Canada is not merely not a page turner but even a socially acceptable synonym for boredom among otherwise apparently open-minded people.
Synonym for boredom? Ouch. Thankfully for the British, they are quite interesting. And so are their stories:
Perhaps an anecdote is in order. There is no shortage of these about Canada: such as the one about the competition among American publishers to find the most unsaleable book title of the season, won by a volume entitled Canada: Our Friendly Neighbour to the North. Apocryphal? Maybe. But here's a story that I know to be true. Flying to Vancouver with his wife for a Commonwealth conference, the late Sir Denis Thatcher drifted down the plane to hobnob with the press. Standing in the aisle, a generous gin and tonic in hand, and looking out over the prairie below, the First Husband turned to the hacks and pronounced: "Y'know what Canada is? Canada is full of fuck all." Needless to say, no one reported a word.
(laughter). But take note of the author's analysis of the current political landscape:
This Canadian general election is interesting. We need to know about it. Not just because there is likely to be a change of government in a major country, but because the trajectory of recent Canadian politics has strong echoes for Britain.
Strong echoes eh? What kind of echoes? Let's continue to read. Now, in a nutshell, is Canada's election context in a nutshell. Nutshell, nutshell, nutshell. Nutschell:
...the meat of the January 23 contest is whether this marks the end of a 13-year period of centre-left rule by the Liberals - in some respects the equivalent of Tony Blair's Labour party. The Liberals had nine great years in government, led by the crafty Jean Chrétien, who won three general election majorities before he stepped down in 2002. Throughout that period Chrétien's presumed successor was his successful finance minister of nine years, Paul Martin. But when Martin finally took over it all began to fall apart. Seeking his own mandate, Martin could only scrape in at the head of a minority government in 2004. Now he has been forced to call a further election. The latest poll has the Liberals trailing behind the Conservatives. Back in 1993 the Conservatives were swept from power in a landslide that left them with just two seats in parliament. It was the end of the Conservatives, they said. But in January 2006 a new young leader called Stephen Harper is poised to lead the Conservatives back into power, possibly in a minority government with Quebec separatist support.
Do I make myself clear? I'd say that these are events worth a few minutes of any serious person's attention. But even if our press is not paying much heed to what's happening there this month, it's a fair bet that for our political parties Canada has for once become a page turner.
Stephen Harper gaining off Quebec separatist support? Does he mean with the BQ? Or does the writer mean with separatists who are going to vote for the Tories? Presumably the former, I reckon. For the day when separatists vote en masse for the Tories is the day Harper gets a majority government.
Overall, it is an interesting piece. One that you ought to read - even if it does take a while to get into it. Personally, I don't think the Canadian election deserves more than a footenote in the British press. I mean, why does it deserve more? However, come a Conservative government on Jan. 24, it will be big news. I mean, big news all over the world I am guessing. Bush and Blair will have found a friend - one to bring in the Anglo-conservative fold of current Conservative leaders. It may just be like the 80s all over again.