12/03/2012 07:59 EST | Updated 02/01/2013 05:12 EST

Media Bites: Will Electoral Reform Ever Be Sexy?


And now, like the nation of bored teenage babysitters we are, it's time to check in on the Liberal leadership race -- if only to make sure no one's swallowed the scissors.

Last week's big news was of course the entry of aging '80s icon Marc Garneau into the contest, a man whose famous name will no doubt bring some much-needed substance to a race otherwise far too dominated by men with famous names.

All the Canadaian editorial pages seems to be pretty unanimous that Marc is super-great, with phrases like "welcome addition" and "glittering resume" hurled about like so much cheap confetti. Granted, as we've discussed previously, there's a strong possibility that this current outbreak of Marcmania is born from nothing more than a brief phase of press boredom with the otherwise smothering omnipresence of the Justin Trudeau Show, and is therefore not something that will ultimately leave much of an impact on the contest itself -- beyond, of course, a bunch of cheesy space puns.

But don't get down, Marc, there's still plenty of opportunity to be more than just the "insurance plan" candidate, in the words of the Toronto Star's Chantal Hebert. The key is to forge a dynamic identity born from an able mastery of substantial ideas, rather than merely belting out "Houston, we have a problem" for the 1,657th straight time.

And what should those ideas be? Well, the punditocracy has some suggestions!

"Where are the clarion calls for democratic reform?" demands the inescapably syndicated Michael Den Tandt. If you ask him -- and Lord knows, we all should -- the Tory government's most glaring "weakness is democracy," what with all the proroguing and omnibusing and stuff. So why are the Grit leader wannabes wasting so much time on snoresville junk like the economy?

Yes, yes, we all know that in ordinary times taking a lecture from the Liberal Party on respecting democratic institutions makes about as much sense as taking a lecture on chastity from Paulina Gretzky, but the Grits are so unpopular right now Dan thinks "they can say just about anything" and get away with it -- so why not this?

At the National Post, meanwhile, Andrew Coyne also thinks there's much Liberal hay to be made with an aggressively pro-democratic agenda, but in his world, this involves championing the mummified issue that no one ever gets tired of hearing about -- electoral reform.

Since the Libs clearly keep losing elections due to split-vote syndrome, Andy thinks "there's some merit" in "a one-time-only electoral pact" between the Liberals, NDP, and Elizabeth May where the three would jointly run a bunch of candidates, win a majority government, and then "pledge to govern just long enough to implement electoral reform" that would permanently rig -- er "change" -- the voting system to guarantee a future of endless left-wing victories. The only hurdle would be if the Tories find some way to put a negative spin this selfless scheme -- but what are the odds of that?

I notice the Canadian commentary class has a marked tendency to constantly promote the cause of "democratic reform" as a surefire vote-getter, despite the fact that it polls terribly as an issue of national importance, has been repeatedly rejected in referendums, and played a significant role in the downfall of the last Liberal leader who tried to be its preachy champion.

But then again, these are the same people who've been predicting a Green Party "breakthrough" for about a decade now, so let's not look too shocked.

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Liberal Leadership Candidates

If doing what's right is the opposite of doing what's popular, then Canada must totally have one of the rightest foreign polices in the world. Or at least one of the most right-leaning.

Thursday saw the United Nations General Assembly vote overwhelmingly to grant something called "nonmember observer state" status to the Palestinian territories in a resolution opposed only by Canada and eight of our closest -- I want to say allies? -- including America, Israel, the Czech Republic, Panama, and a powerhouse gang the Associated Press simply dubs "several Pacific island nations."

But if our vote proved unpopular in the Court of World Opinion (motto: "We'll get the Middle East right one of these centuries!") the domestic reception has been considerably more favorable.

This was a resolution Canada "was right to forcefully argue against" says the Ed-Board of the Globe and Mail. "We agree with our government's stand," echos the National Post. Dumb unilateral resolutions "don't really help the peace process," concurs the Montreal Gazette, all they do is encourage "further unilateral moves."

This being Canada, the editorial boards are also careful to make a big show of cautiously moderating their support with polite clarifications that they're "not anti-Palestinian" (Gazette), still support "a two-state solution" (Globe) and find Israel's recent retaliations "short-sighted" and "peevish" (Post).

And then there's Ezra Levant.

Bah, stupid United Nations "giving this moral victory to terrorists" and the "terrorist compound" they call a country, he harrumphs, kicking over the end table. But whaddya expect? The UN's basically the world's "greatest force for modern anti-Semitism."

In fact, he continues, Canada should probably just "leave the United Nations, and be part of a new league of democracies."

I think we can all agree this is a supremely logical and well-thought out plan. The only challenge will be finding countries willing to join.

Is eight enough?

For Or Against Palestinian Statehood