Saturday, January 6, 2018


I will be the first to admit that I get only modest amounts of my news from television. However, due to the severe cold we have been experiencing for too long here in Ontario, I have been doing very little walking, usually a mainstay of my daily routine. To compensate, I have been spending some time downstairs where I have a small treadmill and other exercise equipment. Because of exercise's intrinsically boring nature, I have taken to watching CBC News Network. Because I am not a regular viewer of such news sources, please bear in mind that the following is only my impression and may, in fact, be a distorted perception of what the network is offering.

My sense is that there is a real effort on the part of the network to placate the right-wing. Two stories, although perhaps too small a sampling to demonstrate a genuine pattern, suggest this. The first, an interview also placed on the CBC's website, examines the impact of minimum wage increases that took effect in Ontario on January 1.
Farmer Kevin Howe of Howe Family Farms in Aylmer, Ont., a small business that has been in operation for five generations, said he's already reducing the amount of crops he plans to plant this year, and fears he won't need as many workers because consumers won't be willing to pay the higher prices he'll have to charge to cover wage increases.

"Costs are always going up and we need to be able to pass these costs on to stay in business," he told CBC News in an interview Tuesday.

Some summers he hires up to 400 people to pick his strawberry crop, but this year there will be far fewer hours available as the farm has reduced its strawberry acreage by 30 per cent as a precaution. "It's definitely going to impact the amount of work available," he said. "It's going to make for shorter days [and is] definitely not going to be good for the community."

While Andrew Nichols certainly offered a sympathetic ear to young Kevin Howe, notably absent was any offer of a countervailing view by Nichols, for example, the fact that most economists seen the increase as ultimately yielding a net benefit to business because of the increased buying power customers will have. The host, instead, seemed content with feeding Howe leading questions that bolstered his position.

Not yet convinced that this is anything more than a particular host's handling of an issue? Then take a look at the following, in which Diane Buckner interviews Ian Lee, a professor at the Sprott School of Business. Start at about the 2:12mark, when they begin to duscuss the disgraceful behaviour of Coburg's Tim Hortons, bullying behaviour that now appears to be spreading.

You will note that while Buckner gamely sets up the story with a context that might provoke some anger at the franchisees' mean-spirited actions, and attempts to provide balance throughout the interview, Lee's sympathies clearly lie with the owners and their massive profits. For him, the costs entailed by labour seem to be one of those unfortunate and dirty realities to be lamented as loudly as possible. Indeed, he even goes so far as to claim, at the end of the piece, that the wage increase will result in 60,000 layoffs, an absolute misrepresentation of the Bank of Canada report. Clearly, the CBC knew what they were getting when they hired Ian Lee to occupy a pundit's perch.

My final evidence for CBC bias is an opinion piece by
Robyn Urback, a columnist for the National Post who was hired in 2016 to write and produce for the CBC's Opinion section. Entitled Of course businesses would act like businesses in wake of minimum wage hikes her view is also one of total sympathy for business owners.
Businesses exist to make money. Government should function on the expectation that corporations will act in their own economic self-interest. Instead, in the case of Ontario, officials feign shock and outrage when a business tries to maximize profits, and release silly statements like the one Premier Kathleen Wynne did Thursday afternoon, accusing one of the vacationing Tim Hortons heirs of being a "bully" for eliminating paid breaks and other benefits.

Sure, eliminating paid breaks is not very nice. But what, exactly, did the premier think was going to happen? Employers would just absorb the added costs? Dip into their own personal profits? OK, and maybe my prom dress still fits, too?
The article goes on in a similar vein for some time, but I imagine you get the flavour of it from that excerpt.

So is our national broadcaster providing fair and balanced coverage of a crucial social and economic issue? My guess would be it is not. For that, you may wish to go to this piece entitled Relax, Ontario’s minimum wage increase will not lead to massive job losses, found on the Vice website, or this thoughtful essay by Michael Coren entitled Why Tim Hortons doesn’t deserve your sympathy, on the TVO website.

UPDATED: The Hamilton Spectator's Deidre Pike also has an interesting reflection on minimum wage increases.


  1. I am currently reading a book called the nordic theory of everything which made the first picture easily understandable. Switzerland, Scandinavia and a few other countries have found the balance between social needs supplied by government and and essentially conservative attitude towards finance and business.
    I love listening to people complain about high costs and low wages and then point out that companies like Walmart and timmies could charge a nickel more on every item and pay every employee twenty bucks an hour, problem solved. like every problem in life today someone has already figured out the solution which is often in use somewhere. we just have to stop listening to the msm and political parties and their supporting nutcases and start looking for the positives happening in the world.

    1. Thanks for your very relevant and helpful comments, Bill. It is funny how, when we move outside of the North American bubble that the MSM encapsulates us in, we can often see the world in more positive and progressive terms. The problem seems to be that far too many people think that anything happening outside of our continent is somehow not worth our attention, clearly a benighted notion.

  2. "Government should function on the expectation that corporations will act in their own economic self-interest." That point is inarguable. The corporate self-interest, however, has to be subordinated somewhat to the public interest. The political caste is elected to represent the public who voted them into power and those voters who preferred someone else. They are not elected to put corporate interests ahead of the public interest but to balance the conflicting needs of labour and capital recognizing, as Lincoln said, that "labour is by far the superior."

    That principle, stated by Lincoln, is especially relevant today in this era of early-onset automation that is going to become a more dominant factor in our industrial economy. Galbraith addresses this in "The Predator State."

    Ours is a consumer economy and there's really nothing else we can substitute for that. The corporate sector collapses without access to markets sufficiently large to purchase and consume their wares. Henry Ford knew that it was essential that his workers earned enough to be able to afford to buy his cars.

    Commerce today engages in nihilistic pursuit of unsustainable profits at the expense of even its own mid- and long-term interests. Executive compensation is based on what the company takes in today, not how it may be positioned to fare in the next decade or the one after that.

    A month before the Republican tax cuts were passed, corporations were gearing up for the anticipated windfall. They weren't hiring new employees or adding additional machinery, they were organizing share buy backs. They were using the newfound money to buy back outstanding shares sending share prices soaring, hence increasing executive compensation. And the US government is funding this nihilism with an additional 1.5 trillion in borrowings. Call it "the art of the deal."

    In the era of globalism our neoliberal political caste thought they could finally wash their hands of responsibility for the balancing of public and private interests, delegating this fundamental responsibility to "the invisible hand of the marketplace." Only that hand no longer works as they fantasize.

    We think fondly of the era of Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, the vision they brought to our country. That began to wane under Mulroney and Chretien but it was crushed under Harper and, sadly, now Trudeau the lesser. Now when we desperately need leaders of vision again, leaders who can navigate us through these enormous challenges of the day, that quality is no longer on offer.

    1. Your comments are both insightful and only too accurate, Mound. If you don't mind, I would like to feature them as tomorrow's post.

  3. You couldn't be more right, albeit a lot late to the party. The right began their attack against the CBC with Mulroney and have never let up. The national broadcaster is now a pale imitation of a journalistic institution. Much like the BBC.

    1. Thanks for the input, Jeff. It gives me confidence that my view on the CBC is not merely an outlier's perception.

  4. .. this all heads to 'thin ice' .. and you're the one skating on it. OK .. we are all oit there.. My point is .. how this connects to the dreaded topic.. 'temporary foreign workers' .. No need to expand on any of the comments.. or the post.. but this is a spectre to be considered.. All the best !

    1. It is interesting, Sal, that the topic of temporary foreign workers has fallen off of the media's radar.