23 min

Taking his show on the road

Don’t expect the Prime Minister to be in the House all week – he’s currently off to New York to go on CNN in advance of his trip to London for the G20 meeting on Tuesday, and then off to a NATO summit from there. This after he was in Washington on Sunday to go on Fox News along with a few other mostly American news outlets (though he did meet with CanWest’s Washington bureau), while Canadian media was told not to bother tagging along. So why is he suddenly so friendly with the American media?

While it was suggested on the Sunday that his getting notice in the States can help to stem the tide of protectionism (and I say good luck with that), I’m more inclined to agree with what was in the current issue of Maclean’s – that the foreign media has been a lot friendlier to him than the Canadian media, especially given that our banking system hasn’t collapsed in the light of this recession, and it also helps Harper to look like more of a statesman. Of course, he doesn’t exactly offer much in the way of substance to any of his answers, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

I’d also like to think that there’s another subtle game being played, which is the appearance of legitimacy. Given the way that our particular inferiority complex with regards to media seems to grant our talent pool more legitimacy if they can make it in the States rather than if they stick around home (which is a self-loathing and toxic attitude that I utterly detest), this habit that Harper has developed of now taking his message to Fox News and CNN strikes me as much of the same thing. If he can look good on American media, then it seems like he’s trying to get the Tim Horton’s crowd to be more wowed by his ability to play in the supposed “big leagues.” Never mind that he has no actual substance to offer them, and that under his leadership, we’ve lost far more international clout and prestige than ever before. He’s on the Situation Room with Wolf Blizter, and that has to be a mark of coolness!

(Note that Maclean’s also showed that his American media appearances haven’t actually moved the polls in Canada much, so the strategy doesn’t appear to be working).

Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff took to the road as well this weekend with stops in British Columbia, and footage from his stop in Victoria is online. And while a lot of people have been complaining of late that he’s been really vague on policy decisions, he was pretty clear with several points in this presentation.

The Coles Notes version: On voting for the free trade deal with Colombia despite their human rights abuses – it is better to engage with them than not. On his policy plans for the environment – cap-and-trade with hard caps and a 1990 baseline, more energy conservation, and a water strategy. (There was some talk recently about his officially abandoning a carbon tax because the voters in “mature” consideration – though I wouldn’t exactly call it that – rejected it). On the Wheat Board – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” On speaking up about the withdrawal of tax credits on windmills – perhaps he’d better start. On universal childcare – an “emphatic yes.” And finally, on reforming our first-past-the-post voting system – it’s not perfect but he’s not convinced other systems will provide stability, and he doesn’t to turn us into Italy, and hence, the jury is still out.

On the topic of the environment, there was some talk about how the Liberals may be pulling their support from the NDP’s “climate change accountability” bill, which is a re-launch of Jack Layton’s bill from the last Parliament. While Layton’s bill died because of the election, it had the support of the Liberals the last time, and now it may not. It seems that, according to the party’s environment critic, David McGuinty, the bill contains no plans for how to achieve its climate change targets. “We might as well be sitting at a table with Monopoly money and Tidley Winks,” McGuinty said. Of course, the NDP are pretty much daring the Liberals to vote against it now, hoping that the Liberals will look even more like a Conservative “coalition partner.” Because wow, that’s a responsible approach to legislation.

Remember the talk about protection for incumbent MPs? Well, it looks like the challenge to Conservative MP Rob Anders’ seat is going ahead, no matter that he tries to style his challenger’s supporters as “closet Liberals.”

Up today – the public hearings into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair get underway today, so expect a lot of media attention to any potentially salacious revelations that come out of it – and knowing the way Schreiber has been playing these events, I’m sure he has plenty of juicy little tidbits up his sleeve that he’s just waiting to start dropping.