12.01.2005

"do you love canada?"

That should be the easiest question for any candidate to answer, right? Talk about a softball. Allan and I were positively dumbfounded that Stephen Harper couldn't handle it.

Reporter: "Do you love Canada?"

Mr Harper: "Canada's a great country...".

Swing-and-a-miss!

Mr Harper, return to school, and start at the beginning, with Politics 101:

Question: Do you love Canada?

Answer: I LOVE MY COUNTRY. That's why I want to....

Harper's lukewarm answer - uttered seemingly without conviction - displayed a total lack of political savvy.

Now Rob tells me that Harper was caught off guard, because "the patriotism question" is not used in Canada the way it is in the US. I get that. I really do.

However, (a) how can a man who has to face the media every day of his life be unprepared for a basic, straightforward question that should have a knee-jerk response and (b) liberal Canadian bloggers are questioning the Tories' patriotism, so he should have been prepared, regardless.

I don't like to see either side in an election campaign inpugn anyone's patriotism. It makes me sick when the Republicans do it to the Democrats in the US, and the Liberals here - and their supporters - shouldn't take a page from that book. Harper's vision of Canada is clearly very different than Jack Layton's, but neither one of them should be accused of hating their country. I was disappointed to see this trend in the Canadian blogosphere.

* * * *

In the early 90s, when I first started writing for New Mobility magazine, I interviewed one Sam Sullivan, who talked to me about kayaking, sailing, and other outdoor activities he enjoyed from his home in Vancouver. A friendly, upbeat guy, Sullivan raved about Vancouver, telling me it was the most beautiful and vibrant spot on the continent - and one of the most accessible. Sullivan uses a wheelchair, as do most New Mobility readers, and the image of this richly diverse, wheelchair-accessible city perched on the water has stayed in my mind ever since.

And I've just learned that Sam Sullivan is now mayor of Vancouver! I saw him on CBC the other night, and shouted out, "I know that guy! I interviewed him once!" (Beware seeing accomplished-people-who-use-wheelchairs with me around, I do tend to do that.)

The mayor! That is so cool. I'm going to tell my Kids On Wheels editor, and hopefully write about Sullivan as a "Roll Model". Sadly, the magazine doesn't have money to send me to Vancouver for an in-person interview. Rats.

* * * *

An equation: (swimming two days in a row) + (not swimming for 18 months) = ouch.

Day off needed today!

First Allan and I are applying for our health cards, having passed the three-month waiting period for Ontario. Then later we'll check out some Toronto fun, from the list you guys have compiled for us, supplemented with Time Out Toronto. Naturally I'll report back on both.

20 comments:

James said...

I haven't seen the video of the question, but I can actually see Harper -- or other Canadian politicians -- being thrown by such a question. Sure, it's a common enough sort in the US, but it's so totally lame that I'm sure most candidates answer would be "What the hell kind of question is that?" if they weren't trying so hard to be polite.

redsock said...

it is a lame question, i agree.

when i heard it, i figured it was a planted question, by a harper supporter giving him a great lead-in to make a point. (but then, i realized that canada probably doesn't have those types of "journalists" in the media like the states.)

but even if harper was thrown by it, he should be savvy enough to roll with it.

"do you love canada?"

"what? well, that's a silly question. of course, i love canada. i think everyone running for office loves canada. and because i love canada, i want to ....."

i really do not understand how anyone could think he did anything other than blow this 100%.

it's like being asked at a press conference "do you love your wife?" with your wife standing beside you.

Lone Primate said...

I don't think Canada, or any other country, should be let off the hook when there's some problem, just out of the sake of patriotism. For instance, Rob's got something on his site about emissions since Kyoto. His figures don't bear any resemblance to the report he cites, so far as I can tell, but he has a point.

But these bloggers are correct. There seems to be a schaudenfreud among conservatives whenever something about Canada is wrong, or not first rate. I really believe that most of these people want to be Americans in virtue if not in fact. Almost nothing Canada does that differs from the US can be, ultimately, of value, simply because it isn't American. Everyone's known someone like this... the father who constantly needles his son because he's not the athlete some other boy he admires is. There's nothing you can do about such people, really, except be confident in yourself, try to be and do the best you can, and comfort yourself that sooner or later, they will die. :)

Expat Traveler said...

Yeah I was shocked too with his answer! Sam Sulivan is the mayor out here in snowy Vancouver. It's rather cool that you had a chance to interview that guy. Although I don't think I'll ever cross his path since I don't live in Yale Town.

Funny - I swam for 14 years. Get in the pool from time to time and feel incredible. I'm not as fast as I used to be but my muscle memory is still relatively there. The one thing I see now is that my stroke looks nicer than it did when I competed. I know it must be the same for you as I feel after I haven't ran in a few days or weeks. (ie right now!)

RobfromAlberta said...

My Kyoto figures come directly from the report I cite. I will present a breakdown on my blog. Warning: there will be a bit of math.

Jenjenjigglepants said...

If he gets re-elected, you could consider interviewing MP Steven Fletcher (C) who is quadripeligic. That would necessitate only a drive to Ottawa--bring your skates!

Jen

Mitch said...

Sullivan may indeed be an amazing person, but I wonder just how good a mayor he's going to be.

Disability aside, he's got some major policy and political problems that are popping up... ie, buying drugs for addicts etc. It could change the perception of this municipal government.

For me, give me Larry Campbell any day of the week. He was up front, honest, and blunt to a point. If he didn't like what you said, he told you. If he liked your idea, he told you...

Sullivan comes across as being a whiner...and that includes the few times I've met him. I have to honestly wonder just how effective a mayor he's going to be...

The duck thief said...

I saw that question on tv and I started laughing even before Harper said anything. I knew he wouldn't give a straight answer, even if the question was kind of silly. As a politician, he's supposed to dodge those punches at any cost.

G said...

Well stated RE taking a page out of the wrong book. Couldn't have said it better. Much as I dislike Harper (nobody is more fun to pick on ... he sets himself up so well), I can't argue with the fact that he does love his country. A vision for the future of the country is something entirely different than a love for a country, and I wish more bloggers would realize that. But, then again, any idiot can type, so what should we expect, right?

Wrye said...

Of course, Stephen loves Canada. Of course, like many people in love, he can't wait to get married so he can start changing the object of his affection...

Lone Primate said...

My Kyoto figures come directly from the report I cite.

Well, technically, yes... But I think "cherry-picked" would be a better way of putting it. I find it an interesting illustration of my point about conservatives re the United States. Let's consider...

First of all, the study you cite has a range of years from 1990 to 2003. And yet, you specifically chose 2001 and 2003. Doing so, you selected an extremely narrow period of time that suggests that the difference in the rise of Kyoto emissions between Canada and the United States was an order of magnitude: 11.8% for Canada and only 1.5% for the US. But the target for emissions is 1990, which is why the body of the study is ranged from that date. When the entire scope is taken into account, Canada's emissions rose 58% over that time... surely nothing to boast about; a miserable effort, in fact. But for the same duration, the US's emissions rose 20%... a lesser percentage than Canada's, to be sure, but hardly the gap suggested by the figures you carefully selected, and in absolute terms, are far greater level of actual pollution. This is not to excuse Canada by any means. But pulling the creamy two years out of the milk to exaggerate the range in deltas is dishonest. Using 2001 as a comparison point, why not choose 1999 instead of 2003? The US's rate rises 0.9%, but Canada's drops 0.8%. The choice of stats would be suspicious, I think you'd say.

Secondly, why choose the US in this instance? Pollution rates there are going up. Perhaps not, per capita, as badly as in Canada, but if we're looking for positive examples, why not France (-6%) or the UK (-13%) or Germany (-19%)? Now I'm sure you'll say it's Stephane Dion's fault for picking on the US. But let's remember that you chose to raise your point in the first place on that basis. It wasn't because certain countries in the EU were showing us all (including the US) how to do it. It's because the US was singled out for criticism, and by a Liberal. Had Mr. Harper made a similar mistaken pronouncement in regard to, say, Norway (-8%), I wonder how motivated you would have been.

RobfromAlberta said...

I chose those years specifically to make a point, that being, that the US withdrew from Kyoto, yet continues to do better at controlling its emissions compared to us and yet, our government is sanctimoniously criticizing the them. If Stephane Dion wants to point fingers, he should be pointing them at us because we are doing worse than every other country on that list.

RobfromAlberta said...

The choice of stats would be suspicious, I think you'd say.

The choice of stats resulted from the fact that 2001 was when the US withdrew from Kyoto. After all, nobody is criticizing Clinton for signing Kyoto, they are criticizing Bush for withdrawing.

Lone Primate said...

I chose those years specifically to make a point, that being, that the US withdrew from Kyoto, yet continues to do better at controlling its emissions compared to us...

While I would like very much to see Canada toeing the line on emissions, the basic reason why US emissions haven't been going up as quickly may not be one we'd do well to emulate, Rob.

U.S. corporations are not only exporting America’s manufacturing base to China but also our way of life and the very future of this once-industrial nation.

By Rep. Bernie Sanders


Updated April 12, 2004

...In Vermont and throughout the United States there has been a massive loss of manufacturing jobs. In the last two years alone our nation has lost 2 million factory jobs, 10 percent of our manufacturing base. In one of my congressional colleagues’ Illinois district, 10,000 factory jobs have recently been lost. At 16.5 million, we now have the lowest number of factory workers in 40 years...

In the United States today unemployment is rising. Millions of workers are now forced to work longer hours for lower wages and communities are being destroyed because of factory shutdowns.

Twenty years ago General Motors was the largest employer in our country. Workers there are able to earn middle-class wages and good benefits. Today, with the shift away from manufacturing to service industry jobs, Wal-Mart is our largest employer. Half of the employees there are eligible for food stamps, benefits are weak and that vigorously anti-union company is being sued by 27 states for denying their workers legally guaranteed over time pay...


Read the article here: http://www.americanfreepress.net/02_01_03/Jobs__America_s/jobs__america_s.html . There are plenty like it out there.

Scott M. said...

If you can't get enough election coverage with the National, you should try our other three good political shows.

a) Politics with Don Newman, twice daily at 10:30am and 4:30pm on "CBC Newsworld" (http://www.cbc.ca/politics/)
b) Countdown with Mike Duffy, 5pm on "CTV Newsnet"

and, for an Ontario-based view,
c) Studio Two with Steve Paikin, 7pm on TVO (cable 2).

Of the three, the best to watch tonight would most certainly be TVO.

RobfromAlberta said...

While I would like very much to see Canada toeing the line on emissions, the basic reason why US emissions haven't been going up as quickly may not be one we'd do well to emulate, Rob.

Actually, I agree with you, lp. The US is undergoing the most profound deindustrialization in history....and its greenhouse gas emissions are still rising. Imagine what we will have to do to achieve our emission goals. The most daunting thing is, Kyoto is viewed as a first step by its advocates. Massive deindustrialization of western society is only the beginning. It boggles the mind to think what comes next.

L-girl said...

I really believe that most of these people want to be Americans in virtue if not in fact. Almost nothing Canada does that differs from the US can be, ultimately, of value, simply because it isn't American.

I do get that vibe from the Conservatives.

If he gets re-elected, you could consider interviewing MP Steven Fletcher (C) who is quadripeligic.

I saw this man on TV but didn't know his name - thanks for this! I'd love to come to Ottawa to interview him. I'll have to wait, though - don't want my editors to complain about too much Canadian content!

Sullivan may indeed be an amazing person, but I wonder just how good a mayor he's going to be.

Well, I don't know any of the issues involved, or anything about his qualifications. I was just impressed and glad to see that Vancouver is open-minded enough to elect a quad to city office. Many places wouldn't.

Well stated RE taking a page out of the wrong book.

Thanks G :)

Of course, Stephen loves Canada. Of course, like many people in love, he can't wait to get married so he can start changing the object of his affection...

LOL, so true! I guess that means Canada is female... ;-)

L-girl said...

If you can't get enough election coverage with the National, you should try our other three good political shows.

Thanks, Scott M!

L-girl said...

As a politician, he's supposed to dodge those punches at any cost.

Do you love Canada? He's not supposed to dodge that question!

The duck thief said...

Do you love Canada? He's not supposed to dodge that question!

I think it was just a reflex. He's so used to avoiding direct questions that he just reacted without thinking. I mean, the question did come out of left field.