Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

4/11/2005

‘What made a bunch of American conservatives sudden experts on Canadian politics?’

File under: Character Writ Large, Righteous Indignation, Sound And Fury, Home And Native Land. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 7:40 pm.

Rivka at Respectful of Otters says pretty much what I was thinking about the American bloggers who posted the details of the Gomery Inquiry that were banned from publication by Canada’s Orwellian, free-speech-hating, communist government. Except not really, because what I was thinking involved a lot more snark and swear words, and a lot less research and fewer links, so you should probably go read her instead of me.

Among other things, Rivka points out that the publication ban was imposed by the courts, not by the legislature; and that it was imposed to help ensure that it would be possible to select an unbiased jury for the trial. Most importantly, she points out something that you’d never have known if you got all of your news about Canada from American bloggers: the Brault testimony covered by the publication ban was not secret. It was open to Parliament, to the press, and to the public. It just couldn’t be published until the trial was over. But the inquiry is such big news that there will be no shortage of information about it available when the trial ends; contrary to what Captain Ed will have you believe, he is not the single saviour “exposing the wrongdoers in the Canadian government and allowing Canadians to have the information necessary to make an intelligent decision about their leadership.” There was never any question that that information wouldn’t be available before an election - which is scheduled at the ruling government’s convenience. And if the Liberals were to call an election before the details of the report were available to the public, they’d be crushed at the polls.

I am disturbed by restrictions to free speech. I am, however, also troubled by impediments to due process. On occasion free speech and due process butt heads, and it’s impossible to uphold them both absolutely. It seems a more than fair compromise to impose - under very rare circumstances - time-limited restrictions on the former in order to safeguard the latter. The only issue I have with this publication ban is that it’s untenable in this Age of the Internet, which is populated by smug American assholes who have little to no respect for Canadian sovereignty. As Rivka said, the publication ban helped the Conservative Party more than anyone else: for a week, virtually the only information available about the Gomery Inquiry came from Americans who’d rather gloat about their rights than try to understand ours.

This is not hyperbole; Last week, I jokingly remarked to wolfangel that Canada should start issuing publication bans on everything - it seems the quickest way to get the US to pay attention to us. In her post, Rivka wonders aloud (atype?), What made a bunch of American conservatives sudden experts on Canadian politics? I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the fact that the American blog that scooped Brault’s testimony has a category called “Canada“, which was created on April 2 of this year and deals exclusively with the sponsorship scandal. Michelle Malkin, who didn’t seem to think that Canada’s latest federal election was worth writing about, is suddenly very interested in our government. You’d think that our constitution was signed two weeks ago and promised us nothing but free health care (but not, alas, free speech) and government scandals.

I’ve seen this before - Americans learning just enough about my country to piss all over it in the name of patriotism. Sooner or later this scandal will leave the news (and - if I may offer a prediction - the Liberals will emerge battered but intact, because eventually it will become apparent that “OMG SPONSORSHIP SCANDAL” doesn’t cut it as either a platform or as a campaign strategy, Mr. Harper), and they’ll forget about us all over again, or at least until the next nursing shortage or brain drain, at which point we’ll get another earful of pedestrian commentary and US-flag waving. (Aside: I’m more than a little amused at the amount of mileage that a couple of unoriginal US bloggers have been able to get out of a single account by a single American blogger of a single Canadian source who’s supposedly “very reliable” although we regret to tell you that we can’t tell you who he is. (Or she. Or they.) It’s pundits, pundits all the way down!) Pity we can’t issue a publication ban from which only Canadians are exempt.

22 Comments

  1. “And if the Liberals were to call an election before the details of the report were available to the public, they’d be crushed at the polls.”

    Hahahahaha.

    - joe — 4/11/2005 @ 8:58 pm

  2. Hey, I wouldn’t have believed it either at some point, but apparently we might not have a one-party system anymore. In any case, as Rivka said, keeping the details under wraps wasn’t helping the the Liberals; maybe they’d have managed to eke out another minority government if an election had been called before the ban lifted, but that would have been because 1) Canadians like their Liberals, and 2) the Conservatives would have done something stupid during their campaign (see also, Paul Martin supports child pornography).

    - Moebius Stripper — 4/11/2005 @ 9:07 pm

  3. I’m guessing the reason Captain Ed is an expert on Canadian politics is that he’s in Minnesota… it doesn’t seem to me that much goes on there, either. I mean, the political scandals in NYC are much more interesting, and usually involve somebody getting killed by the Mob.

    - meep — 4/12/2005 @ 2:35 am

  4. We don’t have a one party system we have . . . a zero party system?

    On the other hand, if this gives sovereignty enough of a push — amazingly, it seems to be doing so, even though the PQ also got money, and I know that if you want a government contract when they’re in power, you’d better be donating, at least if you’re anglo — then the liberals really are in trouble.

    - wolfangel — 4/12/2005 @ 6:01 am

  5. On behalf of Americans, Michelle Malkin and her ilk are batshit insane to begin with. You may have noticed that we have a surfiet of pundits and pundit-wannabes down here, each one more vitrolic and less informed than the last. I mean, did you ever see the Ann Coulter where she stated that Canada should be grateful that the US *allows* it to exist on the same continent? Those are not thoughts that normal people have. But the signal-to-noise ratio here is so bad that its hard for these guys distinguish themeselves, or get loud enough to be heard above the din.

    - K. — 4/12/2005 @ 9:24 am

  6. K - yeah, I know that Malkin and Coulter are nuts, and that most Americans don’t take them seriously. But one of Canada’s national newspapers, the National Post, published commentary from Coulter for awhile; I think I stopped reading the Post then, though one might argue that it had jumped the shark some years earlier. A few weeks ago a friend told me he’d seen an interview with her, and she was saying that Canada and the US used to be really close, like back in the 70’s when Canada sent troops to Vietnam. Come again?

    Wolfangel - bizarre the way these things work, no? One of the commenters at Respectful of Otters remarked that one of the bizarre consequences of this scandal is that the BC Liberals have been suffering in the polls as a result of it. As the commenter pointed out, the BC Liberals have nothing in common with the federal Liberals. Personally, I’m not complaining; for the past two years I’ve been looking for an opportunity to vote against the party that legislated my union back to work.

    - Moebius Stripper — 4/12/2005 @ 9:41 am

  7. The National Post was born having already jumped the shark.

    It is odd how it works, but it’s pretty typical here, I think. As I said elsewhere, I’m feeling somewhat amused by a conservative minority government — they’d need to have a coalition with the Bloc, who might be able to scuttle the PQ in so doing. Or maybe.

    I’d not mind if the NDP started to do well again after this. One can but hope.

    - wolfangel — 4/12/2005 @ 11:36 am

  8. eheehee… I saw that interview, and it’s much funnier than her just being wrong about Vietnam. It’s her insistence that her interviewer is wrong that’s hilarious.

    I agree with wolfangel that the National Post was born having already jumped the shark.

    - Jen — 4/12/2005 @ 1:56 pm

  9. I suspect there’s a fortune to be made on tinfoil hats in the U.S. Alas, things seem to be getting crazier here by the day. Do you suppose California could quit the U.S. and join Canada? Could you folks use another province? It even comes with a governator!

    - Karen — 4/12/2005 @ 7:18 pm

  10. um… the governator is supposed to be a point in favour?

    - Jen — 4/12/2005 @ 8:43 pm

  11. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the fact that the American blog that scooped Brault’s testimony has a category called “Canada“, which was created on April 2 of this year and deals exclusively with the sponsorship scandal.

    You should not take one blog as the be-all and end-all of US interest in Canadian politics.  Your ever-more-expensive-but-never-workable gun registration database has been attracting considerable attention and comment for years, long predating Adscam. ;-)

    - Engineer-Poet — 4/13/2005 @ 4:02 am

  12. >It’s pundits, pundits all the way down!

    Exactly how I feel about American TV news.

    - Some American Mathematician — 4/13/2005 @ 8:29 am

  13. Sorry. For political addicts, the ongoing testimony and political maneuvering are a way to get our fix. Also, the Liberal government did not make friends South of the border. In fact, they pretended to be better than we were. There is a bit of revenge in seeing the former PM and his party be on the spot. I am originally from a border state (Michigan) and spent 2001-2004 in another border state (Minnesota), so I was exposed more to Canadian politics and business. I also have worked as a consultant to Nortel, prior to the economic downturn. I believe that the main problem is that you Canadians put on such a good show. Who can not watch?

    - Jim Bender — 4/13/2005 @ 10:46 am

  14. I (as citizen of the USA) am intrigued by the way this is playing out. I have no opinion either way about AdScam–I figure that it may be an event of interest, but it doesn’t directly concern the government of the US.

    I am much more interested in the way that information is flowing through the World Wide Web of computers, and the authority that various regional courts have over it.

    BTW, is there any specific detail of Ed Morissey’s (or Michele Malkin’s) coverage which is misleading? Or do we have a case of the people of the USA poking their nose a little too far north of the border?

    About pundit “wannabes”, you seem to have scored 1 out of 2. Ed Morrissey is definitely a private citizen who has never published opinions (to my knowledge) before he started blogging. Given that, his writing is pretty strong on facts, and his opinions are advanced with polished rhetoric.

    But Michele Malkin has been published for years as an op-ed columnist and pundit, before she took up blogging. She has also published at least one book. Her latest book tackled a controversial historical event–she used lots of original research, and claims that her work has lots of bearing on the current security situation of the United States. Having not read the book, I’ll stop my commentary there.

    - karrde — 4/13/2005 @ 10:51 am

  15. Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter know to bring the worst out in someone, just make them mad. After you have a mad liberal, you just have to sit back and watch them make fools of themselves. The United States in-your-face liberals have been doing that to concervatives forever. OK, the link below is on a conservative site — so don’t believe the data — verify it for yourself and DON’T take anyones word as fact unless YOU want to look like a fool.

    http://www.perspectives.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=34656&forum_id=5&view_results=1

    As for Karen’s suggestion that California join Canada, well, as a citizen of The People’s Republic of California, I strongly suggest Canada join California not vice versa. We’re not on the Left coast for nothing!

    Of course, I fear that Moebius Stripper will be far more frustrated by the quality of the math education that kids here in the PRC get.

    - AK — 4/13/2005 @ 12:24 pm

  16. My own enjoyment, as I said on livejournal, is watching a juicy political scandal that 1) I understand, 2) involves none of my money, and 3) doesn’t involve people getting murdered or raped.

    Still, when it comes to political corruption, the Adscam (or whatever) seems small beer. But perhaps that’s because your Canadian dollars are so small (or were so small)… your cute little Canadian Loonies. My state government works on graft of a much larger scale, I think — and it’s difficult to get anybody riled about it.

    I also liked watching stuff about the Canadian election last year - just because a parliamentary system is pretty different to us, and seems more exciting in certain ways. At any moment - the government could change! Whee! We’ve got to wait for our regularly scheduled elections, alas.

    - meep — 4/13/2005 @ 12:49 pm

  17. This isn’t the first example of Canada’s gag-order system. I remember other examples over the past several years. Evidently in Canada, a gag order means “don’t even think about it”. Not “think about going public”, but “think about the subject”.

    As Canada is perfectly free (or not, in this case) to pursue its own ends, I don’t object, I only rejoice in our own idea of what people are allowed to talk about.

    Mr karrde is right about Malkin. She’s no raving maniac. Coulter is our answer to the Michael Moores of the Left, any one of whom is ten times more maniacal, ten times nore insane than Malkin ever was.

    I think that one of the reasons this case got so much publicity is because it took place in the world of blogs. The many previous cases we don’t hear about, simply because the Canadian courts were sucessful in shutting down all mention of it. (I vaguely remember an earlier one having to do with the Mounties, but I have no details. Google may not help, as the Canadians have forbidden any mention of it.)

    But we digress. I’m still dazed by the Central Limit Theorem (which I’m sure I came across in college math, but which is now brand-new astonishing, and leads to the inevitable question, “OK, so what?”)

    - Mike — 4/13/2005 @ 1:27 pm

  18. $5 says Ann Coulter didn’t have any idea what involvement Canadians had and thought Canada “sent troops” on the level of the Korean war or Dessert Storm.

    Not that I know anything beyond what’s on Wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_and_the_Vietnam_War

    - Jen — 4/13/2005 @ 3:01 pm

  19. Yes, it’s true, Mike, a Canadian publication ban gag order means “don’t even think about it”. Why, just before this ban was lifted I found myself idly contemplating the Brault testimony, when I was whisked away by the Thought Police and stuffed in a jail cell overnight, where my cerebral cortex was relieved of the component dedicated to pondering AdScam. How I even remember this event is anyone’s paranoid hallucination, really.

    Regarding “[Malkin’s] been published => [Malkin] is a serious thinker and a reliable source” - I’ll just point out that this is how the National Enquirer stays in business, and leave it at that. In any case, a cursory check of her archives shows that her only interest in Canada comes in the form of train-wreck gawkery. They’re better than us, do we get it? Her post about AdScam is a bunch of links to a bunch of bloggers commenting about - and I can’t repeat this enough - a single blogger’s account of a source who couldn’t go public and whose account couldn’t be corroborated. Mmm. As Rivka said, where is there any indication that she knows much, if anything, about Canadian politics other than this sort of sensationalistic tabloid fodder?

    (And, Engineer-Poet, you’re right about the gun registry. Ditto for US commentary about Canada’s health care system, which portrays it - with rare exception -as either a socialist utopia or a socialist disaster, depending on the commentator’s feelings about socialism. (I’m more forgiving of the former, becuase, well, honey and vinegar and all, but I don’t take well to this “we should move to Canada! Canada is so much BETTER in every way!” hysteria that manifested itself among privileged Americans in November 2000 (and again in November 2004). My country is not virgin terrority to serve as a dumping ground for disaffected Americans who seem to know little about us beyond the fact that we are not them. (Genuine refugees, who do exist among Americans, are a different story.) But I digress.) Rare is the American pundit of any political stripe, who has not created Canada in his own image.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 4/13/2005 @ 7:06 pm

  20. Canada is our Shangri-la…

    Just to pop in to make a comment about the desirability of Canada - it does have some of the best vacation spots. I highly recommend both Quebec City and Vancouver on the quality of their restaurants alone. Heck, I’m not sure what to do in Quebec City other than eat. But that was enough.

    - meep — 4/14/2005 @ 5:49 am

  21. (Genuine refugees, who do exist among Americans, are a different story.)

    Indeed; I know someone who became a political refugee in Canada after a gross miscarriage of justice in the USA.

    And I’m sure the reverse has happened also (specifically with regard to speech laws).

    - Engineer-Poet — 4/14/2005 @ 1:04 pm

  22. Excellent, excellent discussion comparing American and Canadian freedom of the press going on in the comments section of this post at Bitch .Ph.D.

    - Moebius Stripper — 5/4/2005 @ 9:51 am

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