• During an interview with NPR’s On The Media, Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank and Gawker deputy editor Tom Scocca discussed the differences between American and Canadian journalism and politics. The whole segment, in which Cruickshank and Scocca talk about their competing coverage of Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s crack use, is worth a listen. But this is a transcript of what I think is arguably the most interesting part of their conversation:
Cruickshank: It really is a different country. We are fighting for free speech. But it’s in a context of a society that does think differently from your typical American social setting. And that reflects the way people think and are. So, yes, I’m always looking for ways of importing American standards of fervour around free speech. But I do it in the context of a Canadian audience. And I realize that I can lose the reputation I have for trustworthiness if I push too far because it’s not a New York audience.
Scocca: And yet you have this guy as your mayor.
Cruickshank: No, exactly.
Scocca: As an armchair observer of Canadian politics and culture over the past few months, it seems to me that there’s probably a connection between right-thinking and good behaviour and the fact this monstrous thug of a bully was able to seize power and ride roughshod over everybody. In the land of the passive-aggressive, the truly aggressive is king.
• “Elections about nothing, parties reduced to leadership cults, the impotence of ordinary MPs, the irrelevance of our parliament, the near dictatorial power of the prime minister – if we were writing about a Third World country with a system like ours we would be careful, we media types, to refer to its largely ceremonial parliament and quote sham elections.” That’s the pith of National Post columnist Andrew Coyne‘s speech on “The Alarming State of Canadian Democracy,” delivered at the University of Calgary earlier this month and now available on YouTube.
• Alberta journalist Bob Edwards — who founded the legendary newspaper the Eye Opener in 1902 — has been described as “a social crusader, a champion of ‘the little guy,’ who worked tirelessly to expose graft and corruption.” So it’s surprising that, last week, an award named after him was given to controversial former newspaper baron Conrad Black. The vice-president of the Calgary Library Foundation – which hosts the Bob Edwards Award Gala – told the Calgary Herald that Black had a “viewpoint that our audience would want to hear.” Tickets to the black-tie event were $375. The award is meant to honour a “provocative Canadian who challenges convention.”
• “Before she was a candidate, she was a citizen who had freedom of speech, now she’s a PQ candidate and she must endorse the policies that were taken by the PQ government.” According to CJAD 800 AM, Quebec minister Bernard Drainville made that statement after shooting down comments by party candidate Tania Longpré that Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital should remove the word “Jewish” from its name and stop performing circumcisions.
• The British Columbia government, in response to a freedom of information request, released a 13-page report on what the risks would be if it routinely disclosed the calendars of ministers and deputy ministers. But the public won’t be finding out what those risks are anytime soon. That information was stripped from the report because it’s considered a cabinet confidence.