Overrated in 2010: the list

PAUL WELLs on Gilles Duceppe, the long-form census, and 'Inception'

1. Gilles Duceppe. He didn’t dare run against Pauline Marois for the PQ leadership when the job was open; it is not clear he would win it if he faced serious competition from within the PQ caucus now; and sovereignist hawks like Jacques Parizeau who like his tough talk now, when a referendum is certain not to happen anytime soon, forget that he has always stood with the doves when holding a referendum was possible but risky. Sure, his Bloc continues to float well above the other parties in Quebec. But would it fare any worse if any other MP in his caucus replaced him as leader?

2. The long-form census as a vote-mover. “I’ve been mystified by Stephen Harper’s willingness to squander so much political capital on an issue as trivial as the long-form census,” Charles W. Moore wrote in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal in August. (I’d give you a link but the one I had has expired.) At the time I found this incorrect for one reason: that to Harper, at least, scrapping the mandatory long-form census was far from trivial. But it’s now clear that the analysis, broadly shared by a lot of commentators, was wrong for a second reason: Harper wasn’t squandering any political capital. You can’t find any long-term damage to his party’s standings or the Conservative brand since Harper won this fight. (Because he did win it: the long-form census is dead and the integrity of its data set is compromised no matter what future governments do.)

What became clear early on, to be sure, is that Harper was willing to spend political capital on this fight if he needed to. Why’s that? The above-linked column from August stands as my best attempt to explain why.

3. Inception.

4. The F-35 fighter. It took three days of reporting by the Ottawa Citizen‘s David Pugliese to reduce every element of the government sales job for these new jets to rubble.

5. The death of newspapers. Hasn’t happened. Not that the medium is flush with newfound vigour, but lots of newspapers seem to have found a way to subsist with far less ad revenue, at far lower staffing levels, then than they used to. Meanwhile the Sun chain is hiring bigtime for print and broadcast and the Globe, despite frequent sniping from this corner, is building new offices after it bought fresh printing presses.

That’s my list. I bet yours is better. Have at it in the comments.

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