Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Morning Links

Plenty of good news for your weekend reading.

- When even Chantal Hebert can't help but to acknowledge the NDP's surge in Quebec, you know something significant is afoot:
By the time the election was called, the NDP had already overtaken the other federalist parties for second place among francophone voters.

Four weeks later, Layton has cracked the glass ceiling that insulated the Bloc Québécois from the federalist pack. He could not have achieved that without a hand from Gilles Duceppe.

Fatigue with the Bloc has been a recurring trend in Quebec for the best part of a decade. In this campaign, Duceppe’s tired approach has played to that feeling.

The old Gilles Duceppe would not have spent the first week of a campaign talking about how Stephen Harper had made a tentative deal with the Bloc to oust Paul Martin from power in 2004.

He would have realized that, for many Quebec voters, the salient point of his Ottawa insider’s narrative was that the Bloc had actively entertained the notion of accelerating Harper’s rise to government.

Duceppe’s call may have been in the spirit of the times in 2004 but two Conservative mandates later it is Layton’s decision to opt out of Harper’s opposition boat that comes across as prescient to many Quebec voters.

The 2011 French-language election debate will go down as the first that a Bloc leader did not win hands down. Duceppe had to share the honours with Layton and it was an uneven split in the latter’s favour.
- Which is just one more indication that the NDP is, in Dr. Dawg's words, smashing the Matrix:
The polls are now consistent over time: the NDP is surging, even in second place, and it’s not losing momentum. Prisoners no more, Canadian electors are learning that, even under the antiquated, undemocratic “first past the post” electoral system, their votes may well count after all.
The NDP juggernaut is sweeping on, crushing smug assumptions and leaving a trail of bruised pundits’ egos in its wake. Canadians are taking the red pill at last—and there’s not a damned thing the usual media suspects can do about it.
- While Murray Mandryk ends up being too generous to Brad Wall, he does ask some rather important questions about Wall's ill-advised posturing on the federal election:
(W)hat service is Wall providing Saskatchewan voters by repeating Harper's talking point that whichever party gets the most seats wins - even if that single party doesn't get a majority of the 308 House of Commons seats?

Where in either our constitution or our 1,000-year Parliamentary democracy tradition has Wall found this gem of democratic enlightenment? Why is being governed by a coalition government formed by two parties with 60 per cent of House of Commons seats a worse case of "overturning democracy" than being ruled by a single party with 40 per cent of Parliament's seats? Wasn't Wall's Sask. Party a "coalition" that "overturned democracy" by seizing opposition in 1997? Wasn't that against the rules? How is any government - minority or majority - having unfettered power for a specific period even healthy?

Really, sir, when you reach the point where you're arguing Canadians desperately need the stability of a majority government to deal with the current economic instability driven by the horrors of rising oil prices (I kid you not - this is what a premier of Saskatchewan told reporters Thursday), isn't it time to step back and rethink your position?
- At least one business expert is working on convincing Canadians that a Harper majority would be the absolute worst possible outcome for our country's economy:
Mintzberg’s critique of the Harper government has less to do with specific policy positions than with an attitude that he sees as embodying the same unhealthy values that dominated the presidency of George W. Bush. Some key elements are the glorification of overpaid corporate leaders and short-term profits. That’s tied to the denigration of government’s role in providing a regulatory and socially conscious counterweight to business.

The U.S. financial crash and its devastating recession were directly related to this skewed view of the world, Mintzberg believes. As a result of Canada’s having followed a different path, with more willingness to let government regulate financial institutions, “we’re doing better than the Americans,” with an economy that suffered far less and unemployment that’s lower.
- And finally, Tabatha Southey skewers the predictably embarrassing start for Sun News Network:
Sun TV has come unstuck in time. It’s as if, in its first few days, its pundits felt that they had a duty to diligently cover all the events they had missed before it existed. It’s a news network for the recently cryogenically unfrozen, who may be lying in bed and wondering about this Fidel Castro guy or the CBC “Vote Compass” story that was exhausted weeks ago.
So far, Sun TV is a network about being a network. It spent most of its first day congratulating itself for being there and most of its second day retelling its nascent creation myth with telethon-esque levels of self-regarding pathos, full of awe at the amazing odds its staff feels it overcame to make it to air.

That’s right: all the triumphalism of pirate radio, with absolutely none of the cool.
My son came downstairs while I was watching Sun TV. Fifteen minutes into his oatmeal, not five years from voting age, he laughed and said, “Wow, they’re like little kids who’ve built a cardboard fort, and now they’re pretending dragons are attacking it.”


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