I wanted to say something nice about The Moncton Times and Transcript today. I really did. And, after ploughing through the usual mess of blandness and triviality that calls itself a newspaper, I thought I had found something good on the editorial page. It was Nortbert Cunningham/s column on the lack of interest in the election. It started well. In fact, it wasn't until paragraph four that I realized what an ingnorant rant this was.
He puts all the blame on the politiciansfor the low interest in voting. They are rude, l lying, don't lay out the issues, and hypocritical, and refuse to act on what we need.
As an historian, I have known many federal politicians of all parties, and have studied of them back to1867. Some of them were or are rude and presumptuous. But not many. I, on at least two occasions, appointed Romeo Leblanc to teach Canadian Studies at Concordia University. The students adored him; and students don't adore rude or presumptuous people. I've appeared before several parliamentary committees where I encountered some very tough questions. But I never encountered rudeness, not even from those who disagteed with me. I once submitted a brief to a roomful of Conservative senators. It was a brief highly critical of the Senate for playing cheap politics in having such a hearing in the first place. In the discussion that followed, I heard not a peep of rudeness.
Some politicians lie. Brian Mulroney was noteworthy in his evasion of the truth. But I don't recall reading any thundering editorials about that in The Moncton Times. Harper certainly lies. Most politicians will sometimes leave out the whole story. But few openly lie. I cannot recall any deliberate lie from, say, R.B.Bennett or Lester Pearson or Tommy Douglas.
Some would rather denigrate than lay out the issues. That has become a serious problem lately. One reason they do it is because it works with a poulation that is not informed enough to understand anything but denigration. And can Norbert guess who keeps us uninformed?
Not all, and maybe even not most, politicians are hypocritical. I knew Trudeau. He was never hypocritical. (Nor was he scared of questions. He could play the press like a yo-yo, Harper limits questions because he is scared.)
John Diefenbaker could be a nasty guy in a fight. But he was never a hypocrite. Nor was Pearson. (Mackenzie King was a hypocrite; but he was a very weird guy all round.)
And politics are so crooked they're run by gangsters who pass around envelopes in shady bars in Montreal? Actually, I knew some of the gangsters in Montreal. Most of them posed as businessmen, and got contracts that way for their legal businesses. As a rule,they gave money only to the Liberals and Conservatives. Anyway, Montreal is well out of the picture these days as a centre of big money.
Is that how the Liberals and Conservatives get their money in New Brunswick? How come you haven't assigned a reporter to the story.?You could tell us all about who gives the money and who gives it. C'mon, Norbert, tell us how Alward is a lying, thieving, hypocrite who never takes action. And tell us who is paying him off.
Politicians don't act? Ever heard of Tommy Douglas and Medicare? Ever heard of John Diefenbaker who raised the federal pension to a decent level? And who took the stand that later would end racial abuse in South Afr8ca? Ever heard of Pierre Trudeau.and Jean Chretien who got us through two separation votes?
Apparently, you've never heard of R.B. Bennett (from "The Greater Moncton Area") who, in 1935 ran on a platform of reforms that Canada needed. The Canadian people voted against him. But the Liberals later took his ideas and some from the CCF?NDP to build the modern Canada that Harper (and The Moncton Times) seems eager to destroy.
In fact, if I were looking for rudeness, ignorance, lying, and hypocrisy, I wouldn't look first at the politicians. I'd check out the Moncton Times.
After I read it, I could only think, "Damn. why should I vote. It doesn't matter?"
Now - why should should Cunningham (who, I suspect, does have a brain behind his moustache) write an article so exaggerated that it seems hysterical, so ignorant, and so negative?
Lesson no. 1 about the news media.
He probably wanted to discourage us from voting. A low turnout would probably benefit the Conservatives most of all. There are huge changes that would come from a Harper majority; and there's big money riding on those changes. And the big money isn't coming from shady bars in Montreal. It's coming from lush offices in St. John and Toronto and Calgary. And it's not coming to help you.