Saturday, January 29, 2011

The axis of fear ... in Ottawa

I'm pleased to see that some senior reporters who cover Ottawa are taking a serious look at the current government.  Susan Delacourt, the Star's Senior Writer in Ottawa, has covered federal politics for more than two decades as a reporter and bureau chief. In today's Toronto Star blog Politics, she says  ...

Weekend reading: On the subject of fear

Most political junkies got their fill of Harper-government retrospectives last weekend, on the fifth anniversary of the Conservatives taking power. But there's one more must-read viewpoint out there this weekend, penned by Andrew Coyne in Macleans. It's headlined: "The Damage Done By Doing So Little," if that helps as a summary.

What's good about this piece, in my view, is that it punctures a myth I kept hearing repeated all last weekend from the punditocracy -- specifically that this government "got the big things right" in the past five years. Coyne, at essence a contrarian, forces us to examine what those "big things" are, beyond a ballooning deficit, which is big indeed.

And if you're still in the mood for some assumption-rattling, then Susan Riley's column in today's Ottawa Citizen serves the same function. Riley, though, is looking ahead rather than backward, laying out the broad scope of a future election campaign, whenever that does come. Specifically, she's talking about the axis of fear:

"The ballot question may be what voters fear most: illegal immigrants, rampant crime, Russian bombers and the census taker, or growing income inequality, deteriorating social services and stagnating middle-class incomes."

It's good to see a couple of columnists stepping out from behind the wall of assumptions/talking points in federal politics, which blithely assert that whenever the current government is doing something -- negative ads, spending wildly -- it's doing it from a position of strength. Those silly ads this week, in violation of every private-sector advertising standard (and now pulled), told me something different. Strong, confident political parties don't go on the attack for the sheer joy of it. (Well, maybe political parties composed of 14-year-olds in their basements do, but presumably there are adults in the room somewhere in Conservative Ottawa.)

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