Hey look, the sky didn't fall at all
Before I get to the media analysis today, I want to take the opportunity to have my say on the issue of the day. Forgive my self-indulgence. A strange thing happened to me this morning. I was listening to CBC Radio on my way to my morning media analysis job as the hourly news came on, and the first item was (no surprise) the results of the same-sex marriage vote. And as I listented to the roar of applause from the gallery that accompanied the yes votes, I felt a surge of pride. My normally jaded and cynical heart (at least for all things Parliamentary) withered and I actually teared up a little bit. Despite the best efforts of fear-mongering Conservatives, and despite the bungling and missteps of an ineffective minority government, Canada became only the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages. Fucking 'eh. I don't know if I buy into the whole "It's the charter, stupid" argument. To me, this is more about saying gays are people too. It's about saying what happens between two consenting adults who love and treasure each other is of fuck all business to anyone else. If two guys want a state-sanctioned certificate that says they love each other, who are we to say they can't have it? It's about saying to the world, in Canada, you can be who you want. I'm not one for melodrama and grandoise declarations of nationalistic pride, but today, I am honestly really fucking proud to be Canadian. I'm glad that despite the best (and worst) efforts of many, this morning any two loving adults in Canada can march into a civic office and say "marry us." I'll say more about the coverage of this in a second, but I think Globe columnist John Ibbitson summed it up the best. "After the certain, swift passage by the Senate, and royal assent, it will become the law of all the land. And Canada, once again, will have stumbled to the front of the pack of civilized nations. ... So, enjoy the summer while it lasts. And congratulate yourself. You are part of the most diverse, tolerant and open-minded place on Earth." The debate was ugly, the performance of many MPs sub-par. But at the end of the day, it got done. I'm going to go crank up the Dead Milkmen's "Stuart" and celebrate the fact that, at least on this issue, Canada got it right. On to the analysis Okay, back to business. The coverage of the vote was, for the most part, predictable. The Globe tended to focus on the need to move on from the sourness of the debate, while the Toronto Star celebrated the vote in an editorial. The surprise was the acceptance, begruding as it was, of the vote by the National Post. Their front page contains a point-counterpoint wherein Andrew Coyne actually argues that the vote was a good thing and it's time to move on to protecting religious freedoms. It's as close to a pro-same-sex argument as you'll get from the Post. Beyond that, there was little in the way of commentary on the matter at all, save for a "let's move on" editorial that argues that few Canadians will actually be affected by the vote (interesting, given their opposition to it in the past, but whatever, we'll let them turn tail with some dignity). The general consensus is that the whole debate was messy, nobody performed particularly well, and at the end of the day, it's probably best that it's over. Not really the triumphant dawn of a new era that you might expect it to be, but it's all very Canadian. So if the Post wasn't gay-hating. . . Don't worry, they were still proudly displaying their right-wing prejudices in their comment section. I want to discuss three of their columns today: Barbara Kay's name-dropping praise of her cottage in Maine (she lives near George Bush Sr., let's all be impressed), George Jonas' patronizing take on the Trudeau/Almrei affair and Rachel Marsden's attack on Paul Martin, which the Post was kind enough to make available online. It's here. I'll save Marsden for the last, because there's a lot to say. These are three great examples of types of columns that piss me off. Kay's piece is basically a self-indulgent rant about how great her cottage in Maine is, how close she lives to the Bush family retreat and how she can totally see why Bush likes it. What's your point? Yay, you can afford to holiday in Maine, who really cares? Jonas offers up a variation on the "kids today with their rock-and-roll music" theme so beloved by himself, SunMedia's Peter Worthington and the like. He criticizes Alexandre Trudeau, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein's support for security-certificate victim Hassan Almrei (read more in the Globe article here) by dismissing them as well-intentioned but misguided kids who don't realize how dangerous terror is. He even recounts meeting Trudeau and Lewis as kids, as though he needed to reinforce the patronizingly parental nature of his column. At least the Post's editorial on the same subject comes right out and calls them all "terrorist-huggers." It's one thing to criticize their actions, but it's even more condescending to pretend they're just misguided kids who would do differently if they knew better. And Marsden. Oh Rachel Marsden. Canada's Anne Coulter. Rebel of the Right. If you didn't read the column, do so here. I'm going to pick this bad boy apart pretty liberally, so you'd do well to read it first. Okay. Line One. Yes, Martin used to be Chretien's "right-leaning counterpart" and now he's gone more socialist. But there's another explanation. He used to be finance minister, now he's PM. See, the finance minister is in charge of finances, and therefore must be the "right-leaning counterpart" to other elements of cabinet. That's why Ralph Goodale said he opposed the NDP budget amendments. It's the finance minister's job to scrutinize spending. The PM, however, is supposed to lead the country. Opinion poll after opinion poll said that Canadians rank healthcare, education and the environment ahead of tax cuts. The government now has money to spend (thanks to Martin's work as finance minister) and Martin is spending it. To suggest that he is "indulging in political cross-dressing with his new socialist comrades" ignores that fact that the Liberals, Bloc and NDP MPs together outnumber the Conservatives. In our great parlimentary system, a majority of votes reflects the will of the nation. Flawed as the system may be, that's the way it works. If those MPs agree to vote on spending initiatives, then theoretically, Canadians do too. Don't get me wrong, there are reasons to criticize how Martin has spent the money. But to suggest that it's all "a desperate power grab" is disengenuous. On to your assertion that "we didn't actually elect [Mr. Layton] to govern." You're right, Rachel, but I don't see where Layton said we did. What he said was "when you elect New Democrats, you get better government." Which is his right to say. Canada did elect more NDP MPs last election than the election previous. "Hand these socialists 16% of the popular vote, and they'll take the crushing defeat as a mandate to run the place," you say? Well, that 16 per cent is more than they got before, how is that a "crushing defeat?" The Conservatives were glad to use the NDP to suit their agenda when they tried to topple the government, why can't the Liberals use them to support it? Coalition governments are in power all over Europe and have been for some time. But we're not allowed to cite European examples are we, no, you'd be happier with a U.S.-style two-party system. On to the same-sex thing. Ipsos-Reid president Darrell Bricker pointed out that "only about a quarter of Canadians thing that same-sex marriage is a great idea," did he? If I know polls, there are usually more options. How many Canadians thought it was a good idea? Or didn't have strong feelings one way or another? It seems to me that if the numbers still added up to a majority of Canadians being opposed to same-sex marriage, you would've presented it that way. Now let's compare that to what you argue a few paragraphs later, that a recent poll that showed Canadians supported decriminalizing pot was "torqued," or misleading. Yes Rachel, it IS disenguous to present misleading poll results isn't it. Okay, this post is already getting too long, so I'll stop there. Needless to say, I don't much care for Ms. Marsden. But don't let that ruin your day. It's a great day. A gay day. Go revel in it. Pump your fist, raise your glass and bask in the homosexual glory of it all. Somewhere, Stephen Harper is crying.