|Act of Defiance|
I’d love to know the inside stories at the westcoast newspapers now owned by American vulture capitalists and their frontman Paul Godfrey. I’ll bet there has been smoking correspondence between the triangle vertices of Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto.
We know the important people at the Vancouver papers are wrapped in tight embrace with BC Liberals and that would be perfectly fine with Mr. Godfrey who has always skated on right wing and peddled furiously to keep ahead in the influence game. He has spent many years drawing paychecks from organizations that benefited from public funding or regulatory decisions. He specialized in exotic deals that work out really well, at least for Mr. Godfrey. For example, he served on the board that created the Toronto Skydome, built at the bargain basement price of 600 million 1989 dollars, much of it from the public, of course. Godfrey stayed on the board of the Stadium Corporation until shortly before it declared bankruptcy. He emerged in 2000 as CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays and engineered the 2004 acquisition of the Skydome for about 4% of its original cost. (Sidenote: Wonder if BC Place will get privatized once the $600 million roof is in place.)
I don’t expect that new owners at our local papers will change anything from the Asper editorial directions and that is certainly apparent at two thirds of the dailies. So, what is going on in Victoria? The Times Colonist, which has generally been a compliant member of the Canwest clan, jumped way offside by actually doing some authentic inquiry about HST. They didn’t merely read through the Liberal talking points and reword those, they actually showed initiative and intelligence and examined the tax implications for a variety of citizens and businesses.
When part one of the series was published by the Times Colonist, it was routinely added to the Vancouver Sun website. It reported a Stats Canada position that the tax would have substantial impact on many ordinary citizens, nothing like the non-impact being claimed by the Fraser Institute. Ever alert, many bloggers read the T/C article and I downloaded the page to keep in my resource files. However, before the first evening was out, someone at the Vancouver Sun pulled the article, probably after a higher-up had realized that the story didn’t fit with the newspaper’s official line. To be certain the story didn’t disappear, I posted the entire article at Northern Insights (instead of the usual teaser and link) and one of the canada.com sites kept it as well. Recognizing the cat had escaped the bag, the Sun put back the TC article. However, that didn’t stop them from pushing the fubar Fraser Institute report as hard as they could.
To add insult to internal injury, the Times Colonist bravely disputed the claims that their earlier StatsCanada report was incorrect and they had economists examine the think tank’s execrable HST work.
Has the Times Colonist flung off its shackles and escaped from editorial bondage? Are they going to be the newspaper of record in British Columbia, examining all sides of issues, reporting facts as they find them in objective examination? Or, was this simply an act of defiance by a few ethical newspaper people who will be forced to dive for cover as the bosses say, “Get back in line.”