Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Adscam, media, and a one-party state

This Magazine Staff

I’d like to direct everyone to the excellent discussion sparked by Mason’s Controversial! posting about investigative journalism below. Degen has just weighed in with some important points.
I’d like to add something here. It is important to recognize that Adscam is not really an aberration. Despite all the protests about it “not being part of Quebec’s political culture,” that’s a load of balls. It is, and everyone involved knows it. But it is also a part of Canada’s political culture. This is a point that Andrew Coyne has been making for ages, and I’m sure his forehead and his local brick wall are on intimate terms by now.
I would also like to repeat something I wrote on this blog last year: Everyone must read William Kaplan’s “A Secret Trial,” *especially* Norman Spector’s Afterward. The key point is this: Adcam-type corruption in Ottawa is not a “Liberal” problem, it is thoroughly bipartisan. It is a structural feature of how the federal government operates. And, unfortunately, it is the case that 80% of the federal government’s operations are devoted to keeping Quebec happy. That is why the federal corruption problem is mostly — but not exclusively — a Quebec problem.
This is not anything that anyone in Ottawa seriously challenges. Everyone associated with the feds in any high enough capacity is well-enough aware of what is going on. And that includes the journalists.
So, I’ll leave off with some questions: Why did William Kaplan’s book fall stillborn from the press? Why was it hardly reviewed in Canadian papers? Is it because Stevie Cameron has many important friends? Is it because Mulroney has many important friends? Because the media is lazy? Because Canadians are complacent? Or, I ask again, is this just a necessary structural feature of a one-party state?
Finally: Is it possible that we’d all be better off if Quebec would just separate?

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