BC Liberals

Open, democratic and civil debate, for whom?

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.

7 replies »

  1. Yep, I am sick and tired of any and all partisan drivel served up in talk radio and newspapers. Makes my blood boil…..


  2. I sent Fazil an email yesterday too Norm, after a livechat discussion that was advertised to have Palmer, Fazil and Chris Parry host. I asked about the Sun and whether they had appealed the publication ban on the Railgate trial. Parry was the only one answering questions. First, he said, “let me check” then he said, “get back to you in 5 minutes”, and finally he said something about FOI on the BC Ferries file.

    I thought that was kind of strange, so I was very careful to not close that window, given how stories sometimes disappear from the archives. Funny thing, I had a computer meltdown, bluescreen error message, fatal error just then and lost the whole thread, plus the historical data cache. Took me awhile to reboot and guess what? The link on the Sun was gone, disappered, could not find it anywhere.

    So I sent Fazil an email asking the questions I had lost. No reply so far. 24 hours.


  3. What is so disturbing is that the media is 'whitewashing' Campbell's dismally shoddy record.

    Boring & the Friday gang that couldn't write straight are doing an old Soviet/Pravda style rewrite of history. It is enough to make one vomit!

    Of course the great Vancouver newspaper that practices the Goebbels Gambit (tell a lie often enough the public believe its true) on a daily basis, joins in this grand rewrite of history.

    Well here is a news flash, Campbell's caucus was revolting and they had a letter which including some damming information to force Campbell to resign. Should not the papers and reporters investigate the letter and try to see its contents, rather than singing hosannas to a discredited and hated provincial premier. Hell, he hasn't even given up his seat yet, nor has step down from being Premier!

    The Campbell era did show us one thing, the mainstream media's grip on power is waning, it is the biologist, wingnut or not that is setting the agenda, doing the much needed investigative reporting. The reporters for the two daily fishwraps, should look at themselves in a mirror, because they are beginning to look like government trolls, you know the kind, they inhabit the PAB!


  4. @ Mr. Eye

    Have faith. The readership at this and other political blogs has been soaring dramatically in past weeks.

    That explains the nasty words by the pompous MSM when they refer to the bloggers they never read. In the 9am hour I listened to Thursday from the NW archive, Bill Good almost bit off his tongue when he almost attributed something he read to the infamous blogosphere. After a beat, he found the word to use instead of “blog”. It was “online”.

    Those guys are like athletes who claim they never read the sports pages.


  5. Why are people believing Campbell is leaving? He said, he would be here, for some months, to make sure the transfer would go smoothly. He is far too spiteful and vindictive to just quit. I say, he will be here until next election. Did everyone not hear him say, he is going to continue with his work? If he has resigned, he should be gone right now. He has no right to continue anything. This is just another dirty tactic, a Campbell stall. Look at what happened with the farce of, Campbell's corrupt sale of the BCR trial. The rotten stench of the BC Liberal government, was at it's finest hour, with that one. Campbell has the opportunity to go east, to work for his buddy Harper, any time he chooses. We can be sure, Campbell hasn't finished his dirty work.


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