Tag Archives: Elizabeth May

This week in Electionland: Tar sands fever heats up, the press attacks Harper, and nobody talks about poverty

As a voracious reader of news, and as a blogger, I’m of two minds about the ridiculously long election campaign that we’ve just embarked upon.

On the one hand, I find myself wanting on an almost daily basis to throw in my two cents on the latest scandal or outrage or prime ministerial press conference. There’s a natural drama to a campaign that makes continuous running commentary both easy and lazily compelling; like the dramatic twists of a five-day-a-week soap opera, each juicy detail and revelation leaves you wanting more, even though the plot only creeps forward incrementally each day and the overall story arc going forward is pretty obvious to anybody who’s watched this sort of thing happen before.

And that’s what’s on the other hand – I don’t want to get too sucked into the petty drama of the whole orchestrated spectacle. As I noted last Friday in my coverage of the first leaders’ debate, electioneering in our current system is little more than well-organized propaganda and manipulation. The goal of party messaging is not to inform voters, but to persuade them, largely on a subconscious level. To engage seriously with such a process is, in many respects, to legitimize it, and that I do not wish to do.

All that being said, however, it is an important event, and it has the potential to be extremely revealing in terms of the actual functioning of the broken party system and the business-captured political class. I would be remiss to ignore it entirely.

So my compromise with myself is this: each Sunday, I’m going to be writing up the week that was in the election. This will, hopefully, undercut my impulse towards gossipy commentary, result in more insightful and thoughtful coverage, and allow me to focus more on broad trends than the frenzied daily news cycle. Continue Reading

The case against campaign debates

I was pretty jazzed all day yesterday for the first debate of the Long Campaign.

I knew better than to be excited, but still I was Рlike a football fan on Super Bowl Sunday, I hoped that despite all the letdowns in the past, maybe this one would be good.

But these ritualized events, which have come to be considered so pivotal to the success or failure of campaigns, are now so thoroughly scripted and focus-group-tested and rehearsed and strategized that every moment, every utterance, every careful hand gesture and dead-eyed practiced grin feels nakedly manipulative.

And so it was last night. There were a few moments of actual substance – for instance, Elizabeth May pressed Thomas Mulcair relentlessly on the NDP’s position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, pointing out the inconsistencies in his position (he had earlier complained that the process for deciding on whether to proceed with the pipeline was fundamentally flawed, but then took the stance that the government should wait and see the results of that process before making a decision). But for the most part, the spectacle consisted of Harper, Mulcair, and Trudeau trying to define themselves along the lines their respective parties’ brain trusts think they ought to be defined, and May fighting tooth and nail to get a word in edgewise.

I mean, look at this – here’s a transcript of every time May was cut off in the two-hour debate (h/t fycanadianpolitics): Continue Reading

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