Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Editorial the Globe Would Have Run Back When...

William Thorsell was editor-in-chief of the Globe & Mail from 1989 to 2000 back in the days of legitimate journalism. That's way back before it fell into the clutches of today's corporate shills.

The Globe's endorsement of the Conservatives in this election speaks volumes for the paper and its decline. That's manifest when you consider what Thorsell would have written if he was still running the place:

Not in recent times have Canadian voters had an opportunity to “throw the bastards out” in the classic phrase. Elected officials generally leave office before such public urges get to them.

Brian Mulroney stepped down five months before an election was required in 1993. (Kim Campbell launched that campaign in September running high in the polls.) Voters rather gently rebuked Pierre Trudeau with his close defeat in 1979, but his resurrection in 1980 set the stage anew. Mr. Trudeau stepped down in 1984, nine months before an election was required. (John Turner called an election that July, also running well in the polls.)

This time however, Stephen Harper is sticking his head up above the parapets after nine years in office — nine years generally seen as the Best Before Due Date in politics, as it is for leadership in the private sector. Knowing when to leave is among the more elegant qualities of any CEO, but then Mr. Harper has never laid claim to elegance.

An accumulation of baggage eventually weighs the owner down to the point of stumbling and falling. Mr. Harper is quite overweight in that department. In recessionary times, he is running a primary budget surplus (revenues over program spending) of some 1.4 per cent of GDP — an elementary error in Economics 101, less a matter of ideology than incompetence. Governments should not pull money out of an economy facing strong economic headwinds: We might refer to Stephen “Hoover” in this context, after the hapless U.S. president in the 1930s.

You do not cut the national sales tax in favour of targeted tax goodies in your party’s political interest. Nor do you do so to reduce Ottawa’s capacity to fund grievously inadequate infrastructure, undermining productivity and aggravating social divides. You do not claim success in energy policy having seen no new significant pipelines approved or built on your watch, either domestically or in our interest in the United States. Nor do you sit out the global conversation on climate change in words and action.

You do not exacerbate income inequality by providing significant new tax breaks for the wealthy in tax-free savings and investment accounts.

You do not fan cultural conflict in Canada in the face of unprecedented cultural diversity and high rates of immigration. Canada’s generally successful experience in accommodating diversity needs nurturing attention, not a matador’s incendiary skills.

You do not acquiesce to deteriorating relations with Canada’s First Peoples. You do not evince contempt for science or, for that matter, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the courts mandated to interpret and uphold it. You do not tendentiously attack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada as cover for your own incompetence in making laws and appointments.

You do not turn your backside to the federal nature of Canada, refusing to meet the premiers and other leaders in congress to explore and debate issues of common national concern.

On your watch, Canada’s relations with the United States appear as cool as they became in Pierre Trudeau’s latter years — a fundamental failure in a critical arena. And you have reduced Canada’s stature in the world at large through excessively partisan positions on matters of great complexity in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, for example.

Barely concealed hostility to China and the United Nations, ineffective diplomacy regarding the Arctic and a general downgrading of Canada’s foreign service personnel and facilities add yet more weight to the baggage. Only apparent enthusiasm in military matters indicates much appetite for engagement in foreign affairs.

New trade agreements may hold promise, though there has been no public consultation and we have seen no details on the large ones.

Prime ministers do not have to be eminently likeable if they are sufficiently competent and inspiring. But to demonstrate qualities of meanness with a scent of pouting in the air makes the wheels on the luggage squeak. Who but the deeply petulant would forbid his entire parliamentary caucus from speaking to the former Progressive Conservative prime minister of Canada on ethereal grounds?

Indeed, who is allowed to speak to Canadian voters themselves in Stephen Harper’s caucus — you know, the voters who hired them? Empty chairs at public forums, gag orders on ministers of the crown, refusals to respond to media enquiries evince deep contempt for the democratic process at its most intensive phase.

All this is consistent with unprecedented contempt for Parliament in the use of closure and reliance on Brodingnagian omnibus bills — not to mention a promise to un-man the Senate, which remains an essential player under the Canadian constitution.

Yes, an unusual opportunity to “throw the bastards out” lies just a few days away, and there are reasons and a chance it may well happen.


the salamander said...

.. yes, its a stunning, scathing and brilliant commentary on the rancid legacy of Stephen Harper & anyone complicit or enabling in his political career.. in particular, once elected, then as the most senior public servant in Canada... supposedly as the Prime Minister of Canada.. and not the leader of a toxic scheming demented and weakass political party running under a 'Brand' they got via hostile takeover

Dana said...

The rightward turn at the G&M coincides with the acquisition by Bell and the creation of BellGlobeMedia, which includes CTV of course. Bear in mmind that BellGlobeMedia and PostMedia both fully endorsed the Conservatives. BGM humiliated themselves and insulted the intelligence of the entire citizenry by meaninglessly not endorsing Harper but that changes little of their weaselhood. And PostMedia forced all their papers to run the ownership endorsement.

So whoever other than the Conservatives forms government, of any kind, are going to face a relentless barrage of bullshit, distortion, lies and more bullshit from our corporate media and their lapdogs and lackeys and employees.

The Mound of Sound said...

I voted with my feet years ago when I cancelled my G&M subscription. I couldn't bring myself to read it any longer.

Dana said...

Me too. And the Sun. Have you seen this?

They sold their front pages to the Harperians.

the salamander said...

.. perhaps the revelations of Benjamin Perrin will rock the yellow 'journslists' .. Today he is being reported saying that what he "personally saw and experienced' left him certain that "government has lost its moral authority to govern' ..

Now I can barely wait to here rebuttal from Globe or PostMedia... or Harper sellouts and enablers.. Who knows, maybe Andrew MacDougall will come out with similar reflections.. and there's always that mysterious MIA from Guelph, currently hiding out in Kuwait or Saudia Arabia who knows plenty about one riding & Pierre Poutine.. just one of some 268 ridings fraudulently attacked in our previous election.

I can't wait for the knives to come out for Stephen Harper... Ray, Laureen.. Jason, MacKay and all the complicits and enablers... and certainly the smug holier than thou newsrags who take Canadians for fools

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Dana. I was sickened when I opened your link. This illustrates why I have argued for years that the rehabilitation of Canadian democracy begins with the dismantling of the corporate media cartel.

The essence of liberal democracy is an informed electorate something that depends on the public having generous access to the greatest number of voices representing the broadest spectrum of political thought from the reaches of the Right to the reaches of the Left.

When the media spectrum shrinks the political spectrum atrophies. Debate and vision fade to irrelevance and we wind up ruled, not governed, but ruled by grey suits stuffed with wet cardboard.

Sadly neither Mulcair nor Trudeau advocates this syndicate-busting. They simply expect the cartel to fall in behind them and so the public will again be the losers to this incestuous pact.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Sal - thanks very much for the heads up on the Perrin story. I misread the guy from the outset of the Duffy scandal. I feel a bit ashamed for that.

Anonymous said...

Anyong said: Not only should anyone wanting to run for government positions in this country, have to take a test on ethical requirements, so should anyone wanting to own a newspaper.