The view from across the pond
A lively little discussion was going on this week about Canada and its politics at the Guardian newspaper website in the U.K. over an article called The Canadian Nixon.
The authors, Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer, essentially are asserting that there's a larger force here at work in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's war with Elections Canada -- specifically, his campaign to dismantle Canadian institutions. They're not the first to make this point, (see below) but their point in putting this on the Guardian website, presumably, is to get readers from abroad, mostly of a liberal bent, to pay attention to developments here in Harper's Ottawa.
And it has prompted a little wave of discussion about Canada and its politics, not so long ago dubbed “cool” by another British media institution, The Economist. Here, though, it's a mix of Canadians and Canadian-watchers from abroad, talking about whether Canada is really a small-l liberal country. Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff also dwelled a bit on this question in his speech at the Royal York this week - part of a fundraiser to help settle his leadership-campaign debt. .
And Sinclair Stevens, once a Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, had some of the same things to say in an article he penned for the Star this week.
So what does all this mean, in the larger scheme of things?
Liberals, naturally, want all of this to serve as the groundwork for the next great election debate. They believe it's the narrative that underlies all of the actions of the Harper government -from its battles with the media, the CBC in particular, to its fight against Premier Dalton McGuinty's government.
Meanwhile, Conservatives, especially given the latest poll results from Angus Reid, would like the next election to be framed on leadership.
There's a worrying chance, however, that the next election will be about neither - that it will just be nasty, brutish and personal. CBC Radio and Rex Murphy are due to tackle that question later today on Cross Country Checkup, when listeners are being invited to call in with thoughts on this question: "Are finger-pointing, insults, and scandal-mongering, elbowing out real political discourse?".