The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Closed circle

In what will be its October 7 issue, the Canadian Medical Association Journal highlights the issue of listeriosis, examining the recent Maple Leaf contamination which has been responsible for 19 deaths in Canada to date. Following up on Roger Collier's article, Shifting to food industry self-monitoring may be hazardous, Amir Attaran et al wrote a sharp editorial criticising the substitution of "self-inspection" for government inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as has been the political trend under the Conservative government.

Confronted directly with the CMAJ findings in yesterday's French language debate, Stephen Harper dismissed them as having been written by a Liberal:
Mr. Dion is talking about a Liberal who wrote that article. That is not the medical association's position. The association stated clearly that that was the case.
Apart from blurring the articles with the editorial, Amir Attaran's profile lists no political affiliation, nor could I find such after quite a bit of searching. This would seem to imply that Attaran, at least, does not identify himself primarily (if at all) by partisan politics. The logical conclusion would seem to be that Harper defines "Liberal" not by actual political affiliation but as those who hold certain views, such as (in this example) resistance to the idea of shifting away from government inspection.

More broadly, this is not the first time that Harper has dismissed criticism of a Conservative policy as being by a "Liberal" -- yet since he defines "Liberal" as being anyone who criticises him who does not represent some other party, we have the makings of an unbreachable circular argument. And the inescapable correlate is that the only acceptable criticism, in Harper's eyes, can come from those who already agree with him.

So I challenge Harper to my little test: when faced with a difference of views, is there any possible criticism another could give that would cause you to re-think your position?

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