Megapundit: The 100-second column

Miscellaneous Canadian news
On a weird, slow day in the world of punditry, that’s the best headline we can come up with. Sorry.

The Toronto Sun’s Peter Worthington looks at what strikes us as a rather bizarre proposal to replicate the Vimy Memorial somewhere on Canadian soil—so that Canadians can take in its replicated grandeur, obviously, but also so that they might (in the words of Bruce Stock, the Canadian veteran behind the idea) “better understand how important it is to Canada.” This strikes us as something a good history unit could accomplish better than, as Stock proposes, a privately run interpretive centre. (This harrowing portrait of trench warfare is brought to you by Monsanto!) And with all due respect to Messrs. Stock and Worthington, the $1.6 million the memorial cost in 1936 does not inflate, at 4 per cent per annum, to $13 million today. We make it roughly double that—which, at $2,500 a pop, would be enough to send nearly 11,000 students to Vimy itself. This strikes us as a super idea.

The Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom is happy to hear the prime minister and the premiers “talking about infrastructure,” because that’s government code for not getting “too hung up on balancing their books”—i.e., running deficits. And he will resist the temptation to dismiss all the talk going on among the “so-called G20” leaders as mere bafflegab, because “in a global crisis, talk is not meaningless.” Unfortunately, he argues, General Motors and other looming catastrophes seem determined to outpace the efforts of the world’s governments to deal with them. Still, he takes solace in seeing those governments move uncommonly quickly to address “the most serious economic crisis in decades.”

In the Montreal Gazette, L. Ian MacDonald dissects Léger’s first poll of the election campaign and concludes that while Jean Charest’s Liberals “might not currently be in majority territory, a majority is there to be won.” This is particularly true, he notes, when the Action démocratique is deflating like a tire with a nail in it—Mario Dumont actually trails his party in support!—and the Parti Québécois is dealing with its usual infighting, embarrassing leaks to the media and “fisticuffs breaking out at a nomination meeting” in L’Assomption. In that environment, MacDonald notes, Charest is free to campaign on his own terms and promise voters in Quebec City, his main target in the campaign, “everything, including the Olympics.”

Miscellaneous American news, and Canadian news with an American theme
The Globe and Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson takes issue with the central premise of Ottawa’s offer to Barack Obama to effectively trade energy security, in the form of unfettered access to Alberta’s oilsands, for Canada’s participation in a continent-wide emissions trading system. “Sorry,” he writes, “but the Americans already have access to all the Canadian oil (and gas) that we can pump and that they want.” And the government’s ulterior motives—quashing the movement south of the border against “dirty oil” sources like Alberta, and adding a level of coherence to our emissions reduction efforts that has been impossible to obtain domestically—are too glaringly obvious, Simpson suggests, for the gambit to succeed on its own terms.

The Gazette’s Janet Bagnall plays up the huge role female voters took in electing Obama, and notes various observers who hope that having been “recognized as the decisive factor, women and the issues that concern them will gain visibility” in American politics. A similar gender gap exists in Canada when it comes to the left- and right-leaning parties, she observes, but unfortunately it wasn’t big enough, nor did it involve “enough voters, to head off a minority win by a government determined to carry on with a law-and-order and tax-cutting agenda.” She suggests “next time” will be different. We’re not sure why.

“Today’s archetypal Democrat is a young Latino IT specialist who lives on the Virginia side of greater Washington,” John Ibbitson writes in the Globe, “while the archetypal Republican has owned a small store on the main street of Humboldt, Neb., for 30 years, and wishes he could sell.” The GOP is dying, in other words, and much depends on how it intends to rebuild itself. If the Sarah Palin/Mike Huckabee wing of the party takes over, Ibbitson argues, its base will be confined to the poor, the elderly and the racist. It will, in short, become the ideological flipside of the Thatcher-era Labour Party. But if a “young, dynamic conservative” like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or Representative Eric Cantor can wrestle control away from them, the future is much brighter.

Duly noted, all-National Post edition
Jonathan Kay
rejects the idea that newspapers and magazines are dying en masse, but concedes “print publications will have to change, radically in many cases, if they are going to survive.”

redcardIndeed. They will, for example, have to stop printing things like Lorne Gunter’s column on page A18, in which he explains just how all-fired silly he thinks the “100-mile diet” and its variants are. “The bulk of the advocates for 100-mile culinary limitation are, it seems, residents of B.C.’s Lower Mainland or California,” he writes—note “it seems”; no time to investigate!—immediately after deriding a couple from, er, Edmonton who are attempting it. “Mmm, smell the aroma of that lovely roasted poplar-bark beverage,” he writes, dismissing the idea of going without coffee and apparently fancying himself a comedian, which he is most definitely not. “There would be fresh produce for about three months each summer,” he sneers, but “rickets are a small price to pay to save Mother Earth.” Hilarious. But wait, he also notes “the amount of energy consumed by all the canning that would have to be done,” so that would seem to take rickets off the table, no? And he then concludes by citing two actual arguments made by other people in the Post, for heaven’s sake, and suggests the best way to “save the planet” is to “buy foreign produce in bulk and drive it home in your SUV.” We’ve had more than enough of this sort of crap. Gunter is banned until further notice.

But back to Kay. He believes the print media “will survive, flourish even,” if they relocate “to one of three discrete islands of profitability”: long-form, business-oriented journalism catering “to readers who can justify the expense of long-form news consumption … as a work activity”; “premium publications that cater to the ideologically involved and the intellectually upscale, spiced up with “lavish graphical experience[s]” such as the new Atlantic redesign offers; and “hyperlocal” news about potholes, PTA meetings and local hockey. We dearly hope he’s right. And in furtherance of these goals, we suggest he fill Gunter’s column-inches with Colby Cosh, who’s already in-house even. No fuss, no muss.

Quotable notables for 800 please, Alex. “A sociopathic tyrant with technological know-how and evil intentions should be deemed to have WMDs, whether he possesses a current stockpile or not.” Who is George Jonas? Correct.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.