the Great West takes over Canada
and other pecularities
Mediascout calls it
out and right
once again, folks!!
PM FISHES FOR MAJORITY,
BUT WILL LIBS CUT BAIT?
by Jordan Himelfarb
October 5, 2007
The Big Seven are so giddy in their continuing coverage of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s rare appearance at a National Press Theatre news conference yesterday, that MediaScout is reluctant to let them know the brutal truth: They’re being used, and to a strategically brilliant effect. Harper told the press gallery yesterday that he intends to designate a series of bills as confidence matters—a means of presenting opposition parties with an ultimatum: Let the Conservatives govern, or force an election; “fish or cut bait,” as the prime minister put it yesterday. In doing this, Harper has forced the opposition, and particularly the Liberal party, into a zugzwang position, in which both fishing and cutting bait are detrimental to their position. As the Globe reports, the Liberals are in no position to fight an election, having recently suffered demoralizing defeats in three Quebec by-elections and with the growing perception that leader Stéphane Dion lacks the necessary leadership qualities to be prime minister. At the same time, as the Citizen points out, allowing the Conservatives to stay in power would amount to an admission on the part of the Liberals that they could not win an election and have been forced by their own weakness to compromise their politics.
On The National’s At Issue panel, Andrew Coyne predicts that the Liberals will vote to uphold Conservative bills or abstain from voting at all, positing the “humiliation” of not forcing an election as a “less bitter pill to swallow” than getting crushed in one. According to a separate article in the Globe, Harper is anticipating the opposite reaction and has asked that federal Conservative election campaign offices be ready to open in case the government falls after the October 16 Throne Speech. For the most part, the Big Seven are so mesmerized by the tactical soundness of Harper’s gambit—the Post and a separate article in the Citizen depict a Liberal party in disarray, while this article in the Globe proposes several obviously unworkable solutions to the Liberals’ quandary—that sources forego any discussion of its likely policy consequences. Only Chantal Hébert, writing in the Star, describes what this parliamentary game-playing might mean for Canadians beyond a possible trip to the polls. According to Hébert, the fractiousness of the current minority government meant that Harper had no choice but to make the move he did. “If the House of Commons does not feature an impotent government this fall, then it will showcase an impotent official opposition,” she writes—a choice as unappealing for Canadians as to fish or cut bait is for the Liberals.
THE NATIONAL: “Fishy Advice: We’ve all been told to be careful how much fish we eat, so why are pregnant women now being told to eat as much fish as they like?”
CTV NEWS: “Drug Strategy: Cracking down on drug dealers while going easy on users”
GLOBE AND MAIL: “Escape from Myanmar”
TORONTO STAR: “Court lets suspects sue police for negligence”
NATIONAL POST: “Investors to warn Alberta”
LA PRESSE: “‘Harper has boxed us in’”
OTTAWA CITIZEN: “Accountability act creates PS ‘Dilberts’”
THE STRAIGHT GOODS:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveils the Conservative government’s new drug strategy, which has already come under attack from addiction workers. High-ranking finance bureaucrat Mark Carney is appointed as the new governor of the Bank of Canada. The Big Seven celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik and the beginning of the Space Race.
THE ONLY WAR IN WHICH IT’S ILLEGAL
TO SMOKE YOUR ENEMY
CTV News leads and The National fronts, while the Post, the Citizen, the Globe and the Star go inside with the Conservative government’s new drug strategy. At a press conference in Winnipeg yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Health Minister Tony Clement and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day re-declared a war on drugs, pledging nearly $64 million to a reinvigorated anti-narcotics campaign. Harper described the government’s strategy as “two-pronged”: tough on dealers and “compassionate” to addicts. The former prong will involve the establishment of minimum sentences for serious drug crimes, and increased funding for police and prosecutors focused on narcotics; while the “compassionate” prong, to which two-thirds of the allotted funds have been designated, will consist of a national awareness campaign and the development of new addiction treatment options, CTV News reports. The Star determines that addiction workers were pleased by the announcement, while all other sources on the story disagree.
In particular, today’s Big Seven sources point out that addiction experts are concerned with Harper’s rejection of harm-reduction measures, such as the creation of safe-injection sites. “Frankly, I’m skeptical,” Harper said of such an approach, arguing, “If you remain a drug addict, I don’t care how much harm you reduce, you are going to have a short and miserable life.” However, the Globe has Thomas Kerr, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Medicine, suggesting that the prime minister is ignoring the science surrounding harm reduction, which indicates that such measures often lead directly to detoxification. The Post quotes a statement by Canadian Medical Association President Brian Day, who writes, “This campaign has to be more in-depth than what we have seen in the past ... ‘Just say no’ is not enough anymore.” One wonders if Harper’s new catch-phrase—“It’s time to get straight with Canadians so Canadians who use drugs can go straight”—is quite what the CMA president had in mind.
‘BOY GENIUS’ TO RUN BANK
The Globe fronts, while The National, CTV News, the Post, the Star, La Presse and the Citizen go inside with the appointment of a new governor of the Bank of Canada. Mark Carney, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated economist from the Northwest Territories, has been made the new captain of Canada’s economy. At forty-two years of age, Carney, who is currently an associate deputy minister in the Department of Finance, will become the second youngest governor in the Bank of Canada’s history. CTV News describes him as a “boy genius of high finance,” while the Citizen dubs him an “ambitious charmer;” the Globe finds the new governor “quick-witted, canny,” while the Post provides us with the probably inessential detail that Carney wears a Swatch watch. Throughout the Big Seven, outgoing Governor David Dodge is praised for maintaining low inflation and presiding over outstanding economic growth during his seven-year tenure. At a press conference yesterday, Carney implied that he will probably not depart significantly from Dodge’s focus on maintaining the two-percent inflation rate target. CTV News and the Globe both cite Canada’s low unemployment rate, which exerts inflationary pressure, and the high dollar, which poses problems for manufacturers, as Carney’s key challenges in his new job.
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Jordan Himelfarb is a Quebec City-based MediaScout writer for Maisonneuve Magazine.
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