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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ad populum in alberta.

At this point, you've probably heard that the CBC has been banned from embargoed government lockups for a year. The ban comes after a CBC reporter leaked information in an interview before the recent Tory Budget release. Though I don't have an issue with the government responding to the CBC (as one of their reporters broke the agreed embargo), it becomes even more interesting when you look at the recent relationship between the CBC and the Alberta Tories.

During and since the March 3 provincial election, CBC reporters Kim Trynacity and John Archer have been taking a more critical and investigative tone than the Tories are used to seeing in the mainstream media. At times during the provincial election, Trynacity seemed like more of a thorn in Premier Ed Stelmach's side than the opposition parties as she didn't rest in investigating the supposed 300,000 jobs that Stelmach claimed that Kevin Taft's Liberals' environmental plan would cost Alberta (Stelmach later changed his statement).

But the 300,000 jobs incident is only one example of a string of not-so-factual "arguments" that Stelmach has bandied around since becoming Premier in 2007.

In an underreported statement last week, Stelmach lashed out at the United Nations for their insisting that Alberta follow through on Canada's Kyoto Accord commitments. Stelmach seemed to claim that the United Nations was unfairly targeting Alberta due to Canada’s Alberta’s contribution to the United Nations mission in Afghanistan (it's actually a NATO-led mission that Canada volunteered to join after September 11). Stelmach suggested that because Canadian soldiers from Alberta have died in Afghanistan, his government shouldn’t have to comply with Kyoto targets.
"Does it bother me a bit? Yes it does," Stelmach said Thursday. "We´re in Afghanistan and just lost another soldier.
As someone who isn't the biggest fan of the United Nations, I can think of close to 1,000,000 legitimate criticisms as to how the United Nations and the Kyoto Accord are flawed, but none of them include invoking the memory of a fallen Canadian soldier for pure political reasons.

Latching on to Stelmach's argument that the United Nations was out to get Alberta was conspiracy enthusiast and Edmonton Sun politics/fish & game columnist Neil Waugh. Waugh’s column highlights the stark difference in the investigative tones of Alberta's media. Rather than being interested in the accuracy of Stelmach's statement, Waugh seems more interested in backing up Stelmach’s argument by making fun of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s name – aka: the Great Moon Pie. I think Waugh's argument may have been non-existent had Ban Ki-Moon's name been Joe Smith - aka: the Great Smith Pie (?).

And Alberta has an international image problem? I wonder why that could be?


Anonymous said...

Great post Dave. I hadn't heard about Stelmach's "soldiers' lives for carbon emissions" cap & trade program, so I'm glad you've brought these ridiculous comments to light.

It's truly terrifying that our Premier doesn't understand the difference between NATO and the United Nations. Ed Stelmach might actually be dumber than George W Bush himself.

Dr. Robert Langdon said...

good grief.

Of course the UN is out to get us. So are the Illuminati...

Anonymous said...

Let's put this in context:

On the night before the election, Kim Trynacity predicted we would see a minority government, a new Premier, and a Green Party MLA.

If I was paying good coin for someone to be flying all over the province covering politics and trying to gage public opinion, I would have handed Kim her pink slip on March 4th.

calgary said...

The CBC actually does do thorough investigative reporting. They don't have the reach of the right-wing media chains like the Sun and have the opposite bias of the Sun. The CBC gets a bad wrap by conservatives for being "left" (whatever that even means these days) but the completely biased conservative media basically reprints PC government press releases and then get cushy jobs in the Premier's Communications Office.

Kim Trynacity wasn't the only political reporter/watcher wrong on her prediction. I seem to remember a former PC cabinet minister by the name of Heather Forsyth who made a similar prediction. I believe she now sits at the very back of backbenches of the PC caucus.

tjk said...

Oh she who predicted the loss...HI-larious!

Not sure if the CityTV reporter that flaunts her name tag at Liberal meetings, or Miss CBC is worse...POLL!

Anonymous said...

I doubt Ban Ki-Moon knows or even cares who Ed Stelmach or Neil Waugh are.

Dinosaurs of a past time. It's far past time that Alberta realize how behind we are falling in the international move towards environmental protection. Big companies like Suncor and BP are in the energy business and will adapt. As long as the Alberta government is more concerned with protecting the small and medium sized oil companies Alberta will be left behind by the market.

The US is our biggest market and the customer demand is changing what they want in a product. It's time Alberta recognize the change in the oil consumer market and get a head of the wave rather than threaten to sell our oil to China.

Stelmach clearly does not understand international trade.

trent said...

What Trynacity predicted is irrelevant. It was a prediction and we all make them. The difference between media folks like Waugh and Trynacity (other than being a columnist and a reporter) is that Waugh just regergetates and bows down to whatever Stelmach says. It's lazy column writing. He's not paid to report, investigate, or get "the facts," he's paid to write an opinion (however uninformed it may be).

CBC has done a good job in reporting the oil sands debalical and this ban will most likely strengthen their resolve to take a critical look at what the tailing ponds and oil sands are doing to Albertas north.

Anonymous said...

Legitimate criticisms of the United Nations:

- The composition of the Security Council

- Inaction on genocide and human rights including in Darfur, Rwanda, the Congo

- Accusations of bias in the Arab-Israeli conflict

- Oil-for-Food Programme

Non-legitimate criticisms of the United Nations:

- Unfairly picking on Alberta

- Being responsible for Canadian deaths in the NATO-led Afghanistan mission

It is a big world out there and Albertans need to realize that they are just a very small fish in a large ocean.

foottothefire said...

Neil Waugh is at best, a wannabe fly fisherman who knows as much about fly fishing as he does about journalism.

Anonymous said...

Alberta is near Alabama, right?

cd said...

Since the election I've been puzzled to see how smart and intelligent PC mlas like Alison Redford, Janice Sarich, and Raj Sherman can put up with Stelmach. These mlas could be the braintrust of a great government but instead have volunteered to be second rung to a group of rural politicians like Ed Stelmach, Ray Danyluk, Lloyd Snelgrove, and Luke Ouellette? No wonder most smart people stay in the private sector.

tjk said...

I'd actually say both of the mentioned reporters can't hack it.

Be interesting, be original, be open, be opinionated.

And predictions based on no logic do matter. Those were her wishes, not her predictions. Either report the news, or offer opinion. Do both in separate articles if you must. Both are totally relevant, but be honest about it.

trent said...

Stelmach should crash the next United Nations climate change conference by dropping down from the ceiling with a banner.

Honest Ed has ninja skills.

ch said...

There is a simple formula to Neil Waugh's columns:

1. Take government press release
2. Add in offensive remarks about various groups that sometimes oppose government
3. Make ominous references to a conspiracy or secret source only he knows about
4. Mix with a healthy dose of incomprehensible stream-of-consciousness ranting.
5. Finish with an overall positive appraisal of government or fear-mongering counter-attack on some party he defines as trying to attack Alberta (today the UN, tomorrow school children, it really doesn't matter).

I'm not sure how he retains paid employment as a columnist.

ja said...

According to Ed Stelmach, the Liberal Official Opposition is now "subversive" for opposing his government's $25-million oilsands rebranding advertising campaign. How the hell is this guy still known as "Honest Ed????"

Stelmach brands Liberals 'subversive' for attack on ads

Premier argues PR campaign shows Alberta pride
Jason Markusoff, The Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - Premier Ed Stelmach condemned the Liberal opposition as "subversive" and suggested Tuesday the party's MLAs lack pride in Alberta, as he fervently defended his proposed $25-million government public-relations campaign.

It was one of the premier's nastiest barbs to date, using a term that invokes anti-government radicalism and has been more commonly used in the legislature to refer to terrorists or cited by the Chinese government to arrest critics of the upcoming Olympic Games.

An Alberta political scientist found the remarks uncharacteristically blunt and arrogant, while the Liberal at the receiving end said he's been called names by Tories, but never subversive.

"It clearly shows that the premier would like to have a one-party state in Alberta," Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald said. "It goes to show he has very little respect for democracy.

"There were lots of citizens in this province who voted for someone other than the Progressive Conservative party, and he seems to want to forget that. I think his 72-seat majority has gone to his head."

Stelmach made the comments during a budget debate in the legislature. Amid a testy exchange about the upcoming $25-million Alberta "branding" push, which the Liberals consider propaganda, MacDonald insisted to the premier that the official opposition has a role to keep the government accountable.

"The role of opposition in a democratic government is very important, but it's not to be subversive," Stelmach replied. "There's a big difference. It's a big difference."