Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10: Sherlock Holmes and the case of the troubled premier: conclusion

.Permier Alward poured out his story for close to an hour, paused, sighed, "....and that was the second time he humilitated me, publicy treating me and my government as if  we were his office clerks."

Holmes' eyes revealed a sympathy he always felt for those who, despite honorable intentions, find themselves being used for evil puproses. But his voice also betrayed an  impatience.

"You mentioned the Atlantic Insitute for Market Studies. What does it do? Was it founded before or after your troubles? Who pays for it? How did your predecessor, Shawn Graham, get the idea of of buying electricity from another province?"

Premier Alward looked back at the master like a deer caught in the headlights. "Well." he stammered, "AIMS is a scientific study group. But it is private; so it is not required to post the names of its donors...."

"Not another word". said Holmes. There is no need to answer. This is not even a one-pipe problem. I shall explain it to you."

"AIMS is a propaganda front for corporations and the wealthy. It's expensive to operate; so I can assure you it does not live on donations from widows and orphans. Its 'scientific' reports are worthless; but get excellent coverage by newspapers because the newspaper owners are commonly the same people who support these 'think tanks' all across North America."

"Generally, their purpose is to privatize as much as possible. Thus their constant reports that government should be small (except when making grants and giving tax cuts to the rich), and that everything should be privatized - education, health care, pensions....all should be for private profit".

"Currently, AIMS is also working on a project to form a sort of economic union of the Maritimes, Quebec and New England. That surely gives a hint of why we hear talk of selling NB Energy, buying some electricity from Quebec, and exporting some to New England where the donors to AIMS also have substantial interests".

"Premier Graham was simply a pawn who failed them in dealing with public anger."

"Your party, Mr. Alward, has traditionally, along with the Liberals, been safely in the pockets of the donors to AIMS. But they needed a tougher and more visible stance to deal with the voters. Thus the Economic Summit, essentially a programmed gathering of corporate heads with an assortment of attractive potted plants like university presidents and community leaders. The report that they presented at the end, could have been written - and may have been written - before the meeting was held. But there needed to be something more, if only to demonstrate to you that you had better not fail to deliver the goods, as Premier Graham did.".

"That was when Mr. Irbing announced in his papers that he had formed a coalition with your government. That annnouncement was unconsitutional and highly improper. Only an elected person can be in a coalition in a democracy. As well, one does not invite oneself into a coalition any more than one invites oneself to a private party. The invitiation - and the announcement - are  up to the host. That announcement, coming from Mr. Irving was a warning to you and to oanyone who thought New Brunswick was a democracy. Your silence on that occasion must have encouraged him."

"I cannot, at this distance, determine how arrogance and ego may have influenced Mr. Irving's behaviour. He may suffer from those as the emperor Caligula did. Caligula, in his arrogance, thought he was a god and, accordingly, frequently wore a beard made of gold wire inserted, one wire at a time, into his skin."

"Whatever the full reasoning might have been, the effect was certainly to remind you and the voters who the boss is. But even that wasn't enough. He needed even more direct control."

"Thus the meeting you had with two, lesser corporate types, to tell you they were setting up a group to create an economic plan for the future of New Brunswick. You were graciously permitted to join as an ordinary member. That committte now has public credibility, and power to influence, even shape, every government function from privatizing NB Energy to clearing roads. The public and their elected representatives no longer matter."

"But what shall I do, Mr. Holmes? If I deny what they ask, they will leave the province.?"

"Holmes smiled. "And if you spray a mosquito, it will leave before it has sucked all it wants of your blood.. Mr. Alward, following the instinct of  your fears will simply lead you to become as unpopular as Graham Shawn was. And New Brunswickers, I fear, will show their anger in the only way they seem to know - vote you out, and vote the Liberals back in."

"Go public, Mr. Alward. Tell your voters what I have told you. Expect no help from most of the news media, of course. But buy space on radio. Then travel the province to meet your voters. Tell them that you propose to resist. Then, do what you said you would do in your election campaign.."

"Listen to them."

A light flashed in Alward's eyes. He stood up, shoulders squared. "I'll do it, Mr. Holmes/ Thank you and bless you for making me a man,again."

Holmes grasped Alward's hand in both of his. "Spoken like a true Briton."

 With that, Alward strode to the door. As it closed behind him, Holmes clapped his hands and, said, "Well, Watson, tonight we get away from Mrs. Hudon's dreadful sheepshead pudding, and dine at the best restaurant we can find."

"But Holmes, your last supply of heroin took almost all our money. We barely have enough to eat even Mrs. Hudson's food for the month."

Holmes chuckled. "The game's afoot, Watson. Before we go out,I 'll send a message to Mr. Irving, telling him what was said tonight.  That will earn a mountain of heroin for me, and enough restaurant food to last the rest of our lives."

And so, fifteen minutes later, the two friends stepped into the evening fog. Holmes raised his stick..



  1. Great blog. I work as a reporter, therefore I enjoy having another perspective. In fact, since I've begun reading your blog, I find that I do my work better now..

  2. I would be curious to know however, what your thoughts are on other Brunswick News publications, such as the Telegraph-Journal or L'Étoile.

  3. I haven't read l'Etoile. l'Acadie Nouvelle has a narrow and local focus but, within those limits, it seems to be a well run paper.
    All of the English language papers I have seen in New Brunswick are appallingly bad. Indeed, that could be be said for all the dailies I have seen in the Maritimes.

    That is not to say those in Canada and the US are good. Almost all are heavily biased, and almost all rely heavily on trivia, like horoscopes, or sports to retain readers.

    Yhe ad space, though, suggests that these are profitable enterprises.

    Commercial radio and TV news are pure show biz.
    CBC is affected by it because it has to draw listerners and viewers from the same pool as the commercial stations.

    Understanding the news doesn't come from following it on any one source. It comes from hanging on to common sense, and reaching a realistic understanding of how people behave.

    Nobody of any sense, for example, goes to war, killing over a million inncent people and spending hunmdreds of billions of dollars, to get one, bad man like Saddam Hussein. Obviously, that was not the reason.
    And if the people of Iraq were now liberated and happy in a democracy, they would not need an American army of occuption there. Indeed, the American army is there an is staying for reasons that have nothing to do with Iraq.

    Good newspapers and magazines are few - The Manchester Guardian, The Independent, The Economist - all from Britain, and the last of them a comfort to those who call themselves "conservatives". On the middle east, the best, despite its unpopularity with its nattional government, is the Israeli El Haaretz

  4. Oh, first lesson as a reporter. Be careful in telling the truth. I worked with a newscaster who couldn't help telling the truth. He got fired, and went into exile on British radio for some years.

    I worked with another who was a blatant liar, alway in favour of the farthest right. He still enjoys a highly successful career.

    I've worked for both private and public news media. The joy of being retired is that for the first time I can tell the whole truth.
    It's been worth the wait.

  5. Yes, I agree on the last point. One thing that I don't enjoy, is not being able to speak up when something ticks me off.

    As for l'Acadie Nouvelle. I also agree that it is often narrow minded. However, they have two good reporters in particular. Jean-François Boisvert and Philippe Murat. They also have a good editorialist, Rino Rossignol.

    The biggest problem to me is it's seeming lack of coherence. Sometimes, two different reporters will cover very similar subjects two times in the same week, for example.

    As for L'Étoile. The provincial section does a good job for the most part, and I always make a point to read Jean-Marie Nadeau's editorial.

    The Telegraph-Journal, I read less often, however I always enjoy reading the work of the reporter Adam Huras.

    As for Hareetz, I agree, it is a solid newspaper.

    As for the french language, Le Monde, from Paris. Montreal's La Presse, wouldn't be much if it weren't for two editorialists in particular : Pierre Foglia and Patrick Lagacé.

    For the CBC having to water itself down to attract more viewers/listeners, I think there is no better example to illustrate that then Radio-Canada Acadie's afternoon show: En Rafales. The information "blows in gusts", leaving very little time for interpretation.

  6. I have no trouble with Nouvelle having a narrow focus. It's written for and spedific audience, and meets that audience's need for a local papre very well.

    In foreign press, I also like The indendent, Al Jazeera, and wish I could read Der Spiegel.
    What would be great would be a journal wished published representative samples of newspapers all of the world, and in all languages. And that should now be possible on the net. I would dearly love to get a sense of perspectives and perceptions (and even propaganda) as published by Brazilian or Chinese or Jordaniian paper.