Reaction Roundup: what is the international press saying about the Canadian election?

Reaction Roundup: what is the international press saying about the Canadian election?

Canada’s affairs rarely arouse excitement in the media outside of our own borders—Michael Kinsley famously declared the most boring headline ever to be “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative”—but that usually changes when we decide to join a war or hold an election. Then we can usually reply on the foreign press to pay attention for at least a little while. That being the case, we set out to see what the international media is saying about Canada’s 41st election. Turns out, not much.

• Predictably, the most memorable take from early on was from Stephen Colbert, whose segment “Chaos in Chaonada” (the good stuff starts at about 2:30) warned that the fall of our government had led to “bands of rebel Inuit storming Parliament on beaverback while embattled prime minister Stephen Harper orders Mounties to pour cauldrons of boiling maple syrup on them.” Oh, if only.

• In the less satirical vein, the U.K.’s Guardian worries that our reticence to elect Michael Ignatieff points to an increasing parochialism on Canada’s part. The Brits—or at least Guardian’s writers—seem genuinely confused by Canada’s reluctance to elect as PM a man they put on TV for years. Get a British party to run with George Stroumboulopoulos as leader, then get back to us.

• On the other hand, the Economist provides what can only be called the best English-language primer on why Canada is having this election in the first place, despite some slightly outdated opinions of Ignatieff (“wooden and snooty on the hustings”). They also helpfully point out that “Republican Party North” is “a slur in Canada.”

• Over in France, Le Monde notes that the government fell on a contempt charge, but uncritically quotes Harper and his use of the word “coalition.” If they were translating him anyway, they might have at least explained the complexity of that one.

• The New York Times has, shockingly, paid close attention to the election. The daily actually noticed the whole brouhaha about the auditor general report accusing Harper of misleading Parliament. But remember—don’t click on that link without remembering the paywall quota!

• Finally, sometimes it takes a stranger to point out something obvious: Australian economist John Quiggin notes at the blog Crooked Timber that Canada’s aversion to coalitions makes no sense. We are unique in the English-speaking world at the moment in that we are a) in a minority parliament and b) not governed by a coalition (the way Australia and the U.K. are). Quiggin asks for help and has thus far gotten 306 comments—almost one for every MP, come to think of it.

• Canada: a fearfully parochial place [Guardian]
• Here we go again [Economist]
• Chaos in Chaonada [Colbert Report]
• Canada and Coalitions [Crooked Timber]
• Summit Spending Weakens Canada’s Prime Minister [New York Times]