BTC: Constructive criticism (II)

In regards to this weekend’s homework, below you’ll find a rundown of the political stories the Globe, Star and Times included in their respective weekend packages (based only on the editions of each paper available in Ottawa, exact line-ups and story placement will vary).

Surely taking note of this blog’s call to comparison shop this weekend, the Globe published a 37,000 word profile of Stephen Harper in its Saturday Focus section. But even then the editors couldn’t help but vaguely apologize for doing so. Consider this graph.

“Figuring out who he really is could be dismissed as irrelevant but for one undeniable fact. Unlike prime ministers elsewhere, Canada’s are not first among equals. They are first and foremost – they decide how a government is structured and operates, and what decisions it makes.”

Setting aside whether our prime minister is any different from, say, Britain’s, who would dismiss such scrutiny of a national leader as irrelevant? Is there a serious Western nation where the primary leader of the government is not subject to scrutiny beyond what they do during business hours?

For sure, there are vaguely accepted limits to the intrusion into a Prime Minister or President’s personal life (though those limits are increasingly, uh, limited). But when did we ever not at least want to know who our leaders were beyond what they show us in public?

Anyway. For the sake of comparison, the New York Times has probably run a dozen features over the past year exploring various aspects of Barack Obama’s humanity and life (His mother! Chicago! New York! The Drugs! His race! His writing! His failure! His education! His career!). I can’t imagine the American political discourse is any worse for those pieces.


The Globe
A8: The Conservatives: Quest for majority
A8: The NDP: A Liberal coalition?
A8: The Liberals: Focus on the economy
A8: Atwood rallies anti-Tory votes by backing Bloc
A9: Tories won’t win big cities, ex-aide says
A9: Harper’s out of touch, lacks a plan, Martin says
Jeffrey Simpson: All that wooing, but will it win Quebec’s heartland? 
Roy MacGregor: Finally an issue: who’s going to bring the blue-collar jobs back?
Christie Blatchford: Arts matter, but does Big Brother have to pay the tab every time?
Rex Murphy: It was Them versus Him. Ho-hum 
Focus: Incremental man

The Star
A1: Tories lead but voter volatility on the rise
A19: Contenders or pretenders?
A19: Canadian TV debate outdraws U.S. version
A21: Harper warns about ‘panicking’ like Americans
A21: Wrong address on voter cards leaves electors scrambling
A22: Making sense of the barrage of numbers
A23: Greens’ leader ‘born to do this work’
A23: May still explaining ‘strategic voting’
A25: Will workers take job losses to polls?
James Travers: Expect slash and burn in tough times
Thomas Walkom: Perhaps Harper just doesn’t get it
Mike McCracken: No party will admit to running a deficit during a recession
Ideas: The issue: Poverty

The Times
A1: Economic Unrest Is Shifting Electoral Battlegrounds
A24: Observations from Handful of Cities That Could Prove to Be Electoral Key
A26: As Election Nears, Catholic Church Is Riven by Unusual Internal Debate
A27: In a Red State Rolling in Green, a Relaxed Attitude Toward the Election
A28: Bailout Votes and the Economy Threaten to Overwhelm Other Issues
Week in Review: The Vice President: The Heartbeat Job
Week in Review: The Nation: Who You Callin’ a Maverick?
Week in Review: Laugh, or the World Laughs at You
Frank Rich: Pitbull Palin Mauls McCain
Clark Hoyt: Political Scorekeeping
Nicholas D. Kristof: Racism Without Racists
Maureen Dowd: Sarah’s Pompom Palaver

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