In Gordon Campbell’s news conference today, he dismissed speculation that his departure is related to pressure from caucus or Cabinet and is not influenced by disastrous public approval ratings. He said he has always had good relations with caucus and claimed the income tax cut and early childhood education initiatives announced last week were vital policies needing debate. Since the public discussion was on his fitness as leader rather than the new policies, he decided to move on.
If Campbell believes that version of his departure, he would be the only one in the province. Even his media supporters describe the explanation as disingenuous, a polite term for lying. They are painfully aware that public sentiment about Campbell has been in the tank and events of the past days exacerbated his difficulty.
Choking back tears, Keith Baldrey complained that on all the TV streeters, radio call-ins and reader contributions to media websites, comments are amazingly negative and angry toward Campbell. Baldrey added:
There’s very little support and very little gracefulness, as well. A lot of commentary. . . is just beyond the pale.
The media masters again discussed their version, which is that Campbell erred in the way HST was imposed. The tax was poorly explained and citizens never approve of new taxes anyway. To be sure, the mainstream media has analyzed the situation carefully and unanimously concluded that the Liberal government would be highly regarded if only they had explained HST more clearly.
That my friends is also disingenuous, a polite term for lying.
Corporate media, through bad judgement, or worse, largely ignored the BC Rail trial. They downplayed the story and, even when it was indisputably newsworthy, they continued to discount its importance. Testimony by two memory challenged Liberals preceding the plea bargain embarrassed the government. The outrageous final settlement, facilitated by $6 million from taxpayers and meager punishment of the accused, was highly irregular. It reeked of corrupt political interference with the courts. Nevertheless, it was relatively minor news, soon ignored. The media now refuses to admit that the final nail in the Campbell coffin, from the public’s point of view, was the Basi/Virk BC Rail cover up. Admitting that today would also admit that mainstream media failed repeatedly and purposefully by failing to cover a story that was dangerous to Gordon Campbell and his associates.
I’ve written here before that consumption taxes will continue to play a role for governments of all sorts. The issue in BC is not about how HST was explained. Instead, the public faults the way the tax shifted, without debate, massive amounts, about $6 billion over three years, from corporations to individual consumers. Even economists sympathetic to Liberal policies agree that is the case. Their rationale is that wealthier corporations will result in more investment and lower prices. The price effect would be true in a competitive economy. Large components of the Canadian economy operate in conditions of semi-monopoly, particularly in the manufacturing, importing and distribution segments. We have competitive retailing but that does not help if merchants are paying wholesale prices 15% to 40% higher than American counterparts. Check out the prices in Washington for big ticket electronics, compare those to BC. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Campbell did make a plea for civil discussion of issues:
I will constantly try to remind Canadians of how lucky we are to have an open, democratic society and how important it is that our discussion be civil, how important it is that in our discussion, we treat people with respect, regardless of their ideas.
I agree with Campbell but I must remind that to have an open, democratic and civil discussion, all citizens must have a voice and a platform. The mainstream media in this province knows little about open discussions. Read through my entries here about the Vancouver Sun editorials and op-eds. I tried to engage Sun Editorial Pages Editor Fazil Mihlar in correspondence, pointing out with examples how they restrict expression of ideas.
I challenged Mihlar to open the Op-Ed page to new people with ideas that occasionally stray from the newspaper’s agenda. Mihlar had not the courtesy to respond. So how do opponents of mainstream concepts participate in open, democratic and civil debates? The monopoly newspapers are no better than radio talk shows that screen out callers with “unacceptable” ideas.