John Robson: Here are the questions that would get me kicked off the federal leaders’ planes
|National Post 17 Sep 2019 at 17:37|
“Someone appears to have misinformed Canada’s federal leaders about the purpose of elections,” this newspaper editorialized Saturday with wit and clarity that its targets have no hope of attaining. I fear it is in some sense untrue; you can’t argue with success and politicians’ toxic house blend of vacuous viciousness usually wins power for someone to misuse feebly. But since most candidates lose elections the same way, maybe evading questions is overestimated tactically as well as morally. At any rate I intend to ask some.
See, the Post editorial went on hopefully “In a democratic environment, elections are held to give voters a chance to assess candidates on the basis of their views, beliefs, proposals and credibility.” What? Not to bicker over who had a drink with Faith Goldy before it became obvious it wasn’t a very good idea?
Speaking of bad ideas, everyone remembers Kim Campbell’s election “gaffe” that “This is not the time, I don’t think, to get involved in a debate on very, very serious issues.” But between elections wasn’t good for her either, as her Twitter feed has lately reminded us. And she lost horribly.
Maybe thoughtful eloquence isn’t as useless as most politicians seem to think
So maybe thoughtful eloquence isn’t as useless as most politicians seem to think. And too many journalists, including those who accept, as the price of admission to the campaign plane, that instead of pressing the candidates they will report their hideous verbiage as actual speech. They make themselves complicit. And for what?
Before insulting anyone else let me congratulate debate organizers for finally inviting Maxime Bernier. And not only because I think he’s the only one even trying to talk sense, though I do. I thought it about the Libertarian party for years without believing they had earned a spot. But Bernier’s a serious presence, especially because on a remarkable number of issues he’s on one side and the four “major” parties busy hacking one another to rhetorical shreds are grouped tightly together on the other. (Five if you count the Bloc.)
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer speaks at a campaign event in Winnipeg on Sept. 17, 2019. Frank Gunn/CP
If you doubt me, imagine what their leaders would mumble, if cornered, on the following questions that I’d insist on asking firmly and repeatedly with zero patience for evasions, bait-and-switch, impenetrable syntax or pre-chewed talking points:
There. I wouldn’t be the first person thrown off a campaign plane, possibly by other journalists. But with that list I can reasonably aspire to be the first to go out the door in mid-flight.
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