Canadian Commentary

Why Canadian Commentary?

Revised April 2002

Unlike most other western democracies, Canada has only a few newspapers and magazines which can be considered both "serious" and "national". The problem with this situation is that all of these publications (notably The Globe and Mail and The National Post) share the same perspective on national issues: conservative and business-oriented. Furthermore, they are all based in Toronto. The result is a predictable uniformity in the issues which are covered, in the analysis of these issues, and in the solutions and courses of action which are espoused.

The various possible alternative voices are in general neither "serious" or "national", and the majority of them share the conservative point of view in any case. The coverage in our "national newsmagazine", Maclean's, is in general superficial, and its commentators range from moderate conservative to extreme conservative. Most local papers are aimed at a broad audience and have little in-depth analysis of national issues; furthermore, most of them passed through Conrad Black's hands. Although they are now owned by the supposedly "Liberal" Aspers, they all retain the strong conservative orientation bequeathed to them by Canada's Lord-in-Exile. Those local Southam papers which might be considered "serious", the Montreal Gazette and now the Ottawa Citizen, remain firmly steered in a very right-wing direction, so that they add nothing new to what we already got from the "national" papers.

A few local papers resist the general trend and uphold a moderate point of view, most notably the Toronto Star. The Star has some fine commentators, but they have to write "down" to a broader readership (this can be easily seen by comparing Thomas Walkom's columns when he wrote for the Globe to his columns in the Star). Beyond a few columnists, the tone of the Star is local and populist, adopting a simplistic and emotional point of view, and in any case it only reaches the Toronto region.

A few alternative weekly newspapers and magazines also adopt a different point of view, but in general they are left-wing, taking positions which, like those on the right, derive more from ideological preoccupations and emotional involvement with issues than from any realistic analyses or practical solutions. As a result, they are easily marginalized, except when they are picked up for use as convenient straw men in attacks by the conservative media.

Because there are no "serious" moderate newspapers, the impression is created that the moderate point of view is a simple and emotional one, whereas the conservative point of view is a serious and rational one (since this is the only point of view espoused by Canada's serious media). Yet other major western democracies have serious national newspapers which take a moderate point of view, enabling genuine dialogue and debate about public policy. Such a point of view is desperately lacking in Canada. It is the purpose of this site to make a small contribution towards providing this dialogue and debate.

Originally, this site was largely dedicated to commentary on the "national" print media. Regrettably, as I live in Toronto, most of this commentary addresses Toronto-based (though supposedly "national") newspapers. These days, however, I am reading less Canadian print media, and more international web media. As a result, I am now trying to write from a broader, long-term perspective rather than the "reaction" pieces with which I started. I am hoping to publish a new piece every month or two.

Readers will note that this site uses a very simple format. I originally created this site back in 1997, when the web was new and I was just learning HTML. I have since become a professional web site developer, and have worked on much more complex sites. I still believe, however, that there is too much glitz and not enough content on the Web. So I have decided to keep the extremely simple format of this site. It is based on the simplest HTML, and does not even use tables. Despite its extensive content, it requires little server space and little bandwidth, and should be accessible by even the most basic browser.

I hope that the site thus demonstrates just how much revolutionary functionality the web can provide without the distracting bells and whistles that have now become customary. Despite the simple format, the site still takes advantage of the most fundamental innovations introduced by the Web: it is cheap to produce and yet widely accessible; it can be updated constantly without having to be reduced to a fixed form; and it can cross-reference similar ideas on different pages.

Anyone wishing to republish any material on this site must first receive written permission. I am also open to re-writing specific pieces for publication in another medium. Any readers who notice suspicious similarities between what is written on this site and material published under a different name are asked to contact me.

All opinions expressed on this site are entirely my own, and do not reflect the positions of any organizations or persons with whom I am associated.

I hope that you find the site interesting and stimulating,

Dylan Reid

Revised April 2002 (Originally published June 16, 1997)

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