Is it a surprise that the owners of daily newspapers are lining up behind the one politician who will keep their corporate taxes down?
Yesterday, the Globe and Mail wrote what appeared to be a comedy piece endorsing Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.
My favourite line was when the Globe editorial writer purported that Harper demonstrated "strength of character".
Ironically, Globe political columnist Lawrence Martin entitled his final chapter "A Question of Character" in his devastating 2010 book called Harperland: The Politics of Control.
The final two pages feature what Martin describes as the "march of audacities"—a lengthy list of Harper's more outrageous actions.
They include, among other things:
• Padlocking Parliament
• Appointing former Liberal David Emerson as a Conservative cabinet minister immediately after the 2006 election
• Cancelling the long-form census
• Eliminating the access-to-information database
• Launching personal attack ads between elections
• Scripting supporters' calls to radio talk jocks
• Blocking information on cabinet ministers' use of jets
• Attempting to strip political parties of public funding
• Putting the Conservative logo on government cheques for stimulus funding
• Firing the nuclear-safety commission head Linda Kean
• Prohibiting cabinet staff from speaking before parliamentary committees
• Smearing diplomat Richard Colvin for blowing the whistle on Afghan detainees
"For Stephen Harper the end justified the means, almost any means," Martin wrote in his book. "It was what troubled so many Canadians about him."
Today, it was the Vancouver Province's turn to endorse Harper.
At least this editorial acknowledged that the Conservative leader is "secretive, controlling and has shown contempt for Canadian institutions". But hey, he'll keep corporate taxes down, unlike Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff. So he deserves some support before the election.
Expect the Vancouver Sun to publish a full-length editorial in its Saturday edition instructing readers to support Harper and the Conservatives.
This message probably won't mention that Harper will keep the owner's corporate taxes down.
Today, one of the editorial-board members may even be sitting in front of a computer trying to pound home the message.
For fun, I decided to step into the shoes of the editorial writer, and try to figure out what might be going through his or her mind:
We at the Vancouver Sun admire a leader, and Michael Ignatieff is not a leader.
Jack Layton is not a leader.
Stephen Harper, on the other hand, is a leader.
We have our concerns about Mr. Harper, like everyone else. Privately when we meet over beers after work at Steamworks, we talk about his dictatorial streak.
He's so fucking ruthless. He even threw our friend Tom Flanagan off the bus when he wanted to write a positive book about the Conservatives.
We also think Harper's financially reckless. He's not a real Conservative, just a phoney one.
This is the guy who created the largest deficits in Canadian history. Compared to him, Tommy Douglas was like Margaret Thatcher.
And we at the Vancouver Sun, along with our colleagues at the Fraser Institute, despise government deficits.
Frankly, we loathe Harper's stimulus program. But we blame the Liberals and NDP for forcing his hand after the economy contracted in 2008.
There are some, like Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman, who claimed that government stimulus was essential to head off a global depression. He's always mouthing off about this in that left-wing rag, the New York Times.
But we at the Vancouver Sun think that Krugman is a pinko, just like Layton, so we don't pay any attention to what he might say.
Who cares that Krugman is associated with Princeton University? We take our economic lead from the Hoover Institution.
But we have to write an endorsement before the election. This is to show that we're a serious newspaper populated by serious thinkers.
Okay, well, that's not the whole story. We also have to write this endorsement because newspaper owners require it.
Here's the dirty secret of newspaper endorsements. It's a way for media companies to get on the good side of the government before the election.
This enables a media conglomerate to call in favours from the prime minister after voting day. Don't think the politicians aren't paying attention to the endorsement game.
Let's say, for example, you want to sell your newspaper chain to someone like Rupert Murdoch, who lives in the United States. But you can't do that because of Canadian ownership rules. Well, only the federal government can change that.
Here's another example: if the CRTC refuses to award a broadcasting licence, what are you going to do? Well, the media conglomerate can always appeal to the federal cabinet to have this decision overturned.
That's really helpful to a company like Quebecor, which owns tons of newspapers. No wonder it hired Harper's former press secretary to head up its 24-hour news channel.
Shit. I'm out of space. Vote for Harper! He's the best. He's the only guy who stood up to those jerks in Copenhagen who were clamouring for reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Sigh, I better go back to the drawing board for a rewrite. Somehow, I don't think this one will make the cut.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.