Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today in Liberal-bashing Media: Andrew Coyne

... who decides, like half of the country's editorialists, to write off Justin Trudeau's support as an example of the Liberal Party becoming a "personality cult."

I'm getting really sick of these people.

While I've thought it in the past, this Liberal leadership race is not a coronation, a la Ignatieff in 2009, whereby everyone is laying down and accepting the new king, Justin Trudeau. Just because there is a popular candidate and less popular candidates does not equal a coronation for one candidate. A coronation implies that no one is is willing enough or strong enough to stand in the way - this is simply not the case in this leadership race.

Let's take two examples of coronations. One is Paul Martin's, whereby a host of candidates capable of challenging Martin dropped out, and we were left with Sheila Copps, who could not challenge Martin. Let us also look at Ignatieff's, where all the candidates dropped out, and allowed him to become leader without any opposition.

These are bad.

Let's take two examples of races whereby one candidate is clearly the more popular. One would be Stephen Harper's ascension to the Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party leaderships. In the first case, Harper won versus one strong candidate and two smaller candidates, on the first ballot. In the second, he won again on the first ballot, versus one strong candidate and one small candidate. Neither time was Harper seriously in trouble of losing his frontrunner status. Was this a coronation?

No. It wasn't, it was one candidate that ended up in a dominant competitive position over other candidates, but there was still clearly a strong opposition.

We can even look at the recent NDP leadership election, in which we saw Mulcair, never truly threatened as the frontrunner, win easily. It was competitive, and Mulcair remained the frontrunner, but it was not a coronation. Jack Layton's 2003 bid was not a coronation, even though he clearly had overwhelming support.

In this Liberal leadership race, we have nine candidates, two of whom I could say would be at least somewhat competitive versus Trudeau - that being Garneau and Murray. This isn't to say Trudeau is in any danger of losing his frontrunner status, as he has a fundraising and endorsement advantage over the other candidates.

But just because Trudeau has a well-oiled campaign machine does not mean all Liberals are falling in line behind him. Some may accept the inevitability of his win due to the fact that he has out-muscled the opposition - but said opposition still exists. The possibility of Trudeau losing is there - we cannot say the same for Martin, and definitely not for Ignatieff. The situations are not analogous.

But, the media, and this includes Coyne, will of course latch on to the idea of the "Liberal coronation" because its a popular notion among a lot of their readers, and because its easy. Far be it for me to accuse these editorialists of not being intellectually honest, but I personally find a lot of these articles being done simply because they know there will be people out there that will shake their heads in total agreement because of their personal biases against the Liberals.

I mean, why would you write an article about the actual facts of the race, the differences to previous ones, and actual meaty subjects, when you can just spurt out something that all the Conservatives and NDPers will gobble up and give your slowly dying employer money for?

There are a few articles here and there that explore this particular topic in-depth, and I appreciate it when they do. A couple of those have come from Andrew Coyne in the past. But I've said it before, and I'll said it again - I sometimes feel the disappearance of traditional media cannot happen fast enough. This kind of nonsense goes to show that a lot of these authors will do nothing but latch on to the most popular opinion these days, and squeeze it for all its worth.

I bet that if Trudeau wins and gains a groundswell of support, these exact same editorialists will pretty much disown half the things they're saying now. I'll be keeping an eye on it, trust me.


  1. And that is why I absolutely refuse to ever spend another nickle buying a newspaper, magazine or subscribing to online news. I am even sick of watching them on tv, so whatever advertisement supports this kind of mindless media is lost on me and many more like me. I am always pleased when I hear of newspapers going broke or losing money.

    1. I echo a lot of your sentiment. There are a few journalists that I'd love to personally support, because they provide interesting opinions that make me think, or they write with actual facts in mind. But most of what we get these days are editorialists that offer nothing but parroting of the popular consensus, or whatever will get them money. Its a shame, really.

  2. Layton won Quebec, not the NDP. If you want to talk personality cult you have to start there. If you do, of course, you'll be shot down faster than the soviet air force in 1941.

  3. Replies
    1. The accusation, at it's core, is that people will vote for Trudeau and not the Liberals.

      In Quebec in 2011, people voted for Layton, not for the NDP.

      Despite that the NDP has held their own in Quebec (Remember, this was a party that was taking 2% of the vote in the 90's in that province, whereas today it's a rare poll that shows them even as low as 2nd place)

      If anyone had a personality cult, it was Layton
      Polls since Layton has passed show that he, in fact, did not.

    2. Also, on a related topic; if the NDP can manage to win at least 20 or so seats in Quebec in 2015, the NDP, I think, will have solidified themselves as a competitor in Quebec, the same way the Tories are. That means we can regularly expect a half dozen NDP MPs from Quebec for the next few decades.

      The Tories, I should note, did their solidifying in the 80's. They won a number of seats in 1997. Their failure to win more than 1 seat in either 1993 or 2000 was due to either Kim Campbell, or, a highly split vote (BQ vs Lib). The 2004 failure was due to the newly merged party still being untrusted.

      The results in 2006, 2008, and 2011 could be compared to results following Diefenbaker's sweep of the province.

      This is what happened to PC MP's in Quebec following that election.

      Number of PC Quebec MPs elected:

      1962 - 14
      1963 - 8
      1965 - 8
      1968 - 4
      1972 - 2
      1974 - 3
      1979 - 2
      1980 - 1

      The PC Party was able to ride the success in 1958 right though to 1980.
      The NDP should be able to do the same, and thus, we can expect at least 1 NDP MP from the province until 2040, or, Separation, whatever happens first.

  4. I actually agree with Andrew Coyne in some way. The only Liberal leadership in the last 10 years that was contested was when Dion won (a horrible choice, I watched it live and it sickened me the way he won). Even this one, Trudeau is the overwhelming front-runner. It is a sort of coronation for him. If you compare it with Mulcair's win, he had to go to 4 ballots, with the previous establishment (like Broadbent) against him. It was not a coronation at all. Even was giving Topp the endorsement points lead for most of the time.

  5. Shorter: Because we called those things coronations, and this thing is different in these two ways means this isn't a coronation.

    Also, I hate it and stomp my feet when columnists call out the fans of MR. DREAMY with the hair as being a cult of personality.



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    1. ... you're a shitty provider then, because that wasn't sarcasm.