Enough already with the cocktail party columnists

March 14, 2009

Reading Margaret Wente in the Globe is often unsettling. You recognize the events she’s talking about, you know she’s making observations about the country you live in. But strangely, none of the people know know seem to be living in Wente’s Canada.

I usually don’t mind that Wente’s universe seems to be entirely contained within a few of the nicer Toronto neighbourhoods. It’s even good for a few laughs at times. But today’s column from Wente about how nouveau chic frugality suddenly is, caught in my throat for some reason.

Maybe it’s her admission that the two-person $235 sushi dinner she had the other day looks a little obscene now, even though it used to be a normal treat of their hard-working family before the recession. Maybe it’s the faux-zen reasoning that makes her think people who lost their job get healthier because they have more time to exercise (with a quote from an economist, no less). Maybe it’s residual anger from Jon Stewart’s clobbering of Jim Cramer on the Daily Show.

Or, maybe the column reminds me how frustrating it is to talk with those high-flying columnists with an worldview so limited that you just can’t find anything that will resonate with them. They know the world through the friends they meet for brunch on Sunday, the New Yorker writers they admire and quaint family stories about how their grandparents worked hard to get their kids in college, without taking a handout from the government.

Times are hard for the media. Revenues are declining and the future looks bleak. If daily newspapers are still unwilling to cut on the money it spends on columnists, could they at least replace the cocktail party columnists with people whose writings are relevant to the current situation?


Media frames election agenda: “May the best PR win”

September 10, 2008

This  morning, a Toronto Star editorial is lamenting that “The early days of the federal election campaign have been dominated by images – mostly negative ones of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion – rather than substance.” The Globe’s headline is about process stories overshadowing policy announcements. The Ottawa Citizen’s sole front-page election text complains that there’s too much talk of gaffes and strategy in the campaign so far. Read the rest of this entry »

Manning and the Cirque du Soleil

August 23, 2008

Preston Manning has an op-ed in the Globe and Mail this morning, putting on the table a few concepts to improve Canada’s parliamentary system: establishing primaries, referendum ballots – the usual.

The text is rather bad. The ideas feel half-formed and he takes half the space talking about the Cirque du Soleil, trying to make a comparison that doesn’t fly. One gets the impression the former Reform leader is bored with the current state of Canadian politics and hopes for something more entertaining, not necessarily more effective.

Still, the fact that Manning would put those ideas forward illustrates that Canada’s conservative movement is confident that its ideas would prevail in an environment where citizens are offered a more direct role in the policy-making process. Not necessarily because they think most people already agree with those ideas, but because they are confident in their ability to convince them, through their use of Netroops, judicious use of war chest money and the dynamism or their grassroots. Interesting.

Holy fuck, who writes those things?

August 8, 2008

Speaking of leaky blabbers… Canwest’s David Akin says he obtained “Conservative talking points”about the decision to scuttle the PromArt program, a $4.7-million pot of money to promote Canadian culture by sending artists to international gatherings and small tours. Groups like the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada and Toronto’s “lo-fi noise and weirdo casio-driven rock” outfit Holy Fuck will have to do without.

A few comments:

  • The language justifying the cuts is incredibly over-the-top. Past beneficiaries are “a general radical”, “wealthy rock stars”, “ideological activists”, “left-wing columnist and author who has plenty of money to travel on his own” (that’s old Gwynne Dyer apparently). It goes on… you can smell that particular variety of high-octane scorn only young right-wing radicals and Warren Kinsella seem to be able to produce. They really except a spokesperson to go on some radio show and spew out that kind of rhetoric? I mean, other than Pierre Poilievre?
  • I hope those “Conservative talking points” are indeed the party’s, but the way Akin seems to work and the fact that he has a quote from a nameless “government official” (not me), indicate it comes straight from the Minister’s office. I hope I’m wrong.
  • There can be a perfectly legitimate reason why the program is to be axed. As part of the government’s program review, each Department has to identify the least-useful programs in its inventory and find new uses for the money (or send it back to Treasury Board – yeah right!). I seem to remember it’s Foreign Affair’s turn to go on the bloc, along with half a dozen of others. PromArt looks like a good target for Foreign Affairs, as I suspect it’s not critical to the Department’s Core Mission, whatever it may be these days.

AUGUST 11 UPDATE: Okay, so the Globe and Mail Ed Board refutes my third point.

The Liberals’ leaky blabbers strike again

August 7, 2008

This from this morning’s Globe:

“At the last strategy meeting a couple of months ago, one insider said Mr. Dion spent more than an hour trying to explain his environmental plan, which was so complicated even his top aides had trouble understanding it. Some Liberals feel that if it’s too difficult to sell in 30 seconds at the door, voters will tune out.”

What is it with Liberal “strategists”, can’t they keep their mouth shut? Have they all been infected with the “ahah, I know something you don’t” virus? No blabber control.

UPDATE: Okay, I’ve got 22 hits on this post in the last 7 hours, which is way more than my little PR blog usually gets (except for this post of course). Who’s telling their friends to come and see, angry Liberals or giggling Tories? Don’t be shy to post comments, I approve anything that isn’t offensive (and some that is slightly offensive) and I don’t check your IP addresses.