Friday, June 27, 2014

Dear Leah McLaren: Go Fuck Yourself, You Sanctimonious Bottomfeeder

Dear Leah McLaren,

Open letters are fun, aren't they? You've been getting a lot of them lately. Many of them are written by feminists -- those whom you seem to believe are otherwise your contemporaries -- criticizing you for your sexist treatment of Nazanin Asham-Jam MacKay. My favourite letter to you was from Asham-Jam MacKay herself.

Well, I'm not going to pretend to be kind to you. I'm going to say some pretty mean things to you, and it's not because you're a woman. It's because you embody the ongoing betrayal of the public interest that the Canadian media has become.

But mostly, I'm just come right out and say it: you can go fuck yourself, you sanctimonious bottomfeeder.

Not just you, really. You and every other so-called "journalist" pushing this pile-on of MacKay over comments that, it turns out, he never actually made and over emails that, as it turns out, he didn't actually write.

Apparently these are two facts that just don't matter in the eyes of you and every other muckraking demagogic hack masquerading as journalists in the Canadian media.

As I'm told, this is quite a change. I'm assured that, once upon a time, facts actually mattered in the media. When journalists and columnists decided to jump all over someone for some slight, it mattered whether or not there had actually been a slight. Real, not imagined. Or made up. And apparently I have to rely on these assurances, because of late in the media I've seen no evidence of this whatsoever.

Your arrogant, obnoxious and nasty letter to Mrs Asham-Jam MacKay was written long enough after this non-story had been thoroughly revealed to be false for you to actually know that the story had been revealed to be completely and utterly false. MacKay never actually made the comments in question, and not only did he not write the emails in question, but they were completely inoffensive to anyone other than clowns like you who were looking for something to be offended about.

Perhaps you would have preferred that the female staffer who wrote those emails have suggested that female civil servants who happen to double-shift as mothers neglect their kids? Seriously. What the fuck is wrong with you?

That's not a rhetorical question, by the way. While some of the other open letters written to you do a fairly good job of explaining what the fuck is wrong with you, I'd actually like to hear, from you, your personal account of what the fuck is wrong with you.

Because guess what? To write a letter like that to the wife of a politician because he was alleged to have said something wrong when in fact he didn't say something wrong and you and innumerable other hacks in the media don't want to admit to it? Something is fucking wrong with you.

And while I'm honestly interested in hearing you account for what this is, I do have some ideas of my own. For example: you're a fucking idiot.

You insist that it's not true that not enough women don't apply for judicial appointments. For my own part, I don't actually know if that's true or not. Because it's never actually been shown whether or not that's the case. The best the Toronto Star -- who with their shoddy reporting started this farce in the first fucking place -- could do was conjure the example of a woman who admitted that her own application for a judicial appointment was based not on her qualifications but on her politics, but also based out of ideological hostility to the sitting government. And that's the one example the Star was able to come up with.

So let's get this clear: your case that there isn't a lack of women applying for judicial appointments is a sample of one. And not only on a sample of one, but a sample of one who pretty much admits that she didn't make her application in order to stand on her qualifications. Holy fuck, that's so stupid it's almost brilliant. And while it's becoming clear you must have eaten paint chips has a child, please do me this one favour: please, please, pleeeeease assure me you haven't been eating them while pregnant with or nursing your child. Please assure me this. You know, for the children.

So I'm sure you've figured out by this point that I'm angry. Really, really angry. Like punch a journalist in the face for participating in this farce then tell them exactly why they just got punched angry. Let me explain to you why.

It's because apparently the media in this country reported a story they knew they couldn't adequately support, then when they learned the story was false they just ignored that and went on reporting it as if it were true. Whether this was done out of malice or just plain old dumb-as-fuck stubbornness is immaterial. The media decided that the truth doesn't matter. And you have made yourself emblematic of this indifference to the truth.

Let me conclude this letter with some advice for you: retire. Retire, and darken the pages of Canada's newspapers with your garbage no more. This personal experiment of you trying your hand at journalism? It failed in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. And take every single "journalist" who participated in this smear of Peter MacKay with you. Not a single one of you is worthy of the title "journalist" -- only people willing to commit to a media where facts and truth matter are worthy of that title. And you've demonstrated that you aren't.

Canadians deserve a media where the truth matters, where facts matter. We need a media that will help us make good decisions based on facts and based on truth, not one that will have us making bad decisions based on stories that turn out to not actually be true. The former helps us. The latter hurts us. And as Jon Stewart once told Tucker Carlson, you're not helping us. You're hurting us.

And I don't mean hurting conservatives. Somehow I get the sense you wouldn't feel very bad about that. You're hurting the Canadian people by deliberately feeding them ideologically-narcissistic bullshit.

And for that you can go fuck yourself.

Go fuck yourself,
-Patrick Ross

ps For anyone reading this in the midwest, I'm sorry I said "fuck" so much.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Michael Harris

Here's the general theme of my writings about Michael Harris: he's a lightweight. An intellectual lightweight.

He's proven it time and time over. But never so much so as in his (second) most recent iPolitics column. Published June 16, to the uninformed reader it appears to be a knockout punch. But to the informed reader it's a big swing and a big miss.

It contains some rather comical misrepresentations of the issue which it is purported to be about. For example, Harris claims -- at length -- that Justice Marc Nadon was forced off the Supreme Court because the Supreme Court judged him as unqualified. This is false. The court did not question his qualifications, it ruled that (because of a purely technocratic detail) to be ineligible.

That's one thing. But the following is another entirely:

"A former Harper cabinet minister told me that there was a very good reason the Harper government didn’t celebrate the 25th and 30th anniversaries of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

First, the charter was Pierre Trudeau’s creation. Harper has a pathological hatred of both the Liberal party and its most famous modern leader. Looking forward to the 150th anniversary of Canada’s founding, the Harper government commissioned a huge poll to find out who Canadians admired the most. It was the guy who gave us the charter.

And then there are Harper’s problems with the charter itself, which the former cabinet minister spelled out for me: 'Harper hates the charter because it transferred power from Parliament to the people. There was a higher authority than the government of the day which he just can’t accept — even though many of his own MPs have a copy of the charter hanging on the walls in their offices. He doesn’t seem to care that is an integral part of Canada now.'"

There is so much amiss with this that it isn't even funny.

First off, it's not even difficult to induce who this "former Conservative cabinet Minister" is. Of all the former Harper government ministers, only one has a big enough grudge against Harper to talk to a wingnut like Harris: it's obviously Helena Guergis.

Now, when Guergis was a minister in the Harper government, the Canadian left declared her to be public enemy number one. Her misbehaviour in a public airport was fodder for the left for weeks. Then Guergis was fired from cabinet. Suddenly she became a cause celibre of the left. Oh, and Harris himself wrote a column about her pretty much parroting anything she had to say about her alleged "victimhood" despite the fact that she lost her lawsuit against Harper.

Guergis was the enemy so long as she was a Harper minister. But when the left got what they demanded time and time again, suddenly Harris is kissing up to her for fodder for a good anti-Harper hitpiece. It's fickle politics at it's finest, but that's Harris in a nutshell.

Then there's the most basic intellectual flub afoot in this: this idea that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gave power back to "the people" reflects a jaw-dropping lack of understanding of the Charter.

Simply put, the Charter didn't "transfer power from Parliament to the people." It in fact transferred power from Parliament -- and with it, the people -- to the courts.

Over the past several years, courts have routinely referenced the charter in their decisions to refuse -- simply refuse -- to comply with tough-on-crime legislation that polls indicated, time and time again, that the Canadian populace supported. Those laws were passed by the Parliament of Canada, which is governed by principles of responsible government that are supposed to behold MPs to their constituents.

In other words, if you take power from Parliament you've taken it from the people. And as no Canadian has ever had the opportunity to cast a ballot to elect a judge, any argument that courts embody the will of Canadians is absolutely non-existent.

Perhaps Guergis was thinking of the American constitution when she gave Harris this comical quote. And for his own part, Harris -- who clearly understands the Canadian constitution no more than that -- never gave it a second thought. No columnist worth his or her salt would stand to be embarrassed like that. But somehow Harris did.

Made by a less experienced "journalist" -- a label for which Harris doesn't really qualify -- it would be a rookie mistake. In Michael Harris' case, it's a lightweight mistake, one that (to his advantage) his left-wing nutjob audience aren't smart enough to receognize.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Canada, Meet Your Newsmedia

So, this happened: "Justice Minister Peter MacKay defends suggestion women are too busy with their kids to be judges."

Except that, as it turns out, MacKay never actually made that remark. Apparently, someone who attended a closed-door meeting between MacKay and the Ontario Bar Association either misqupted MacKay, twisted his words, or just outright lied. And because the story reinforces the preferred political narrative of the newsmedia in Canada, they have run with it rather gleefully.

And apparently this never happened: "people have lost complete confidence in the Harper Government, because when there's a spill, or there's an explosion, the last place Stephen Harper visits...he still hasn't gone to Lac M├ęgantic. And that's a shame."

That was Adam Vaughan, the Liberal Party's candidate the Trinity-Spadina byelection trying to make political fodder out of the victims of the Lag Megantic tragedy. Something he did while Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in the room with him.

Based on the coverage of these remarks -- or lack thereof -- you'd insist this never happened. Yet it did. The only place where Vaughan's ridiculous comments -- indicative of an irredeemable personality -- appear in the newsmedia is buried in an article entitled "Vaughan offside with Trudeau on pipelines."

Not even Sun News is reporting this story properly.

If it had been a Conservative stooping to such a horrendous low, the headline would be blaring on the front page of every newspaper in the country. But because it's a Liberal, the story is very clearly being suppressed.

It's almost as if the citizens of Trinity-Spadina don't deserve to know that one of the candidates trying to get elected to be their MP is a nasty little creep. Somehow the story about him missing a candidates' debate on climate change policy was bigger than this one. And this certainly pales in comparison to the attention paid to the made-up MacKay story. Hell, the Toronto Star even dug up some lawyer who admitted, in the course of the story, that she only applied to become a judge out of political hostility to the sitting government.

As it turns out, this government has appointed to the bench practically every qualified female or "ethnic" applicant it could find. And it's still looking for more.

And yet Adam Vaughan dances on the graves of Lac Megantic's victims and... nothing. Barely a blurb.

It's almost enough to make you think that the newsmedia in this country has nuzzled itself into a certain party's pocket.

But that would be crazy, right?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Just Another Reason to Privatize the CBC

So just what purpose does the CBC serve in Canada? Is it to provide Canadians with news and information programming? Or is it to campaign for the Liberal Party?

Following the recent Ontario election, Premier Kathleen Wynne -- who got herself and her government reelected despite a stunning level of incompetence and corruption -- made it perfectly clear: the media party, and the CBC in particular, were valuable allies to her and her party. She thanked the CBC correspondent at her party's victory party for working with them, and working hard.

So at least as Kathleen Wynne has it -- and a great many people would be inclined to agree -- the media party, and the CBC in particular, openly campaigned for the Liberals. And at least so far as the CBC goes, taxpayers paid for it.

Which brings me to my recent proposal to privatize the CBC -- by selling it to the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. No one could promise that the CBC wouldn't mold their coverage to effectively campaign for any political party. In fact, if the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting were running the CBC you could pretty much guarantee it.

But if Kathleen Wynne is to be taken at her word, that's already happening. At least if the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting were footing the bill to operate the mothercorp, then taxpayers wouldn't be footing the bill for this: the incredibly-partisan Superfriends would.

If you, like I, would prefer to see that, please sign my petition to this effect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Free the CBC From Harper's "Interference?" Here's How

If you've surfed the #CdnPoli hashtag of Twitter in recent months, you've undoubtedly seen this. It's a video being passed around by the so-called "Friends of Canadian Broadcasting."

Apparently they're absolutely outraged -- outraged! -- that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would make any appointments to the CBC Board of Directors. (This despite the fact that, as Prime Minister, it's actually Harper's responsibility to do so. It's called providing for the governance of crown corporations. FCB never made such objections when it was Liberal Prime Ministers making such appointments, but whatevs.

Here's the thing the FCB are choosing to gloss over: so long as the CBC remains taxpayer owned and funded, it will be up to someone -- most likely the Prime Minister -- to make such appointments. Someone has to do it. Any and all Prime Ministers, regardless of whether or not FCB share their politics or not, will have to do so.

So long as the CBC remains government owned and taxpayer funded.

So if the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting really want to ensure there is no political interference in the operations of the CBC, there's one simple way they can ensure that:

They can buy it.

Apparently the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting have plenty of dough kicking around. Those fear mongering ads they've been making look real expensive. The production value is fantastic; several times better, in fact, than the typical CBC production. So if they can raise money to make deceptive ads to scare the living shit out of people, perhaps they can raise enough money to buy the CBC.

They could organize it as a cooperative, sell shares or memberships to the general public, raise their operating revenue from advertising and pledge drives, and have every right in the world to appoint whoever they want to its Board of Governors. The only form of taxpayer support they'll get to do it would be the tax deductions donors would be entitled to, and the same production grants privately-owned networks have to apply for. If it's good enough for PBS or NPR in the United States, it should be good enough for the CBC.

It might deny the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting the perverse thrill of having the CBC push their political agenda on someone else's dime, because for the first time they'd be doing it on their own dime.

Make no mistake about it: not only do I offer this as a serious suggestion, I in fact challenge the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting to take this proposal to the federal government.

It's time for the would-be Superfriends of Canadian Broadcasting to put their moneys where their mouths are.

Monday, June 16, 2014

iPolitics: Where the Unethical Go to Obfuscate the Facts

Courtesy of would-be ethics watchdog Andrew Mitrovica, the iPolitics experiment continues to fail.

As we've seen in the past, Mitrovica likes to exploit his withering bona fides as a journalism instructor to shine a light on the alleged ethical lapses of journalists -- so long as they're not left-leaning journalists, or even himself.

In his most recent diatribe, Mitrovica sets out to fan the flames of a Twitter controversy regarding the alleged -- and as yet unconfirmed -- intervention by Globe and Mail Editor in Chief David Walmsley into the Globe's election endorsement of Tim Hudak. According to unnamed sources, Walmsley allegedly overturned the editorial board's alleged decision to endorse Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal Party.

Mitrovica refers to allegations made by Canadaland's Jesse Brown that the decision was made to benefit the interests of the Thompson family -- who own a controlling interest in the paper. What interests? Undisclosed. What evidence? Also undisclosed.

But one thing is for certain: UNIFOR -- the union that represents media workers at the Globe and Mail -- certainly thought that a Liberal government was in their best interests. And despite the increasing mass of evidence that Ontario's Liberal government is both the most inept and corrupt in Canadian history -- much of it featured prominently in the Globe and Mail -- the G&M's editorial board was allegedly about to give that their vote of approval. And this after UNIFOR's directive to their members to not support the Progressive Conservative Party.

Was this crucial and pivotal fact mentioned in Mitrovica's column?

No. Because mention of that crucial and pivotal fact is not of benefit to his ideological agenda. So of course he chooses to overlook these key facts. And here's how it so utterly reveals Mitrovica's disingenuous nature:

Union membership should not prevent any worker from plying their trade -- whatever it may be -- ethically. Yet as it pertains to Ontario's newsmedia, UNFIOR has managed to do precisely that. The UNIFOR-organized Globe & Mail editorial board has seemingly managed to give its vote of approval to a breathtakingly incompetent and corrupt government, practically under orders from UNIFOR itself. And would-be ethics crusader Andrew Mitrovica is choosing to look the other way.

It's ethically questionable, to say the least. But as it turns out, irrelevance -- in his column Mitrovica pouts at not being invited to a prominent media conference in Winnipeg -- is Andrew Mitrovica's friend. Not many people are really paying much attention to him.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Striking a Blow for Media Independence

When UNIFOR took a side in the Ontario election -- telling its members not to vote for Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservative Party -- media impartiality and independence in Canada (or at least the public perception of it) was dealt a stunning blow.

All the mismanagement, scandal, and misappropriation of taxpayer funds by the Ontario Liberal Party suddenly didn't matter. All that mattered, suddenly, was UNIFOR's interests, and very clearly UNIFOR's interests are better served by a Liberal or NDP government.

So if sources complaining to the Canadaland blog are telling the truth, Globe and Mail editor in chief David Walmsley had absolutely no choice but to overrule the newspaper's editorial board in an alleged decision to obey UNIFOR's missive and endorse Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Media workers at the Globe and Mail are organized by UNIFOR.

It's impossible to believe that when UNIFOR comes out and tells its members how to vote that this will not affect their reporting as well. This is why UNIFOR's decision to take sides in the election was so reckless, so unethical, and so utterly unacceptable. And it's also why Walmsley couldn't sit back and allow even the perception that the Globe and Mail's endorsement had been tainted by UNIFOR's don't-vote-for-Hudak directive.

Simply put, a free press must not only be free and independent, but must also be seen to be free and independent. When journalists start blatantly toeing the line openly drawn by union leaders, media brass must step in.

David Walmsley struck a blow for media independence. He did the right thing.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Media Party Will Never Be Able to Play Victim Again

So, this happened:

"The union representing journalists and other media workers across Ontario is asking its 2,600 members not to vote for Tim Hudak and his Progressive Conservative Party in Thursday's provincial election.

In an unprecedented move, Unifor Local 87-M, historically known as the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, has broken its traditional silence during elections by asking members not to vote Progressive Conservative."

That's the Media Party giving up any pretense of journalistic objectivity, credibility, or political independence. Moving forward, any time a journalist represented by Unifor prints any kind of anti-Progressive Conservative (or anti-Conservative) story, anyone paying attention to such things will have no choice but to wonder if it's really them talking, or if it's the union.

There's irony in this. Just last month the Canadian Media Guild was playing the victim:

"Journalists across Canada share my dismay today to learn the Conservative party’s dismissive and mercenary attitude toward the press and CBC in particular.

A just revealed 2010 letter from the then-chair of the CBC Board of Directors to Prime Minister Harper, warns Conservatives against 'intruding' on the CBC’s independence as they seek to 'influence the content of programming.' Tim Casgrain called the Conservative party’s public attacks against the CBC 'wilfully destructive,' and further alleges the unwarranted attacks 'disparaged the CBC in order to solicit political donations for the Conservative party.' 

As if Casgrain’s 2010 letter wasn’t shocking enough, instead of apologizing for past indiscretions as one might expect from anyone with a grain of respect for the role of a free and independent media in maintaining a democracy, Conservatives have been quick to react by exposing their continued bias and painfully thin skins."

The Media Party cannot cast political independence to the wind and then play victim when their political opponents -- and it's becoming increasingly clear that's how they see conservatives -- fundraise off the back of their obvious bias.

Never again will the Media Party -- whether its journalists organized under Unifor or under the Canadian Media Guild -- be able to play the victim again. Ever.