Sunday, November 10, 2013

We Are All To Blame

Here is a letter from today's Star that puts responsibility for the proliferating problem of deceitful, inept, corrupt and demagogic political leaders where it belongs: on all of our shoulders:

Re: How to cover a deceiver without airing mistruth? Opinion Nov. 6

Publisher John Cruickshank’s wonderful piece addresses what should be a deep concern in our society: the prevalent and amoral use of “spin.” In the 1960s, when I was being raised in Toronto, we called “spin” what it was: a lie.

The temerity of many people in our society, most notably those with whom we should have the greatest trust — politicians and political parties — lie on a regular basis. While there are some individuals (in what should be a noble profession) who avoid spin aka lies, it has become all to common to lie as a means to an end. We have witnessed this in spades over the past six month, both in Ottawa and in Toronto.

Mr. Cruickshank makes an excellent point. By printing the spin, aka lies, the press is enabling this disgusting behaviour. He is absolutely correct in stating that quotes from people-who-lie become, de facto, truth.

These lies have become so much a part of our culture that some people accept behaviour such as that of Mr. Ford and Mr. Harper as “acceptable,” dismissing the lies under the umbrella of “everyone makes mistakes” or “he is saving me tax dollars.” How anti-social and self-serving.

While many politicians have lost their moral compass, so has our society. We, as members of civilized society, are complicit in allowing them to get away with spin aka lies.

It is time for us to take back our compass. For a start, let us call these people what they are: liars. Let’s not allow them to get away with it. Like bullies, spin-people cannot stand the light of day. They prefer to crawl around under rocks, in the slime and in the dark.

David Bourque, Scarborough


  1. Excellent point, Lorne, that we need to call out the spins, aka as lies, whenever we see them.

    Just take an example from CBC today. There is a story there from Leslie MacKinnon asking the question whether it matters where a Senator is from. It then purports in its subtitle to claim that experts disagree whether Senators need to live in the provinces they represent. However, it is only if you read the story carefully, that you realize that only one of the three so called experts cited, Grammond, is a lawyer and trained in constitutional law. Grammond had suggested that Harper should not have appointed Duffy, Wallin and Olsen because they did not meet residency requirements.

    Consider the other two "experts" who supposedly disagreed with Grammond. The first is McCreely who worked as a senior aide to LeBreton. All we are told is that he had researched the requirements but could not find any stipulation for residence in the province they are appointed to represent. First, it is clear that he was not a lawyer and if he had any special qualifications in constitutional law, it was not stated. Second, the fact that he worked for LeBreton should have raised conflict of interest concerns to CBC.

    The other so called expert who disagreed with Grammond, David Smith, does have some academic credentials, having written a book on the Senate. However, clearly he was not trained in constitutional law, unlike Grammond, and thus one can legitimately question how qualified he is to interpret the nuances of constitutional law in regard to residential requirements.

    Thus by giving the same weightage to all three opinions, CBC wittingly or otherwise, has managed to muddy the waters on residential requirements with the spins that McCreely and Smith had expressed.

    Until and unless readers call out these type of poorly written articles/analyses every time they occur, the unscrupulous political types, aka the Harperites, will succeed in justifying their corrupt acts by misleading unwary voters with their spins.

    1. An excellent illustration, Anon, of an endemic problem. Although it is hardly unique to the CBC, I have more than once said on this blog that the national broadcaster often seems intent on a policy of appeasing the right under the guise of 'fair and balanced' reporting. As you point out, by providing a platform for the unqualified, they needlessly further the confusion on issues.