Thursday, January 12, 2006

Of softness and power

The CP gives a striking example of why politeness and civility are lacking from Canadian politics by implicitly criticizing Jack Layton for sticking to a fair criticism of Stephen Harper rather than vilifying him:
On topics ranging from the Conservative candidate charged with smuggling to Tory positions on private health care and the right of prisoners to vote, Layton refused to take the bait and slam the Tories or Harper...

"I think I've been crystal clear just about everywhere I've gone across this country, in fact everywhere, that we disagree fundamentally with the policies and ideas of Mr. Harper," Layton told reporters.

"We think the values he's bringing forward and on which he bases his policies are not the values of the majority of Canadians."
Granted, Layton's refusal to compare his opponents to bloodthirsty dictators, whether explicitly or implicitly, differentiates him clearly from the other two federal parties and their supporters. But it's certainly not as if Layton failed to oppose Harper; he merely framed that opposition in response to the Harper that Canadians have seen throughout the campaign, not some fabricated caricature like the one the Liberals are apparently campaigning against.

The problem is that in the CP's view, that makes Layton's position "soft" rather than, say, "honest" or "realistic". And as long as the media rewards those who stay above alarmist personal attacks by presenting that fact as a fault rather than a virtue, there's no reason to think the tone of Canadian politics will ever take a turn for the better.

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