economy, especially for a trading nation like Canada with all its eggs in one very frayed basket remains to be seen.

      • Replace "Courtesy of" with "Despite", and I completely agree. We're not out of the woods yet, but there is certainly reason for optimism.

        • Harper actively criticized the very measures that Martin put in place which kept us from tanking to the extent the US did.

        • Are you seriously suggesting that Canada's stable banking system was in place despite the Liberals?

          C'mon. You're a better shill than that.

          • That's not what I was suggesting. Chretien and Martin get credit for not messing up Canada's perennially stable banking system, though I doubt things would have been any different if Harper had won in 2004.

            I was referring to the Liberals' call for all those tens of billions of dollars in unnecessary stimulus spending. I'm sure the hangover from all that new public debt will constrain future growth to some extent. We probably could have gotten by with a much smaller stimulus package.

          • The Financial Times didn't think Martin's influence was limited to just doing nothing:
            http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/db2b340a-0a1b-11df-8b23

            "For Martin and Dodge, there was a shared conviction, as Martin told me, that “we could never afford to go through with our banks what we went through with our trust system. I knew there was going to be a banking crisis and so did everyone else who has read any history. I just wanted to be damn sure that when a crisis occurred it wouldn't occur in Canada.”

            Don Drummond, now the chief economist at TD, was a senior official at the finance ministry in the 1990s. “The perspective of government on the financial sector is: ‘We are the regulator – our job is to tell you what to do, not to help it grow,'” he told me. “The government has always felt its job was to say no.” Because of this, Martin and his team were uninterested in what became the contest to create the most attractive haven for global capital. Canada raised its capital requirements as they were lowered in other parts of the world. “I think one of the things that happened was the great competition between New York and London pushed the two into more of a light touch in terms of regulation,” Martin recalled. “I remember talking to [the regulator] and we agreed that we were not prepared to take that approach. Light-touch regulation in an industry that was totally dependent on solvency didn't make any sense.”

            Although the traditions of our banking system played a huge roll, bucking the trend of deregulation in the early 90's did amounted to doing quite a bit.

            I thought this stuff was common knowledge by now, but I keep forgetting about Conservatives and their "provisional truth."

          • Not to mention Ted Menzies who believes it was the Liberals who kept our banks strong during the recession.

          • Fair enough. Martin and Dodge deserve credit for bucking the deregulation trend, and for raising capital requirements.

          • Jim Flaherty told Steve Paikin this week that the opposition's calls for a stimulus package had nothing to do with the Conservative stimulus package which would have come even without the threat of a coalition.

            It strikes me that if you want to believe anyone on it, the Finance Minister would be the guy to listen to.

            You can listen to him at about 17:00 here.
            http://www.tvo.org/cfmx/tvoorg/theagenda/index.cf

          • "tens of billions of dollars in unnecessary stimulus spending. I'm sure the hangover from all that new public debt will constrain future growth to some extent."

            And yet you continue to support the guy who brought in that spending, says that spending was critical, says the opposition parties had no input into his budget and has been bragging about all his critical necessary spending.

            "We probably could have gotten by with a much smaller stimulus package."

            You have zero basis to make that conclusion. In fact, all facts point in the opposite direction. No government has ever spent as much as Harper did in the 2007 budget. No government has ever spent as much as Harper did in the 2008 budget.

            Harper was the biggest spending PM in our entire history, by far, even before the recession.

          • No government has ever spent as much as Harper did in the 2007 budget. No government has ever spent as much as Harper did in the 2008 budget.

            In nominal dollars, yes. In real dollars, or as a fraction of GDP, no.

            In nominal dollars every PM ends up spending more than their predecessors, as the country and economy grows and as inflation reduces the value of the dollar.

          • You're a smart guy and I like you. I find you comments pretty well reasoned most of the time, even though I frequently disagree with you. But I'm perplexed; I hope you can clarify something for me.

            What % of blame do you assign to the Conservative government — the folks that actually wrote the legislation – to the "unnecessary stimulus?"

            The Liberals called for it, and I didn't like it either. But the Conservatives ENACTED it. How are you not incensed by that? It's the single biggest thing they've done, biggest choice they've made since in office, and it sounds like you disagree with it. It was THEIR choice. If it was a failure, it was much more a Conservative failure than a Liberal one. I don't suggest the Liberals are better on this file; but the guys holding the keys to the vault emptied it out. It is their fault we are we are.

          • I blame both the Conservatives and the Liberals. After the coalition crisis, the Liberals essentially forced Harper to roll out a huge surplus as a condition of propping up the Conservatives. Otherwise, I'm sure the stimulus would have been smaller and more reasonable.

            Still, I agree with your point that the responsibility for the excessive stimulus lies with the Conservatives at the end of the day, because they're the government, after all – they enacted it.

          • Reason shines through! Very logical indeed. A pleasure to debate with you sir!

          • The pleasure is all mine.

          • "After the coalition crisis,"

            It preceded that, actually. Harper…inexplicably…broke his own election law to call an election during the actual meltdown and claimed, at the time, that Canada would not suffer a recession. I think the feeling on the part of the Opposition shortly thereafter was that he had lost his mind. He then provoked the Opposition further to the point that it felt it had to take over.

            I don't believe he had lost his mind, however. I think it was truly evidence of the one time that Harper did play chess…Vulcan 3D chess at that. Such a complicated game would cause us to argue about who's to blame for whatever ensued while he worked out a way to finally get a majority, like calling an election when the recession comes to an end naturally, something he will no doubt take credit for.

            Harper, like a lot of people who were really paying attention, knew the collapse and a recession were coming,possibly as early as 2007 and had plenty of time to plan that out.

            The only thing that hasn't worked is that, in all that time, most Canadians still don't like him (yes, yes, they don't like Ignatieff either but he's not the PM).

          • Interesting take.

          • Still, I agree with your point that the responsibility for the excessive stimulus lies with the Conservatives at the end of the day, because they're the government, after all – they enacted it.

            Bingo. NOBODY can claim the "sound fiscal management" prize anymore; the Tories surrendered it with what they did, the other twits never came close given what they said.

          • Well, the Liberals can still claim the sound fiscal management prize, since they're the ones who got rid of the deficit, paid down the debt, secured the banking system and had surpluses in the highly unlikely case there was ever a collapse of the financial economy.

          • They demanded the massive stimulus spending or they'd bring the government down with the Coalition. That was a credible threat.

            Does anyone seriously think the Liberal-NDP-Bloc Coalition would have spent any less on the stimulus?

          • Responsible adults don't negotiate with hijackers

    • Was Harper perfectly correct when he said Canada was a socialist utopia?
      Was Flaherty perfectly correct when he said there'd be no recession? When he said he wouldn't run a deficit?

      Your comments only reinforce Himmelfarb's. Polticians who say everything will inevitably always be able to go back and say that at one point, they said the right thing.

      If dinosaurs ever come back, I hope Maclean's is still around so that tory sycophants can trumpet Stockwell Day's brilliance.

    • I live in Ontario. Please forgive me if I don't feel buoyantly optimistic just yet.

    • Reading this whole thread is depressing. A post is made and instead of actually examining it for its own merits or faults we go straight to looking at it through the prism of party affiliation.

      Say what you want about hindsight being perfect, but our opposition parties over-reacted in '08 and it gave the Conservatives a free opportunity to hand out novelty cheques and spend millions promoting their "Economic Action Plan", being sure to put their signs up on every single public works project that had federal funding across the country regardless of when the funds were approved. The stimulus was entirely possibly unnecessary, but our opposition parties were too busy trying to play politics and make a show of being agitated to be responsible and at least not encourage the Conservatives to waste money.

  4. He's actually wrong.

    In 2006 Canadians made it quite clear that they wanted something different and better, only to get the biggest promise breaker and principle abandoner we have ever seen.

    • And that is why Harper was re-elected,
      with a larger mandate,
      a 54% majority in the ROC?

      • Despite having showered ridings with taxpayer money at record levels, despite an almost financially bankrupt opposition, despite the opposition being led by a dufus, despite high levels of employment, despite all of the advantages of government used to full advantage, despute have a war chest dwarfing all of the other parties combined….

        …. Harper managed to get fewer actual votes in 2008 than in 2006 and, with only 22% of the electorate voting for him, he managed to win with the lowest level of popular support for a PM in our entire history.

        Yes, the bragging rights are all yours there Wilson.

  5. Insofar as I like to argue that taxpayers are investors in the Canadian government, no, I don't think we are getting the government we deserve.

    If we're just arguing on the basis that Canadian voters are tuned out, by and large, and that we don't much care unless someone is losing his or her shirt, then certainly, we're getting the government we deserve.

  6. What measures are you referring to? The familiar Lib mantra that Martin saved us from the recession reeks of revisionist history to me. Canada weathered the storm thanks to strong fundamentals, not because of anything that Martin or Harper did.

    • "Canada weathered the storm thanks to strong fundamentals,"

      And just what fundamentals are those?

      • Very strong resource base, stable banking sector, lack of a housing bubble, skilled workforce, trade surplus, etc.

        • Harper worked against the regulations that he now takes credit for.

          After intense lobbying from US mortgage insurers, Harper also created a Canadian subprime market by introducing no money down 40 year mortgages and guaranteeing any losses by those mortgage insurers to the tune of almost $1 billion.

          He opposed providing any taxpayer money for retraining and opposed immigrant accreditation.

          We had a trade surplus before Harper came along. He got rid of that pretty quick too.

          • Harper also created a Canadian subprime market by introducing no money down 40 year mortgages and guaranteeing any losses by those mortgage insurers to the tune of almost $1 billion.

            I've heard this Liberal spin before. Canada escaped the subprime crisis almost completely unscathed. I'm not aware of any objective observers who think that Harper did something reckless with mortgages, let alone "creating a Canadian subprime market."

            He opposed providing any taxpayer money for retraining and opposed immigrant accreditation

            Evidence, please.

            We had a trade surplus before Harper came along. He got rid of that pretty quick too.

            Hate to break it to you, Ted, but Canada still has a trade surplus. Overall, I think Harper has been a pretty good steward of the Canadian economy. He's certainly done a better job of it than Stephane "Green Shift" Dion or Michael "9 week EI" Ignatieff would have managed.

          • As for trade surplus, we don't "still have a trade surplus". We now have a trade surplus again, in recent months. And it is still nowhere near where it was when Harper took over.

            (But let's be clear. I think trade surpluses and deficits are good indicators of some parts of our economy, and they are helpful in leading to very high level trade decisions. But I actually don't hold Harper responsible for the trade deficit that occurred under his watch or the trade surplus we now have again. Government policy doesn't have that kind of a direct effect in such short periods of time. I was just trying to point out that of all the great things you claimed under Harper, none of them were factually true.)

          • I was just trying to point out that of all the great things you claimed under Harper, none of them were factually true

            What "great things" did I claim under Harper? Here's what I said:

            CR:Canada weathered the storm thanks to strong fundamentals, not because of anything that Martin or Harper did.
            Tiggy: And just what fundamentals are those?
            CR: Very strong resource base, stable banking sector, lack of a housing bubble, skilled workforce, trade surplus, etc.

            I wasn't trying to credit Harper with the trade surplus, either. Reading is fundamental, Ted.

          • Reading is fundamental, Ted.

            Now that sounded patronizing… not necessarily uncalled for… but patronizing.

          • but it was correct to be called for………

          • I hope this doesn't sound patronizing, CR, it is not meant to, but do you know what a "subprime mortgage" is?

            One of the early changes made by Harper was to allow no money down mortgages of up to 40 years. He and especially Flaherty bragged about how they were making home ownership a greater possibility for more middle class Canadians. It was very much a part of their "let's introduce stupid policies that put politics over good policy and will sell us well to the middle class" efforts.

            It is the classic subprime mortgage. We did not have them before Harper came along. Even worse, he opened up the mortgage insurance business to many new players – who were big in the subprime US market – and guaranteed their payouts on defaulted loans. Call it an insta-FannieMac/FannieMae without even the weak controls of those disastrous US programs.

            It was such a quickly growing disaster that only a year and a half later, Harper got rid of it. And then took credit for getting rid of our subprime market, the one he created. Freakin' culture of deceit, right there.

          • I hope this doesn't sound patronizing, CR, it is not meant to, but do you know what a "subprime mortgage" is?

            Of course. And it did sound patronizing, as much as you hoped it wouldn't. Subprime mortgages existed in Canada long before the May 2006 budget. Harper didn't "create the Canadian subprime market", as you falsely suggest.

            It's true that when the government opened up the market to more private insurers, it led to an expansion of expansion of zero-down, 40-year mortgages. This went on for two years, until Harper slammed the regulatory door shut on these mortgages.

            When you say "Canada didn't have subprime mortgages before Harper came along", it's just plain wrong. You seem to have a tendency to blame anything and everything on Harper. Partisan hyperbole tends to get in the way of thoughtful discussions.

          • I see you're playing with phrasing. Let's do it the other way.

            "It's true that when Harper opened up the market to more private insurers, it led to an expansion of zero-down, 40-year mortgages. This went on for two years, until the government slammed the regulatory door shut on these mortgages."

            Gee, doesn't sound as nice that way does it? Stop playing with spin.

          • "It's true that when Harper opened up the market to more private insurers, it led to an expansion of zero-down, 40-year mortgages. This went on for two years, until the government slammed the regulatory door shut on these mortgages."

            So you switched the subjects of those two sentences. That changes everything! Generally speaking, "Harper" is synonymous with the government, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead and make the edit. Sheesh.

            from creating budgets with surpluses (which Harper bemoaned while in Opposition)

            Yes, Harper clearly hated surpluses. That's why he loves deficits, don't you know! Culture of deceit!

            And saying he's done a better job than other people would have is a completely idiotic argument. You could just as well say he's done a lot worse, and there's no evidence either way.

            Yeah, it's so ridiculous to opine that "victorious Candidate X" would have done better than "loser Candidate Y". Never mind that this kind of judgement call is what our entire democratic system is based on.

          • Whaaat? You claim Harper opposed immigration accrediation? In fact, the opposite is true. This governemnt has made more progress in establishing accreditation guidelines than any past governemnt. I worked for a major accreditiation body directly on this subject for three years after the Harper government was elected and we are further ahead than ever. Would the same progress have happened under a Liberal governemnt? Probably. But to say that the Harper governemnt opposed accredition is simply blind and inaccurate partisanship.

    • The Con mantra: Canada country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy to mask its second-rate status.

    • What measures are you referring to?

      Banking regulations which Harper opposed, refusal to permit subprime lending which Harper brought in as soon as he came to power, balanced budgets which Harper got rid of soon after he came to power after a spending spree that would make Trudeau jealous, etc.

  7. One of those little drawbacks of democracy. Voters don't want the truth, they want reassurance.

    And if you want to get elected you give them reassurance, even if you give the next group you speak to the opposite reassurance. Anything for that 'X'.

    • "Voters don't want the truth, they want reassurance."

      Well said.

      Now, could you also tell Canadians that certainty does not in fact exist. That would get us closer to the inherent mix-up.

  8. Oh, except for those FannieMac type mortgage insurance guarantees. Canadian taxpayers are still on the hook for those.

  9. Not to sound too snarky, but couldn't we say precisely the same thing about public servants?

  10. A civil servant wants to go back to the good old days when the Liberal Party of Canada ran the country.

    Why is this not surprising?

    The civil service is the last place to look for solutions to our problems.

    They live in a sheltered world.

    He reminds me of that other civil servant who harangued the Liberals and the Conservatives at Iggy's thinker's conference.

    They're arrogant and decidedly into nostalgia.

  11. OK, so Crit took a stab at the economic dossier (see above), and look what came of it. Anyone want to throw the H1N1 handling out there? Oh, why don't I take a stab at it. The Tories did their best, paid attention to the best available information coming from their designated smart people, and rolled out a brand new vaccine in more than sufficient numbers and in record time. Snags occurred, not unexpectedly, at the provincial level of distribution, and at the population level of participation. But Ottawa deserves, at least, an A- (and if you bell-curve it with respect to other countries, a whole lot more) for the public health response.

    So, commentariat, let's hear "B-b-b-b-but BODY BAGS!!" or "B-b-b-b-b-b-but SINGLE SUPPLIER!!" or some other nonsense. Mulletaur, I'm counting on you.

    • Great post!

      You possess great powers: you must be able to see realtiy for what it is. More to come, you think?
      :)

    • Yeah, I agree. This is yet another instance where the Liberals resorted to their desperate "Chicken Little" routine. Had there been a full-blown pandemic, Canada would have been well-equipped to deal with it, because our government ordered 50 million doses of vaccine for a country with a population of less than 34 million.

      Of course, this didn't dissuade certain Liberal MPs from hysterical panic-mongering and rhetorical blood-flinging in the Commons. Then there was the shameless "body bag" brouhaha, capped off with the lovely ten-percenter that Carolyn Bennett sent to the reserves.

      As soon as the feds started shipping the vaccine to the provinces, the Liberals started shrieking that the vaccine wasn't getting out fast enough, even though a few months earlier they thought it wouldn't be available until Christmas. Very entertaining as theatre, but a poor substitute for effective opposition.

      • This was a good comment, yet it only achieved a -1 thumb-score.
        I'd have expected a well-reasoned defense of the Conservatives to get to at least minus 5, or even -10 on a good day.

        Must be because it's Saturday.

        • While I understand and sympathize with your general point about people voting strictly based on party affiliation and not the value of the actual message, I can't say I'm impressed with your choice to frame it as anti-Conservative as opposed to ignoring that and instead rightfully mocking people for being anti-reason.

          That aside, I'm starting to think that petitioning Macleans staff to shut off the voting option would be a good idea.

          • IntenseDebate® was implemented by Macleans almost a year ago, because the powers that be wanted a comment rating feature similar to those of the G&M and Toronto Star. ID was considered the best option because it came with a lot of other good features, such as tracking and editing capabilities and user histories.

            Jack Mitchell and I were initially opposed to the change, and we discussed our concerns with Macleans.ca Web Producer Jonathan McKinnell. One of my concerns was that the rating system was unnecessary, and prone to abuse.

            Over time, however, I've come to accept the ratings system, warts and all. Obviously, Liberal-leaning commenters outnumber Conservative-leaning commenters by at least 2:1, and Harper-bashing comments tend to get thumbed up, regardless of quality. (I remember one of Mulletaur's gems: He called Harper an "elected dictator" who "buys elections using piles of money from rich donors". He got a +8 for that effort.)

            After a while, though, nobody really gives a crap about the IntenseDebate points. They're meaningless. I come here because I care about how this country is governed, and I really enjoy discussing/debating the issues of the day with fellow Canadians who have similar interests (but different perspectives).

          • They're not completely meaningless: if I make a comment that isn't intended to be either funny or anti-Harper and it gets more than +3 then I can be confident it was misunderstood…so I should clarify it.

          • Dude, I just brought you to plus-4. When are you going to clarify?

          • If the voting were removed people who disagreed with posts would be obliged to reply outlining why they disagree rather than just hitting a button. If they have to post, all of the sudden they have to stop, think, phrase stuff in a way that isn't going to immediately get ripped apart, and participate in the comments for real. And, if they post poorly for one reason or another, it opens the door to more replies correcting them.

            I get really annoyed when I see well-reasoned posts mindlessly down-voted because the poster didn't blindly endorse one party or another, you know?

        • Hindsight is 20/20. Zero points.

          • "Hindsight is 20/20"? That's not an excuse for bad behaviour.

            Zero points? Oh, no!

          • And depending on who is sharing the history lesson with us, hindsight is often NOT 20/20 at all…

        • Unfortunately for CR the well-reasoned part of his post was overshadowed by the hyperbolic parts.

          • Which parts were those?

          • Had there been a full-blown pandemic, Canada would have been well-equipped to deal with it, because our government ordered 50 million doses of vaccine for a country with a population of less than 34 million.

            That was definitely the most well-reasoned part.

            Then there was the shameless "body bag" brouhaha, capped off with the lovely ten-percenter that Carolyn Bennett sent to the reserves.

            So so.

            The rest? Below your usual standard, I thought.

          • Thanks for the feedback. I was definitely stirring the pot a bit. ;-)

    • Indeed. The entire Health Canada department and the related public health organizations deserve a very good mark (at least the A- that you suggest) for their handling of the H1N1 dossier.

    • Ok I'll jump in in lieu of Mulletaur, rabid Liberal supporter that I am.

      I think the government completely screwed up the public advisories on who should get the vaccine when. First it was "everyone get out and get vaccinated". Then, when it became clear that there weren't yet enough vaccines available it became "let high-risk people get it first". At this point there was a dichotomy between those who felt they needed to get vaccinated ASAP, those who heroically decided to hold off, and those who just didn't care or were skeptical of the whole mess. (I guess that's a trichotomy. Whatever.)

      To add to the confusion it wasn't clear just exactly who was high-risk, given that young children, pregnant women, and anyone closely associated with either could be considered high-risk (i.e. pretty much everyone to some degree).

      Meanwhile there were instructions that only certain versions were good for pregnant women, and that if you'd already had H1N1 then you should avoid the vaccine altogether. Complete communications clusterfark, my friend.

      And finally, when an Opposition member (who also happened to be a doctor with a distinguished record of service) actually did her job and raised part of this in the House, she was laughed down by some of the CPC MP's.

      I would not say the government covered itself in glory on this one.

      • Do you have any evidence that the advisories and decisions were based on anything but the best information available at the time? Would you have preferred total silence for an extra week or two just in case the designated smart people altered their focus in light of new information? There would be your communications clusterfark, my friend.

        But finally I have managed to unearth Gaunilon as a rabid Liberal supporter. I was getting worried that we would never expose you…

        • My cover is blown. Curses! Foiled again!

          Actually I think it would have been best (and I thought this at the time too, it's not just hindsight) if they'd started off with a list of categories to be vaccinated. Sort of like boarding a plane: all families with small children first, then everyone ages x through y, etc. Cut down on the congestion, make clear who goes first, and show evidence of having thought it through to alleviate panic, and eliminate the confusion for pregnant women (they'd go first, being "with small child").

          Also, there wass absolutely no excuse for the reaction to Bennett's questions in Parliament.

          • Care to share from Hansard the perfectly reasonable questions from Bennett? Because I recall a lot of justified snickering at her partisan fear-mongering more than anything else.

            Ottawa's job was to approve vaccine; it even went further and ordered the product. Its further job would apply to DND personnel and natives. Each province was left to prioritize or not — so how does that fall on the feds?

          • Better than Hansard. Youtube.
            Not the CPC's finest hour.

          • Sorry, not with you.

            Bennett starts by saying MPs offices are inundated with calls from people who don't know what to do. My first reaction was "D'uh, no kidding they don't know what to do, if they figured they should call their MP on this question!"

            And her sob story of the pregnant woman was pathetic partisan showboating. This joins her long series of beclownment on this file. Yeah, ok, the Tories could show a little more respect to all MPs in the House, but Dr. Bennett made an ass of herself on this file. Your Youtube piece changes that not a whit.

          • Guess we have to agree to disagree on this one. I know at least one woman who was pregnant at the time, concerned about the vaccine situation, and unclear on what to do even after spending considerable time researching it. I remember at the time thinking "yep, I can see why you're confused – it's a cluster".

            Yes, you don't call the MP on the question. But when faced with a pandemic the government needs to operate like a military unit: communication and efficiency are paramount.

  12. I wonder who's being pushed by whom?

    Are the politicians less capable of leadership because the voting public is less capable of understanding, or

    is the voting public less capable of understandiing because the politicians are less capable of leadership.

    I would say that both actions are interrelated. All sides must be willing to come to reasonable conclusions.

    For instance, I would argue that in order to do away with supply management (for it holds the possibility for distorting furture international trade relations), the issue of the BQ participation within federal politics will need to be fully addressed. Without addressing the BQ's presence within our federal House, nothing concerning supply management will be doable.

    Does political leadership or the voting public understand these underlying dynamics within?

  13. And does Mr.Alex Himelfarb consider Mr.Graves recent comments to be helpfull or hinderfull?

    And if Mr.Himelfarb finds the recent comments by Mr.Graves to be hinderfull, would Mr.Himelfarb care for saying so publically AND loudly?

    I wish Mr.Himelfarb would do so. It would give me a lot more trust in what he has to say, generally speaking of course.

  14. Answer: no, they demanded it.

    • ultimate wus

      (has to answer his own silly question)

      • He lost points for it too.

    • So in that case, the question boils down to *how* would they have spent it.

  15. What of the role of media in this broken system? It's proper role in a democracy is to inform. It should be the neutral purveyor of facts to the citizenry, so that the citizenry is informed and can so decide.

    But they've decided their role is to be the deciders – to pick pet issues that they say are important, and project those stories through a very precise prism. Of course, coming from and basting in, leftist thought, the "progressive" leftist prism, is what is assumed to be best.

    • "It's proper role in a democracy is to inform. It should be the neutral purveyor of facts to the citizenry, so that the citizenry is informed and can so decide."

      I think you might be perpetuating a mythology here, Chet, one that dates back, at least, to Thomas Paine and Jefferson's "Federalist Papers". I think we need to be a lot more skeptical about the media's actual interests.

      Mass media exists to make money. The media is not elected, and is not accountable to anyone but shareholders and whatever political agenda its owners may have. That doesn't mean that they don't have an important role to play, but it does mean that we shouldn't look at that role through rose-coloured glasses. The media is NOT neutral, in fact, I would argue that they are generally protective of the status-quo, mostly because they couldn't get advertising revenue from commercial interests if they weren't.

      • Party,

        the role to inform, is what the citizenry wants, not to be given shortcuts on how to decide.

        So I have faith in the "system".

        Exhibit "A" the downfall of NYTimes and the rise of the Wall St. Journal. The latter plays it more straight, the former is a Democratic mouthpiece.

        The rise Fox, the fall of CNN (yes the commentary on Fox is more conservative, but the news – like Bret Baird, is far straighter than anything out there – like say Anderson Cooper, the supposed news anchor chuckling slurs at tea party activists.

        And of course there's the alternate media, providing direct links to news (such that I am now fully informed of ALL sides of the AGW debate for instance).

        Old media would make a lot more money if they stuck to their ideals, because the straight news is a valuable commodity.

        • "the role to inform, is what the citizenry wants"

          That may be true, but is it what the "consumer" wants? THAT is the only obligation of corporations in the pursuit of profits for their shareholders. And by "consumer", I'm refering to advertisers, who provide by far the largest revenue to the "old media". Therefore I think it is a mistake to conflate "consumer" to "citizenry", even though we may have been conditioned, over the past twenty years or so, to do just that.

          Advertisers want to maximize the number of "eyeballs" viewing the product, and their advertising, nothing more, nothing less. They DON'T want fundamental premises of a consumer society to be questioned, that's certainly not in their interests. Since titillation and controversy sells papers, that's what they want.

        • (CONT'D…hey how come I can't post longer pieces?)

          I think the "citizenry", if they want "real" information, have to look elsewhere. "Alternate" media is a good start, as you mention, especially when they provide direct links to news. But a responsible citizen still has to be aware of institutional biases, and not accept ANY information at face value.

  16. And so,

    most stories come from a "more government" starting point, less government "bad" assumption, conservatism is inherently wrong (or to many in the media – evil).

    We are reading about Bonnie and Clyde, not because its news to most Canadians who's primary concern is putting bread on the table, its one of the endless string of ginned up partisan "gotcha" stories, that have inundated political news since the CPC took power, the sole purpose of which is to deligitimize, that which the leftist media assumes to be illigitimate.

    Until a proper "progessive party" gets back in power.

    Now, where was that wafer Harper had in his hand??????

  17. Just imagine if the media spent one one-thousandth of the effort on showing a glimpse of contra AGW and the startling revelations coming out of that near weekly (arguably the most important issue of our day), than on say a pooping puffin, a wafer, a large breasted wayward girlfriend of a CPC cabmin.

    One's part of the agenda, the other is like cryptonight to the grandest agenda to the left.

    • "cryptonight" is cool, as it implies a message being obscured. But I think you meant Kryptonite, which was debillitating to Superman…a fictional character.

      The "media" is like anyone else…inclined to follow the path of least resistance(and cost). And I think it's important to recognize the distinction between "journalists" and "the media". "Journalists" are trained to question everything, but their bosses are inclined to maximize profits and therefore often don't provide the resources (time, money) to fully investigate stories. So "journalists" are reduced to accepting "news releases" issued by PR people.

  18. You're watching too much FoxNews.

  19. Overall, I kinda like the points. I base my thumbs up or down mostly on style rather than position: a well reasoned post that I don't necessarily agree with will frequently get a thumbs up from me, whereas I will almost always give a snotty, insulting or dismissive reply a thumbs down, regardless of the implied message.

    Out of curiosity I just scanned all ~90 posts to this blog entry, and while the leftward bias that CR mentioned is evident, I was pleased to see that (in general terms) well reasoned posts tend to fair much better than "drive by" posts.

    And I'll venture that explains why CR mostly gets + ratings, Gaunilon gets a mix of + and – ratings and jarrid gets mostly – ratings.

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