As many of you know I took some time off from my blog, mainly for personal reasons, though I did keep up with current events. I blogged a bit during the 2014 Ontario provincial election, and then saved my strength for this coming federal contest.
Fully prepared to continue in a relatively, non-partisan way, I was immediately broadsided by the NDP's attack on the Liberals and Justin Trudeau, with the whole C-51 debacle. I expected things to die down, once common sense kicked in, and the media reminded Canadians that this was about two Canadian soldiers, killed on Canadian soil; but it didn't.
Neither common sense, nor common decency prevailed. Those two young men were forgotten, lost in the maze of sensational headlines, with C-51, the Godzilla, that was about to trample us to death.
There is much talk of the bias, propaganda and "dumbing down" of political discourse, as Canadians continue to tune out. It's not surprising that at the end of May, after the protests and media blitz on Harper's anti-terror legislation; that most of the public was unaware of the egregious measures contained within.
The Globe and Mail reported that 72% of Canadians supported the new legislation, without knowing its content, and that's helping Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.
Also telling is that "55 per cent of those following the debate closely are against the bill. Among those who have just scanned headlines, only 14 per cent are opposed."
The media's tendency to over amplify political conflict and negativity, has caused them to fail in their duty to inform the public, preferring to engage in the attack on the NDP's political opponent.
This problem is not confined to Canada. In a piece in the Princeton Press, Why is Everyone so Mad at the Media, they remind us that newsman Walter Cronkite was once seen as the most trusted man in America. But trust in the media is waning.
By 2004, only 10% of Americans "had a great deal of confidence in the national media", just one point higher than their trust in lawyers.
We have seen a growing number of clearly partisan news agencies, like Fox and Canada's defunct Sun Television, but the problem does not lie with them. Most of their audience tunes in because they already share those views.
Corporate Media and King Makers
There is also a lot of discussion about the top 1% of the population, holding as much wealth as everyone else combined, but there is something else to remember, that is just as important as income inequality.
That top 1% own 99% of our media, and with that enormous power, they control the political debate and set the agenda.
For years Conrad Black promoted neoconservative politicians, giving us Stephen Harper and his brand of American style politics. Black has since denounced Harper, recognizing, I guess, that he had created a monster. But if NDP supporter, Murray Dobbin, is correct, the NDP may be giving us another monster.
More worrisome is the possibility that many thousands of NDP members had indeed heard the negative aspects of Mulcair's politics and voted for him anyway. That's a very different problem. It reflects what I have observed about the NDP for decades now: its decreasing emphasis on policy and philosophy and the increased -- political machine driven -- preoccupation with winning seats in elections, often out of context of the political moment and oblivious to unintended consequences. One prominent NDPer I spoke to responded to my shock that he was supporting Mulcair with a sort of football game enthusiasm. "I think he can take on the bastard [Harper]."
Facing a ruthless tough guy? Get your own ruthless tough guy. And possibly create a monster you can't control. It is as if policy, philosophy, and vision for the country have simply been devalued to the point where they are an afterthought or some vaguely interesting historical relic. There seems to have been a kind of "We'll worry about policies later, let's pick someone who can win first."Another NDP supporter, who actually worked on Thomas Mulcair's 2007 campaign, that brought him into federal politics, is also raising the alarm, not only about Mulcair's politics but the media's complicity in putting a neoliberal in charge of a once social democratic party. Jooneed Khan believed that knowing Mulcair was being backed by the Power Corp. and other corporate media giants, would mean the end of his chances at taking over the NDP. They always spoke out against what they deemed to be right-wing spin. But according to Khan:
Quebec Inc. has grown exponentially since the PQ came to power in 1976. It operates more and more in partnership with multinational corporations in extracting wealth from poor nations and spreading poverty, war and corruption ...
Voters here have shown they are prepared to take a chance with the NDP to push back neo-liberalism ... and to re-prioritize social justice.... Thomas Mulcair's NDP leadership bid is looking more and more like a counter-attack by the 1 per cent to take over the NDP and steer it towards the so-called "extreme centre...The editor of Rabble was also concerned with the control that Bay Street might have over the party, knowing that they actually financed Mulcair's leadership bid.
Can we now trust anyone in the media?
Despite the fact that most polls show a three way tie, and a surge by Justin Trudeau and the liberals, you'd be hard pressed to find any story that doesn't include the words "with the NDP leading in the polls", or something like it. They know that if the people of Quebec don't believe the NDP can win, they will go to the party that can.
But how long can they keep this up? And how long will we allow them to? We should decide who governs us, not the corporate media.
I have noticed that the political landscape has changed dramatically since the 2011 election. If you track journalists on Twitter you'll see that more and more of them, are now extremely partisan, and most, if not all, run a continued attack on Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party.
That attack also extends to Pierre Trudeau. I asked Norman Spector, when he was on a rant, if he knew that PET wasn't running and told him I was so glad that he kept up with current events. It's gone crazy
Everyone interested in politics, has been by and large partisan. But at least there was a sense of decorum. Stephen Harper brought in the ugly, the first to run attack ads outside of an election campaign. What surprised me, however, is that the NDP are engaging in the same nonsense.
Accusing the Liberals of being against helping women who were the victims of violence, was so a Conservative tactic. That it's coming from a party once respected for their adherence to social justice, this is incredibly sad. No one on Parliament Hill is for violence against women. A vile ploy for political points, by re-victimizing the women caught in those situations.
They now also have a gaggle of minions in a group called the NDP Truth Team. Truth, of course, in the Orwellian tradition.
One of the assignments given to these warriors, is to scan the media and any time they see Justin Trudeau's name before Thomas Mulcair's, to contact them and give them sh*t.
A more recent mission is to hash-tag #NDPTruthTeam @JustinTrudeau and ask him what he plans to cut in his 4th year of governing. Brad Lavigne is implying that Mr. Trudeau has said that he will cut public services after the third year of stimulus. However, I can't find that quote anywhere, so it must be just a bit more fact twisting.
It is so hard to engage anyone in the party, in legitimate policy debates. All I get is the same nonsense I used to get from the Conservative supporters. In fact, I often now get more sensible arguments from Cons than I do Dippers.
I would like to set partisanship aside, as the election draws nearer, and start discussing the issues that should be important to Canadians. But in the words of Michael Corleone "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."