Tagged: Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Sounding old before her time, Marilla Stephenson follows up the Chronicle-Herald’s ringing endorsement of the status quo with a ringing endorsement of middle class sensibilities. The protesters just had to go. They just had to. There had been an overdose in Vancouver or something. Enough is enough.
To this we respond:
You walk into a room
With a piece of paper in your hand.
You see somebody naked,
And you say, “Who is that man.”
You try so hard,
But you just don’t understand.
Do you, Mrs. Stephenson?
With apologies to Robert Allen Zimmerman.
Cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon, on the other hand, gets it right.
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald and AllNovaScotia.com, ranking arbiters of mainstream opinion in Nova Scotia, lent editorial support Monday to Mayor Peter Kelly’s forcible police removal of peaceful Occupy Nova Scotia protesters.
The Herald, in a bracing throwback to its days as the fusty Old Lady of Argyle, approved the eviction in every detail: violence, secrecy, sneakiness, double-dealing, rights-violation, and even Remembrance Day timing. AllNS tried to have it both ways. A commentary* by former-Managing-Editor-turned-United-Church-minister Kevin Cox quibbled with Kelly’s timing and secretive decision-making, but endorsed His Worship’s position that a vague and rarely enforced municipal bylaw should trump Sections 2. (b), (c), and (d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In a letter AllNS published this morning, Halifax Filmmaker John Wesley Chisholm pointed out that Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi had reached the opposite conclusion, “saying the Charter of Rights prevented the city from arbitrarily forcing out the protesters — even if they’re breaking a city bylaw.”
Halifax officials, Chisholm wrote, took a big gamble with taxpayers’ money, risking hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions on a possible court defence of
the notion that these protesters’ use of tents to camp out in a public park was so egregious, so outstandingly shocking to our community’s values, of such a danger to public safety, so offensive to our public interests, that it justified a police action to deny their rights and freedoms to assembly and protest under the federal law on which our civil society is based..
Even by the smug standards of Halifax’s establishment media, this was a shabby performance.
*Access to AllNS is by paid subscription, and its flash-based web structure makes it impossible to post accurate links.
The reliably sage Jim Meek comes a cropper this morning with a column plucking nits off Canada’s medical marijuana policy.
The occasional Herald columnist, Nova Scotia’s best, professes shock that the number of Canadians with federal permission to smoke dope for medicinal purposes has swelled to 10,000. Well, that’s 0.03 percent of Canada’s population, or about the number who support Elvis for Prime Minister—not exactly a blown floodgate. Nor is the other number Meek decries, the 1,400 Canadians who received permission to grow the drug after Ottawa proved incompetent to deliver reliable quality. Along the way, Meek finds one grower who produced more than he was supposed to, and a Nova Scotia welfare recipient seeking financial assistance to grow the pot she needs. Horrors!
Missing from this searching analysis of contradictions, real and faux, in the minutia of medical marijuana policy is any recognition of the central, top level inanity: prohibition of a product autonomous grownups should be able to decide whether to use and why.
All columnists produce duds—check my back catalog. The trouble with this one is it offers succor to the Harper authoritarians as they plot fresh hardship and misery in the failed war on drugs.
The unprecedented rise in support for the NDP is provoking a lot of reaction from various thoughtful observers. Here’s a compendium.
From Frank Graves of Ekos Research, author of yesterday’s dramatic poll putting the NDP in second place nationally with a projected 100 seats, in a live chat this morning at ipolitics.ca:
Nothing is absolutely ruled out. But I think the public is answering Mr. Harper’s request for a majority with a pretty clear “No.” The intricacies of vote splitting might confuse this as late campaign shifts, but at slightly under 34 points, the Conservatives are well short of a majority. In fact, the implication of a majority between the NDP and the Liberals coupled with a diminished Conservative minority may pose some extremely interesting challenges.
The evidence from the surveys suggests that the NDP still have room to grow. Particularly in Ontario where they are rising, but have seen a dramatic spike up in second choice. They now lead nationally with first and second choice at 54 points — nearly 14 points ahead of the other contenders. So, yes still room to grow, but I don’t think the public have fully grasped where they have arrived and it is not outside of possibility that there will be a recoil effect. So whether the NDP wave is analogous to Clegg in the last UK election or perhaps Bob Rae in Ontario.
Graves had this to say about the Dips’ prospects in Atlantic Canada:
The Atlantic has changed dramatically in the past week where the NDP have bulled their way into what was a two-way race. The NDP began in the Atlantic in single digits and now lead. So that will be fascinating to see how that concludes.
From Andrew Coyne, @acoyne, Maclean’s National Editor and a genuine Lockean conservative (not the fake Harper kind), a series of exasperated tweets:
Oh for – arrgh!: “Harper is asking voters to consider whether they want their riding to be left outside the Tory tent.” http://bit.ly/gvEiiq
Where they serve the pork. RT @markdjarvis: http://is.gd/fI2xJS “People have a decision to make…abt whether they want to be at the table.”
But all the Tory partisans & professional shills will rationalize it to themselves that they’re the party of the taxpayer & free markets.
They’ve just utterly corrupted themselves & hope to corrupt the public. But then, if the public weren’t already corrupted, it wouldn’t work.
Politics in much of this country is just a two-way auction: state goodies in exchange for votes; votes in exchange for goodies.
Just friggin’ look at yourselves, Tories. Look at what you’ve become. Look at what you’re peddling.
From CBC’s Keith Boag, a strong critique setting forth Harper’s false statements about how parliamentary democracy works. [Unfortunately, the CBC provides no easy way to embed it.] As a Contrarian friend writes:
The most despicable thing Harper has ever done is lie to people about how their government works. It’s the big lie, so appalling no one can imagine it’s untrue.
Harper has done this twice: in the current election campaign, and in the prorogation scandal of 2008.
From former Daily News cartoonist Theo Moudakis, now inking for the Toronto Star, this take on Canada’s unnecessary election:
The redoubtable Elly Alboim has a pot pourri of fresh #elxn41 observations: That leadership numbers and party preference are starting to come into consonance; that the NDP surge can be viewed two ways, as likely to build and spread, or likely to whither in the face of inevitable attacks from Libs and CPCs; plus some knowledgeable analysis of the variance in polling numbers and the validity of seat projections.
This final week will be the Grimm brothers’ story book of election campaigns. The potential narratives are legion and becoming more and more compelling.
There is the potential Greek tragedy in Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberals. There is the obvious Cinderella story in Mr. Layton and the NDP. Mr. Harper may get his majority he has doggedly sought (the little engine that could) or keep rolling his ball up an endless hill. If you want an alternative that’s a bit more modern, he may finally kick the field goal or like Charlie Brown, have the football snatched away yet again.
First the party and Mr. Ignatieff have been ineffective in opposition in parliament and its campaign has done nothing to shake that view among it appears almost three-quarters of voters.
Second Liberal policy is not sufficiently distinct from the Conservatives on economic issues for the public to notice a difference, the Liberals haven’t campaigned on the economy and the party has no recognized spokesperson with gravitas on economic matters. Yet those issues remain very important with voters across the country and the NDP does offer a clear difference here although its policies have never faced much scrutiny. (The Liberals are trying to shine that spotlight on Mr. Layton this week.)
Third, the Conservative pre-election framing of Mr Ignatieff’s personality, character and interests has proven devastatingly effective with voters and Liberal campaigners are getting that regularly on doorsteps. Mr Ignatieff’s campaign hasn’t shaken that impression in the public’s mind.
And from Paul Adams:
The Liberals are caught in a historical dilemma. Unlike the situation during most of the 20th century, the Liberals are now alone among the parties, in that they have no roots as a populist party. The Conservatives have Reform as a predecessor. The NDP came from prairie populism and union activism. The Bloc from the separatist movement, and the Greens out of environmentalism.
But the Liberals have always been different. They have been a brokerage party with no clear ideological ground on which to stand. No one can ever remember a time when they did — except, perhaps, on the constitution and Quebec, which is hardly likely to help them now.
And as they try to perform a Gestalt in the final days of the campaign, they only reinforce the idea that while other parties stand for something, they don’t.
Finally, the Chronicle-Herald’s consistently reliable Stephen Maher notes two trends:
In 2004, Stephen Harper’s newly merged party took 24 Ontario seats with 31.5 per cent of the vote, pushing Paul Martin’s Liberals into a minority. In 2006, the Tories took 40 seats, with 35 per cent of the vote. In 2008, the Conservatives won 51, with 39 per cent of the vote.
Step by step, Harper’s team has moved in from the white, Protestant countryside, which by long tradition gravitates to the Tories, toward the multi-hued suburbs of Toronto, where significant numbers of immigrants and their children are embracing a modern Conservative message that has been carefully calibrated for them.
Voters in Quebec, in contrast, have mostly turned their backs to Harper’s stern warnings, shocking everybody by warming up to Jack Layton.
After a strong French-language debate performance, Layton’s party is now leading the Bloc Quebecois. With his folksy Montreal street French and a policy book that has been carefully shaped over the years to reduce friction with nationalist Quebecers, Layton can now hope for a real harvest of MPs on Monday.
He has been preparing the ground for years. With little hope for immediate gains, he worked hard to make the NDP electoral effort in Quebec more than symbolic. The first seedling to sprout was the election of Thomas Mulcair, giving the party, for the first time, a talented bilingual spokesman.
These developments in Quebec and Ontario are terrible news for the Liberals. Some national polls now show the Grits behind the NDP. I don’t believe, given the weight of tradition and the power of incumbency, that the NDP can surpass the Liberals on election day, but who knows?
As the election began, I thought Michael Ignatieff had a good chance of connecting with Canadian voters. Until the debates, when he failed to make a persuasive case for a Liberal government, it looked like his energetic and free-wheeling rally performances might give Canadians cause to reconsider him, setting up a momentum-building redemption narrative.
Instead, in the final days of the campaign, voters on the left are evenly divided between the Liberals and New Democrats, which is ideal for the Conservatives, since strategic voters may not know how to vote to block a Tory majority.
Preston Manning’s father, Ernest, dreamed of a political realignment in Canada, with a right-wing party and a left-wing party, rather than two parties of the mushy middle.
The goal of the movement, for decades, has been to squeeze the Liberals. By framing this election around the question of whether a coalition is a venial or a mortal sin, Harper is moving closer to realizing the Manning dream.
I’m not convinced Monday’s outcome will be any sort of dream for Harper, but that’s certainly one possible result.
Another media outlet has presented admiring coverage of the campaign by Halifax restaurateur Lil MacPherson and Halifax actress Ellen Page to oppose something one might expect environmentally conscious citizens to campaign for: the productive recycling of composted human waste as a worthy alternative to dumping it, semi-treated, in the ocean.
A Contrarian reader describes today’s Herald story as:
One-sided journalism at its worst. Lil MacPherson is not an environmental scientist. Ellen Page is not an environmental scientist. Nowhere in the entire story is there any effort to present the case in favour of biosolids. Even the headline “Rising in defence of province’s soil” suggests that MacPherson and Page are on the right side and that the soil is under attack. Could the headline not also read “Actress, restaurateur oppose environmental science”?
Uh, yes it could.
Reporter Laura Fraser, who began her career in Sydney, is a friend, a reliable reporter, and one of the Herald’s precious few bright young lights, but, as explained in more detail here and here, I’m inclined to agree with this reader’s harsh assessment of this story.
Page and MacPherson employ a familiar oppositionist tactic: fire a shotgun load of fear-laden possibilities (disease, hormones, pesticides, heavy metals, “everything every sick, diseased person flushes down the toilet”) and demand that proponents of composting and recycling prove a negative: that nothing bad will ever happen.
The Herald quoted unnamed critics of composting and recycling as saying there has been “no extensive testing to establish whether there are long-term effects from eating food grown in the reclaimed waste,” but failed to contact a single actual scientist to find out what testing does show about the safety of the output of composting facilities like HRM’s.
Careful composting and recycling solve a terrible problem: our century old habit of dumping untreated waste into deteriorating waterways. They enhance sustainability. Tests have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to eliminate potentially harmful components, or reduce them to levels below conservatively designed safety standards.
No process or product can meet the Pace-MacPherson test of absolute safety forever. But there is an enormous body of science behind regulated soil safety standards, and we can use that science to make sensible judgements in the real world. Like all environmental science, this is a process of managing risks to sensible levels. HRM has done that.
Haligonian Warren Reed objects to the thoughtlessly patronizing word choices many journalists apply to wheelchair-users and those who discriminate them.
In an email to two Chronicle-Herald reporters who recently wrote about separate cases of discrimination by Metro Transit and the Nova Scotia Justice Department against wheelchair users, he complained about three sentences in their stories:
- “The driver even called his supervisor, who confirmed that wheelchair-bound passengers are not allowed on [Bus No.] 60.”
- “However, Sunday morning the driver said that he could get in a lot of trouble for letting wheelchair-bound passengers onto non-wheelchair routes.”
- “Amy Paradis, 16, is quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair.”
Evidently, the style manual in use at the Chronicle Herald requires the modification of wheelchair either with “confined” or “bound.” This must be in the chapter on Gratuitous 19th Century Misconceptions.
Bob Sheeny’s wheelchair doesn’t seem to restrain him in any way; What prevents him from visiting his friend is not his disability, but the intransigence of Metro Transit. Without the discriminatory foot-dragging of Metro Transit, Mr. Sheeny would be able to get on any bus in HRM – just as he could in London or New York. It’s not that Mr. Sheeny can’t do things; he’s prevented from doing them.
You should train yourself to use the much more accurate phrase “wheelchair user.” Wheelchairs are enabling and liberating.
- Wheelchair users are not allowed on the No. 60 bus.
- He could get in a lot of trouble for letting wheelchair users onto non-wheelchair routes.
- Amy Paradis, 16 uses a wheelchair.
Those sentences are not judgmental, and they help clarify the absurdity of the situation. Let me see. Bus drivers can get in trouble for letting passengers on their buses? The important thing about Amy is that she uses a wheelchair, not her medical condition. If you gave a medical opinion every time you mentioned Darrell Dexter or Stephen Harper, you’d be spending most of your time in court.
I recommend substituting these catch-phrases, which are highly accurate:
- Discriminatory Metro Transit
- Cliche-ridden Chronicle Herald
- Proudly backward Halifax officials
- Patronizing Chronicle Herald reporters
- Poorly served Chronicle Herald readers
When you see Bob Sheeny, don’t feel sorry for him, just get out of his way.
I’m uncomfortable singling out the Herald here, because I’m sure I’ve used the same stupid phrases without thinking. I bet the reporters in question slapped their heads in dismayed recognition when they read Reed’s sharp letter.
Still, in 2010, there’s no excuse for a newspaper copy desk not having clear and enforced policies on such word choices — as, hopefully, the Herald does now.
Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim is the title of a 1980 compendium of unintended double-entendre headlines collected by the Columbia Journalism Review. It illustrates the power of tiny punctuation flubs — in this case, a missing hyphen — to radically alter meaning. Readers also have to chuckle in wonderment over how small a town must be for the local newspaper to deem dog bites newsworthy.
When the dog is a coyote, however, and the person bitten is a 16-year-old girl in a National Park where a 19-year-old woman was killed by coyotes 10 months ago, there’s no doubt about newsworthiness. Still, consider how differently two daily newspapers reported the story:
“Coyote bites sleeping teen in head,” was the Cape Breton Post‘s accurate but subdued headline.
INGONISH — A teenage girl was bitten by a coyote early Monday morning in the same national park in Cape Breton where a woman was killed by the animals last year.
“Coyote attacks girl in Highlands,” screamed the Halifax Chronicle-Herald in a headline that spanned the top of page one.
A second vicious coyote attack on a visitor at Cape Breton Highlands National Park prompted park wardens to start setting traps early Monday morning.
A photo of a sinister, prowling coyote illustrated the Herald story, together with a graphic showing a second coyote posing triumphantly astride a map of the Cape Breton Highlands. Lines connected the posing coyote to the sites of the two incidents, which took place 40 kilometres apart, separated by the least hospitable terrain in the Maritimes.
The two stories, both written by competent, journeymen reporters, agreed on the relatively benign facts of the case — a couple of bites to the back of the head, requiring a few stitches at outpatients. The Post’s overall treatment of the event was consistent with these facts. The Herald, by contrast, contrived to hype the story and frighten readers with lurid adjectives, illustrations, and headlines. I’m curious to know whether the unwarranted “vicious” was composed by the reporter, or added later by the desk.
The Herald has long had an outsized appetite for bad news from Cape Breton. Whether staff reductions have contributed to its recent drift into sensationalism (see examples here, here, here, and here) is a topic for another day. For now, it’s enough to point out the striking differences in the two papers’ treatment of a coyote bite.
Hat tip: SP.
Friends and admirers gathered in the Midtown Tavern’s antiseptic new digs Thursday evening to honor journalist-businessman David Bentley’s 50 years of afflicting the comfortable.
Among the crowd were foot-soldiers of the late, lamented Halifax Daily News (née: Bedford-Sackville News), the once salacious Frank magazine, and the meaty, fact-packed AllNovaScotia.com, which today ranks Nova Scotia’s premier newsgathering organization. As Frank might put it, all three began life as Bentley organs.
In 1974, Bentley, his wife, and two partners founded the weekly B-S News, modeling it after the sordid tabloids of his native England. Five years later, he took the enormous gamble of moving the paper downtown, transforming it into a daily, and taking on both the stolid Chronicle-Herald and the nacent, corrupt Buchanan administration.
After selling the daily to Harry Steele’s Newfoundland Capital Corp. in 1987, Bentley and business partner Lyndon Watkins founded Frank, a legendary tweaker of toffee-noses. In 2001, with daughter Caroline Wood, he founded AllNovaScotia, an online publication that is, ironically, today’s must-read for Nova Scotia’s ruling elites.
When future historians recount Nova Scotia’s late-20th Century transformation from a staid, British colonial outpost to an almost modern society, Bentley will emerge as an unsung central figure. He taught the province that ritual deference to one’s betters is the surest guarantor of mediocrity.
Our betters are still smarting from the lesson.
Fittingly, the quinquagenary brought out longtime Bentley protégé, celebrity shooter, and onetime Frank co-owner Cliff Boutillier, shown honing his lens in preparation for next week’s edition. The Glace Bay native grimaced at the intrusiveness of today’s bloggers with their pesky iPhones.
“Whoever told you sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander,” he demanded.
David Bentley, that’s who.
Contrarian reader and consulting engineer Jeffrey Pinhey considers the pros and cons of using consultants, and the media’s treatment of the Dexter government:
So you are just getting around to the realization that the media are not going to be pro-NDP anything unless they are in opposition? I am no member of any of these “parties” (my parties are a lot more fun) but it sure seems obvious that the Herald is holding Darrell Dexter to a higher set of expectations that any other Premier has been in some time, even to the point of somehow twisting things to the point of blaming him for the indiscretions of members of the other parties. It almost seems like the last government’s lack of accountability is now the NDP’s fault?
This latest lack of interest in the truth around what that $43,000 actually paid for is just another example. I am sick and tired of the media going on about consultants doing work for government. What percentage of the words in a typical run of the Herald were actually written by their full time staff? Organizations hire consultants to do things they can’t do that well themselves, because they don’t do it all the time, the amount of work is above their own capacity to do in the tie required, the work is a specialized area of knowledge, and/or it is simply more cost effective.
This hiring of consultants to justify decisions that have already been made, and only releasing those studies that support the party line, has got to stop, though.
Lindsay Brown doesn’t like anonymous posting:
The good news here is that Halifax media are inadvertently leading the charge against the silly practice of anonymous online commentary.
First, in April, The Coast demonstrated that the mere possibility of court action was enough for it to de-cloak its posters.
Now, The Chronicle-Herald has shown us that its promise of anonymity depends on who you are. Apparently, the promise is worthless if the Herald thinks it can get a story out of identifying you. They’ll even go to the trouble of hunting you down. So, anonymous poster, beware.
The Herald has also exposed in a dramatic way the contradiction tolerated by media who encourage online “anonymity”. We know that the Herald is an ethical news organization, so it follows that the paper regards anonymous commentary as ethical. But the story on the premier’s chief of staff is predicated on the idea that it was UNethical for him to post anonymously. So, either posting anonymously was unethical, or the newspaper acted unethically when it identified the poster. The Herald can’t have it both ways. Media outrage across the country at the anonymous postings from Helena Guergis’s staff in March shows our local paper has plenty of company — they are all wallowing together in a frothy hot-tub of contradiction.
They can defend themselves by arguing that anonymous commentary is the special domain the elusive “ordinary citizen”, and that the public has a right to know when someone with a vested interest or bias has trespassed. That leaves online media with two options: they can check every anonymous post to ensure that its author is in fact ordinary; or they can require posters to sign their work and allow readers to determine for themselves how much credibility the writer deserves. The latter continues to work well on letters-to-the-editor pages.
A commenter on the Herald website called LilacLover also sees the contradiction: