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wWednesday, June 25, 2003

WORTHWHILE CANADIAN INITIATIVES: Canadian blogger Jay Currie responds to my assertion that there's still a market for a decent right of center (even socially conservative) print magazine, thus:

I completely agree that not all of Canada has drifted iredeemably leftwards. But what most of Canada, including Alberta, seems to have concluded is that the private behavior of Canadians should not be regulated by the State. And where you have fundamentalist ninnies like Byfield denoucing gays and feminists at every opportunity a magazine's subscriber base will shrink and shrink fast.

There is definitely room for an economically conservative - in the broadest sense of that term - magazine to operate in Canada. But I suspect it would make a great deal more sense to launch on the internet before, if ever, going to paper. The trick is to leave the social conservatives, at least the ones who want to enforce selected passages of the Bible with the Criminal Code, to sink in the tar pit of their own irrelevance.

To a degree the gap between the dying social conservative movement and the increasingly mainstream world of more libertarian social views cleaves along age lines. Over 50 and people are rather more likely to think homosexuals are the spawn of Satan and drugs really will make you crazy (everyone of you.) Under fifty and the balance shifts towards a fairly radical level of tolerance for personal choice and an increasing annoyance at the corruption and incompetence of government.

But there is also a cleavage on what might be described as cultural and stylistic borders. Blah, blah, blah, blah, OK here it gets interesting again: To create a vehicle Canada's urban conservatives could embrace would mean dumping a lot of the social conservative, fundamentalist Christian baggage Byfield saddled Reports with. In fact, one of the main targets of such a vehicle would be the hatred and intolerance practiced by Byfield and his ilk in the name of their vengeful God. The other target would be the loony left in Canada. Lots of material there generated by Judy and Svend and Avi and Naomi and the entire CBC.

We are not ready to link arms and sing kumbayah, but many of us are also unwilling to even hum along to "Onwards Christian Soldiers". Somewhere to the right of middle there is a sweet spot where you can listen to The Clash and write seriously, and in actual English, about politics, books, ideas, science and issues. That sweet spot is likely on the internet and being invented as we speak.

There's a lot of stuff here but I'll try to be brief:

I reiterate, the Report was and is a winning business proposition. It took the extraordinary genius of the Byfields for spending money and pissing off readers to drive it into the ground. I'm all for a more libertarian and literate follow-up mag, but the idea that it should score points by going after conservative Christians is just loopy.

Also, about this Internet mag thing, it sounds good but it should be the goal rather than the starting line, and it doesn't answer the question, How are you going to pay for this? Ideally, you sell people on the print version and then slowly edge them over to the website and the weekly (or biweekly) PDF version at a cut rate (the Weekly Standard and the Economist are both playing around with variations on this theme).

posted by Jeremy at 12:31 AM