Must-reads: Don MacPherson on the magic of legislation.
National Post attacked from the left! CBC attacked from the right! All is well at The Globe and Mail!
If the Post were to fall into liberal (or Liberal) hands, the Globe‘s Lawrence Martin says “it would be like the Liberals losing the Toronto Star.” No more daily bashing of Stéphane Dion; no more giving “the Harper government the benefit of the doubt on every issue imaginable”; no more gross caricaturization of other newspapers’ editorial positions… oh, wait, that’s Lawrence Martin. In any case, we’re not totally clear on why Jerry Grafstein (or anyone else) would necessarily turn the paper hard to the left just on principle, if there was a business case to stay in bluer territory. The current owners aren’t exactly right-wing ghouls, after all—heck, as recently as 2005, David Asper himself gave $5,000 to the Liberals!
The Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington isn’t surprised to learn CBC employees are profoundly unhappy with their jobs, because unlike private sector media, there’s no “accountability” to the viewers, listeners and readers, and no chance to really make a splash. “The Mother Corp. knows best,” he sneers. “It forcefeeds listeners and viewers with what it thinks they deserve. If the public doesn’t like it, let them write letters or phone Rex Murphy on CBC Radio Sunday afternoons.”
Gerry Nicholls, also writing in the Sun, expects to hear many “mind-numbingly predictable” arguments in the next election campaign, and is equally certain he won’t hear anyone suggest shrinking the federal government or “getting rid of the state-owned CBC” for fear of tear-stained outrage from the “cultural elite” and the national unity crowd. The latter has a point, Nicholls concedes, in that ratings show Canadians “united in their desire not to watch” the network’s “lame dramas, inane comedies and terrible reality shows.”
Attack of the whippersnappers
The Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin says Robert Thibault’s dismissal of his 60-year-old Tory rival in West Nova as a retirement-aged has-been, and his refusal thus far to disavow his remarks, bodes ill for Grit prospects among seniors in the Atlantic provinces. What bodes even iller is local candidates’ extreme trepidation over Stéphane Dion’s proposed carbon tax. “Truckers and agriculture interests on the Liberal fortress of Prince Edward Island … are angrily denouncing the … concept and some nervous area MPs have privately warned of serious backlash consequences,” Martin notes.
The headline to Barbara Yaffe‘s contribution in today’s Vancouver Sun—”Liberals don’t have the money to fight a fall election”—writes a cheque that neither she nor common sense can cash. The party is certainly struggling on the fundraising side of things, as she and many others have noted, and it may not have cash on hand right now to counter the Tories’ anti-Dion ad campaigns. But as Dan Lauzon tells Yaffe, a combination of subsidies and loans should allow them to spend to the maximum whenever the writ is dropped.
The Montreal Gazette‘s Don MacPherson pores over highway fatality statistics and finds they prove what Jean Charest might have realized himself, had he thought about it for a few minutes—”that a problem can[not] be made to vanish from sight simply by waving a new law at it.” Specifically, banning handheld cellphone use while driving and hiking up penalties for “major” speeding offences won’t do anything unless they’re “accompanied by stricter enforcement and a greater expectation that violators [will] be caught and punished.” Unfortunately, he quips, while passing such legislation makes politicians look great, enforcement “might annoy voters whom it inconveniences.”
Outgoing B.C. MLA David Chudnovsky—”one of the heavyweights on the left side of the NDP”—speaks to the Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer about his reasons for not running again, namely, the “artificial,” unproductive atmosphere in the legislature itself. Palmer “wouldn’t dispute Chudnovsky’s characterization of the chamber,” but suspects he “might have been willing to put up with the place for another year if he expected it would lead to a stint at the cabinet table in an NDP government”—which, needless to say, it wouldn’t.
Re-education through labour… and sports!
The Toronto Star‘s Rosie DiManno thinks it entirely plausible that China could top the overall medal table in Beijing, given the almost disturbing vigour with which they’ve approached the task. It “was all methodically planned,” she notes, with “talented progenies targeted at a young age—in the old Soviet sports system model—plucked from across a vast expanse to be intensely groomed at training hatcheries, instructed by the finest coaches money could lure, some $1.5 billion reportedly invested in the sports culture evolution.” Warms the heart, doesn’t it?
The Globe‘s Christie Blatchford, meanwhile, goes looking for various prisons in Beijing where Falun Gong members are thought to be held, and finds that while the city is well-nigh impossible to navigate, locals were perfectly willing and able to provide directions to “a certain ‘re-education through labour’ camp or a particular detention centre.” This, she rather blithely concludes, is evidence of the Chinese communist party’s ability to keep the people placated even though “everyone here knows or suspects at least some of what goes on under their noses.”
You call that an attack ad?
The Globe‘s John Ibbitson would like to remind everyone, especially those accusing John McCain of abandoning the high road with his Obama-is-nothing-but-a-celebrity advertisements, what “real attack ads” look like: they say “Barry Goldwater will blow up the world,” or that “Michael Dukakis will let criminals roam the streets,” or that “John Kerry betrayed his country and its soldiers.” Besides which, Ibbitson argues, Obama’s ads accusing McCain of being “in the pocket of Big Oil” are far nastier, and not nearly as funny.
The Star‘s Haroon Siddiqui composes a perfectly cogent condemnation of the Guantanamo Bay military commissions system and the fork-tongued president who presided over their creation, then needlessly goes off the rails. Which is to say he suggests the civilian justice system was “perfectly capable” of prosecuting any crimes committed overseas by the detainees, just as it successfully dealt with the Oklahoma City and 1993 World Trade Center bombings, Richard Reid, and Zacarias Moussaoui. The glaring differences between the war-on-terror prisoners and those cases are too numerous to list here, but we’ll just mention the fact the incidents in question occurred (or in Reid’s case ended) on U.S. soil.