The Calgary Herald’s current stable of columnists include arch- conservative Nigel Hannaford (who I believe is actually on the payroll of Canwest Publishing Inc, a division of that paragon of fiscal responsibility, CanWest Global Communications Corp). Mr. Hannaford’s specialties include defending neocons and right-wing loud mouths, attacking human rights commissions, and denouncing all liberals including Barack Obama.
Then there is Susan Martinuk. She too inflicts invective on everything progressive in society. She is also a member of the ‘Proud to be Canadian’ conservative blog joining such literary giants and luminaries as the lovely and talented scourge of civility, Ann Coulter. As a matter of fact, the Proud to be Canadian book store on its website plugs several books by Coulter and even one by that intellectually-challenged elfin pipsqueak from Fox News, Glenn Beck.
Also on the Herald's editorial pages you will find Mark Milke's column once a week. Whether he's paid to write it I can't say. If he is, it is an expense his bankrupt employer should surely bring to an end. Milke is a senior fellow with the Frontier Institute, a Winnipeg-based, conservative, political tub thumper for corporate special interests masquerading as a think tank. Indeed, the Frontier Institute is quite similar to the more well-known and notorious right-wing pamphleteer, the Fraser Institute. Milke believes that global warming is a crock, favours unbridled capitalism, has no time for human rights commissions, and promotes the idea of unfettered freedom of speech. From his writings one can only conclude that Milke believes that the current trend of public figures and loud mouth talking heads yelling and screaming at each other and riling up their publics so that they bring guns to political meetings is what freedom of speech is all about. See: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/04/16/mark-milke-on-canadian-human-rights-commissions-and-misreading-john-stuart-mill.aspx
That is just a sampling of the sorry state of the CanWest press in my city, and I haven’t even touched upon the trite but mercifully, increasingly rare columns of nonsense foisted upon the Herald’s declining readership by its editorial page editor the Contessa Corbella.
The above sorry lot have been joined now by Michael Taube. Surprise, surprise – Taube is a former speech writer for what could be the Herald’s patron saint – if only he knew what to do with a communion wafer - Stephen Harper.
Taube today writes that if an election is called for this fall, it will be ‘Seinfeldian.’ (For you readers who are not couch potatoes addicted to the idiot box, the Seinfeld show was said to be a comedy about nothing. Taube thinks this will be an election about nothing. Get it? Yes, yes, I know, the analogy is trite and old). Read Taube's piffle here: http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/theeditorialpage/story.html?id=d41faab8-f2fb-4daf-8a95-f19d39de49e9&p=2
The piece is predictably an attack on Ignatieff and the Liberals from beginning to end – fully conforming to the Herald’s editorial policy over the last 50 years.
Just as the Herald’s editors have been largely wrong on public policy for those 50 years, so too is Taube wrong about the forthcoming election. There are plenty of issues and they are not Seinfeldian:
1. Afghanistan is an issue that must be debated in this election. The Canadian people have been misled and lied to by its government. There has been no progress made. Most of our NATO allies want to stay clear of harm’s way. Our troops continue to die and the Canadian people continue to spend billions on a cause that is going nowhere and there is no time like an election to come to grips with it.
2. Unemployment in Canada is an issue. It is unacceptably high and we need effective policies to bring it down. Those who are unemployed and their families need help. What additional help should be provided?
3. Infrastructure money has been slow getting to its destinations. This has exacerbated unemployment and made it more difficult for Canadian families. Why has this happened, and what can we do to speed it up?
4. How will Canada deal with the soaring deficit and at the same time maintain services?
5. How do we respond to the U.S. ‘Buy America’ program? And what does such a program do to Free Trade and NAFTA?
6. What should our relationship be to the emerging great powers of China and India. The Harper government did its best to alienate the Chinese up until a few months ago? Do we dare trust him to do the right thing by these important nations in the years ahead?
7. What about the way Canada is treating Canadian citizens trapped abroad? Is the government truly racist? Or is it just incompetent? Does the government not have a duty to properly represent and protect all Canadians trapped abroad? Does the government have a duty to get Canadian citizens out of ratty and infested jails ran by outlaw states? Does the government have a duty to protect its citizens against torture? To repatriate its citizens who have been jailed for years without trial?
8. What about the sorry state of the RCMP? What are we going to do about making our National Police service more accountable? Why is it that people like Conrad Black and Alan Eagleson faced prosecution for their crimes in the United States rather than Canada? What will Canada do about stepping up its resources to properly investigate and prosecute white collar crime?
9. What should be the long-term involvement of the federal government in our health care system?
10.And what about Prime Minister Harper? Should the Canadian people re-elect a government led by a mean, petty, gaffe-prone, untraveled, uncultured, right-wing ideologue?
By Taupe’s definition these days the Herald is clearly Seinfeldian. For sure most of its columnists are Seinfeldian. And for certain Taube himself is Seinfeldian.
But – and you can say you heard it here first – the election will be about something. It will be about real and important issues. And it may well determine the direction this country will be heading for a long time to come.