The only surprise I had watching the story of the 'branded' cheques from the government today, was the surprise exhibited by some of the media.
I say that, because surely there is a track record of skirting or blatantly ignoring the rules by this government that should have triggered some intellectual curiosity before now?
I mean we're still not clear on the In and Out scandal, the mis-use of 10 per centers, or the distribution of stimulus dollars favouring Conservative ridings, the Government website now all Tory blue and referring to the Harper government versus the Government of Canada. What about, all social network links on the Action Plan site leading you directly to Harper's pages on Facebook, etc, and of course the massive advertising campaign designed to pat the government on the back rather than inform Canadians?
I heard Tonda McCharles say two remarkable things last evening. First, she admitted that the press goes after the shiny object, until the next one comes along and second, she placed the responsibility of Ignatieff receiving coverage squarely in his lap, :"that's his job", meaning to capture her/their imagination.
I say remarkable, but I can't argue with her. On the first count, I've long argued that the industry has taken that turn and I think it's doing us all a disservice. Chasing and reporting on a shiny object is of little import when the subject of that particular story is then allowed to dull it down to the point that it no longer attracts the attention of the journalist.
I heard Tim Powers trying to do that tonight about the cheques. Think about how many times the government has come out and defended itself, always ending with a 'much ado about nothing' statement. Often, (not sure why), that is taken as fact and there is no follow up. How is that pap ingested?
On the second point, I do think that Ignatieff has a responsibility to attract attention, but yesterday for instance, he announced some pretty compelling environmental policy. This, after being berated for months by the media for not delving into policy. Was it covered? Barely. Why? Well, as far as I can tell that would take some knowledge of the subject which I don't think journo's are given the chance to establish.
For instance, it was subsequently reported today that Ignatieff's announcement was overshadowed, (read irrelevant), because of Harper's announcement in Alberta. Anyone who understands the file would quickly realise that Harper read a lot of words and said nothing. He's speaking of a project that is unproven and an expenditure that is spread over time, in other words...means very little. That said, I don't expect every journo to be an expert in every field, but something is wrong when we don't get the fact's juxtaposed to what we are being told/fed.
So back to what has been going on with this government. Yeah, yeah, I know the Conservatives are still flailing around dragging up the sponsorship scandal, but really, much of what is going on with the current government is in direct contradiction to what came out of the Gomery report that examined that scandal.
You remember him don't you? The hero of the right? The man that exposed the ills that resided, not so much in the Liberal government, but that took place under it's watch. Well he made a number of recommendations in that report to guard against that kind of thing happening again. Guess what? Harper is ignoring many of them.
Blah, blah, blah, Accountability Act, seems to be the come-back, except they haven't implemented the serious aspects of it. Why does that not get reported, in conjunction with all that has gone on? It seems to me that would be a pretty simple story to follow.
For the record, my objective here is not to berate the media. Susan Delacourt was on this cheque business in July and many stories have been written that expose the ills of the current government, but there is no through line.
No, my point has more to do with a narrative not being part of their mission anymore. Or, so it appears to me.
There is a compelling narrative here and it is one that does not bode well for the government. It's consistent, in most cases it's measurable and in fact it's an interesting story. The story of a government that came to power professing everything under the sun. One that has failed on almost every count, yet Canadians don't seem to realise that.
The Accountability Act is step one, but then of course we have the 'no deficit', 'no recession' comments/nonsense, we have the vow not to partake in patronage appointments to the judiciary, boards or panels and of course, no appointments to the Senate. Ha! All of the above is laughable of course and falsely justified by Ministers, the PM and the apologists, ad nauseum.
The Liberals have raised all of these issues, yet somehow, they seem to be sloughed off by the media and in fairness, perhaps as 'one offs' they look like nit-picking...but taken as a whole, it's not too damn tough to see the pattern here.
To me, the pattern of this government is one of contradiction, 'believe we're doing what we say, but don't look at what we're doing'. That holds true to the accountability issues raised above, but pertains to just about every file.
Look at the Afghanistan detainee issue. The appointee shut it down today because of a lack of co-operation by the government. Climate change? Well appeal to that huge base that still lives in la-la denial land and sort of deny it, do nothing of substance, but suddenly defend the need to defend the North that is more vulnerable due to melting ice. Huh? Interfering in arms length institutions? Oh yeah...think AECL. It goes on from there of course.
So, the drip, drip, drip of contradiction will hopefully be explored and exposed. Who will allow/change the model and let the intelligence of our journo's to shine? I don't know the answer to that.
Until then, keep up the posts, the comments and the tweets. And if there is still someone out there that disputes the impact of Twitter, you're living in another world.
Update - An unlikey suspect steps forward. Ivison. A part of a sentence I disagree with though:
The Conservative Party needs to rediscover its humility in short order...
Rediscover? Tell me when they ever held that trait. Hubris has been the order of the day from the start.