Friday, February 08, 2008

Come on CBC - You're Too Good for This Tripe

I am intrigued by the CBC report on “issue framing” around Mr. Ron Wood, the retired and former press secretary of former and retired Preston Manning, former leader of the former and retired federal Reform Party.

I have no problem with "retired" folks, and "former" folks expressing opinions or voting however they wish. But to suggest the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta under the new leadership of Ed Stelmach is “tired, old and complacent and need some time in exile” is just too rich and wantonly rhetorical. It just does not reflect any reasonable sense of reality!!!

If the Stelmach government is “tired, old and complacent” then how do you account for Stelmach’s considerable political and policy accomplishments of the past year? His new accomplishment and the fixing of the old mess left behind were so numerous and so significant that they outstripped the entire policy program and performance of the last 8 years of the Klein regime - substantially.

To suggest the PC Caucus that is tired, old and complacent, if it holds any truth, which I reject; it is mostly because of those MLAs who have announced their retirement. No doubt many are retiring as a result of the change in leadership and that is a normal renewal process. Not everyone who is retiring fits the description of tired, old and complacent but some do. But that has nothing to do with Stelmach’s capacity for good governing.

I have no problem with Mr. Wood publicly supporting a Liberal candidate. That is his right. I have done it myself, federally, with Anne McLellan. To suggest a federal Reform Party operative who is voting Liberal provincially is not shifting allegiances. For one reason, it is not just different parties but entirely different jurisdictions.

There is no affiliation between the federal Reform Party and the provincial PCs so how is this endorsment a shift of allegiances? Voting PC, or for any other party, is hardly enough to conclude that a citizen has declared an allegiance to a political party. Voting is nothing more than a right of citizenship – it is not a declaration of party allegiance.

There is no indication from the CBC piece that Mr. Wood was ever active in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party either. To assume his retired and former role in the former Reform Party is equivalent to an allegiance to the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party is misleading. They have nothing to do with each other.

It would be equally misleading if the Wood story were framed by the CBC in such a way to claim that he has shifted his allegiance away from Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives because he is voting Liberal in an Alberta provincial election. That would also be pure balderdash.

Mr. Wood can vote for whomever he likes and for what ever reasons he chooses. But to characterize his vote from Federal Reform to provincial Liberal as a shift of allegiance is a stretch beyond any measure of reasonableness. Mr. Wood's other gratuitous comments accusing Stelmach of leading a "tired, old and complacent" government is equally unreasonable and belied by the facts.

There are serious issues in this election and there are serious candidates from all parties putting forth their ideas on how to address those issues. There are real stories out there people - not this fluff! Can’t we focus our coverage efforts in this campaign on actually trying to identify the impact and import of those issues and ideas? Can’t we put some rigour into our media commentary and talk about the effectiveness of the various ideas and try to bring some clarity to complex issues. Can't we focus on exploring the implications the real issues and stories may hold for the future of Alberta?

Being tedious, trite, misleading and truly irrelevant like the voting choices story of Mr. Wood are a waste of CBC time and talent. CBC may not be the only MSM to “cover” this but I am a big fan of Mother Corp. When I see them decline to this level of political "coverage" I don’t just despair, I get disappointed.


  1. Anonymous8:07 pm


    While I agree with your post, you snd I both know that the MSM thrives on peronalities and creating controversy. This is what I call the trivialization of the media.

    Although policy wonks like ourselves wish to see the media focus on the issues and assist in educating voters, the reality is that the MSM caters to the trivial because it sells with the public.

    You are correct in asserting that the Premier has amassed a significant list of accomplishments over the past year. The fact that this list of accomplishments has been discounted by the MSM is due to the abysmal performance of the Premier's handlers in the areas of political strategy, message packaging and positioning and communicating through the media filter.

    Good example of this inadequate performance by the Premier's handlers include holding the campaign kickoff in the legislature media room and a health care announcement at the Capital Health Region. Others include not having correct physician training numbers and not knowng how much savings would accrue to affected Albertans from the day care and Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit changes. This is Politics 101 and the Premier has been badly let down by his handlers. This is not acceptable.

    We will see how the Premier's handlers respond to the court decision today ruling that the soft tissue damage cap of $4,000 is unconstitutional.

  2. I think you can safely say that the majority of Reformers voted PC provincially. The decision of the Reform Party to not enter provincial politics is often credited as being an important factor in Ralph Klein's victory over Betkowski in the 1992 leadership race and his subsequent ability to salvage the PC brand post-Getty.

  3. Anonymous10:50 am

    This could be a trend. Reformers and blue tories voting for anybody-but-special-ed.