Ideologues like Campbell pretend outrage when social agencies perform badly and public funds are misspent. However, if billions of dollars are transferred from the public sector to business through grants, subsidies and tax expenditures, the indignation vanishes.
We might wonder why an ideologue like Campbell stayed on air throughout the death spiral as NW slipped from Top Dog to Mangy Mutt in Vancouver’s radio wars. His survival demonstrates media owners have a wider set of goals than earning profits from one segment of their asset portfolio. Corus Radio may not earn the profits it once did from NW but the billionaire Shaw Family has more important objectives. Most of its business is conducted in government regulated oligopolies and serving special interests comes with that territory.
The same principles apply at Postmedia, the publisher of many of Canada’s important daily newspapers. The company – whose beneficial ownership is held by American hedge funds – has partnered with operators that annually extract and export tens of billions of dollars of natural resources. Controlling the public dialogue on resources is critical to continuing the status quo. If that takes a few hundred million to fund a money-losing newspaper empire, it shall be done.
The Code of Ethics published by the Society for Professional Journalists includes, among others:
- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
Is the pro-media of British Columbia guided by those or similar principles? Consider the following.
When insiders at the Portland Hotel Society were caught misusing tens of thousands of dollars provided them by public agencies and donors, outrage echoed for weeks and heads rolled at the PHS. I did a Google search tonight, using the phrase,
“Portland Hotel Society” audit.
The search engine returned 165,000 results. Among the first listed were numerous items by Postmedia, Global TV and CBC. Even a release produced by http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca was near the top of the Google search page. Undoubtedly, the PHS story deserved wide coverage. That occurred and I have no objection.
Has the same diligence been applied respecting the powerful Ilich family’s Townline Group of Companies and parties also associated with the Portland Hotel Society affair? Those others are Cabinet Minister Rich Coleman, BC Housing and auditors acting for the public. I did a Google search, using the phrase,
Townline “Hudson Mews” audit.
The search engine returned one result. That was Bob Mackin’s article at The Tyee, Internal Audit Slammed BC Housing Deal in Victoria. He wrote about Rich Coleman’s plan for BC Housing to invest $32.8 million in a decidedly upscale Victoria housing project being developed by people the Minister knew well,
…But a May 13, 2011 Internal Audit and Advisory Services report released to The Tyee via Freedom of Information tells a different story. The report said auditors rejected B.C. Housing’s claim that Hudson Mews would improve directly or indirectly social housing in Victoria. It concluded that the project would expose the province to “significant and unnecessary financial risks.”
“B.C. Housing was prepared to go forward with this project despite the fact there were significantly unresolved issues with respect to the project’s financial viability,” said the report. “Further, B.C. Housing management knew of these issues, but appeared undeterred in proceeding with the project.”
…The executive summary said auditors found the Townline-retained appraiser overstated the property value by approximately $900,000, leading to a public perception that the province was receiving a substantial discount on the announced $4 million land purchase.
In fact, the province was receiving a discount of less than $100,000 in exchange for the direct award of the management contract to TLHS.
So, if the overstatement of value uncovered by auditors was close to a million dollars, the obvious conclusion is that Hudson Mews was potentially a financial controversy far larger than that involving the wayward Portland Hotel Society. If that’s the case, why is it only covered by one independent investigator?
If mainstream media’s political reporters were truly vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable, they’d have been all over the Hudson Mews story before one under-resourced freelancer could get his laptop warmed, even though he is the most diligent and feared public affairs journalist in the province.
If Postmedia didn’t offer favored treatment to advertisers and special interests, it might have had one of its non-conflicted political reporters working on Hudson Mews. But then, the publisher of BC’s largest daily newspapers seems determined to follow its current business plan for whatever time is has left before the Trustee in Bankruptcy arrives.