Emus down vs. Emu Downs


On Monday, Contrarian voiced skepticism about a Digby couple’s claim that wind turbines had decimated their their emu flock.

Andy MacCallum, vice president of developments for Natural Forces Technologies Inc., a company that helps develop small wind projects in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and British Columbia, responds:

I worked on a wind farm in Western Australia a few years ago called Emu Downs Wind Farm. An emu farmer was the major landowner for the project. The emus loved the turbines, and would gather at the turbine bases as they provided shelter from the wind.

This is, of course, merely an anecdote, just as the failure of the Ocean Breeze Emu Farm is merely an anecdote. By themselves, neither proves anything. But the Emu Downs story presents stronger evidence against the turbines-harm-emus hypothesis, than the Ocean Breeze story presents in its favor.

  • If turbines kill emus, then gathering around the Emu Downs turbines should have hurt the Aussie birds, but apparently it did not. The site remains a tourist attraction.
  • A thousand factors could have caused the Ocean Breeze emus’ failure to thrive. Owners Debi and David Van Tassell simply picked the explanation they preferred, with no supporting evidence.

Without considering possible alternatives, the CBC swallowed the Van Tassell’s sad story, whole. Not to be outdone, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald committed the same journalistic malpractice a day later.

The impulse to accept at face value any argument against any development, no matter how far fetched or specious, simply because those advancing it are deemed, “sincere,” is a recipe for basing decisions on ignorance, prejudice, and magical beliefs.

Where are the editors?

[Photo: Workers construct the base of a wind turbine going up at Hillside Boularderie, about 30 km from Contrarian’s Kempt Head base station. Courtesy of Natural Forces.]

A breach of duty at two important institutions


In the moral panic that arose in response to Tom Flanagan’s comments on child pornography last week, most of those who rushed to join the lynch mob were guilty of self-righteousness abetted by misrepresentation. CBC New executive Jennifer McGuire and University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon, however, deserve special mention for their failure to uphold the responsibility their instituions have for protecting controversial speech. Both had a duty to uphold a core principle of their organizations, and they weren’t up to the task.

Three reporters spearheaded devastating CBC survey

Three national reporters for CBC Radio News carried out the devastating survey posted here last night, a source tells Contrarian.

Veteran reporters Vic Adhopia of St. John’s, Dave Seglins of Toronto, and Greg Rasmussen of Vancouver conducted the survey in March after months of grousing by colleagues about the operation of The Hub, the Toronto unit that co-ordinates all assignments for radio and TV news reporters.

They submitted the survey to CBC brass, who responded in a conference call with all national reporters two weeks ago. News head Jonathan Whitten led the management team on the call, which one reporter described as “like throwing a snowball into hell.” Senior Managing Editors Greg Reaume and Cathy Perry also participated.

Introduced last fall, the much criticized Hub is a central feature of a reorganization that sought to merge previously separate radio and TV news operations into a single, seamless operation. Located on the fourth floor of the CBC building in Toronto, it has three components: The “Live Hub,” which fields live hits on the CBCNews Network (formerly Newsworld) and other shows; the Daily News Desk, which handles radio and TV news assignments; and the Planning Desk, which looks after everything after midnight on the current day.

The radio reporters say television priorities dominate the new system, with little regional input, and an obsessive concern with pizzazz over journalistic substance.

Jeffrey Dvorkin of the Ryerson University Journalism School, formerly with CBC Radio and National Public Radio, has more on the dispute.