Monday, January 29, 2007

What I Learned Today

Things I'd either forgotten or just hadn't learned:

* Ottawa is more interesting when the House is sitting.
* The Chretien years were long ago and far away.
* Very few people on Parliament Hill get to speak their minds, or even use them.
* Never, ever order the fake crab fried rice in the fifth floor cafeteria. It is utterly disgusting.
* The Library of Parliament is the most beautiful man-made space in Canada.
* Magazines, especially those that deal with serious issues, are dying fast. Pick up a copy of Time, the Economist, the latest Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine and Maclean's and see. Yes, it's a slow time of year for ads, but there are some pretty obvious problems. Magazines like the New Yorker, Harpers and the Atlantic seem to be swimming against the tide. My take? Quality of writing, provincialism and stale ideas are problems in the sick publications. The ones that do relatively well spend a lot of money on very good writing.
* Bloggers are politically important only in the minds of bloggers and "mainstream" journalists. Anyone who does this for anything other than fun, as a form of intellectual doodling, or in hopes of attracting anything more than a handful of friends, will almost certainly be disappointed.
* We're nowhere near an election right now.
* Canada is fatally wounded, and its chance of recovering -- being anything more of a federal state than, say, the EU -- is non-existent. I blame the "Quebec is a Nation" resolution, and I suspect, unless Harper strips naked and climbs the outside of the Peace Tower with cleats and carrying Belinda Stronach, the resolution, and its awful fallout, will be what history remembers him for. And I think it doesn't matter what he does, even if he's in for a decade.
* The provinces have managed to sluff a lot of trouble onto the national government, and it's now stuck permanently on Ottawa. And Quebec is not the worst offender. Ontario and Alberta, especially in the areas of environment and spending, have escaped from taking serious responsibility for the two most important political files.

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