On­ce ico­nic Da­vid Su­zu­ki now just an over-the-hill cur­mud­geon

La Jornada (Canada) - - ENGLISH SECTION -

What to do with Da­vid Su­zu­ki?

He has be­co­me the Ca­na­dian lead in our ver­sion of the su­rreal dra­ma that is the pre­si­den­tial elec­tion south of the bor­der.

Su­zu­ki plays Ca­na­da’s mains­tream me­dia li­ke a cheap fidd­le. He’s the mas­ter squa­re-dan­ce ca­ller when he wants them to do-si-do around his views of the country’s pe­tro­leum sec­tor.

He lays out for me­dia con­sum­ption outlan­dish and pro­vo­ca­ti­ve de­cla­ra­tions, li­ke his most re­cent as­ser­tion that Sas­kat­che­wan is in a car­bon cri­sis and that its pre­mier is a car­bon de­nier.

It brings to mind Su­zu­ki’s feat of fancy last fall: com­pa­ring the oil­sands sec­tor to 19th-cen­tury sout­hern sla­vers ba­sed on the flim­siest of links. That te­nuous tie: both sla­vers and oil­sands sup­por­ters put eco­no­mic ar­gu­ments in front of mo­ral im­pe­ra­ti­ves in de­fen­ding their in­dus­tries. What? Oil­sands ope­ra­tors are just li­ke sout­hern sla­vers? Who knew? Why, you can hear the whips crack north of Fort McMu­rray all the way to Cal­gary.

What head­li­nes! What sound­bi­tes!

Even so­cial me­dia can’t ma­ke this stuff up.

The me­dia laps it up li­ke free soup at a ser­vi­ce club lun­cheon.

Now Su­zu­ki is sti­rring things up in Sas­kat­che­wan.

He­re’s the pro­blem with a go-to sour­ce li­ke a Su­zu­ki. Each ti­me he’s in­ter­vie­wed, the outlan­dish th­res­hold is set hig­her be­cau­se, af­ter all, who wants to hear the sa­me old, sa­me old?

In many res­pects, Su­zu­ki tal­king the­se days is so­mew­hat akin to Do­nald Trump de­ba­ting him­self: rich in me­tap­hor, poor in fact.

In­deed, Su­zu­ki is so se­cu­re in the de­lu­sion that he has or­di­nary Ca­na­dians in his camp, he can say what he says and no one steps up to say, “Hey, wait a mi­nu­te. ...”

It’s ac­tually kind of sad.

Su­zu­ki was on­ce a com­men­ta­tor worthy of the gra­vi­tas he was ac­cor­ded. He heigh­te­ned cons­cious­ness at cri­ti­cal jun­ctu­res and ga­ve the en­vi­ron­men­tal mo­ve­ment a much-nee­ded cre­di­bi­lity.

He was on­ce ico­nic.

No lon­ger.

At a ti­me when Ca­na­da needs buil­ders around the cri­ti­cal de­ba­tes we need to ha­ve about energy, the en­vi­ron­ment and the eco­nomy, Su­zu­ki is a des­truc­ti­ve rat­her than pro­duc­ti­ve for­ce.

Even Su­zu­ki’s uti­lity as a check on the pe­tro­leum sec­tor’s ima­gi­ned evils has a tain­ted, de­tri­men­tal qua­lity.

He’s tur­ned in­to a que­ru­lous old arm­chair cri­tic, a re­lic of en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­cour­ses of days go­ne by. Young Ca­na­dians see­king ro­le mo­dels to de­fi­ne how they will ap­proach cli­ma­te and car­bon should look for al­ter­na­ti­ves.

Me­dia, which is still sor­ting out whe­re it wants to land on the en­vi­ron­ment, exa­cer­ba­tes the pro­blem by trea­ting him with the res­pect ac­cor­ded old cur­mud­geons who are still ca­pa­ble of poun­ding the floor with their wal­king sticks to get at­ten­tion.

Of cour­se, the in­ter­vie­wers ask him the ‘tough’ ques­tions but, li­ke Trump, Su­zu­ki dan­ces and de­flects his way th­rough the dis­cus­sion be­cau­se he is, af­ter all, Da­vid Su­zu­ki.

What the mains­tream me­dia should un­ders­tand - if its va­rious forms want to build their own cre­di­bi­lity with Ca­na­dians to play a pro­duc­ti­ve and res­pon­si­ble me­dia­ting ro­le - is that so­me peo­ple just don’t deser­ve ti­me in front of a mi­crop­ho­ne.

It’s not cen­sors­hip, it’s just good judg­ment. Me­dia needs to know when so­meo­ne is ad­ding va­lue to cri­ti­cal dis­cour­ses - or when they’re ero­ding them.

So it’s as­to­nis­hing to see Ca­na­dians show such cons­ter­na­tion at pre­si­den­tial events south of the bor­der when we ha­ve our own la­men­ta­ble laugh-fest north of the 49th.

Ex­cept it’s hardly funny. And yet Su­zu­ki per­sists - and too many Ca­na­dians keep pa­ying at­ten­tion. -TROYMEDIA

Da­vid Su­zu­ki is a lot li­ke Do­nald Trump in mo­re ways than you may think

Bill Whi­te­law is pre­si­dent and CEO at Ju­neWa­rren-Nic­kle’s Energy Group.

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