Saturday, January 09, 2010

Just Because

This is seriously cool and it's Saturday night

What's That Awful Noise? It's the CanWest Death Rattle!

The long-suffering creditors of CanWest Global have pried the would-be media giant's newspapers from its control and thrown them on the block. Such is the fate of barrel-bottom, hack journalism.

The publishing garage sale features such less-than-august publications as The National Post and The Calgary Herald, the Vancouver Province, the phantom ghost Windsor Star, and the somewhat more reputable Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader-Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.

The creditors are hoping the lot may possibly fetch half the sum originally paid by the late Izzy Asper.

According to the rarely credible National Post, Canwest CEO Lenny Asper memoed employees telling them that the loss of the newspaper business, "...furthers a plan that will, over time, see the broadcasting and publishing groups become more independent of one another." Lenny left out the part about "the plan" being the creditors' plan to salvage what they can, not his own.

As for the other arm of the CanWest media empire, the broadcasting side, held by CanWest Media Inc., it too shelters under bankruptcy protection sought in October after defaulting on a US$30-million interest payment in March.

Unfortunately a lot of good people and their families are thrown into financial insecurity thanks to the lack of business acumen in CanWest boardrooms and journalistic integrity in CanWest newsrooms. Asper Jr. chose to make his lead papers a veritable house organ for the far right in Canada. He chose to chase a niche readership that simply could not and would not return the revenue stream he needed to keep his Ship of Fools afloat.

Throughout North America, it's tough enough these days to keep quality newspapers in business. You simply cannot build a viable media empire on third-rate rags, at least not in Canada. Take the Post for example. Reality is not always predictable. Yet as reality unfolded in its day to day chaos, the way the Post covered it was always predictable. Like any propaganda service it became infected with its own numbing consistency. It might have been at times infuriating but the real problem was that it became boring.

Maybe that should be CanWest's epitaph - "It Bored Itself to Death."

Friday, January 08, 2010

Harper's Rotten Collaborator - Michaelle Jean

From Left to Right, domestic and international, it's the same verdict - Stephen Harper is perverting Canadian democracy.

It's easy to blame Harper. He deserves all the scathing criticism he's getting - and more. But we've always known he was a bully, an opportunist and a cheap fixer - an unprincipled hustler who will do anything he can get away with.

The person we should be taking a closer look at is the one person without whose support Harper would not have been able to undermine Canadian democracy and Canada's Parliament - the Governor General, Michaelle Jean.

It's not Stephen Harper who is padlocking Parliament, it's Michaelle Jean. She holds the keys to the locks. It's her call. Harper can't get away with this without her prior consent. To the extent he is perverting Canadian democracy, it's with Michaelle Jean's collaboration.

The Governor-General's power to prorogue Parliament is discretionary. She has to decide that it's warranted. Even if she does agree to prorogue, the Governor-General is empowered to impose conditions. Little things such as no stacking the Senate while the heat is off.

When Harper decided to prorogue Parliament in 2008, his Rideau Hall henchman saved his sorry Tory ass from certain defeat. No matter how you cut it, that was Michaelle Jean playing Tory partisan politics.

If you doubt her Excellency's partisanship, look to her New Year's gift to Canadians this year. This time Stephen Harper didn't even have to drive the few blocks over to Rideau Hall to plead his case. He simply phoned it in and she signed off as directed.

A lot of people gave Michaelle Jean an awful lot of slack the first time. Call it the benefit of the doubt times, oh, infinity. I know - she's a woman, she's black, she's an immigrant, she's from Quebec. So what? There's no reason to give her the benefit of the doubt this time. She has abused and sullied her office and she has betrayed our nation, our people and our Parliament.

Even the right-wing British magazine, The Economist, understands and denounces Stephen Harper's undemocratic machinations. If there is any lingering reason to have a Governor General, surely it's to prevent people like Stephen Harper undermining Canadian democracy.

If Michaelle Jean had a shred of decency left, she would resign in her well-earned disgrace. She doesn't and she won't and Stephen Harper must be deleriously grateful to know that his Rideau Hall stooge will soldier on, ever complacent to his will.