Bias in the Search of Bias

In a recent editorial, I think The National Post showed a lot of bias looking for evidence of bias on the part of the CBC.

The Armchair Garbageman has a good take on the situation:

[Quoting the National Post]”To summarize, here are the impressions a casual viewer might have taken from Monday night’s CBC news: (1) Iraqis still love Saddam, and so his capture has only enraged them; (2) Despite Mr. Bush’s “gloating,” things will get worse; (3) Saddam’s trial will be a propaganda trick engineered to re-elect a Republican president; (4) To the extent Saddam did anything bad, America was the real villain; and (5) Saddam’s capture is meaningless anyway because Osama is still on the loose.

That all seems fair, doesn’t it? You can really see what CBC News editor-in-chief Tony Burman was talking about when he told National Post readers earlier this year that “informed citizenship benefits from the expression of the fullest range of responsible opinion on important issues, rather than artificially limiting the spectrum of debate to favour one particular perspective.”

Sarcasm aside, this is yet another example of left-wing, anti-American bias at the CBC. We remind the network’s executives again that the public broadcaster is funded to the tune of $850-million per year by Canadian taxpayers. It should not — and must not — serve as a closed-circuit forum for the predictable biases of a tiny clique.

The Garbageman responds:

So if everyone else reports Saddam’s capture as an unquestioned victory in the War on Terror, and everyone else sticks their fingers in their ears and screams that only good will come from Saddam’s capture, and the CBC doesn’t parrot those stories, then the CBC has a left-wing bias.

Yeah, Saddam was a terrible dictator. Yes the fact that he’s out of power is good for human rights, and the individual lives that lived under him. But for a media organization to trumpet this American victory without acknowledging the “What now?” factors, is simply bad journalism.

The CBC asked questions like “What will happen if Saddam is put on trial publicly” and “Will the US start respecting international law?”. That’s journalism. That’s analysis of the situation. If those questions aren’t asked by a publicly funded media outlet, then I’m not getting my dollar’s worth.

The Post irks me sometimes with its hypocrisy. It is at least as biased as it accuses the CBC of being, but to hear itself say it, it’s not showing bias, it’s reporting “truth”. It’s another symptom of this society’s propensity for seeing the other side not as reasonable human beings with reasonable points of view that can be disagreed with and debated, but an “enemy” to be defeated and plundered.

The CBC, at least, has an ombudsperson keeping an eye on the corporation. The CBC, at least, has taken it on the nose when it was wrong. When has the National Post taken it on the nose? Who vets its biased editorials? The invisible hand of the market?

Which, it seems, is precisely what the market is doing.

The Impatience of Conservatives


Rumours are flying that New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord is being seriously courted for the leadership of the Mobius-Strip Party of Canada. To hear the fervour of the hope, when Lord himself hasn’t yet confirmed his candidacy, highlights the desperation of the hard right in Canada in their search of a Messiah to lead them from the political wilderness.

This, in my opinion, illustrates the problem of the hard right movement of Canada. When the Reform Party altered itself into the Canadian Alliance, they abandoned patience in the search for instant gratification. They could not stand advising from the sidelines, speaking up for their small constituencies; they had to have power, and they did what they could to get it, while expending as little energy as possible.

The fact that the bulk of the hard-right movement’s attempts to make themselves palatable to the majority of Canadians comes in the form of finding the right leader shows that they just do not get it. Leadership isn’t the problem, policy is. Canadians aren’t buying into Reform Party policy enough for us to vote the Reform Party into government. If the Reformers want power, they either have to abandon their policies, or work to convince the majority of Canadians that their policies are right for the nation. The flash-in-the-pan leadership of Stockwell Day isn’t going to do it.

Really, the hard right movement of Canada would have been much better off these days had they stuck with Preston Manning. During the five years he was in parliament as the leader of the Reform Party, he built up a considerable reserve of respect in the hearts and minds of mainstream Canadians. Although Canadians never embraced his principles whole-hog, they respected his dedication and integrity. They listened to and accepted enough of his arguments that the Liberal Party moved on a number of Reform Party issues. Given more time, who knows what Preston could have accomplished.

But this pace of change was too slow for certain Reformers. Unwilling to accept the fact that most Canadians just don’t think they way they do, they turned to scapegoats — the supposed vote split between the PCs and the Reform Party, for instance (which polls now show doesn’t exist), followed by a leader who was supposedly more charismatic and bilingual. No attempt was made to understand the desires of centrist Canadians, and work out compromises in the areas where centrists and right-wing Canadians disagree.

The first attempt to “unite the right” gave birth to the Canadian Alliance. Stockwell Day steamrolled into the leadership because he was seen as a charismatic Albertan who spoke French (attrociously, but better than Preston did, at least). The hope was that a new and better leader would be enough to send conservatives back into government. Little did they realize how much Mr. Day’s social conservative leanings would clash with centrist voters’ principles. Little did they realize that simply electing a new leader wasn’t enough. Canadian voters still rejected Reform/Alliance principles, and Mr. Day had none of Preston’s reserves of respect and good will to draw upon.

Bernard Lord has good credentials. He revived the New Brunswick Conservative Party from a moribund state into the governing power in his province. Electing him would deal a blow to the image of the hard-right movement as insular and anti-French. But there is no magic to Lord’s successes, only time and hard work. He took the time to rebuild the old alliances, make peace between the disagreeing factions, and craft a set of policies that resonated with the majority of New Brunswickers. He didn’t campaign on his charisma alone. The new Conservative Party of Canada is not going to have the time to accomplish the fundimental changes that Lord accomplished before the 2004 election. Moreover, the people behind this new party have shown little sign that they’re willing to make the necessary compromises to appeal to the majority of Canadians, and whoever leads them is going to spend the bulk of next year looking like a loser. Whoever is in charge of the party is going to be body-slammed by Paul Martin, come what may, and they will have a hard time pulling in the diverse factions into a unified, centrist-speaking whole.

It would suit Mr. Lord’s interest to wait for the new Conservatives to be knocked almost completely dead this coming April, and then come in to pick up the pieces. It’s how he worked his magic with the New Brunswick Conservatives, after all, and why he has never been branded a loser. If he takes up the reins any sooner, however, he is likely to become another Stockwell Day: a charismatic man completely unprepared for the rigour of federal politics. He’s young enough that he can wait. Those that want him to run, right now, can’t wait.

The hard right’s impatience with the majority of Canadians, their attempts to slip unpopular Reform policies under the guise of a new and charismatic faces, shows a rather a dishonest approach to government. They seek only to change their style, not their substance. They ignores the fact that good leadership takes a long time to develop, and a lot of hard work. There are no quick fixes, no Messiah leaders waiting in the wings. Paul Martin worked for years to get where he is today, after all. The Conservatives can’t expect to turn their fortunes around in just a few months, with just a little tinkering to fundimentally unpopular policy.

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