Category: Journalism

More honour’d in the breach than the observance

While boasting of wise management and “balanced” budgets, Liberals run up almost $200 billion in public debts and obligations, give away natural resources and help pay for the removals, subsidize corrupt foreign operators, sell public lands for a fraction of value, gift tens of billions to private power operators, enable more than $120 billion of pension funds to be invested without public oversight and spend tens of millions of tax dollars telling us that all is well. Just remember, for Liberals and their pals, all is indeed well.

The misinformation strategy

However, this is a province where government routinely spends billions annually to subsidize multinational resource and power companies and spent 14 years in the courts fighting delivery of educational services to children in need. This government, found by the land’s highest court to be contemptuous of constitutional rights, cannot be counted on to change its priorities.

Journalism 101

A reporter’s job is to get as close to the truth as possible, overriding personal biases and sifting through a rising churn of spin and lies to explain what happened and why it matters. At its highest levels, journalism informs (via scoops and insights that would otherwise be unknown), provokes (via new thoughts and action), and holds powerful people accountable (with no fear or favor).

One way or another, we’ll pay

Journalism should be at the root of the journalism business. Instead, daily publishers cut the news staff in half and charge twice as much for inferior content. Consumers responded by walking away. Rather than improving the output and persuading news consumers to pay for content, media moguls aim to have the Trudeau Government bail out their news businesses. It will happen too because Liberals have always been willing to spend public money if private advantage was there to be gained.

Critics of private power projects not silent

Devastation of many private power installations in BC wilderness involves:
blasting and tunnelling, clearcuts for the penstocks, clearcuts for the power lines to join clusters of powerhouses together, service roads larger than for logging, clusters of permanent powerhouses, diversion of waterfalls, drying of rivers…

News or not news?

Natural gas production levels have increased (53% since 2007) yet net revenue to government from gas in the past year was negative. Instead of being paid for the right to extract this public resource, British Columbians are paying for its removal.

Actions inconsistent with innocence

During its years in power, BC Liberals remade British Columbia. While the provincial economy grew, the fortunes of ordinary people declined, for the first extended period ever. Beneficiaries of change had demanded redistribution of wealth to the disadvantage of all but a few. The end result was not incidental or accidental.

Ingrates, eh?

Palmer: “You managed to find $80 million for the ferries this week. Did Kevin Falcon turn over the couch cushions or something, and find some money? Where did this money come from?”
Truth?
There was no extra money.

Two minutes of Radio Rah Rah

A few people are having fun with broadcaster Bill Good in the twitterverse following his response to a suggestion – after the Vancouver Sun finally allowed publication of a comprehensive criticism of Site C – that the mainstream media was trying to catch up to reporting done long ago by independent online journalists…

Throw him some work

…easily-influenced voters in BC opted for Christy’s Clark more economically pleasing vision of the future. But it was phoney baloney, conjured up in a three-week period in a “rush assignment” given to Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance Doug Foster by Clark’s newly-hired communications director Ben Chin, formerly a CBC TV news anchor in Ontario and after running for the provincial Liberals there—and losing—he became VP of Communications with the Ontario Power Authority. In that job he infamously advised an OPA official—who was troubled by critical media reports—to “throw him some work” to get a particular journalist onside. “It would be a good score,” Chin said.

Rafe Mair’s eloquence

British Columbia’s most informed political commentary comes not from people at rewrite desks in the Legislative Press Gallery but from a retired — but not retiring — newsman. I refer, of course, to Rafe Mair, whose recent work should not be missed. It includes an assertion that, while true, is seldom discussed in corporate media: Canadians are governed by a fraudulent charade called a “parliamentary democracy”…

Piled higher and deeper

Mr. Baldrey wants people unfamiliar with online journalism to imagine the Internet largely provides “outrageous, libelous, threatening and inaccurate” commentary. One reason he might want to sell that false image is that he worries about mainstream media losing readers to the online world. Baldrey also may not like to be criticized and held accountable for his expositions. Keith, if you aim to be respected, don’t be an extension of vested interests, treat all sides with doubt and wariness and don’t only advance interests of the powerful. Be prepared to make them uncomfortable, if deserved. Be transparent about potential conflicts involving you or colleagues, be knowledgeable and impartial…

Why has this story been ignored?

$90,000 paid to Senator Mike Duffy by a minion of Canada’s Prime Minister resulted in a diligent RCMP investigation and commanded national media attention for months. In British Columbia, a larger taxpayer funded amount — $150,000 plus thousands more for the Premier’s jet assisted photo op — was paid without following standard guidelines for public expenditures. In this case, there has been zero transparency and accountability and shamefully little attention paid by the marketing platforms that have replaced British Columbia once proud news media.¹ Citizens had to turn to social media commentators like Merv Adey, Laila Yuile and RossK, The Gazetteer to be informed. Premier Clark is accused of acting in this matter to provide advantage to her brother’s private business. Yet, the interest shown by BC’s leading political reporters has been zero.

Talking about BC issues

Ian Jessop asked me about Premier Clark giving $150,000 in public funds to assist her brother’s associate in Haida Gwaii. It’s a subject that has been well covered by fellow bloggers Laila Yuile and Merv Adey. However, with the exception of Mark Hume at the Globe and Mail, it’s been of little interest to mainstream media, particularly the “Incurious Bastards”¹ of the BC press gallery. It may be a rewarding career move for a political pundit to serve plutocrats instead of readership but that’s a conscious choice that doesn’t offend some who once thought of themselves as journalists. Shannon Rupp, writing at The Tyee recently, delivered a pointed analysis of the 21st century press in our country: I think it’s fair to say that many if not most so-called newspapers are misnamed: they deliver less and less news (as defined by journalists) while filling their pages with ”content” — a word that could mean anything from listicles to infotainment to advertising written to masquerade as a news story. In short, most newspapers have morphed into marketing platforms.

IPPs received $672 million above market price in 2015

I’ve been reviewing more than 20 years of BC Hydro records and they show gradual growth in electrical demand until 2005. Subsequently, there has been no demand growth; in 2015, domestic power sales were lower than ten years before. What did grow were Hydro’s purchases of electricity from independent power producers. In calendar year 2006, 5,636 GWh supplied by IPPs cost $368 million (6.5¢/KWh); in 2015, 14,418 GWh cost Hydro $1,217 million (8.4¢/KWh).
A 155% increase in the volume of IPP purchases is alarming by itself given the lack of need for it but the average unit price has been rising steadily. In the 4th quarter of 2015, IPP unit prices were 9.2% higher than the preceding quarter. To accommodate power coming into the system, BC Hydro had to choose between shutting down their own capacity or dumping power in markets outside BC at well below cost…

Twitter bits

The final item may present a clue to the current state of British Columbia’s energy market. It’s hard to believe we came to this only through the sheer stupidity of our policy makers.