Friday, January 13, 2006

2006 federal election - episode 6

Warehouse Election Central

One of our intrepid WEC field reporters had a stunning expose to shock voters to the core, ready to go for this episode...until his laptop got in the path of a Stephen Harper snowball.

Newsstand Watch
A.S. Pryncesse returns with another look at what the papers say...

The Globe and Mail is closing in on its prey...

A lot can change in a week. If the polling numbers are to be believed, and this humble writer remains ever skeptical, the Conservatives are 8-10 points ahead of the Liberals and Smug Stephen will soon become Prime Minister. Not wanting to pick a loser, the Globe has apparently abandoned its role as Liberal apologist and begun to print more overtly critical articles about the Liberal party, while correspondingly writing more complimentary articles about the Conservatives.

Things began quietly early in the week; their report on the English debate was actually quite balanced, highlighting some of the best quotes from every party leader (meanwhile, the National Post informed readers that every Smug Stephen utterance was expertly measured and brilliantly lucid). However, by the time the report on the ad scandal was made public (a scandal which reinforces the notion that the 2006 Liberal campaign is just the 2004 Conservative campaign in drag), they began posting a new "reality check" of Liberal policy, culminating yesterday in a line-by-line criticism of their aborted attack ad.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Star is working harder and harder at being irrelevant. While the other two dailies dissected the ad along with various aspects of the party platforms, they used the front page for a story about...the importance of lawn signs. Their thoughtful was conclusion was sometimes they’re important, sometimes they’re not.

However, you can always count on the Star to give a little love to the Pornstache Party. For instance, last Friday it posted a story on the micro-controversy surrounding Sam Bulte, the incumbent Liberal MP in Parkdale High-Park. She apparently has a few donors with a vested interest in the copyright legislation she’s been working on as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage. And wouldn’t you know it, Parkdale-High Park also happens to be one of the ridings that could most likely go to the NDP (sometimes it’s just too easy).

Flashback: Glum Chum
For lack of charisma and grim demeanor on the campaign trail, no current party leader can touch Arthur Meighen, Conservative prime minister for two short terms (1920-21, after Robert Borden's retirement, and a few weeks in 1926 during a constitutional crisis our chief editor's father used to call the "King-Byng wing ding").

Note the death glare in the picture on the left, taken from John Duffy's book Fights Of Our Lives (the same John Duffy whose verbal sparring with CTV's Mike Duffy over the pulled Liberal ad after the French debate Tuesday night made the rounds on the net - alas, it no longer appears to be on CTV's website, and most remaining sources have unabashedly conservative tags stuck on then).

This picture was taken at a rally in Portage la Prairie, Meighen's riding, in 1920. Duffy notes:
This photo captures the man's Darth Vader-esque campaign technique. He seems to regard everything he sees with contempt: the local men around him, the whole messy democratic process. Meighen's elitist, intimidating style of campaigning did not serve him well and has long been out of fashion. (p.145)
We've tried several internet search engines and consulted half-a-dozen tomes and we have not found a single picture of Meighen remotely cracking a smile (we challenge you, our humble readers, to find one!). The man at least sensed this shortcoming himself, once noting "I have never told a funny story in my life".

Meighen summed up in Will Ferguson's look at Canadian history, Bastards & Boneheads (with Meighen falling into the latter camp):
Meighen had originally been a schoolteacher, but he quit when the trustees would not give him a free hand in punishing students: which more or less sums up his entire approach to wielding authority. You remember that the worst teacher you ever had? The meanest, nastiest, most tight-assed terror of the classroom? That was Arthur Meighen...over the course of his career, he managed to alienate just about everybody: big business, labour, Quebec, the West and, inevitably, his own party. (p. 254-255)
He may have had intelligence and great debating skills, but the lack of warmth and the deviousness of his lifelong rival, William Lyon Mackenzie King, curtailed his politcal success (prime example: Meighen's disasterous second go-round as Tory leader in 1942, where the Liberals threw their machine behind his CCF competitor in a Toronto by-election, a strategy that worked). - AP, JB

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