The holiday break is about over, and the election campaign is restarting. So far, it seems most people have to keep reminding themselves voting will take place in just about three weeks. There has been, is, and will be nothing resembling Trudeaumania
to inspire any segment of the public.
Even the latest Liberal scandal news seems somehow familiar, tired. While details may be new, any potential revelations are almost certain to be greeted with a mix of cynicism and assertions the developments ought not be regarded as unexpected. And so, with the latest on the scandal front, it is Finance Minister Ralph Goodale left between the chopping block and answering press questions that involve vague accusations of someone somewhere linked to the ministry involved somehow in alleged stock manipulation. Maria Babbage, in a piece titled ‘Mounties Launch Criminal Investigation Into Possible Income Trust Leak,’ explains “the whiff of scandal was pumped into the federal election campaign Wednesday [28 December 2005] with confirmation that the RCMP has begun a criminal investigation into the possibility of a leak from the Liberal government prior to an announcement on taxation of income trusts.” Federal police authorities acknowledge their “probe stems from opposition complaints following a surge in trading of income trusts units on the Toronto Stock Exchange in the hours immediately before a major government announcement on the popular investment vehicles” [See Babbage’s Canadian Press report, 29 December 2005. Story posted at http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=9fed81af-cb71-4dd4-be52-01a13544df32&k=86836
]. Goodale, in what may be interpreted as a break with tradition and ministerial responsibility, so far says he will not resign while any investigation proceeds. He maintains there is not even a hint that anything could bring his conduct into question, and undoubtedly his action may serve to underscore Liberal contentions that there is no new scandal about unfold. Nothing new.
But what is new is the media position on both the latest possible scandal and the substance of the current Liberal campaign. Over the past weeks there has been a somewhat subtle shift. And just what’s causing this? Gone is the widespread lack of substantive criticism of the Liberals. Also gone is the media willingness to back off from explaining what the impact of any potential scandal may be. Some reporters and analysts are already surfacing to suggest the latest developments, particularly in the context of an election campaign, may unseat the Grits. Can all these changes serve to benefit the Tories or the New Democrats?
Another novelty is the emergence of foreign policy as an issue. In fact, that happened about ten days ago. Well, should that be a surprise? After all, Canada is about to play a role in Afghanistan and the geopolitics of that part of the world on a scale the people of this country haven’t experienced since 1885. So, foreign policy may belong on the agenda. But the substance the three federal leaders brought to public attention underscored how little time they may want to spend talking about the issue. No, there was no mention of Afghanistan. But it was revealed that US submarines had been discovered in Canada’s Arctic waterways. Jack Layton, Stephen Harper, and Paul Martin lined up to explain how they would defend against such incursions, how they would deploy resources for the protection of our Arctic sovereignty. With Afghanistan, trade with the US, Quebec’s real and possible roles in the international community, China, India, foreign aid, hostage crises, have our leaders finally found the most salient discussion point?
Posted by Stan Markotich
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