As you’ve probably heard by now, the Globe & Mail has endorsed Stephen Harper as our next Prime Minister. Realistically, newspaper endorsements have pretty much nil effect on election campaigns nowadays — the only people who actually read the old papers anymore are probably more than politically aware enough to have made up their minds weeks ago. So the best response for people who find this endorsement pathetic is to get out and make a difference where it really counts. Not here, where, I suspect, a combination of selection bias and confirmation bias means that virtually no regular readers are contemplating voting Conservative anyways.
I won’t regale you with a long list of sins and misdeeds by the government. Not for partisan reasons — I have such a list, and if another party wins the election, I expect I will have another such list in a few years’ time. Instead I’m more interested in what the endorsement says about the media. This editorial is a sad indication of how fragile Canadian democracy has become. Not only does the Old & Male call for the creation of two-tier private healthcare, but it says that the next leader needs to be authoritarian (they call it “bullheaded”) in order to pull us out of the recession. So not only have they decided to oppose universal healthcare, but they’ve also decided that what we really need is a Benito Mussolini, someone who will make the trains run on time and never mind how many heads they crack open in the process. Well done, Globe & Mail. You have completed your transition from democratic institution to anti-democratic fifth columnist. Now kindly go off and die in a corner.
Let’s run through the logic in this pathetic exercise in journalism. The Globe says that our next party government must show “leadership, bullheadedness, and discipline.” The first of those is vague. The second are ridiculous. They are the hallmark of authoritarian rule, not democratic governance. Ironically, they go on to say that the first of the the next leader will be to “find new ways to protect Parliament, the heart of our democracy.” Later they say that Harper’s inflexible disrespect for Parliament is a “great strike against him.” The fact that their biggest criticism of their chosen Dear Leader is that he is incapable of rising to what they say is his biggest challenge doesn’t seem to bother the Globe in the least. It’s like nominating Bernie Madoff to teach an ethics class because, shucks, who would know more about unethical behaviour than him?
The other three problems the Globe says need fixing right away are healthcare, the economy, and climate change. They’ve sure chosen an odd leader to endorse, then. The current Conservative platform doesn’t contain a single hard commitment whatsoever on the subject of climate change. It doesn’t contain a single new promise for healthcare, either — it just says they won’t cut spending, which was never politically feasible anyways. That leaves the economy, and Canada’s current economic performance is pretty much middle of the pack. It would probably be middle of the pack under an NDP or Liberal government, too. Contrary to what certain reporters seem to believe, at this point politicians took their hands off most of the levers of economic boom and bust years ago, and none of them are talking about putting their hands back on, either.
So basically, the Globe has endorsed a leader which they say fails on the first priority, and who (though they don’t say this part) has said he will take no action on two of the other three priorities. Even if Harper did display strong economic leadership (and frankly I don’t know where that myth has come from), at best that would give him a score of 25%. If that were true, and he were the best leader in the campaign, wouldn’t the most responsible course be to endorse no candidate? And then, to rub salt in the wound, they drag out the old saw about how his government to date has been “moderate and pragmatic.” Of course it has. It’s been a minority Parliament. Frankly no leader to date has given us any indication of how they would behave with a majority Parliament. So nobody has a record. The fact I even have to make this point to challenge what is supposedly an intelligent media is depressing.
If there really is a Harper majority next week, then sooner or later (and not necessarily under Harper, either) Canadians will eventually come to regret the fact that they said it was okay for government to lie to and disobey the elected representatives of the people, ignore laws passed by Parliament, argue in court that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to decisions by ministers, promote the privatization of healthcare, and ignore the reality of climate change. And when that unfortunate day comes, remember which side the Globe & Mail chose to stand up and be counted on.Tweet