10 January 2009

My daily fix -- The Globe and Mail

I confess, I'm addicted. Not to anything that has me sweating and trembling if I don't get my daily fix, but addicted, nonetheless. I simply have to have my daily paper.

My current drug of choice is The Globe and Mail. I use the word "choice" loosely because I really don't have much of a choice at all. Living in Calgary, I am offered four dailies: two local, two national ... all conservative. This is the "choice" the vaunted free market offers me. It is rather like Henry Ford's famous offer on his Model Ts: any colour you choose as long as it's black. I am offered any philosophy of daily paper I like as long as it's conservative. So, as my politics float somewhere in the liberal-left range of the philosophical spectrum, I am reduced to buying the least conservative of the four, the moderately conservative Globe and Mail.

The Globe's regrettable militarism does not make my choice easier. Their support for Israel's most recent aggression is nearly as unequivocal as our federal government's. In an editorial of December 30th, while wondering if the Israeli slaughter of hundreds of Palestinians and wounding of thousands more wasn't enough, they went on to heap the entire blame on Hamas. Despite claiming to oppose capital punishment, they fail to quibble with the collective capital punishment of the Palestinians. They would oppose the execution of Robert Pickton, a man who killed more people than Gaza's Qassam rockets, but have no objection to Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Nizar Rayan along with his four wives and six of his children.

A December 13th editorial supported extending our adventure in Afghanistan beyond 2011, partly for "practical considerations." The editorial explains, "As Canada attempts to navigate its way through economic crisis … the federal government must consider its relations with Barack Obama’s incoming administration.” In other words, we should prepare to kill people in order to cultivate our relationship with the United States. The amorality of this sort of National Post quid pro quo is astonishing.

I am reluctant to support an organization that wallows in this sort of warmongering, but I do need that fix. I roam the web -- the CBC, the Guardian, Al Jazeera, The New York Times -- but it just isn't the same as kicking back with a coffee and reading the daily paper. It has been part of my routine for far too long, longer than I can remember. And sometimes the Globe gets it right. I agree with their editorial views on issues such as gay marriage and Omar Khadr, and there's delicious reading in Rick Salutin's columns, Tabatha Southey's humour pieces and John Allemang's poetry. Along with a daily dose of the news, there's some good stuff in there. And I have reasonably good luck at having my letters to the editor published. As an inveterate scribbler, I find this quite satisfying. My ego approves.

But oh, it would be nice to have a left-wing, or even liberal, daily to choose from in this benighted city. That won't happen of course. Newspapers have fallen on hard times. The possibility of a new local or daily paper is slim to none, and in any case no one on the left has the money to start one. So, I'll soldier on with the Globe, the lesser of four evils.


  1. I'm in the same boat. We've got FFWD of course for a weekly hit of alternative perspective like Gwynne Dyer and some of their excellent environmental reporting. We can make a point at stopping at a place like Billy's News to pick up the occasional issue of the Toronto Star.

    But for dailies, you are quite right, our options are right wing and right wingier. (although there's been an odd transition over the last few years where The Herald and Sun switched places with the Herald going from center right to far right and the Sun the opposite - they even booted Ezra Levant!) Like you I'm stuck with the Globe and Mail and whether I have a Rick Salutin day or a Margaret Wente day can affect my mood for hours.

  2. I have a hard time "liking" the Globe, having suffered from two many short-sighted pro-Bush, pro-Iraq editorials over the years. That the editorial board is behind the Israel bombardment of Gaza is to be expected. Saying that, columnists like Ibbitson and MacGregor seem like decent people and actually answer their E-mails and are quite generous with following up challenges and defending their positions. So, my view of the paper is expanding but I will never trust their editorials.