August 26, 2003


Conservative columnists (including Mark Steyn) have left Canada’s National Post. Liberal Post columnist Elizabeth Nickson is delighted:

I don't regret the defection of the conservative boy prose stylists.

”Prose stylist” is a curious choice of insult to direct at writers. Nickson continues, comparing her former column pals to conservative politicians:

Just like the prose stylists of the former Post, they're boys. Only boys would miss the opportunity to form an effective opposition to the Liberal juggernaut. Only boys would make that bone-headed compromise on free trade. Only boys would insist on ideological purity and sacrifice Canada to their ego. Boys are not men. And boys do not deserve to lead.

Where the hell did this come from? Steyn doesn’t know:

No vendetta at my end. I’m devastated to discover, at the end of said column, that I’m not man enough for her. Liz is one of my favourite gal prose stylists and I was honoured to share a page with her.

And presumably relieved that nowadays he doesn’t. By the way, I wonder how far you’d get as a lefty columnist in Canada if you wrote that “girls do not deserve to lead”?

UPDATE. Several readers point out that Nickson is not, in fact, of the left. My mistake; I read here that she was “barking mad” and just assumed ...

Posted by Tim Blair at August 26, 2003 06:04 AM

Tony Abbott actually set up Australians for Honest Politicians. "WOW" THE Liberal, Labor and other party's cannot talk honestly about immigration without resorting to name calling.

Posted by: Jim at August 26, 2003 at 06:36 AM

Oops Sorry.

Posted by: jIM at August 26, 2003 at 06:45 AM

Nickson is a liberal? I don't think so. She bashes big government with the best of them. What she scorns, and there is something to this, is the exit of several columnists from the National Post because their favorite editors got the sack. It was peevish and deprived Canadians of important voices in a very dull, predictable journalistic landscape. I love Steyn but I can't understand why he gave in the way he did. At the least, he could have gone down fighting, with an excoriating attack on the paper he was departing. Instead, it was all whimper and no bang.

Posted by: chip at August 26, 2003 at 06:59 AM

Well, I hate to break up the "Love Canada" fest, but I believe that journalists are allowed to quit if they feel unappreciated, or just because they want to. They're WRITERS, who work for pay. They don't "owe Canada" a damn thing. Except maybe half their meager earnings in taxes.

Posted by: mojo at August 26, 2003 at 07:16 AM

I agree with Chip, Elizabeth is no liberal, at least not as we know it in Canada. It has been disappointing to see the defections of star columnists from the National Post, particularly after they and the Post had breathed (although with somewhat less vigor now) life into a grey, dull journalistic landscape.

Posted by: Allan at August 26, 2003 at 07:18 AM

Actually I believe Mark Steyn was fired.

Posted by: D2D at August 26, 2003 at 07:45 AM

Sure, they can quit. And I can write that it was lame. So what?

Steyn, Frum and the rest are in this business because they profess to care about something, and care strongly enough to try and change it. At least, that's what they go on about week after week. But all we saw at the Post was a group-think rush for the exit because their pals got the axe. They moved faster than French strikers asked to work overtime. If they were the rugged free-thinkers they say they are, I would have expected a few sparks upon the departure. But nada. All we got were self-serving bromides about how the paper is going in the wrong direction, Whyte was their friend, the pay, zzzzzzzzz. Nickson was right to chide them.

Posted by: chip at August 26, 2003 at 07:56 AM

I thought Steyn was fired? Or invited to leave, or something like that. Was that story false?

Posted by: Harry at August 26, 2003 at 09:18 AM

I seem to remember him saying that they stopped sending the cheques, so he stopped writing.

Posted by: CraigMc at August 26, 2003 at 10:00 AM

What's this Canada stuff? Aren't you all supposed to be consumed by our (Californias) recall? What, there's a continent on the other side of the equator? That's crazy talk.

Posted by: John at August 26, 2003 at 11:05 AM

I wonder how far you’d get as a lefty columnist in Canada if you wrote that "girls do not deserve to lead"?

presumably if they distinguished between girls and women [as in, girls are not women, girls do not deserve to lead] there would be no problem.

Posted by: adam at August 26, 2003 at 11:21 AM

presumably if they distinguished between girls and women [as in, girls are not women, girls do not deserve to lead] there would be no problem.

And if they were female.

I think it's a pretty safe bet that any male columnist who said that about girls would quickly become the next target of the harpy brigade.

Posted by: Evil Pundit at August 26, 2003 at 11:47 AM

Nickson's a woman who has found herself.

And that means she can now be a complete bitch to whoever she likes.

Posted by: ilibcc at August 26, 2003 at 11:54 AM

What about moose leadership rights?

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 26, 2003 at 12:21 PM

Nickson is definitely no liberal, and in fact has written some of the most scathing, brilliant attacks on left wing hypocrisy. She is also renowned for occasional slice and dice columns which specifically target some of our more prominent leftist extremist journalists and politicians here in Canada.

As for Steyn, he gets my vote for most entertaining, insightful commmentary journalist, anywhere. But its clear that he left the Post in a fit of pique.

Posted by: Mike at August 26, 2003 at 01:34 PM

The problem with the Post is nobody is reading it. Once moneybags Conrad Black decided to decamp to his House of Lords seat there was no longer the cash to pay all the high priced talent the Post had recruited.

The main beneficiary of the National Post has been the centrist Globe and Mail which had to raise its standards to compete with the upstart Post and now gets to cherry pick their writers.

Poor old Mark Steyn, a prophet without honour in his homeland.Popular mainly with the right wing of the blogosphere, he is still available on the internet for those with that kind of inclination

I don't blame anybody for leaving the Post. What rat wants to stick with a sinking ship especially if they are not being paid?

Posted by: Bill at August 26, 2003 at 02:34 PM

Sadly, I agree with the last comment. The Post was the first big Canadian paper to use critical thinking, as opposed to the knee-jerk conventional wisdom pablum that Canadians are fed from cradle to grave. It's fading to gray -- and will soon be indistinguishable from that dull behemoth the Globe and Mail. bleah.

Posted by: chip at August 26, 2003 at 11:03 PM

Sure, Nickson was described as "barking mad," but it was for slamming Kyoto. Remember, whereas we might use "barking mad" to describe a particular position or behavior, when in the mouth of a liberal, it's used to describe the holding of conservative credentials.

Posted by: Brian Jones at August 27, 2003 at 12:46 AM

Wierd diatribe by Nickson, who has made a very bid deal about her newfound conservatism in the past few years.

But Steyn departure from the Post was even wierder. "My buddy got fired so I'm not writing for you any more." Nickson, who seems to be taking her newfound anti-liberalism very seriously, is probably pissed off that Steyn, Frum, and company abandoned ship so quickly.

Infighting on the Canadian right. Yawn. The patheticness of Canada's right win is old-news. And it makes me very happy to be a Canadian.

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at August 27, 2003 at 06:40 AM

Ikram: Your happiness is seriously misplaced. Canadian lib-left socialism has eclipsed its European counterpart for dishonesty and hypocrisy. Take your pick of the issues, whether social, economic or political, and one can easily see the reflexive, leftist extremism that is poisoning our country.

Posted by: Mike at August 27, 2003 at 04:01 PM