Dispatch from the Front Line: Stop hurting the prime minister's feelings, you monsters
Also, MERCH ALERT!
Dear beloved readers of The Line;
Has your 2020 been a goddamn mess? Has it been such a mess that you have thrown your professional life into the raging dumpster fire of Apocalypse 2020 to start your own Substack?
If the answer to the above questions are: “of course” and “no, I maintain some capacity for self restraint,” then we at The Line are doing one better than you. We think.
If rage-quitting is not your go-to move, we are offering you this rare opportunity to live vicariously though us by purchasing The Line's inaugural year-end mug. Every year The Line manages to trundle along, we will commission a hilarious new mug to commemorate the year that was. And, oh, 2020, gave us lots of material to work with. This year, we solicited original art by Canada-wide famous graphic designer Tristan Pratt. This mug has everything; Trump, Ginsburg, vaccines, QAnon, COVID-19, wildfires, murder hornets, masks and toilet paper. We even got the monolith in there — although we cannot 100 % guarantee your mug doesn’t make a side-trip to Romania and Utah.
We've ordered our first run of 100 mugs and expect these to sell out fast! In fact, as of today there are only 63 left. We are expecting to receive our first run of mugs on Dec. 11, after which they will be promptly dispatched to your delight and the delight of your friends if you were allowed to have friends over for the holidays. Which, you cannot.
Yes, we know that the shipping is expensive, but we’ve checked with Canada Post and we’re afraid that really is the price they’re quoting us to mail a mug. Besides, the art is original and this is a fundraiser, guys! You don’t want to miss out on the Year Zero Mug! If we get lots of interest, we will consider doing a second run o’mugs. In case this never comes to pass, click here quickly to buy a Line mug.
As the second wave continues to sweep across the globe and vaccines begin moving to distribution points in other countries, here in Canada, there is much debate over whether, or how badly, the Liberals bungled our own vaccine program.
This is, at present, an entirely pointless debate because we simply don't know where Canada ranks next to other countries that are also dependent on imports to meet their vaccine needs. Partisans gonna partisan, of course, but until the global distribution is truly underway, the vitriol will be cast into the information abyss.
What we can say is that supporters of our current government continue to insist that the prime minister and his cabinet be granted a level of benefit of the doubt that they simply have not earned. Declarations that the Liberals have botched the vaccine rollout are premature, but they are not preposterous. As ever, our Liberal friends prefer to be judged by their pure intentions rather than their rather tattered record. We at The Line have known enough true Grits in our time to believe that this isn't an act. Liberals really do believe that so long as they mean well, they should be forgiven their failures. Indeed, the failures should be forgiven and forgotten.
And boy, can they get testy when someone declines to do them the courtesy of treating this five of a government like a nine. They'll shriek about Harper and Ford and Kenney and American-style whatever, they'll argue in bad faith, they'll demand an audit of Andrew Scheer's household expenses, they’ll shut parliament down in the middle of a national emergency to spare the boss from embarrassing questions about his latest ethical flub. In short, they’ll do anything to avoid admitting that this Liberal government has blown more than enough high-profile issues to have forfeited any right to be bummed out when someone dares wonder if they'll do any better on vaccines.
Over the last five years, the Liberals have failed to hit their own targets on balancing the budget and cleaning up Indigenous water supplies. They failed to hit Harper's targets on carbon reduction, failed to win a UN seat, failed to deliver promised military procurements, failed on electoral reform, failed to improve our decrepit transparency system, and failed to notice any number of outrageous policies and proposals so long as they were proffered en français, in which case they couldn't avert their eyes fast enough.
We could go on, but the point is made. And they've done it all after daring to talk in their opening days of deliverology, a term that's now a political punchline thanks to how badly Trudeau and the Gang failed to live up to the hype of their own managerial jargon.
The problem with all this failure is far bigger than the sum of its various sad parts. A government that routinely writes cheques its competence can’t cash may be in a hurry to forgive itself, but not all Canadians are as fond of Justin Trudeau as Justin Trudeau clearly is. A proven track record of failure by the state erodes public confidence in the state, and the sneering contempt Liberals have for anyone who notices the failure doesn’t help. We find it absolutely amazing how many Liberals (rightly!) decry the rise of populism without ever seeming to ponder for a New York minute what role their own manifest mediocrity has played in fuelling it. So we’ll kindly hear no more from the Liberals about the know-nothing idiocy of the woke left and the destructive buffoonery of the nationalist right until they stop doing such a shabby job with the goddamned centre.
So, yes, Liberals, do your best on vaccines. We wish you well. Truly! But spare us the faux horror that anyone might dare suspect that you'll over-promise and under-deliver on this one, as you have so many times before.
Speaking of dumb partisanship, filed here under D, for Duh, your Line editors appear to be uniquely unsurprised by the results of a recent Ekos poll that asked Canadians of varying partisan affiliations if they intend to get a vaccine for COVID-19. Conservative Party of Canada voters were much more likely to indicate they would take a pass on a vaccine than Liberals and Dippers. That makes a snappy headline and a quick talking point, but those who actually took a minute to look at the numbers might have missed something: Conservatives are still planning to get the vaccine. Like, a supermajority of Conservatives say they will line up for the jab.
Let's all ignore the PPC number there; it should surprise no one that they're bonkers. But do look at the CPC, Liberal and NDP numbers (the latter two are virtually the same). Are we supposed to be surprised that the segment of the public that is most skeptical of big-government is statistically less excited by a massive public-health campaign? Are we shocked to discover that supporters of the two parties that find their core base in large urban areas — where COVID-19 is raging most fiercely — might be more eager for a shot than voters who live in more rural areas? Can we stop for a moment and imagine what those numbers might look like if it were Harper parroting the awesomeness of a rapidly concocted new vaccine instead of the Liberals’ favourite cuddle bear?
We at The Line agree that there is an aggressively stupid anti-intellectual strain in modern conservatism. It's bad. Very bad. This is, in fact, part of why The Line exists. It needs to be resisted, not courted, by conservative leaders, not all of whom are clearing that bar. But we at The Line also agree that there is a very bad habit among Canadian journalists — themselves increasingly reflective only of deepest downtowns — to grab onto convenient narratives about conservatives. If a 20-something-point spread in how CPCers and Dippers feel about the biggest government project since the Second World War — a project that is most urgently needed in our most populated cities — surprises you, well, you haven’t been paying attention.
Now those Green party numbers, though. We can all agree that those are weird.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic and apparently what Canadians really, really need right now is a more all-encompassing Cancon regime. According to Josh Dehaas, Bill C-10, an Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act, proposes to expand the notion of a “Broadcaster” to a host of private streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. “The bill says these broadcasters will be required to ‘serve the needs and interests of all Canadians — including Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages — and reflect their circumstances and aspirations, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of Indigenous peoples within that society.’” Are you ready to get spoonfed more politically correct #Canadian #content? No? Too bad.
Meanwhile, Ken Boessenkool has some words for the nutty populists in his own team’s tent and — they are not kind. “Instead of personal responsibility, they’ve adopted radical individualism; the only strong families they favour are ones that exactly resemble their own; and they’ve replaced the helping community on their block with a virtual anger gang on their smartphone.” Conservatives are going to need to find a way to address this bloc’s legitimate grievances without pandering to them. So far, many are failing to meet that test.
Taylor Noakes puts The Line in contention to be the first Canadian Substack to be unanimously condemned by the National Assembly of Quebec. (Well, we can dream a dream, can’t we?) Noakes noted that the near-annual shitfit of concern over the decline of French is utterly manufactured. “at the non-separatist federal parties would entertain such fiction to appeal to the baser elements in Quebec society is sadly more evidence of the complete withdrawal of leadership in Ottawa. We had a nice country once that tried to bridge linguistic divides, but today the political class prefers to play the politics of division,” he writes.
Lastly, The Line columnist Jen Gerson appears to be suffering some kind of spiritual crisis over the state of social cohesion post-COVID-19 and if enough of you pay to subscribe to this fine publication, we promise to spend some of it on a lovely fruit basket for her. “In healthy liberal democracies, that impulse is channeled into a vibrant civic society; we share the daily struggles of our co-workers; the competitive spirit of our bowling leagues; the altruism of our volunteer commitments; the sorrows of our supper parties, and yes, transcendence within our spiritual communities. Without these, we unhinge. “