There are days when I can understand why Whatzisname thinks that comments are the devil. This is probably one of them.
Take a look at This bit on CalgaryGrit, for example. CalGrit has reposted a funny bit between Canadian talk show host George Stephanopoulos and Canadian Liberal party leader Stephane Dion:
Good, right? Cute little jab, shows that the party leaders are game for a laugh, makes fun of the guy's nerdy image. The sort of thing that you rarely see in the U.S., because the Congress and the Presidents are too caught up in their own "gravitas". American political sketch comedy is practically nonexistent outside of the Daily Show/Colbert Report axis anyway, but Canadians have always been particularly good at this.
(Kind of like how the most savage political cartoons always came out of Russia. Anyway.)
Yet what is the response from the commentariat? Endless, tiresome repetitions of "ooh, he's doomed in the next election!" "When are the Liberals going to realize they're scum!" "humorless? LEFTISTS are humorless!"
(This by someone who claims to be a liberal, and not a conservative empathy troll. Riiight.)
You can imagine what the responses on the SUBSTANTIAL pieces are.
The sad thing is that comments are still necessary for building up a community. You can't get around that, and attempts to try end in failure. But it seems like there is a concerted effort to crowd out progressive comments through endless repetition of conservative talking points. That wouldn't work on progressive America-focused blogs... you'd get quickly shouted down, even by the midlevel guys. Hell, I've had it happen right here. And conservative Canadian blogs don't have this problem, because (of course) the trolls are principally conservative. But because the liberal Canadian blogs started late and are still pretty much just a network of blogger blogs with blogger commenting, with the "bigger" ones being often comment-free (like Whatzisname) there's nowhere for a community to grow and prosper.
Now, I doubt Whatzisname cares. He's already got a community of journalists and politicos to sustain him. Blogging is meaningless to him except as a way of make himself look better and keeping the proles in line. But in order to form the online community that serves as a counter to that--that keeps the interests of those outside Washington (or, presumably, Ottawa) paramount and doesn't buy into Village spin--you need a network of progressive bloggers and regular commentators.
Don't let the "Tories" drown the baby in the bathtub, guys.