Election 2015: Dubious Endorsement Scandal Deepens

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cdnelxncircleMaybe you missed it? In the latest issue of Prairie Dog, the paper’s corporate overlords penned an endorsement of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. It’s odd because so much that’s appeared in those pages over the years has been highly critical of Harper’s regime and yet there it is. Lines like: “You must elect a majority government led by Stephen Harper,” “Canada needs steady leadership in the years ahead,” and “In Stephen Harper’s Canada, markets talk and hippy bullshit walks.”

Despicable. I couldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t speak out against such corporatist shilling.

But it turns out the scandalous behaviour runs much deeper than merely caving to pressure from the bosses. After some Googling, I’ve discovered that many of the lines penned by Prairie Dog‘s owners were plagiarized.

The opening line of Prairie Dog’s endorsement: “We are nearing the end of an unremarkable and disappointing election campaign, marked by petty scandals, policy silences and a dearth of serious debate. Canadians deserved better…” is nearly word-for-word identical to the opening of the Globe and Mail’s endorsement of Harper in the 2011 election campaign.

Later in the Prairie Dog piece, this line, “Canada needs steady leadership in the years ahead. If Mr. Harper does not receive his majority, we could end up with a government led by socialists…” is pieced together from portions of the National Post’s 2011 Harper endorsement.

Hell, even the title of Prairie Dog’s endorsement is eerily reminiscent of what the National Post used.

Shameful. Why, it’s like these media barons just, election after election, cut-and-paste together their endorsements for right-wing candidates without any thought to what has gone on in the campaign or what the national experience presently is. What kind of convenient myopia do you have to be afflicted with to write an endorsement like this? Must you first hit yourself on the head with a mallet to induce amnesia?

I’m reminded of these two tweets by (I think former) Reginan and now New Republic editor, Jeet Heer:

I’m left wondering the same thing this morning.

Harper’s campaign has plumbed depths that I think surprised even many of his strongest critics: turning niqabs and refugees into wedge issues, fomenting anti-islamic racism, stoking fears of barely existent terrorist threats, lying grotesquely about the intentions of their opponents on issues like marijuana reform and prostitution.

And those are just some of the horrid campaign tactics Harper’s team resorted to back when they were in control of their campaign. It leaves out the pathetic buffoonery they’ve been reduced to now that things have flown off the rails: turning campaign stops into cheap game-show spectacles complete with Price Is Right sound effects; trawling for votes alongside Toronto’s clown princes, former pot dealer Doug Ford and his (allegedly former) crack-smoking, (allegedly former) wife-abusing brother Rob Ford.

You endorse the Conservative Party, you’re applauding that whole sad mess.

And it doesn’t matter if you throw in some stern words condemning Harper’s offences. Tsk-tsk-ing at how “the Conservatives’ hard-edged foray into identity politics is stirring ugly divisions in Canada” or how “under his watch there were unreasonably high levels of moral and even criminal corruption among some of those closest to him” isn’t going to cut it these days. Neither will homilies about how Harper needs to learn to listen better, like, “the party and its leader must pay attention to the clear and warranted criticism that emerged during this campaign.”

Harper’s gone too far for that — and I’m well aware that that line is starting to sound like a cliché but it’s sadly true. Harper’s led us so far into right field that home is barely a speck on the horizon.

Credible news sites around the world are regularly taking note of how toxic Harper’s influence on our country has become. (For instance, “Canada’s real barbarism” in The Guardian. “Canada has its Trump moment” in the New York Times. I could go on.)

To set aside all those legitimate criticisms and say, “Hold your nose and vote for Harper,” is to reward all that egregious behaviour and guarantee we will see more and worse in future elections.

And more worrying, I would think, for media outlets trying to remain relevant in an age of massive upheavals in the news industry, is that endorsing Harper right now — unless it’s done, say, satirically — is to attach your brand to the Conservative’s entire sorry shit show. It’s saying, “Yep, everything you’ve heard about us in your media studies classes is true. We’re less concerned about protecting the public interest than we are about protecting the interests of our business empires.”

And I think the corporate overlords who’ve written endorsements like Prairie Dog’s will discover that that is a credibility killer.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.