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October 6, 2005
Canadian Bloggers Are Not 'Pussies'

Siri Agrell, writing for the Canadian site Maisonneuve, wonders why the Canadian blogosphere has not uncovered a major scandal or exposed political shenanigans in the national government. Agrell notes the long track record of American bloggers in uncovering journalistic malpractice and governmental stupidity, resulting in high-profile career damage to luminaries like Dan Rather, Trent Lott, Eason Jordan, and others. Agrell suggests that Canadian bloggers are "pussies", and uses me as an example:

US political bloggers have appeared on the cover of the New York Times magazine and were accredited to cover the 2004 Republican and Democratic conventions. But in Canada, blogs remain the domain of pundits and policy wonks, an outlet for little more than chest-thumping, crystal-ball gazing, slander and self-promotion.

Only one major Canadian political story broken by bloggers has made its way through to the mainstream media and into our consciousness: the leaking of Jean Brault's testimony to the Gomery Inquiry. The leak revealed a new dimension of the sponsorship scandal and showed us just how powerful an independent online voice could be. Unfortunately, in this case, the voice was Americanthat of Edward Morrissey, aka Captain Ed, who influenced the course of Canadian politics from his Minnesota-based Captain's Quarters blog. ...

But the fact remains that, in a year when American bloggers led major stories on both sides of the border and Canadian politics reached new levels of intrigue and animosity, political blogs in this country made littleif anyimpact. McMillan places part of the blame on a disinterested public and a media that largely ignores the sites as a source of information or ideas.

While I appreciate the recognition from Agrell, I have to disagree with the thrust of the headline. The Canadian blogosphere may not have the saturation of its American cousin, but that does take time to develop. Political wars don't play as much of a role in Canadian lives as it does with Americans, and plenty of both will argue that likely indicates better mental health north of the border.

More than that, though, the article tends to downplay courageous Canadian bloggers. Kate MacMillan actually played a role in my publication of the Gomery testimony, which she appears in this article too modest to acknowledge; she wanted the story to come out and sacrificed the scoop to make sure it did. Stephen Janke defied the publication ban and linked me during the Gomery testimony, as did Neale News, despite the threat of prosecution for doing so -- showing a bit more bravery than most of the Canadian press at the time. John at Newsbeat1 has already built a following doing the kind of reporting that Agrell wants, and he does so with some risk, if readers pay attention to the nature of his prolific links.

Canadian bloggers work hard to position themselves for the inevitable day when their fellow countrymen decide that their diversity-challenged media have not served them well and begin to demand the answers to questions Americans learned to ask after Watergate. If they're not quite reaching the traffic levels of American blogs now, they will soon enough. I've met them and know their mettle -- and they will be ready when the time comes. (h/t: Canadian reader Tim H.)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 6, 2005 9:57 PM

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