Friday, February 06, 2004

Yes, Prime Minister

The following is a guest entry by Anders Yates, friend and Montreal filmmaker:

Showcase was running the first three episodes of The Office last night, and so I tuned in for fun even though I'd already seen it. After they were over, I flipped channels to Newsworld, and they were showing a town-hall style discussion where ordinary Canadians get to ask Paul Martin serious questions, mediated by Peter Mansbridge.

I tuned in just in time to hear a question about Canadian Steamship Lines and why Paul Martin's company received millions of dollars of subsidies and yet only paid roughly 2% in taxes while the average Canadian company pays more like 40%. Martin responded by talking about what a proud Canadian company CSL is, and how its home office is in Canada, how the majority of its employees are Canadian and how his dream is to see more Canadian multinational companies base their operations in Canada.

Mansbridge asked the woman who posed the question if she was satisfied with the response, and she said no, she really wanted to know why there was such a big difference in the rate of taxation of this company versus the average Canadian company. Martin responded by saying that CSL has been a Canadian company for 150 years and always pays its taxes within Canada, not other countries. I found myself talking to the TV at this point: "My God. You've completely ignored her question. Twice."

Now I was not so shocked to see a politician try and spin a question. This happens all the time. What took me aback was that throughout his response, the Prime Minister sounded exactly like the boss on The Office. This country is being lead by David Brent. He had been backed into a corner and was weaseling his way out of it. If the woman asking the questions had said to him after his second response "That's pathetic," I wouldn't have been surprised to hear him say "Is it, really?"


Post-script

More on last night's Town Hall from Theresa Zolner, a psychologist in Saskatoon, whose blog has the unfortunate title Random Thoughts. [via Living in a Society]

A very, very happy birthday to Wall Street Journal theatre critic, Mencken biographer and "Oldest Known Arts Blogger in Captivity" Terry Teachout, who turns 48 years old today.

Okay, I've switched my commenting tool to www.haloscan.com. There should be no more silliness. Please let me know if it's not working...

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