The Canadian Imagination

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last minute steeplechase

For once, the focus falls naturally on St├ęphane Dion.

The analysis of the CTV televised stumble made political hay for Stephen Harper: yet most political pundits, representing every party including Harper's Conservatives, felt that it was not a fair point, and that it was inappropriate for CTV to have aired it, more so since they chose to focus exclusively on the stumble. For those who did not see, here is the exact exchange:
Murphy:If you were prime minister today, what would you be doing about the economy?
Dion: If I'm elected next Tuesday, this Tuesday is what you're suggesting? Murphy: "No, I'm saying if you hypothetically were prime minister today.
Dion: I don't understand the question.
No more do I. In all fairness to the interviewer, he may not have seen the temporal and foundational implications, but managing an economic crisis is a long-term affair, and the question is simply unanswerable without knowing how much of economic policy leading up to a point is one's own and how much is inherited. To say what could be done as prime minister, even on a hypothetical Tuesday in the future, depends entirely on whether that is the first day of one's mandate or whether one has had the full two years of government beforehand.

December edit: Here is an interesting and related take by The Politic, with extensive commentary and thoughts on that commentary. In reading the comments, one thing jumped out at me: one of the major anti-Dion notes was that he would take 30 days to finalise a plan. You can imagine how ironic I find this, writing from the perspective of the events nearly 50 days later.< / end edit >

While everyone agreed that the attack as stated was an unfair one, one of the local Conservative pundits suggested that the true political issue unveiled by CTV was not the degree of Dion's familiarity with economic issues, but his unfamiliarity with the English language ... and at once everyone else pointed out that if Dion was to be considered attackable based on his English, then surely Harper could be considered equally attackable based on his French. Me, I think both make a commendable effort to adapt to a linguistic environment utterly outside their comfort zone, that there is a fairly large francophone world out there as well as an anglophone one -- and further I think that is what interpreters are for.

More interestingly, the Swedish Academy has just announced their 2008 Nobel laureate in Economics: Paul Robin Krugman ... many of whose writings happen come very close to the economic platform of the Liberal party. In particular, Krugman is a strong advocate of taxation reallocation to reflect true environmental cost: the so-called carbon tax.

And who among us would have been able to resist saying, "See?"


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