Well, the final American presidential debate is over and the Canadian reviews are in! And talk about an overwhelming consensus -- when it comes to Obama versus Romney, practically every Canuck pundit seems to agree that yes, this is something I want to talk about for several days instead of writing a column about Dwight Duncan or whatever.
Man, did you see the Prez whup ol' moneybags Monday night? says Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe. He was like one of those sexy ESPN fitness models, "mixing muscularity with restraint" unlike Mitt, who "either full of hot air or substantively dumb -- or both."
Totally, agrees Major-General (ret.) Terry Liston in an Ottawa Citizen guest apperance. And did you see the bit when Obama was "aggressively contesting Romney's credibility"? That Republican whackjob totally "wants to risk another war in the Middle East," and I would know because I'm a Major-General (ret.) -- in the Canadian Army.
A pathetic spectacle all right, concurs the Globe board. Romney may have done well in the first debate or two, but "he has now blown that early lead by failing to give Americans a reason to choose his version of foreign policy," which, lest anyone forget, is sucky, and the parts that aren't sucky are just like Obama's anyway so who cares.
Postmedia darling Michael Den Tandt, meanwhile, is kinda sad that there's only one more week of fun left.
Look, I'm just gonna come out and say it, says Mike, "the entire recent cycle of U.S. public politics including the Republican and Democratic conventions, have been a tour de force" -- especially when compared to the boring political shlock offered by this snorefest with igloos we call a country.
"When has there ever been a political debate of comparable intensity, depth, and breadth, in modern Canadian history?" he asks. Never, that's when. "Next to the United States' offerings this year" he concludes, Canadian democracy "is simply sad."
Methinks Mikey's gonna be suffering some wicked withdrawl symptoms come November 5, a jonesing even all the simultaneous Liberal leaderhip races in the world can't fix.
Luckily most of the Canadian press will be quivering along with him.
We may remember that one of Monday night's pricklier topics of discussion was the always-contentious issue of foreign ownership of domestic business. Or at least I think that came up, who really watches these things, amirite?
Anyway, point is, this is something Canadian pundits have been jibbering about a lot lately, particularly in the wake of the Harper administration's last-minute decision to quash a Malaysian firm's attempted takeover of Calgary-based Progress Energy Resources late last week.
Now while I think we can all agree that Progress Energy Resources is a national treasure on par with Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys, the Harper gang's persistant refusal to let foreigners enjoy even the teensy-tiniest sliver of the great pecan pie that is the Canadian economy has more than a few of our free-train, globalizin' friends in the press a tad miffed.
A truly "unseemly" move, miffs Andrew Coyne in the National Post, for instance. This is a complete rejection of "every principle of a market economy," and I, for one am offended. Yeah, agrees Anthony Walkom in the Toronto Star, this Harper guy has "been more hostile to foreign takeovers of Canadian companies than any federal government -- Liberal or Conservative -- since the early 1980s."
The root of this re-occurring problem, everyone seems to agree, is all this junk language in the Investment Canada Act that gives Ottawa the power to veto any foreign deal that fails -- in their pointy little minds -- to offer a "net benefit" to Canada.
And what does "net benefit" even mean? Basically, it's "without meaning" says Stephen Gordon in Maclean's. It's just some stupid catch-phrase politicians use when they want to scuttle foreign investment for whatever arbitrary reason.
Oh sure, there's technically a formal definition, says Dan Gardner in the Ottawa Citizen, but "I won't bother quoting it because it is a classic example of words being used 'to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.'" According to Andrew, there's supposedly "more than 20 different criteria to be applied," and each is more "vague, elusive and contradictory" than the last. The "whole thing is a charade," in short.
Well, maybe not a complete charade, clarifies Anthony. There's a cynical method to this madness, and it involves the federalies simply making whatever decision best serves the financial interests of Canada's beloved corporatocracy. Since the days of John A., the "views of business have always determined Ottawa's approach to the economy," after all, and frankly those views have rarely been of let-the-assembled-brotherhood-of-man-compete-as-equals variety. Really, they're more into protectionist cartels and stuff. Fancy that!
One of the favourite passtimes of the Canadian commentariat is feigning much confusion and consternation at the fact that Prime Minister Harper, supposed champion -- even frightening champion -- of conservative stuff (like free trade) has actually done an awful lot of aggressively non-conservative stuff in office (like suppress free trade). This is hard to rationalize unless you remember, as good ol' Dan Gardner does, that the essence of the Harper Conservatives isn't so much conservatism as Harperism, particularly stuff that maximizes "the decision-making authority of Stephen Harper."
So you see Malaysia, China, it's really nothing personal -- just the erratic whims of our tyrant.
You guys know how they can be.