Categories
Media

Paying for News

I’m writing to oppose the recent call by Canadian newspapers to require by law that companies like Google and Facebook pay for news items they link to in their search or news feeds.

We are told “They are using their monopoly power to scoop up 80% of online advertising revenues and to free ride on the news content produced by hardworking journalists and publishers across Canada.”

The campaign is being depicted as a “David vs Goliath” battle between small scrappy local newspapers and global giants. But readers should not be misled. The news media in Canada is heavily centralized and owned by some of Canada’s wealthiest citizens and corporations. They don’t answer to their readers and they certainly don’t represent the interests of their readers.

We need only look at the example of the Irving-owned press in Atlantic Canada where competition not only in news but in many of Irving’s other interests – forestry, oil, trucking – is stifled at first mention. Or the example of the yellow front-page attack ad run across the PostMedia chain on the eve of a Federal election.

What we are seeing in the current campaign is just another example of that media domination. Canada’s corporate media are using their overwhelming voice to attempt to influence opinion and public policy for their own benefit. They are noticeably silent about the fact that these same companies charge Canadians some of the highest internet and mobile data fees in the world.

It’s true that the news industry in Canada is suffering, but it’s not because of the search engines. It’s because of a failed business model that depends on tolls on data, paywalls, tracking and spyware, and content that privileged the perspective of corporations and the wealthy. That’s still true of the news industry in Canada and it’s hard to see why we should pay to support this.

What the news media did not do that both Facebook and Google did was to give people a voice. They welcomed public contributions, linked people to each other, connected communities and families, and served the function that Canadian newspapers largely eschewed in favour of centralization and profit-taking.

Giving Canada’s corporate media legislated funding from Google and Facebook will further reinforce these trends. It would give established media outlets a financial subsidy that will disadvantage community newspapers, local social media, decentralized media, and even local bloggers, podcasters and video producers.

The news media in Canada are using the example of recent legislation being proposed in Australia to support their case. It should also be noted that the Australian government is also using the campaign as a means to defund the ABC, their equivalent of the CBC. Even though the CBC is the best and often the only source of local news stories in Canada, defunding the CBC is high on the list of priorities for Canada’s corporate media.

If Canada really wanted to support local news it would collect revenues from large corporate content producers (including Google and Facebook, but also Canada’s corporate media) and use them to fund individual and independent producers of Canadian news coverage, thus allowing local media to flourish it its original close-to-home grassroots environment.

Creating instead a special tax imposed on digital media payable directly to large Canadian corporations sets a terrible precedent and ought to be resisted at all levels.

Categories
Energy Environment Media

A Clean-Energy Hatchet Job

Re: Quebec Ink: As Hydro-Québec expands into cleantech, entrepreneurs cry foul
https://thelogic.co/news/quebec-ink/quebec-ink-as-hydro-quebec-expands-into-cleantech-entrepreneurs-cry-foul/

This is a hatchet job, with no pretense of being objective. It reads as a screed from the far right, depending on the argument that government-owned companies shouldn’t be in a market competing against private enterprise. This common argument is used repeatedly in other sectors to undermine essential services, and in this case, it’s being used to undermine Quebec’s substantial investment in clean energy.One one point of view is presented in this article.

Now while I’m no fan of balance for the sake of balance, it does appear that there is a very legitimate second perspective here that the author hasn’t even tried to represent. I representative from Hydro Quebec would probably point out that the people of Quebec are entitled to the best return on their investment, an investment all the more notable because it came at a time when almost all private investment was pouring (still!) into hydrocarbons.

And this is exactly why we need public investment in the energy sector. Entrenched private sector interests lobbied hard, and continue to lobby, against clean energy. They show little interest in doing the research and investment necessary, preferring to rely on profits from oil and gas, no matter how harmful they are to the environment. To the extent that they do invest, they do so in order to undermine competition from clean energy.

This is why I won’t be renewing my subscription to the logic. As I have pointed out elsewhere, this publication is practicing advocacy journalism, pushing a pro-business perspective while ignoring interests and issues that represent the broader concerns of the community.The Logic

Categories
Media

The Logic

I think there should be some way to respond to stories in the Logic.

Today’s drone story is a case in point. Why is it even being covered? As one person quoted states, “These cybersecurity concerns are being artificially created by the U.S. government.” Why is the stance taken by the author that we are not complying with U.S. policy?

It actually feels to me – given the Canadian government’s currently active RFP for additional drones – like an attempt to influence the government’s selection process, with the threat of creating a ‘made in China’ issue behind it.

I wouldn’t normally leap to such a paranoid conclusion, but the Logic’s journalism in general has exhibited a significant bias toward a specific industry perspective. This disappoints me, as I had been hopeful that the substantial subscription fee might be a guarantor of a more objective stance.

But that’s why there should be a way to respond to stories. The Logic’s authors need to be held to account, and right now there is no obvious way – other than this relatively obscure and unused Slack channel – to do that.

Categories
Cancel Culture Media

The Shareholder Primacy Rule

Like most others, I was dismayed by the loss of Ukrainian International Airways Flight 752 from Tehran, which was shot down by accident following an exchange of missile fire between the U.S. and Iran.

And so it is not with even the remotest of surprise that I read the comments of Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain condemning the attack and criticizing Donald Trump for his rash and ill-thought actions that precipitated the crisis.

However, according to this news report, “According to the business principle of shareholder primacy, there is an argument that Sunday’s Twitter attack on U.S. President Donald Trump by the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, Michael McCain, was dead wrong.”

The article explains, “the question from the business point of view is whether, as the boss of a company owned by shareholders, he should have spoken out at all. The question was especially relevant as the share price fell on Monday, closing down about one per cent on the day.”

This is how censorship works in capitalism. The restriction doesn’t just impact the CEO, but ripples through the entire company, as the sole motivating force of the company must be to increase shareholder value. Thus sayeth Milton Friedman.

This principle has been a thorn in the side of our society since its inception. It prevents companies from acting ethically, it prevents them from contributing to the social welfare, it prevents them from considering the environment.

Moreover, it commits corporations to a mythical ontology of cause and effect, one where the stock market (for all its irrationality) determines what is true and false, good and bad, and one where there is at the same time a completely mythical chain of causality drawn between a CEO’s statements and a one cent fall in stock price.

It also commits the company to a short term perspective, one measured in hours and days, rather than weeks and years, much less the long term life of both the corporation and the community it lives in. Far be it for someone to point out that McCain’s remarks were directed toward preserving society as a whole – there was a one cent price drop today!

Now I have no particular desire to actually listen to CEOs, as they tend to be among the most conservative of thinkers (though probably by necessity). But I object strenuously to the existence of a structural mechanism that eliminates even the possibility that they might contribute to the social good in a positive way.

Categories
Energy Media

The Arc Reactor

There has been a great deal of fuss in the right-wing press recently about a breakthrough deal announced by the premiers of New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Ontario – Tories all – “to fight climate change by working together on small nuclear reactors.”

“The Ontario government said Premier Doug Ford will meet with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs for an announcement at a hotel near Pearson International Airport on Sunday afternoon,” said the CTV press report. The exact same report (plus a few paragraphs) was carried by Global. Nobody else carried the announcement.

Both articles took pains to note that “All three of the premiers are opponents of the federally mandated carbon tax.” The CTV article ended on that note.

This plan has been in the works for years. It has nothing to do with carbon pricing, and nothing to do with this announcement the three Tory premiers.

GEH (a General Electric and Hitachi joint venture) licensed technology to Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC (a Delaware-based company with murky financing) and the two announced back in 2017 that they were going to set up shop in Canada, pending a regulatory review of the ARC-100 by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission through its Vendor Design Review process (which it passed in October).

In 2018 New Brunswick announced an agreement to deploy at NB Power’s Point Lepreau. And a deal with LA-based AECOM, an infrastructure company, was announced last March. Insofar as the three premiers are ‘investing’ (if they are actually investing anything at all) they are investing in American nuclear reactor technology is direct competition with Canadian vendors. The CEO on the Arc Canada team came out of the Bruce generating plant. GEC sold its business assets to BWXT Canada, which was also involved in work on the Bruce generating plant.

The Telegraph-Journal, an Irving spokespaper, says that nuclear is New Brunswick’s Next Billion Dollar Industry. Irving loyalist David W. Campbell, now of New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation, is involved. And there are Irving fingerprints all over this. This worries me more than the fact that it’s nuclear. Irving has a terrible safety record (c.f. Lac Megantic) and dumped the Canadian reactor’s turbine to the bottom of Saint John harbour. It also has a record of voiding taxes and systematically depressing the New Brunswick’s economy even while running billion dollar industries.

As for the ARC reactor itself, its main feature isn’t that it’s small and modular, but rather, that it uses sodium as a coolant rather than water. This is what makes it essentially meltdown-proof. The small size is only important because it means that parts can be shipped using regular transportation networks. It’s main competitor is Moltex, a crowdfunded Canadian-British-based company that uses molten salt instead of sodium. It also recently announced a demonstration project in New Brunswick. Obviously, though, it’s the Americans that have the support of the Conservative premiers.

This is all stuff that CTV News should have reported, but didn’t. Readers are invited to speculate as to why.

Sources

https://www.genewsroom.com/press-releases/ge-hitachi-nuclear-energy-and-arc-nuclear-announce-steps-further-collaboration

https://www.aecom.com/ca/press-releases/arc-nuclear-canada-inc-and-aecom-will-collaborate-on-new-brunswick-small-modular-reactor-project/

https://www.arcnuclear.com/company https://www.arcnuclear.com/norman-j-d-sawyer

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180709005830/en/ARC-Nuclear-Announces-Agreement-Work-New-Brunswick

https://www.arcnuclear.com/arc-100-reactor

https://www.arcnuclear.com/arcnews/nuclear-energy-insider-proven-technology-helped-arc-nuclear-canada-pass-initial-stage-of-cnscs-vendor-design-review

https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/press-releases-pmn/business-wire-news-releases-pmn/arc-nuclear-canada-inc-meets-a-major-milestone-cnsc-phase-1-design-review-completed

https://www.therecord.com/news-story/8565034-bwxt-canada-in-cambridge-awarded-642-million-contract-from-bruce-power/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/lepreau-nuclear-energy-climate-change-spent-fuel-1.5063225

http://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Moltex-Energy-raises-USD7-5-million-through-crowdf

p.s. There’s probably more to this story that I don’t know. This is basically what I found out in a couple hours research while waiting for a flight at Pearson.

Categories
Media Sports

Don Cherry

Let me frank right off the bat and allow that I am an unabashed Don Cherry fan. He, more than anyone, understands what hockey means to people in Canada. Let me capture that for just a moment.

Hockey is a game of total commitment. As the saying goes, you leave it all out there on the ice. You go in, play your 45 seconds as hard as you can, then let someone else take over. You play hurt. You sacrifice yourself for the team. It’s a hard, difficult, sometimes violent sport that sometimes rewards you with the silverware and where everyone’s career ends the same way.

It’s Bobby Baun scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal on a broken leg. It’s a concussed Maurice Richard facing down goalie Jim Henry – himself playing with a broken nose – to score the series winner. It’s Bobby Orr flying through the air to score a Cup-winner in overtime. It’s Paul Henderson and Phil Esposito getting up off the mat to face down the Soviets in 1972.

I love baseball – always have, always will – but it’s hockey that’s in my blood, hockey that defines my ethos as a Canadian, and hockey that defines for me what it means to play the game. You play hard, you play hurt, and you leave it all on the ice. I hope that that’s what they’ll say about me when I’m done, and I know that that’s what they’ll say about Canada.

That’s what Don Cherry understands, and what has made him over 37 years in the game one of the most powerful voices not only for hockey but for Canada as a whole.

Don Cherry was also conservative to the core. At 85 years old, coming of age up in the 1950s, he could hardly be anything else. The 50s were a gritty decade, but also a beautiful decade, an era rife with suspicion and mistrust, but effused with the heady fruits of victory in a hard-fought world war and ongoing conflicts to hold the communists in check.

As society changed, and as hockey changed, through the 70s and 80s and even now into the late 2010s, it was pretty easy to see this image of Canada and the victories won by our parents beginning to fade. Cherry, the hockey commentator, could see it in the stone-cold emotionlessness of the Soviets, the smooth-skating but non-contact mode of the Swedes, the tic-tac-toe tactics of the Czechs. None of this was real hockey, and to the extent that this was influencing the game, it was diluting hockey, and with it, diluting what it means to be Canadian.

That’s why he railed against the use of face-masks. It’s not that he wanted hockey players to lose an eye, but that he felt it encouraged cheap shots and attacks with sticks, rather than the direct confrontation you would see in the old days. That’s why he promoted fighting and rock-em sock-em hockey. He felt you should face the opposition directly instead of doing something behind his back. In Don Cherry’s world – and, for that matter, in mine – you respect your opponent, you respect the game, and you respect the outcome.

Now despite Don Cherry’s best intentions, hockey has changed, and it has mostly changed for the better. After all, it’s no longer acceptable to celebrate a sport that requires its participants to beat each other senseless, nor should it be. I remember after the lockout one year the NHL came back with a renewed emphasis on speed and skill and respect for the players and for the game and it was (for a time) a lot better, showing it could be done, and I guess, eventually would be done.

The same, maybe, could be said of Canada. We’re evolving into a faster and more skillful version of ourselves, which means that some of the grit from previous eras is lost. For many of us, getting along in the world is no longer a matter of staring down our opponents with steely-eyed determination, but instead, of finding ways of living with them.

This is also true internally. It brings to mind some of the Don Cherry tropes of the past – opposition to the RCMP wearing turbans, opposition to women in the dressing rooms, dismissal of women generally,  attacks on left-wing pinkos, criticism of David Suzuki, and of course, criticism of Russian hockey players. He railed against the metric system, offered to bring back the last for domestic abusers, criticized Canada’s decision to stay out of Iraq. He complained about “some French guy” carrying the national flag at the Olympics, attacked Bloc Quebecois members removing Canadian flags, criticized multiculturalism and even railed against ballet.

But none of that is who we are. I’m not sure it was ever who we are, not even in the 1950s. It’s a vision of Canada that has become smaller and smaller over time, even as we as a nation have embraced the wider world to become faster, more skillful, and indeed, stronger. I love Don Cherry, I love how he understands what hockey means to us, but I could never love a the small narrow-minded vision of Canada he has come to embrace over the years.

And, at a certain point, his sort of rhetoric becomes dangerous. Look at what’s happening in the United States, where the faltering privilege of the white and powerful is leading to a backlash that threatens American democracy itself. Look at the United Kingdom, a nation that is tearing itself apart over the question of whether outsiders can be allowed to challenge their status quo of a society based on elitism and privilege. We have to be smarter than that.

Don Cherry’s comment usually appear with ellipses in the news media, but let’s quote his remarks in full:

You know, I was talking to a veteran, I said “I’m not going to run the poppy thing any more, because what’s the sense, I live in Mississauga, nobody wears… very few people wear a poppy, downtown Toronto, forget it, downtown Toronto, nobody wears the poppy, and I’m not going to…” and he says, “Wait a minute. How about running it for the people that buy them?” Now you go to the small cities, and you know, those… you know, the rows on rows…  you people love, you know, they come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys pay the biggest price.

In explaining his remarks, Cherry says he meant “everyone” by “you people”, and that he didn’t think the remarks were that bad. But they were that bad, as not only his history, but the full version of the quote makes clear.

Cherry is clearly talking about immigrants – people who “come here” and enjoy “our way of life”. But more, he specifically references Mississauga and downtown Toronto, two regions known for large populations of visible minorities. Maybe he just meant immigrants in general, but the clear statement here is one that references people not like us.

But it’s Don Cherry, and by “not like us” he probably includes Europeans and pinkos and environmentalists and feminists and the French and all the rest of them. Which means he is not a racist Properly So-Called (so Bobby Orr is probably right), because he has grounds in addition to race for his attacks. But that was never the question. The question is whether this view of Canada – narrow, exclusionary, elitist, belligerent, militaristic – is one deserves a platform any more.

And – of course – it does not. It’s not about whether Don Cheery is a bad person, or about whether he deserves to be fired, or about freedom of speech. No, it’s about whether we, as a nation, are willing to continue to allow ourselves to be defined in such terms. And – peripherally – it’s about whether we are willing to allow hockey to be defined in such terms. And we’re not. Because they’re not what’s best about us. They’re not what’s best about hockey. They’re what’s worst.

You see, Don Cherry really did capture the best of us, which is why we love him so. You play hard, you play hurt, and you leave it all on the ice. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve thought about that, and thought about a Doug Gilmour playing through enough pain to make a grown man cry, and pulled up my socks, and carried on. Because this does define what it means to be Canadian. We’re not afraid of hard work, we’re not afraid of sacrifice, and we’re willing to commit everything.

But, like the game, we’re so much more than that. Everybody‘s on the team, including the newcomers. People contribute in different ways, drawing on their different strengths. We don’t need enforcers any more. We’re smart, we’re fast, we’re skillful. We can play with the best in the world, because we’ve drawn from the best in the world. We not only face adversity, we learn from adversity.

So while Don Cherry has our thanks and our love, it’s time to move on. There’s a whole new hockey game out there, it’s beautiful, and it’s time to let it in.

Categories
Environment Media

Responding to Sky News

I’ll quote this extract, posted on LinkedIn, in full:

Excellent response from a journalist from Skynews Australia to the youth who recently showed for the climate:

” …you are the first generation to have asked for air conditioning in every classroom; your lessons are all made to the computer; you have a television in each room; you spend all day using electronic means instead of walking to go at school, you take all kinds of means of transport. You are the biggest consumer of consumer goods in all history, you constantly buy the most expensive clothes to be “trend”, your protest is announced by digital and electronic means.

Kids, before protest, turn off the air conditioning, go to school on foot, turn off your phones and read a book.

None of this will happen, because you are selfish, poorly educated, manipulated by people who use you, saying you have a noble cause while having fun in the most insane western luxury. Wake up and close it. Learn about the facts before you protest and start by respecting your elders “.

First of all, the youth has a name: she is Greta Thunberg. Here is her address to the United Nations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9KxE4Kv9A8

Now for my response to the criticism.

Doesn’t the writer see the irony in this: “you are the first generation to have asked for air conditioning in every classroom?” They are complaining about global warming. One of the first effects, especially in Australia, is that it’s hotter.

But a lot of his vitriol is aimed at the use of electronics. “Read a book,” he advises. This is rich. I live in a nation where virtually all of the old growth forest was removed so that people like him could read a book. The paper production industry continues to destroy land and pollute the environment. Now it’s true that electronic media use a lot of power. But there’s no reason why this can’t be – especially in Australia – solar power. That is your fault, not the fault of the youth.

He also complains that youth use all sorts of means of transport instead of walking. Perhaps he hasn’t seen how cities are designed these days. Mostly, there is no public transport. They are spread out over wide areas and gas-fueled cars and buses are the only means of transportation. It is physically impossible to walk most places in a reasonable amount of time. All of that is your fault, not the fault of the youth.

He complains that youth are “the biggest consumer of consumer goods in all history.” The youth, looking at the McMansions and SUVs owned by their parents, might be surprised to hear that. But even they were the biggest consumers of goods, it was not them that created an economy dedicated to consumer spending, where demand is created by relentless advertising and media coverage. All of that is your fault, not the fault of the youth.

He complains that youth should “Learn about the facts before you protest.” We could ask who it was that was responsible for educating the youth. We could ask who it was that created climate change denial, misinformation, and fake news. On this issue especially, the older generation has been actively engaged in making it difficult to learn about climate change. And to this day, with columns like this, you continue to lie and mislead. All of that is your fault, not the fault of the youth.

The fact is, there is nothing the youth can practically do on their own that will make a difference, other than what they’re doing. They own none of the wealth and power that have created and powered an economy that is out of control and destroying the planet. In a world where dollars count as votes, they have no votes. The planet is being destroyed by the elder generation and its industries, and they respond by denying there’s a crisis, by saying they cannot afford to take their foot off the gas, and by blaming the youth.

Categories
Media

de Adder

I was never a de Adder fan. The entire time we lived in New Brunswick we would complain about the wrongheaded and often stereotypical editorial cartoons published in Brunswick News. But, of course, it is an Irving-owned newspaper, so we couldn’t expect any better.

We finally cancelled our subscription to the Times & Transcript after they fired all their photographers. It was the one shining light in the paper, the only part of the editorial staff to win any national awards for journalism, and even though they were being paid a pittance they at least demonstrated a shred of credibility.

Michael de Adder was also an award-winner, with a 2002 National Newspaper Award and a 2006 Golden Spike Award award for the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists. But he also had the misfortune to be, as he put it, working for “a foreign oil company with business ties to the United States.”

In the wake of the dismissal de Adder released a series of tweets in which he was very clear about what it meant to work for the Irving newspapers:

# When you work on the editorial pages at an Irving owned newspaper for 17 year, you learn how they operate. It’s not a front row seat, but it’s a third row seat. You definately get a clear picture of how they run a newspaper.

# Does it matter if I was fired over one Donald Trump cartoon when every Donald Trump cartoon I submitted in the past year was axed?

# It got to the point where I didn’t submit any Donald Trump cartoons for fear that I might be fired.

# And Donald Trump doesn’t even matter. It’s a distraction from the big picture.

# The Premier of New Brunswick Blaine Higgs is a former Irving Oil executive and any cartoon I drew that was slightly critical of him was systematically axed. You want to know why I was let go? I wanted to do my job as an editorial cartoonist, and they wanted me to do their job.

# With this said, I had been giving the NB newspapers what they want for several months. Trump wasn’t on my radar. I work for canadian newspapers so there’s no need to cover Trump 24/7. And Canadian politics is quite interesting right now.

# But in the past 2 weeks I drew 3 Trump cartoons. 2 went viral and the third went supernova and a day later I was let go. And not only let go, the cartoons they already had in the can were not used. Overnight it was like I never worked for the paper. Make your own conclusions.

The media in New Brunswick is not a free media. It is owned by, and speaks for, the Irvings. That’s has always been widely known but as time goes by – and as other forms of media finally make their way into the province – the depth of the misdirection and deception has become more and more apparent.

I support what John Miller says in Rabble: “I hope the federal government’s newly formed Journalism and Written Media Independent Panel of Experts — representing eight professional journalism associations and unions — will decide the Irving monopolies do not qualify as ‘professional journalism organizations.’ Such a step would make the Irving newspapers ineligible for the federal government’s $600-million assistance fund.”

I started this blog back in December because I wanted to have a place to speak out against “a general loss of moral leadership on the part of those very people who claim to be moral leaders, the politicians, by virtue of their offices, and their supporters, by virtue of their values and beliefs.”

I needed such a place because someone has to speak out, and because our corporate-owned press is not going to be that voice. New Brunswick is just an extreme case, just as Donald Trump is just an extreme case. But they are not exceptions. They are the rule. Corporate toadies will continue to be elected premiers of Canadian provinces, and the politics of corruption and hate will continue unabated even after Trump is gone.

As AE Marling says, “When newspapers are afraid to print art that speaks truth it’s up to the people to shout it from the rooftops.”

P.S. one more note from de Adder:

# The hardest part in all of this,I have a mother with dimentia in NB who has a hard time remembering her family at times.But she knows her son draws cartoons. Part of her daily routine is to open the @TimesTranscript and see her son’s cartoon.A cartoon that won’t be there anymore.

Categories
Media

The Media Subsidy

From Wikipedia: Psychological projection is a defence mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.

The idea here is to determine eligibility for a $595-million bailout package for news media in Canada. The Liberals are setting up an arms-length committee to do this. Naturally, the Conservatives – who would have gerrymandered the process – are complaining.

There’s only one reason the Conservatives are accusing the Liberals of stacking the committee in order to influence the media: because that’s what they would do.

Indeed, this is a general trend characteristic of the right. They favour a generally unethical brand of politics. And they justify it by saying “well everybody is doing it.” Except: everybody is not doing it.

Take the election debates, for example, something also mentioned in this article. “No ability for consultation, just rammed that through,” they complained.

Yet instead of setting up an arms-length committee to manage the election debates, the Conservatives when they were in power manipulated the setting and format to benefit themselves.

The same with election spending. They are complaining about spending limits on political parties saying “we expect to see ministers flying around and making announcements and government advertising continuing at a time when political parties won’t.” Why do they say this? Because that’s what they did.

So let’s get back to the media subsidy committee. Even the Conservative complaint is an attempt to sway the outcome. The committee is composed of representatives from all sectors – business and industry, NGOs, and yes, the trade union representing news industry workers.

Naturally the Conservatives don’t want the panel to be balanced – they want only members who support their views.

This is a pattern we see with the Conservatives, and we see it over and over.

The Liberals have their weaknesses, to be sure. But then the Conservatives accuse them of favoritism and partisanship, this is projection, not fact.

Categories
Media

Groundhogs

I don’t want to sound like a crank, but, why on earth are we depending on groundhogs this day every year to tell us whether we will have more winter?

You all know the ritual. When the groundhog emerges on February 2, if it sees its shadow, it retreats back to its burrow, and we have six more weeks of winter.

My objection is not based on the inherent unreliability of weather forecasts made by rodents, though I will point out that he’s usually wrong. “He was only right about 40% of the time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

No, my objection is based on the date. February 2nd. We have groundhogs in Canada in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, and in Wiarton, Ontario. They also make predictions, but who cares? It’s February 2nd!

We have never seen winter end on February 2nd in Canada. There’s always six more weeks of winter. So why are we consulting a groundhog about whether or not it will end?

If we adjusted the date by a month (like we do for Thanksgiving) I would be more understanding. But we don’t, and every year, we go through this ridiculous charade of asking a groundhog whether winter will end when we know full well it won’t.

It’s -11 here in Casselman as I type, and it’s snowing. According to real meteorologists, it’s going to remain cold for the next six weeks, at least. Just like it always does.