I’m b-a-a-a-c-k. Sorry for the hiatus readers, I was halfway through this post on Friday–I also had to work on an article for another publication earlier in the day–but then the clock started running into the evening and I had already made plans for the rest of the weekend. Anyway, none of you are paying for this yet, so there should be no bellyaching from freeloaders (I’ll be monetizing the website once I’ve built more of a following and reputation for bringing the goods). I hope to catch up and do posts for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s The National in quick succession throughout the next few days to make up for my absence.
Once again, the second installment did quite well, reaching over 1,000 readers. The first post had some help from an aggregate site that put it up, the second post reached a little more people from simply kind readers sharing the post. Remember, we’re trying to harness our dissatisfaction and disillusionment with CBC’s bias by exposing the odd editorial decisions made on CBC’s flagship program, The National, by working together. You may think reading critiques of The National repeatedly would grow tiresome, but again, as I humorously break down the CBC program I’m also providing links and analysis on the day’s events that really matter, even if The National left most of them or key information out. So you also get a daily dose of news as well and my (hopefully) entertaining prose.
The best way for us to work together in our goal of holding the CBC’s feet to the fire is if everyone shares these devastating critiques on Twitter and Facebook to get the message out far and wide. Last post proves it’s already working; I’m getting a lot more visitors from both Twitter and Facebook thanks to you, and lots of new Twitter followers as well.
Okay, so before diving into deconstructing Thursday’s The National, I’d like to briefly discuss a tweet I made Friday that was pretty popular.
My tweet was in response to Butts tweeting out a Walrus magazine article.
Now, the article makes a few good points, but is overshadowed by hyperbolic rhetorical flourishes, which I’ll delve into in another post. For those who don’t know, The Walrus is a literary journalism magazine billing itself as the Canadian New Yorker. Unfortunately, as is often the case with Canadian cultural product, it is third-rate at best. (Sure, the writing is top-notch technically-wise (grammar, syntax, wording) but the content is b-o-r-i-n-g and mostly literary journalism that falls off a cliff into left-wing fantasy. Apologies upfront, this Graeme is not a pedantic grammarian, which The Walrus is full of. I wouldn’t mind about The Walrus at all though, except for the fact the magazine is a registered charity (I believe charity journalism is an oxymoron, if you have something valuable to say there will be enough people who will willingly pay you to say it) and receives hundreds of thousands from the Canadian Periodical Fund: Aid to Publishers grant annually and the foundation is riddled with Liberals. A couple of those Liberals just so happen to be Jodi Butts (Board of Directors), Gerald’s wife, and Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan (National Advisory Council), Gerald and Trudeau’s close friend. In an especially brazen act, The Walrus placed O’Regan as the head of the editorial review committee in the run-up to the last election, the same time period pro-Liberal stories were being published. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. If you’d like to read my stunning exposé on The Walrus, the story gets even more absurd, you can read “The Cushy Connections Between The Walrus and the Liberal Party of Canada”, which is on the media criticism outlet CANADALAND. What really grinds my gears about Butts tweeting out that story is no so much that that story was reported but that it was published by a magazine with charity status, a tonne of government funding, and only really does pro-Liberal, anti-NDP and anti-Conservative. Why would the magazine commission a trumped-up story to smear Andrew Scheer, but would stay mum on the Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s jaw-dropping scandal? I’ll have more on this later, including a funny little anecdote infiltrating the last Walrus Talk here in Toronto (my friend had tickets). Walrus publisher and head honcho Shelley Ambrose in her opening speech made sure to say The Walrus is not left-wing of right-wing, we have no wings. I’ll put a stop to that phony nonsense in my post on the blubbery Walrus.
Alright, moving on to eviscerating CBC’s The National last Thursday.
The opening stories previewed as top stories were: “The Finance Minister takes a grilling over his personal assets”; “The founder of the world-famous comedy festival resigns over allegations of sexual misconduct”; “Accommodation or intimidation? [Muslim women in niqab “We will not even have the right to go outside. I’m sure of it.”] The backlash over Quebec’s new law”; [Justin Trudeau, “Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways.”] “It’s exactly two years after that historic night. At Issue takes your questions about the Prime Minister and how he and his Liberal government are faring.”
Finally, The National led with the proper stories. However, the face-covering ban in Quebec was presented in an incredibly bias way for the upcoming one-sided report.
Wendy Mesely: There is the letter of the law and then there are optics. The Finance Minister has learned that the hard way. So today, Bill Morneau said he will place all of his assets into a blind trust. Even though the Ethics Commissioner told him two years ago that wasn’t necessary. And as David Cochrane explains, it may not quiet the outrage.
Here was the divvying up of time devoted to the different stories on this episode. (You’ll have to click the links for now because I apparently have to upgrade my account now in order to embed charts.)
Host Wendy Mesley: It’s an unusual political scandal. The minister follows the law to the letter but still pays a heavy price.
Ummm so did Mike Duffy, but that didn’t stop the CBC from obsessing over $90,000 in housing allowances. And what ever happened to the story of Justin Trudeau top aides spending over $200,000 to move from Toronto to Ottawa? There’s nothing “unusual” about the public being outraged over a Finance Minister making decisions on pension legislation that would greatly benefit him personally because he held millions of shares in his family business still, when he had told people he was putting his assets into a blind trust and then never did.
Morneau: What we’ve seen over the last week is that I need to do more. As Minister of Fiance in this role make sure people have absolute confidence.
Cochrane: Doing more means selling the shares he owns in his former company Morneau Shepell and putting everything else in a blind trust. Something just last year the Ethics Commissioner advised him last year wasn’t necessary. ‘…a blind trust agreement is not required… the best measure of compliance would be to establish a conflict of interest screen.’
Morneau: I, perhaps naively, thought that, you know–in Canada, following the rules, respecting the recommendations of the Ethics Commissioner, respecting the recommendations of an officer of parliament would be what Canadians would expect.
Sure, the patsy Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said he could do it so it must be okay.
Cochrane: “But that’s ethics. This is politics.
Right. It’s just his opponents playing politics and casting doubt on his being ethically sound.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre: Why does he expect us to blindly trust that he’s not hiding other conflicts of interests?
Bergen: We all thought he had placed his shares in a blind trust.
Cochrane: Each attack elicited the same answer.
Morneau: I worked with the commissioner to make sure she understood my situation. I took her recommendations and made sure that I moved forward with them to not have a conflict of interest. Now, I’ve gone one step further.
Cochrane: And each answer elicited more outrage.
Those unreasonable opposition MPs.
Morneau: That, I will think, will give a great deal of confidence to all Canadians.
Cochrane: The NDP drew a straight line for Morneau’s job to Morneau’s bank account. Proposed pension legislation that could’ve boosted the share value of Morneau Sheppel which manages pensions.
NDP MP Nathan Cullen: But how does pocketing millions of dollars from his work as the minister do anything but serve himself?
It’s nice to see the CBC didn’t completely gloss over all of the sketchy parts to Morneau holding onto his assets while affecting their value while Finance Minister.
Morneau: What member opposite knows is I fully disclosed my assets to the Ethics Commissioner, I worked with the Ethics Commissioner to get her recommendations, and I followed those recommendations.
Cochrane: Today’s move comes after a retreat by Morneau on his controversial package of tax reforms. He’s tweaked some and scrapped others due to some protests. A significant public policy decision that’s been largely overshadowed by the politics of his personal wealth.
Nothing really to see here, folks, the Finance Minister was above board in following the rules set out by the honourable Ms. Dawson.
Now, the following stories may not be in order because I watched the show a few days ago, but I did make some notes and will briefly make some criticisms of the most important stories before going over the At Issue panel segment that lasted an eternity.
The CBC loves to bash President Trump. I know he’s an easy target and there is plenty of criticism to be found, but they find fault with anything and everything he does. First they made sure to include part of former president George W. Bush’s speech indirectly criticizing Tump’s politics. Then Mesley segued into a follow-up story on the Puerto Rico hurricane disaster. Mesley introduced the segment by bashing Trump, saying it still looks like the hurricane just hit. The island was completely decimated, and to imply that the problems lying ahead for Puerto Rico are Trump’s fault is patently false. Relief and aid were brought to the island quickly, but distribution was a problem because of infrastructural devastation and a lack of truck drivers showing up to work. Puerto Rico also has a long history of corrupt left-wing politicians and Trump is an easy target for them to blame, and the CBC is more than happy to take them at their word. The CBC then used the “legendary break-dancer and hip-hop star” Richard Colon, a New York Puerto Rican, as their expert on criticizing Trump
“I look at the stupidity of it. I mean he’s a manchild,” and “We’re going to rise with or without his help.”
CBC also included a Puerto Rican woman who fled the island, also blaming Trump. There are plenty of real experts out there that would not blame President Trump for the slow recovery.
I think, as we go along in the coming days, we’re going to find extremely one-sided coverage on President Trump. I find Trump to be a pretty unsavoury character, but I see why millions of voters voted for some of his policies (and CBC lionizing a corrupt Hillary Clinton is just as despicable). I made that point, funnily enough, on the CBC opinion section in a freelance contribution. But don’t expect CBC news coverage to give much of a perspective on the pro-side of Trump’s policies. CBC has a long history of Republican-bashing and lionizing of Democrat politicians. But with Trump, they’ve taken it to a whole new level. North Korea’s Rocket Man’s state broadcaster and Canada’s Socks-and-Selfie Boy Wonder’s state broadcaster both love to use Trump as a scapegoat in ignoring criticism of their own Dear leaders many own blunders.
The National‘s story on the Just for Laughs founder stepping aside after sexual misconduct allegations was pretty succinct. Although I do find issue in the CBC finding any excuse to include a response from Trudeau on any news story. They included one of our Dear Leader’s feminist sweet nothing clichés addressing the issue.
The National‘s story on Sears going out of business completely missed the plot. The CBC’s story focused on Sears customers losing their extended warranties on appliances. (Funny enough, my brother was dealing with a a Sears representative over a problem with a fridge still under warranty about a year ago, and the representative tried to dupe him into buying an extended warranty when the writing was clearly on the wall for the company.) Obviously extended warranties wouldn’t be honoured by a company no longer in existance! The real story should’ve been about how Sears execs get to keep their fat bonuses and how, as someone I know put it:
“I went to Sears this week. Not to buy or write, Just to talk to employees before the sales started. Sad. 15 year employees, multiple family members working there.”
The National also covered the fatal ammonia leak that happened in B.C. Between these last two stories, and some others in the past couple days, I’m getting the sense The National prefers to cover the dead and dead issues more than the living and live issues. The National still hasn’t, to my knowledge, covered the explosive exposé by investigative journalist Sam Cooper, “How B.C. casinos are used to launder millions in drug cash“. I guess The National prefers dead and death stories over lives ones because you don’t have to speak ill of the dead, and we know the CBC doesn’t like to rock the boat of those in power too often.
The Quebec face-covering ban was another predictable story in the way it was framed. Dear Leader explained how he respected Quebec’s decision, but at the same time doesn’t agree with it (he needs Quebec, but doesn’t want to piss off his progressive supporters who think its progressive for women to wear the burqa or niqab.) The segment also mentioned how all of the Ontario legislature condemned the legislature. The unprecedentedly unpopular Premier Kathleen Wynne got an appearance of course, and an MPP from the other two parties. (But of course the Auditor General’s scathing report on the Ontario Liberal Party’s Fair Hydro plan, hiding billions in debt off the books, didn’t make The National.) The whole story focused on those who oppose the bill, not any of the majority of Quebeckers who support the ban.
At least you can always trust CBC’s reporter Natasha Fatah to do a more nuanced report. Too bad she wasn’t on The National.
Then there was the boring and lazy viewpoint of retired CTV News anchor Don Newman explaining how cameras in the House of Commons have befitted our democracy. Instead of explaining how that is so, he instead mostly just rehashed memorable moments. What’s funny about this is that, as I pointed in the last post, CBC goes out of it’s way to exclude embarrassing footage from question period of Justin Trudeau putting his flashy-sock-covered foot in his mouth.
Now, finally, let’s go over the At Issue panel reviewing the Liberals’ last two years in power.
Before getting into the discussion, The National decided to spend 35 seconds reviewing the historical night of Dear Leader winning the last election. Instead of having footgae from the highs and lows, the CBC decided to just have a bunch of pictures and video from the euphoric crowd at Trudeau’s victory speech and of him taking selfies with people.
When the introduction video faded back to Mesley–the featured image I used for this article–she had a beaming smile and it looked like she almost had joyous tears of nostalgia welling up in her eyes.
Then she went after the bad guy doing damage to Dear Leader and his “sunny ways” government. (The following transcription is slighty redacted and might have the odd error here or there.)
Wendy Mesely: A bit of background first. Morneau has been accused of not being clear about his assets: that company with a villa in France, not putting millions of shares of his company into a blind trust. All while proposing tax changes that would affect other people’s finances.
Wendy, the bigger problem is him directly benefiting from his decisions as Finance Minister.
Mesley: The Finance Minister, with his announcement today, said that he is going to divest those millions of dollars worth of shares, put them into a blind trust, has put the fire out?
National Post’s Andrew Coyne: I don’t think so. It’s one thing to do it two years after the fact, it’s another thing to do it when you should’ve done it, which is when you first came into office. I mean the villa in France was really only one issue. There’s this whole issue of not just that he did not put the money into a blind trust of divested as you would normally be required to do, but going to quite elaborate lengths to sort of get around the rules and that met the letter of the law but not the spirit of it. But much worse of course he was involved in legislation, C-27, pension legislation that would, a lot of people would argue, would benefit his former company Morneau Shepell. You put all of those things together it doesn’t look good from a conflict of interest standpoint, and then integrating all of that with the whole tax reform thing. For the Prime Minister and Mr. Morneau both to be lecturing other people about their use of tax shelters and private corporations, while they themselves are skilled practitioners of this if you will, it really has done a lot of damage to this government’s credibility on this file.
Coyne is usually on point in his criticism, but he only a contributor and not part of The National team.
Mesely: What’s your sense Althia?
Huffington Post’s Althia Raj: Yeah, I think he isn’t going to rid himself of the problems that have been plaguing him for the last week and if anything, today for example, the opposition attacked on two new different fronts–the Bahamian offshore accounts and the fact that he may or may not have recused himself from that discussion on that very bill Andrew just mentioned, C-27, I think that people feel like there’s lack of trust in regards to what Mr. Morneau is saying. And so while this is a really big decision–to basically divest not just himself of his shares, but his wife’s share and his kid’s shares. It’s a company that his family had built. But I think this is a bigger problem about the law. And I think if the Conservatives and the New Democrats and the Liberals can all agree that the Conflict of Interest Act should be made, then there should be really narrowed. Because right now it seems all parties like to criticize when they’re in the opposition but in the government they don’t really do anything. And there are giant, gaping holes in this Act that basically allow what is happening with Bill C-27, which is a pension reform bill that has basically driven the stock price of Morneau Shepell and possibly made Mr. Morneau $2 million in this short period of time this bill has been tabled, that that is totally fine according to the law.
It looks like even the Liberal-aligned Raj realizes she can’t polish this scandal up.
Mesely: What do you think Paul, is this a conflict of interest issue? What’s the biggest offence according to you?
Maclean’s Paul Wells: If this isn’t a conflict of interest issue then I don’t know what they look like. This guy legislated on pensions while he had a clear window into the old pension company that his family ran and in which he still had millions of dollars worth of shares. Among the people who falsely thought his assets were in a blind trust were a member of his own caucus, Adam Vaughn, a Toronto MP, and the public relations department of Morneau Shepell, which both claimed–which both stated, which they took to be the truth, which was that his assets were in a blind trust and they turned out to be wrong. So the villa in France is pretty bad, but this is why conflict of interest rules are made up. That you shouldn’t legislate on something that you have a glaring personal trust. And if on the off chance that this doesn’t contravene the rules, Justin Trudeau told his cabinet ministers when they were sworn-in, in their mandate letters, that the plain text of the rules and laws isn’t enough. You have to comport yourself in a way that is beyond all suspicion. Bill Morneau is up to his neck in suspicion because he did not comport himself in the way that his Prime Minister told him to.
Ouch. So obviously Morneau must go?
Mesley: Can he carry on? It sounds like he’s trying to blame [four TV monitors in the background still show the two identical photos of Trudeau with a smile beaming in the background behind Mesley, subliminally brainwashing viewers] the Ethics Commissioner, it could be interpreted, is that what’s going? Can he be saved, Paul, what do you think?
Paul Wells: Well apparently she told him ‘it’s up to you whether it’s in a blind trust.’ And he didn’t have the sense God gave a goose to make his own decision, ‘I’ll put it in a blind trust anyway.’ It’s become clear over many, many cases that the office of the conflict-of-interest commissioner is not ideally constructed and maybe needs a second look. But look, holy cow, the week that his government brought in a pension bill that stood to materially improve the financial position of the company with his name on it and had shares, you’d think a light would’ve went off in his head.
He didn’t really answer the question, but I think it’s safe to infer he Wells doesn’t think he can.
Coyne: And were back to the Mike Duffy defence. ‘It wasn’t specifically prohibited. I was told I could do this.’ At some point you have to use common sense and how it’s going to look to the common person.
Mesley: Well and, Althia, this is the government that’s presented itself as the champions of the middle class, but I guess after the trip to the Aga Khan’s island and so on, people are focusing on them as richies. Is that fair?
Raj: Yeah, I think it would’ve been perhaps better strategy for Mr. Morneau to come out and say, ‘listen, we want to stop people from using private corporations because they can shelter money away from the tax man. And I’m totally fine, and I’m going to forfeiting x-amount of thousands or perhaps millions of dollars in extra taxes because of these changes that I think are the right thing to do.’ But that’s not what we heard. I just–[Mesley interjecting]–in the defence of Mr. Morneau he did say that the Ethics Commissioner that she went to–she suggested to him a further step. That this ethical shield was designed prevent him from conflict positions. I don’t want us to leave it like, ‘Oh, there was no blind trust and nothing else was done.’ He says that he took her advice and they went further than the law suggested, that’s what he says, that her advice to him was, in order to set this structure up so there wouldn’t be a conflict. There’s still issues with that, but…
Raj suddenly remember whose team she’s on.
Mesley: Okay. I’ve got to move on to the next question because we do want to hear from our viewers. ‘What has been the Liberals’ greatest accomplishment so far? What’s been their greatest failure?’ I don’t know, Andrew, is this the greatest failure? What’s the… And what’s the greatest accomplishment?
Coyne: Well I’ll start with the accomplishment first. You know, they’ve had several to name. I think the first and perhaps biggest was to reform child benefits. To improve peoples lives, especially at the bottom end of the income spectrum. They took a bunch of different programs and rationalized them so they were giving more to people at the lower end and giving less to people on the higher end. And it’s a very praiseworthy reform. I think they’re certainly in a bigger spot of trouble now then they’ve ever been, but if for a sheer screw-up then I think the whole electoral reform file from start to finish was terribly handled. And worse than that, cynically handled. And what ties this with the Morneau problem and everything else is, you know, people didn’t necessarily think Justin Trudeau was the sharpest knife in the drawer when they elected him, but they thought his heart was in the right place. They thought he had good intentions. They thought he was more decent, etcetra. And as time goes on we keep finding more spots of cynicism and manipulation and this kind of thing. And I think that’s toxic for this government.
How much the child benefits really help is up for debate. And Coyne reveals that he likes redistribution of money by government and taxes, very conservative of him.
Raj: I would say the accomplishment is getting along with Donald Trump [Coyne chuckles], which I think has taken a very fine set of skills and I’m not sure another leader would’ve been as good at becoming best friends with Donald Trump. Andrew’s totally right, electoral reform, where basically the Prime Minister misled Canadians for months. But I would now say, looking at this week, his comments today for example in [French city] riding where there’s a byelection, where the Prime Minister was under questioning about Bill C-62, this is the bill that prevents women who wear the niqab or the burqa from accessing government services like taking the bus or even going to the library. The Prime Minister hammered the Conservatives and the NDP in the last election on this very issue. He made speeches in which he said, ‘You have to know what a leaders values were.’ And even members in his own caucus… she said that Prime Minister was of course going to appeal this bill because it was for sure unconstitutional. Well the Prime Minister said no such thing at all today. In fact he said that it wasn’t the government’s role to intervene.I think that to just judge Justin Trudeau, you know his own advice, this is something that is pretty surprising. Perhaps that people don’t know who he is and what his values are.
Raj was not really holding back in her criticism of her Liberal friends.
Wells: The big success is similar to Althia’s but I might take it a step further. Not only has he stayed in Donald Trump’s good graces–to any extent that one can–they’ve played a really elaborate defensive game with the States: activated a cross-country Canadian network of pro-Canadian interests and really stayed in the game on NAFTA, at the same time that they’ve begun to mow the America’s lawn economically by making Canada look like a very attractive destination for highly mobile knowledge workers and for big money investors, so you get Google and Microsoft and all these other companies beginning to look at Canada as a very interesting investment destination at the same time America becomes a less interesting investment destination.
I think these “mobile knowledge workers” are going to want to stay in America now, since our government is raising taxes and Trump is lowering taxes. And the only reason businesses are interested in investing in Canada is because they can hose Canadians in contributing to the Liberal’s infrastructure bank that will allow them to rake in money from an abnormally high interest rate. But sure, mowed the lawn sounds nicer.
Mesely: …Rich Raycroft asked: Who is Trudeau more concerned about right now — Scheer of Singh? Why?
Coyne: Well I supposed Singh only because Liberal strategy from days of yore is to try and nail down the NDP vote, faint to the left and then come back to the centre in the course of the election campaign. If the NDP can break out from that, if Singh can have popular appeal as the first visible minority leader. That’s the danger to them. But of course the threat to them in terms of replacing this government is the Conservatives.
Raj: Yeah, I agree with that. Signh is the only name I hear mentioned by Liberals. Not only is their strategy to court New Democrat voters, like we say in the last election, but the electorate with whom Trudeau is particularly popular, Milennials, those voters will like to see what Jagmeet Singh has to say appealing. That he could do some serious damage to them here in Ontario.
Mesley: How does the role of Justin Trudeau’s PMO compare or contrast with the one we saw when Harper was PM?
Wells: So I’m not just being smart-ass when I say they’re eerily similar [knowing smile from Coyne]. It’s increasingly obvious they’re on the centre with major files, a very robust operation which is designed to put out fires and we’re increasingly see that that’s busy branch of this government, and extreme message discipline. Every member of caucus, every political staffer is expected to be more or less the same on the big issues even if it makes them sound a little repetitive and robotic.
Raj: I’m actually surprised at how undisciplined they are. Yes, the message control is certainly there, but the government seems to be going in all types of different directions and with Mr. Harper there was definitely a focus. Every week had a theme and everyone was directed in that theme and weren’t stepping over each other’s shoes with announcements. There also very more open, to be fair to them. I mean the Prime Minister does take questions from reporters.
Mesley: Not so much for Bill Morneau.
Coyne: Well they even appoint the ministers’ chief of staffs for them, their talking points are all written for them, it’s every bit as much controlled if not more so.
So the At Issue panel was actually not too forgiving to Trudeau and his government. Have to give credit where credit is due. That being said, the supposedly objective news coverage is still heavily slanted in Trudeau’s favour and a lot of the criticism for the Trudeau government was offloaded from the PM and directed at moneybags Morneau. Apologies for the super long post, from now on I’ll try to keep them under 700 words. Below is the full show if you’d like to subject yourself to the CBC’s agitprop.