Friday, October 10, 2008

Final stages of dissolution

It was a pleasure, I'll confess, to wake up this morning to the flensing of Mike Duffy for his disgraceful, boorish, unethical behaviour last night. And it was a relief to see that one solid Canadian value--fairness--is still so vigorously in effect.

In a way, the treatment of Stephane Dion by CTV sums up the election campaign as a whole: its peculiar nastiness, a rotten import from the south that the Tories, since the day they mocked Jean Chretien's facial disfigurement, still imagine will play well up here. And maybe in little jerkwater hamlets like Delisle it does, but not among civil Canadians.

The Conservatives are all over this soft lob from Duffy, of course. Earth to the CPC: we aren't buying it. Decency still counts for something, even during an election campaign. Dion is starting to look positively magisterial compared to the cold-eyed autocrat you want us to support for his "leadership" qualities. The awkward, gangling, nerdy fellow from Quebec might even have a shot at being the next Prime Minister. And this, despite the last-ditch smarmy interventions of oh-so-wise journalistic talking heads whose corporate groupthink has helped to paralyze the body politic for decades.

What a desperate, contemptible move by a party whose fortunes have waned so rapidly over the past few days. And don't blame all of the latter on the incredible shrinking economy. Canadians are rightly worried: indeed, in the words of one financial commentator today, "Even panic is starting to look like a realistic response." But in such times we want reassurance--not bizarre suggestions that we spend money on stock bargains. We are looking for a sympathetic connection and a comprehensible plan.

Instead, when a man is asked an ambiguous question that would pose a challenge to most of us even in our first language, we're treated to petty, slimy personal insults. If Dion in now in sight of a minority victory, this shameful little episode might just push him past the finish line. And if that happens, while I shall never vote Liberal in my life, I'll be cheering.

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