Saundrie

After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why did Kenny deserve more time than both opposition MPs on QP today regarding Chalk River?

I tend to tape QP because I am watching Meet The Press on NBC during the first half and At Issue on CBC. So after I finish watching the shows I watch live Sunday Morning (usually I watch both live and taped on Sunday Chris Matthews, ABC This Week, Fox News Sunday, Reliable Sources, Face the Nation, Meet The Press, and QP, I do so more to see how things are being covered and portrayed for those whose primary info source is TV and not online/paper than to find out new things from the shows although that does happen from time to time) I watch my recordings of the rest, which makes QP the last on the list. I just got finished watching the tape, and I was infuriated to watch the segment with Craig Oliver on Chalk River. He had on Paul Dewar, Jason Kenny, and Omar Alghabra to discuss the ongoing Chalk River scandal/controversy. He opened with Kenny getting the first word in, and he closed with Kenny getting the final word. Indeed, the last word he gave Kenny allowed Kenny to argue that if Harper had not been so bold/decisive/masterful in his action that if it had been up to Dion there still wouldn't be isotopes being made as of this day. Why do I make note of this seeing as that is typical CPC spin? Simple, because when the Liberal MP argued in his first comment that the actions taken by Harper and the CPC placed safety of Canadians at risk/in danger he went back to Kenny saying he had to give Kenny a chance to respond to that argument. So why does he allow Kenny to slime Dion and the Libs here without also providing rebuttal? Of course it will be claimed that because this was at the end there wasn't the time left, but that comes to my main complaint, the fact that Kenny got more time to speak than both Opposition MPs COMBINED!

I did this in a very simple manner. What I did was reset the counter (which on my VCR shows time running and not an arbitrary counter) when each person was starting to speak and clear it after each was done for the next speaker and I wrote it down. I only started the count when the MP started to speak and finished speaking, I left out the time of the questioner and questions. When I was finished I was left with the following tally:

Liberal MP: 73 sec, 45 sec for a total of 118 seconds, or 1 minute 58 seconds.
NDP MP: 70sec, 54sec for a total of 124 seconds, or 2 minutes 4 seconds.
CPC MP: 82 sec, 98sec, 30sec, 68sec for a total of 278 sec, or 4 minutes 38 seconds.

Total time for Opposition MPs equals 242 seconds, or 4 minutes and 2 seconds to the CPC MP's 278 seconds or 4 minutes 38 seconds. By this count Kenny got 36 seconds speaking time more than the combined Opposition MPs. Now, I was careful in how I did this, and since there was next to no talking over each other or interruptions it was fairly easy to get clear/clean numbers for each person. So, can anyone explain to me why the member of the government, who by definition has the loudest megaphone and ability to be heard by the citizenry via the platform of being the government deserves the majority of the time on QP? Especially given that this is dealing with a serious issue like Chalk River. Why this really irked me was because all Kenny did with his time was smear Linda Keen repeatedly with the *LIE* that she was acting irresponsibly by placing the lives of Canadians at risk because of an isotope shortage AND claiming that the Parliamentary vote to override her decision means she has lost the confidence of Parliament, which is grossly misleading at best. She was required to follow the regulations and legislation that Parliament passed in regards to her position to oversee nuclear safety regulation of nuclear reactors, and that is ALL her job is supposed to consider. She is *NOT* supposed to allow any other considerations than safety of the operation of the nuclear reactors to enter her determinations, PERIOD. This is all easy to confirm for oneself is one bothers to do the homework and read the controlling legislation and have a basic working understanding of how our government structure actually works (as opposed to the repeated delusions of the Harper CPC in taking unique interpretations as they have so far with the elections act, the Act which controls the Canadian Wheat Board, etc), which one would have hoped a member of the cabinet like Kenny would have an understanding of already, especially after being the government for just under two full years now.

So all Kenny does is lie about Keen's responsibilities, claims the Parliamentary session which overrode her decision was a vote of no confidence in her (instead of recognizing that only Parliament could make such a decision to override the governing safety rules, for the head of the CNSC to do so would have been improper and arguably illegal for her to do) , and then closes with a hosanna to the greatness of Harper and that if it had been the Dion Libs in charge this isotope shortage (which btw there are conflicting accounts as to how serious it actually was, as well as the reality that it was the place/responsibility of AECL, MDS-Nordion, and the Ministers of Natural Resources and Health to to ensure that there was no shortage and not Linda Keen's or the CNSC) would still be ongoing to this day without any of these blatantly false arguments and smears being challenged by the supposedly non-partisan more interested in facts than spin political journalist Craig Oliver(sorry, a general we have to deal with the reality we have now kind of comment from Oliver is not enough in my books). How exactly does this sort of propaganda being fed uncritically via CTV's QP help inform the average voter/citizen watching who may not have the time to spend to look in depth into all of this? What does it say about the willingness to give the government MP more time than both his Opposition critics on this issue? What does it say about the unwillingness to make sure politicians, especially those in government are not deceiving the journalist and by extension the audience by Craig Oliver (a senior CTV political journalist, not exactly a small fish in this pond) on such an important issue, especially when the lies coming from the government were as blatant as this case had?

Look, I am not saying that this one example shows/proves CTV and or Oliver specifically are playing favourites, or a part of some media conspiracy to aid the CPC. To take one data point and try to make that argument is inherently dishonest. What I am saying though is that there are some serious problems with a political journalist that allows a government representative over half the total speaking time for all the MPs to repeatedly lie unchallenged on the basic facts, to make partisan smears against the opposition, and to give both the opening and closing spot to that government MP. This may be a one time thing, I don't know, as I normally don't time how long each person speaks for. I only did so in this case because of how egregious the lying by Kenny was and how Oliver allowed it to go unchallenged (which btw speaks either to his own ignorance of the basic facts or it speaks to his unwillingness to raise them against the CPC MP I do not know which or whether it was a little of both) and that it seemed like he got a lot more time than his opponents to do so with on what is quite probably the most serious scandal to hit this CPC government since it came to power. Which when one considers/factors in just how much of the original CPC claims last December by Lunn (the minister responsible for the file) regarding what he knew and when he knew it have been shown to be totally false, that he knew weeks to months prior to the shutdown let alone shortage beginning that this was coming and did nothing, when one factors in that PM Harper slandered the regulator in the HoC when this broke as a partisan operative out to embarrass his government instead of acting in good faith (and then in year end interviews says she was not acting partisanly effectively contradicting himself from earlier), and finally one factors in the Dec 27 07 letter Lunn sends to Keen telling her she has ten days to convince him why she shouldn't be fired for her actions regarding Chalk River which was entirely inappropriate and arguably illegal for a minister to do with the head of an independent regulator AND that this somehow was leaked to the press which is what triggered Keen's public response seems quite questionable judgment by Oliver and CTV's QP staff at best in my view, and may be indicative of something worse than bad judgment, that being a bias for the CPC by the reporter and possibly the network which some have already claimed is the case.

Me, I don't know, but when I see things like this it does make it appear to me like those that have taken to calling CTV Conservative TV may have a point, especially when one factors in just how much the other politics show on CTV also appears to have a bias for the CPC and against the Liberals, the Mike Duffy Show. Indeed, that show became so blatant in its coverage I had to stop watching it some months back because I couldn't take watching the supposedly non-partisan political "journalist" Duffy applying two standards, one for the CPC and another for everyone else especially the Liberals. When I watch political journalists I do not want to be able to tell how they are inclined to vote, which is one of the main reasons I love Don Newman so much. I can't tell how he would vote, whereas listening to the gushing man crush over Harper's decisiveness I have gotten from Duffy (reminds me very much of Chris Matthews and his man-crushs for GOPers at times) makes it hard for me to believe he votes anything other than Con. I expect political opinionists to have opinions and partisanship, that is one thing. Political reporters though should not be showing such regardless of how they feel personally, because when it becomes acceptable for the reporters to show their biases openly it is impossible to believe that the work product is not going to be significantly tainted by it and end up being not fact based first but politically correct (as in correct for whichever political partisanship one holds) instead, which is not healthy for a democratic society. After all, if one cannot get the facts how does one make an informed decision, and many voters have to rely on political journalists to find out and report the facts because they do not have the time and/or resources to do so in their own lives.

I do not normally go after media for bad coverage or perceived partisanship as a rule, I leave that to others who are more inclined and better suited to that sort of critique. I only did this one because of the nature of the issue involved, the blatant deceptions being treated uncritically by the journalist coming from the government representative, as well as the disproportionate time given to the government representative to do so with. This issue with Chalk River is very important, not just on its own but also in what it shows about how this government operates behind the scenes from suppressing AG reports that would not be favourable for them in the public view, ignoring the rules regarding independent agencies not being interfered with by government on specific issues/cases (Wheat Board was another major example of this) and how they are willing to use the suffering of Canadians as a political partisan tool to attack their main opposition the Liberals at any turn, even when it has no basis in fact (which I should point out includes the generally overlooked fact that Keen was last reconfirmed in her position in 2006 by the Harper government which one could argue turned her into a Conservative appointee at that point, something most CPCers appear not to realize when they slime her as a Liberal partisan/operative of some kind) and the suffering is actually a direct cause of the incompetence of the minister in charge and therefore of the elected government itself. You cannot be a sitting government and claim all the credit for anything which goes right but is never to blame whenever anything goes wrong on your watch. This includes things which started prior to your time in power btw, especially once you have been in power long enough to have taken action to correct matters if you actually felt it needed doing, which is certainly the case regarding the Chalk River isotopes issue.

I am a big believer in the old expression about being entitled to one's own opinion but not one's own facts, yet this CPC government operates by routinely claiming their own facts and that anyone claiming otherwise are the ones lying to everyone. Which only underscores why it is so important to have a political media in this country willing to call out *ALL* politicians and governments when they mislead, distort the facts, let alone just outright blatant lying. They are also supposed to be skeptical of what those in power claim are the facts whoever that government may be since it is a long established fact that all governments regardless of political persuasion will minimize that which makes them look bad and maximize that which will make them look good. Remember, the original definition of "spin" is presenting the *facts* in as best a light as possible to your advantage and the worst possible light where your opponents are concerned. These days though spin has become to mean saying whatever you think you can get away with regardless of factual accuracy to place you and yours in the best possible light and those you oppose in the worst possible light. This is inherently unhealthy and needs to be opposed wherever one finds it in media, especially in political media.

More and more it becomes obvious that we are seeing a deliberate and systemic incorporation of the lessons the GOP taught the Harper CPC in how to lie and bafflegab the media to their advantage. I had hoped that our media would be more resistant to these methods being used, and to be fair to an extent they are doing so, but even with that qualifier things are clearly becoming worse in this respect, as I would argue the example of the Chalk River debate on today's QP illustrates. Remember though, I am not accusing CTV of a conspiracy or of this being their intent, I do not have anywhere near the data I would need to make that argument. I am simply using this example from today to show what I fear and what we all need to be wary of regardless of our political affiliations, at least those of us that place our civic motto ahead of partisan preference/bias. Good government is not something one can expect from those that routinely mislead, obfuscate, and outright brazenly lie, something Harper's CPC has shown is its normal operating practice, and the more journalists allow them to get away with it without challenging factual accuracy the greater the disservice done to the public/citizenry. Remember people, the media play an important civic role in open societies/democracies, and that duty is to examine the actions and claims of those elected to govern and to do so in a manner which places factual accuracy above all other concerns/considerations. When that is lost then the media go from being an asset in helping keep a society open and free into a negative which can help a society fall from being an open/democratic one. This is the path we must not follow our American brethren down, so when we see things as egregious as I saw on QP today we have to note it for what it was, exceptionally bad journalism and arguably providing advantage to those that are playing fast and loose with the facts on an issue as serious as nuclear safety. There are not too many issues I can think of that are more serious than nuclear safety, so when a government will lie so blatantly on that what won't it lie about to the public? Not to mention needing a media that will call out a government that plays so fast and loose with the basic facts on an issue as serious as this one is, which was not CTV's Question Period, at least not today it wasn't.

3 Comments:

Blogger 900 ft Jesus said...

scotian, you should check your counter. It must be faulty, since everyone knows that MSM is leftist-commie-pinko run.

I'm glad you don't hesitate to use the word "lie." There's no way Kenny doesn't know Keen's responsibilities. As you said, she cannot go beyong her mandate.

Mon Jan 14, 01:21:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Scotian said...

900ft Jesus:

I will never hesitate to use the word lie when I think it fits, and anyone making stuff up like Kenny did about Keen's responsibilities when they are so clearly defined and show no such thing while claiming to be a member of a cabinet is either lying or delusional. Of the two I find the idea of Kenny lying less disturbing than Kenny being genuinely delusional and actually believing what he was saying. I have to be convinced that conscious lying is the most reasonable explanation for something before I will use it definitively, but there are times when that is exactly what is required.

I did the same when Harper claimed no involvement by any CPCer whatsoever in the Grewal recordings fraud (any claim to the contrary was apparently manufactured by the Liberal war room and the evil liberal media conspiracy against the CPC, this despite the chain of custody from initial recording to release on May 31 05 the recordings were solely in CPC hands making it impossible for it to not have been a CPC hand that did those edits) and when he and his government claimed no involvement whatsoever in the expulsion of Garth Turner from the CPC caucus (Right, a government in a weak minority position will expel a member without even checking with the leader to see whether he will accept the caucus recommendation?!? Give me a break; the only way that works is if the leader is incompetent at maintaining control over his party caucus, not something Harper has shown to be the case, besides it came out soon after that Harper's CoS Finley was present at the expulsion meeting.) which was also transparently a lie.

I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt if other reasonable/plausible explanations exist, but if they don't well then it is what it is, right? Thanks for stopping by here btw, I suspect it will be a while before I start getting more than the odd comment given how long this blog was dark for throughout last year.

Mon Jan 14, 05:04:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Gayle said...

Scotian

I read this post and your last post on this topic with great interest. You have researched the subject well. I was happy to see Keen stand up for herself. You just know she is going to keep doing this. My guess is the CPC are not concerned about the legal repurcussions of their actions because they hope to be safely in a majority government by the time they have to face the outcome. This is all about created a false impression in order to ensure it does not hurt them in any possible upcoming election (if there is no election until October/09 they may find that strategy will be their undoing, but of course this is total speculation).

I hate to delve into the "media bias" thing, but I think it is becoming more and more apparent where CTV stands. That said, I have seen Oliver stand up for the liberals when Duffy starts slamming them (the whole CBC-gate thing for example).

Just before Christmas Tonda Charles sat in for Duffy and it was a treat. She did not allow any politician to get away with the things Duffy lets slide. It was an actual political talk show.

Tue Jan 15, 02:36:00 AM 2008  

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