Skip to main content

In March, it was written here that the "Liberals, through no serious efforts of their own, are on the rise." Oops. Shortly thereafter, through many serious efforts of their own, they fell.

Such are the vagaries and the ephemeral nature of what is called "political analysis." You'd think that someone who deplores the intellectual vacuum of who's-up/who's-down political reporting would resist the temptation to enter that lowlife game.

But you would be wrong, because in this, as in other matters, the past year contained its fair share of bloopers, hasty judgments and more serious errors of commission and omission.

Story continues below advertisement

As in, suggesting "as a pure guess" that former Manitoba premier Gary Doer might be a nice fit for consul-general in Los Angeles or Seattle. Don't guess. Mr. Doer got Washington, as ambassador.

As in, noting (correctly but hastily) that the government did not have a nuclear/uranium deal in place with India for the Prime Minister's trip. One was announced shortly thereafter.

On the subject of being hasty with the criticism, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney did fill the vacant posts on the Immigration and Refugee Board. Give him credit. Similarly, it was said no department could adequately handle the $2-billion being spent on university infrastructure. In fact, the Industry Department did it expeditiously.

We wondered if the Harper government would have the gumption to drive toward a national securities regulator, as recommended by yet another panel. Quebec's opposition was solid; but so, happily, was the government's resolve to proceed. It is referring the constitutionality of such a regulator to the Supreme Court, which now has a chance to do something great for creating a national common market.

"Ontario's auto industry is in its death throes," it was affirmed here. Funny that, because Toyota just announced 800 more jobs in Woodstock, Ont., and there are sprigs of life at General Motors and Ford.

A new bridge, it was predicted, was on its way between Windsor and Detroit. Hasty again. Bridges are usually straight, but the process leading to their construction is not. More delays are plaguing the project on the U.S. side, where the political, legal and lobbying systems can stop things in their track or slow them to a crawl.

It was plain wrong to say that Prime Minister Stephen Harper "elbowed" aside the Governor-General during Canada Day ceremonies. And it was wrong to say sealers club baby seals. They don't do that any more, but the black eye for Canada in Europe from sealing remains as black and large as ever. And the Liberals did not sweep every seat in Newfoundland, because the estimable Jack Harris took St. John's East for the NDP.

Story continues below advertisement

Apologies are offered for the third time for the worst factual mistake of the year: a gross overestimation of the per-tonne cost of two carbon sequestration (CCS) projects in Alberta. My miscalculation led to the claim that the cost would be " staggeringly, wildly, mind-blowingly higher" (talk about rhetorical overkill!) than other forms of abatement. CCS is expensive, but nothing like the costs wrongly offered here.

The United States is working toward a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases. It was asserted that "Canada will follow along, trying to join the system." Likely not. Canada will erect something of its own, and try to make it compatible for trading purposes with what emerges from the United States.

Columnists parade around as if they know everything. The truth is that they have opinions on many things but wisdom on few. That applies in my case to the aboriginal file, something of desperate importance to Canada's future, but one where it's hard to know what to say intelligently, especially if one thinks that the decades-long thrust of aboriginal antipathy toward somewhat greater integration with mainstream institutions is a practical failure and a poor recipe for future progress. So one ducks, and writes around the issue, without confronting it head-on.

A bit of self-criticism is due, too, on the Afghanistan file. Yes, columns this year tried to analyze with increasing urgency the reasons why this mission was failing and will not succeed, but these should have come years ago. The news media have a lot to answer for on this file - including me - because we were so caught up in the work our soldiers were doing that we missed the impossibility of what NATO was trying to accomplish with the tools at hand. We saw the trees, as it were, and missed the forest.

Four years or so after getting elected, the Harperites are still flogging the limp mare of their "tough on crime" program that is, item-by-item, almost useless in the real world of criminality but makes for great propaganda. We should have continued to unmask the sham.

Think harder. Think more about tomorrow and less about yesterday, the staple of conventional news, about which nothing can be done. Guideposts for the year ahead.

Story continues below advertisement

And a happy new one to all of you.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter