Sunday, August 03, 2008

'So Called' Silly Season

It's the silly season and not much happened today in Canadian politics. QP was a yawn, but in one segment, I was particularly struck, once again, by just how 'dumbed down' our political discourse has become.

Jane Taber interviewed Dominic LeBlanc, Paul Dewar and Rahim Jaffer and she began with Harper's threat to Dion this week to either allow him to govern or defeat his government.

She, Harper and Jaffer suggest that Dion has been running around the country since being elected leader threatening to call an election. He hasn't of course and on his own, I don't think he's raised it even once. Has he been asked at every opportunity, even when announcing policy such as tackling poverty and the Green Shift? You bet. Media has been obsessed with this question from day one.

Could he have been more tactful in his answers? I suppose so, but he's an honest man that doesn't play games and doesn't do the bafflegab that the Con's have perfected. So he attempts to answer the question in a logical manner and the press run with it as if he's declared something definitive.

This is the narrative we've been fed since the man was elected. It's facile and meaningless to most. People are interested in ideas, but the media don't have much time for that. Witness Taber in the interview cut off Paul Dewar, 'we don't have time for the details of the plan'.

Why not? Why not have a panel discussion that lasts more than 9 minutes and allow MP's to actually debate policy rather than gossip and trivia? I admit in the middle of summer this wouldn't be top of mind for most, but imagine if on a regular basis the 2 political shows that we actually have, adopted a more mature format, Canadians might just become more involved in the political process.

Warning. Pet peeves section.
The other thing that struck me are the subtle utterances, which is just something I'm picky about. I wrote recently that it's ridiculous that Harper who speaks French is unable to pronounce Dion's surname in English. It's a small thing, but it's intentional imo, so it annoys me. In the clip I refer to, Jaffer calls Dominic, Dominique. Now maybe that was his attempt to sound French, but he got it wrong. That's petty stuff, but when Taber calls the Liberal plan the 'so called' Green Shift, that is intentional.

She's not the first. It seems that everyone on CTV refers to it that way. It is called the Green Shift, so why undermine that? Calling a plan by it's name does not mean you endorse it. The last thing she said that I thought was wrong, was when speaking with Dewar, she called the cap and trade a scheme. Huh? Again, undermining a legitimate process used and endorsed internationally.

To be fair and provide a little balance, to Taber's credit, she is the first on air media type that I've seen actually call out the NDP by saying they had the luxury of hiding behind the Lib's during votes. She mentioned that they were in a different position. Well done.

So, given that it's silly season, if you could produce and direct a political program in this country, what would it look like?


wilson said...

I would like to see the 3 party leaders Layton, Dion & Harper, go to each province & the Territories (add Duceppe in Quebec) and have them answer the questions of LOCAL reporters.

Questions with a regional flavour.
The leaders would really have to do their homework.
National reporters focus too much on the Ottawa crowd.

RuralSandi said...

When I watched the journalists at the end of the show I realized just how out of touch they are with the average Canadian. Absolutely in their own world.

Omar said...

I could give two shits about what some local YOKEL reporter from south-west Nova Scotia has to ask a national leader. To my mind the regions are generally part of the divisive problems this shaky confederation experiences and seldom (if ever) do they offer any meaningful cohesive solutions. My Canada has a strong centralized government piloting the ship of state, thank you very much.

jarrid said...

Dion is his own worst enemy on election speculation. He raises expectations or fails to dampen them and then gives the impression that he's backing down or not following through when a vote comes along and the chips are down.

I've seen him gloat that Harper has ham-strung himself with his election legislation and that he, Dion, is the one with the power to decide on the timing of an election. Given that he needs the support of other opposition parties, that is overstating things. But you can see why the media keep after him on the question of the timing of an election given his frequent musings in open media microphones.

Anonymous said...

KNB: the NDP has voted non-confidence in the Harper government over 40 times. They want an election! The NDP has put forward their own non-confidence motions in the Harper government. They want an election! It is the unfortunate reality of the numbers that the NDP cannot on its own or with the Bloc bring down this government. To do so requires the votes (all or most) of the 'Official' Opposition.

The Harper Cons have put forward so many pieces of legislation that are absolutely antithetical to the NDP and so upset progressive Canadians (e.g. c50, c10, massive corporate tax cuts in budget bill to name only a few) there is no way that the NDP would have propped up the Cons the way that Dion's Liberals did.

Unlike many libloggers and activists, I am VERY comfortable with the voting record of my party, mainly because the NDP has voted unlike Dion and his crew in the Official Abstention party.

Omar said...

Pfft...that the NDP places pragmatism on the back-burner (or completely takes it off the stove altogether) is hardly anything to be boastful about. Pie in the Sky solutions are just that when the political entity offering them will never (in the foreseeable future anyway) form national government.

Anonymous said...

the NDP has voted non-confidence in the Harper government over 40 times. They want an election!
The NDP has played politics.
They voted that way knowing the Liberals would not bring down the government. Whatever esteem I've had of the NDP eroded around the time of Martin.
Layton is a first class idiot. I can't wait for Mulcair to take the party over.

I would like to see the 3 party leaders Layton, Dion & Harper, go to each province & the Territories (add Duceppe in Quebec) and have them answer the questions of LOCAL reporters.
That is the Harper tactic already. Conservatives bypass the main newpapers and concentrate on local papers were they are no questions and run press releases almost verbatim.

A better experiment would be to ask your local MP and other party representatives to answer a few questions. I can tell you that Fortier will only answer if he thinks he will get some exposure (If you are a mayor or councillor or journalist) - he does not answer the "little people".

Frankly Canadian said...

The N.D.P. have done nothing substantial to actually get rid of this conservative government, they have in fact gotten behind Harper and attacked the Liberals at every opportunity. If the N.D.P. were serious about taking the cons down, they would work with the Liberals and the Block and even the Greens to find ways to achieve their common goals. I hate it when people talk about the Liberals sustaining from voting, when everyone knows that an election during that time would have only give Steven Harper a majority government. In my opinion and most of the people I work with, Jack Layton's N.D.P. have made it easier for the cons to continue their games and propaganda. Everyone should remember that Buz Hardgrove (the biggest name in organized labour here in Canada) had thrown his support to the Liberals and Paul Martin in the last federal election, that says hugely where the N.D.P. are at this point in Canadian history. If Mr. Layton continues to work in unison with Steven Harper more and more Canadians will see that, good for the Liberals and Greens but bad for the N.D.P.

I do agree that the current political television shows need to change and I like the idea to talk about real issues and not what the producers think will sell more newspapers. That C.T.V. Question Period seems more and more like a cross between Gerry Springer and Canadian Idol.

RuralSandi said...

Anonymous said...
KNB: the NDP has voted non-confidence in the Harper government over 40 times. They want an election! The NDP has put forward their own non-confidence motions in the Harper government. They want an election about total posturing. Trust in the NDP on economic issues is about 11%, average in the polls between 14% and 19%....yup, it's easy to posture when the pressure is not on you. Besides, Layton is being totally manipulated by Harper and has been all along. Layton's dream of being the official opposition makes him an easy person to manipulate by Harper.

If Layton was principled as he claims, he would be attacking Harper, not the Liberals. Harper/Layton - man crushes or their common mission - destroy the Liberals.

Layton is a pathetic joke.