Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25: Democracy in the dark

In the last provincial election, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives had anything that could be called a platform. The closest was an Alward statement that he would listen. Oh, and there was a vague suggestion that we have to prepare for globalization. Since no politician seemed to know what that meant, and since none had given any thought to how we would prepare for it, that was kind of a blank. The result was that New Brunswickers voted Conservative - simply because they were mad at the Liberals. Now they're mad at the Conservatives. Third parties can't be a factor in an election because they're close to invisible. Nobody knew much of what they stood for. How could they know? The Moncton Times and Transcript rarely mentioned third parties - and didn't mention them at all in its last issue before the vote. Nor is this the sort of city in which voters will make the effort to go to public meetings to find out what these parties are all about. That's why this city draws developers and fast buck artists like clams at low tide draw gulls. I'm astonished at how many candidates in this municipal election (and the school district ones) are urging voters to pick them because they have experience. Since most of that experience seems to have been in making bad decisions, you'ld think they would hide it. Others are going to do good things. We don't know what the good things are. But it's reassuring that nobody is promising to do bad things. So far, I've seen only a couple I would vote for. One is in my district. I don't entirely agree with him. But I know him to be intelligent and honest. Another is a friend for whom I have a high regard. Both have what is missing in most other candidates - a sense of what the major problems facing the city are, and both are scrupulously open and honest. As for the school district elections - what a disaster area! Most seats are uncontested. And the TandT has not mentioned what any of them stand for, or even what a DEC does. A newspaper should be pressing candidates to take positions on what they see as the major priorities, and on what they plan to do about them. There are some major problems about to come crashing down on this city. Some will take time - maybe a decade - but the next election will be too late to start planning for them. For a few hints - the age of fossil fuels is coming to and end. It may be supply. It may be costs. It may be environmental damage. But it's coming to an end. That has enormous implications for transit, city layout, home heating... And it's coming soon - to you. Then there's the recession. For those who haven't noticed, it has created severe hardship in countries like Spain, Greece, Ireland, Britain, problems so severe that the basic social and political structure is threatened. The US is almost as badly off. The economic situation is so unstable that even China is at risk. Can anyone seriously believe that Canada can escape when all its trade partners are in trouble? So what does this mean that MOncton can and and should (and shouldn't)do in the next few years? A newspaper should be pushing the candidates on this. It should have special reports (written by people who know what they're talking about) on what problems we have to face, what solutions we should be considering, what our priorities should be. It's not happening. There has been no substantial discussion in the Times and Transcript. Somebody did write a column urging people to vote. On what? Where is the information people need to cast an informed vote? Where is the public discussion and debate? Of course, we're going to have a low turnout. Of course, we're going to elect more than a few bozos and fronts for special interests. Democracy can't possibly function without informatin and public discussion. I've seen precious little of either in Moncton, and none of it in the Moncton Times and Transcript. The only items in today's paper worth reading are Alec Bruce and two letters to the editor, one on school bullying, and one on a local impact of CBC cuts. Norbert's columns just get crankier and wilder. This time it is about how Harper's tough on crime laws are good because Harper represeents the people (unlike other arrogant parties that don't). Hint, Norbert. More people voted for the arrogant parties than voted for Harper. Eric Lewis wastes half the op ed page on that burning issue of our time - that Nickelback might be the world's biggest rock act. Lord love a duck. The Moncton Times and Transcript. The paper that stands for ignorance and juvenilia, the paper that is helping to make us and our children pay a heavy price for our ignorance and juvenility.


  1. Please ... put paragraphs in your posts!

  2. Your criticisms are certainly legit, but I think are tainted by big city life. Democracy happens in other forums here: radio, associations, water cooler and, gasp, the Internet. People here even have long discussions with their neighbours (I'll never get used to that).

    Also, Moncton is a blue collar town. There is a certain intellectual element in French circles thanks to U of M, but largely this is a town of high school graduates. Overestimate their intellect at your peril.

  3. There were paragraphs when I sent it. I'm trying to find out what's going wrong.

    To Altavistagoogle:
    I don't come from one of them there fancy places in Montreal. In my district,a high school graduate was rare, indeed. None of my friends got past grade nine.
    As to getting news and opinion, Private radio is worse than nothing. And there isn't much informed information at the water cooler or in most associations.
    there's something else here. there's fear . I have never seen such a fear of open discussion, not even in China.

  4. while I agree somewhat with mr. google, at the same time, living in a small province in a blue collar town is no excuse for shoddy journalism.

    Now one doesn't have to pretend to be writing for a gang of Harvard graduates, but in order for someone to develop an opinion, one needs to be given the correct information. This can't be done when the same headlines are being seen day after day about rock concerts and other superficial trivia.

    Like Graeme often says, as well as Noam Chomsky, often times the best sections in these types of papers are often the sports section. If a sports writer were to commit any errors in his reports, people would not hesitate to tell him what he has done wrong. Sports talkshows are often flooded with callers complaining about a so and so athlete or what he could've done differently.

    Why isn't this passion only seen rarely in other domains?