Category Archives: Canada

The CBC is a product of the nation

Lorne Gunter is not cool with the CBC.

The CBC will never be able to exorcize its left-wing missionary zeal — for global warming, for Islam, for big government, Barack Obama, multiculturalism, public health care, human rights commissions and so on.

It’s not like the CBC exists in a vacuum. It is ultimately controlled by the federal government, which official supports all those things which a few vocal Conservatives hate so much (even Obama).

And it’s not like the federal government exists in a vacuum. Not even Stephen Harper was able to exorcise Ottawa’s “left-wing missionary zeal.” He might not be the loudest cheerleader for Medicare, but he wouldn’t dare challenge it.

Canada is, on the whole, a progressive nation. We elect progressive governments, present Parliament included. From that, we get a progressive public broadcaster.

The CBC is a symptom of our politics, not the cause.

The trouble with confederation

Jeffrey Simpson’s argument that Queens Park is the most important government in the country these days makes me a little sad. Not because I don’t think the Ontario government is competent, but the federal government and the other provinces are, to put it kindly, not being helpful.

One of the weaknesses in Canadian confederation is out-sized power and undersized capacity of the smaller provinces to govern. The small provinces don’t have the capacity to provide services without federal (read: Ontario and Alberta) help, but the big provinces don’t get the support they need from the nation to create wealth in a global economy.

This is more than worth $60 million

Media meltdown

Is it time to restructure the television broadcasters in Canada? Improving on the current arrangement is no great feat.

CTV is hemorrhaging millions of dollars, Global is on death’s door, and even CBC is short on cash.

What I ask now, I ask as a cultural nationalist: would it really be so bad to open the border to the American networks? Prime time is already mostly American imports. Small market TV stations are already neglected or closing.

Let ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC broadcast their own shows (which are already available on practically every Canadian TV) in the major markets with the same Canadian content rules as domestic networks. The average consumer probably wouldn’t notice. Then adequately fund the CBC to fill the gaps in places like London or Regina, which are not profitable but deserve a local station.

Like it or… don’t

The National Post’s editorial board, fed up with Quebec’s continuing refusal to speak English and vote Conservative (or something), suggests the Quebecois should shut up or put up. Be like the rest of us or just separate already. They suggest it’s time for the federal government to “adopt a tough-love attitude” because the Tories have nothing to lose.

Maybe it’s the National Post’s editorialists that need to go. This federation is flexible and accommodating provincial differences is something it does well. If the editorialists want to live in a land of homogeneity and consensus, they can be the folks to go.

And if we’re going to be dividing Canadians by province, it should be pointed out that Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia are Canada. The rest of you are late to the game, and have no right to ask any of the original players to go.

Good Point: trade is risky too

Canada’s been getting some good press lately, thanks mostly to the non-implosion of Canadian banks. Of course, this is really the minimum one should expect from a bank.

However, Tyler Cowen points out that its not very wise to invest most of the country’s GDP in trade with a nation of risky banks. No matter how safe our domestic banks, the economy will still tank if the Americans don’t have money to trade.

I’m of two minds when it comes to trading with the US. They present us with a large, convenient, and usually stable basket in which to place all our eggs. If we were one nation, nobody would expect Ontario to decouple with Michigan in favour of India. But we are not Americans and it is probably not a good idea to encourage the elephant-mouse qualities of our relationship.

Broadly speaking, trade with the US is good for Canada and should not be discouraged in any way. Yes, there are some potential rough spots with NAFTA (water and culture come to mind) but they are not treaty-killers. Ideally, we would grow our trade with the rest of the world even faster. Canada should be pursuing membership in DR-CAFTA and free trade with the EU, for example. Granted, I’m no economist, but there must be government tools or incentives that encourage international trade.

There’s probably nothing we can or could have done to shield ourselves entirely from this mess, but being coupled so tightly to one trading partner is risky business.

Sometimes losing is good

Chantal Hebert writes today about the rudderless Prime Minister, and Don Martin writes about the whispers of rats fleeing the PMO ship. Two is a trend, right?

Stephen Harper is in a much worse position than I would have imagined a few months ago. On the right, he has sold-out every principle of the old Reform Party and still failed to secure a majority government. On the left, he faces an emboldened opposition with a new, less bulliable leader. And on all fronts, the economy is dragging incumbent politicians down with it.

A majority government seems highly unlikely in the months (years?) that the economic turmoil continues, and in any case, what is the point if the PM becomes Brian Mulroney in the process?

US Republicans suddenly seem to be in the enviable position of opposing government spending without consequence. Saved from the economy by their own mistakes abroad, Republicans are returning to their small-government roots and letting the other guy weather the storm.

I have to wonder if Conservatives in Ottawa are jealous. If they had lost the last election (or even fallen during the coalition madness), they would be able to return to their political roots, criticize Stephane Dion’s recession, and bide their time until better days.

And some people think we’re ready for a republic

It’s a little embarrassing when the Governor General, representative of the British monarchy in Canada, has to step in and give Parliament a time out. It’s worse when France, which went out for a smoke and never came back over two centuries ago, treats us like children.

The French on the meeting between Hillary Clinton and her Gallic counterpart, reported by Wherry at Macleans:

Mr. Kouchner also drew Ms. Clinton’s attention to the case of Omar Khadr, the Canadian child who, as you know, was enrolled by al-Qaeda as a pre-teen. We wanted to draw the attention of the American and Canadian authorities to his case.

What kind of a state are we in?

O Canada

Much fuss has been made over the New Brunswick school that didn’t begin every day by playing the national anthem.

Let me tell you, as someone not far removed from secondary school, standing for the national anthem every morning, sleep deprived and irritable, did nothing to build my patriotism.

The jingoistic patriotism that can be distilled to a celebration of military conquests, national anthems, and a blind belief in national superiority is dangerous. It makes for a kind of nationalist narcissism. Think of a person who is excessively boastful: he or she projects high-self esteem, but in reality it is fragile. I suspect the same trend – a shrinking and increasingly marginalized white working class – is behind this insecure patriotism in Canada as in the United States.

Recently, the Premier of Saskatchewan asserted that his province “is the best province in the best country in the world.” I think this demonstrates how absurd these kinds of statements can be. By what measure is Saskatchewan better than any other province? Maybe it is because all of the Premier’s friends and family can be found in Saskatchewan. It’s a good province, no question, but it’s not the best.

I consider myself a fan of Canada. I wouldn’t want to be a citizen anywhere else. We have achieved some remarkable things, not least of which are the sustained coexistence of French and English, our compassionate provision of social services, and the reasonably successful implementation of multiculturalism.

At the same time, I can recognize that we are terribly wasteful, the indigenous peoples have been treated horrifically, our social services can be improved, our economic performance could be better, and our actions on the global stage are not very important. None of this makes me unpatriotic.

Just as Saskatchewan is only a good province, Canada is only a good country. Canada is not the best country in the world any more than the US, France, or Iran. But I wouldn’t trade it for any other.

(photo credit)

Let it pass

The budget has been revealed in full.

My gut says the government needs to be brought down because they can’t be trusted and they spend most of their time living in an alternate reality.

But this budget isn’t nearly bad enough to be rejected. The mess of constitutional wranglings and a possible election delaying a budget until spring is not worth indulging my anxieties over Harper or my envy of the Americans with their new president.

We should accept this mediocre budget and let the Tories wear the recession for another year.