Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31: The little newpaper that wasn't there

I was a year and a half ago that there was a protest by parents at Edith Cavell School. It was so small as to be irrelevant. But the Moncton news media covered it like a rug for day after day. I was astonished at the assignment editors who would waste resources on such a non--story.

Last night was the second pot and pan demonstration over bill C 38 among other issues. The turnout was a good 150. Now, Moncton is, to put it gently, not easily roused to protest against anything. One hundred and fifty people taking to the streets is rare, and equivalent to a good 2000 in a city the size of Montreal.

And the only reporter I saw there was from CBC. Where was the Moncton Times? Where were all the  Mickey Mouse news desks from local radio and CTV?

 I enjoyed the evening. It was nice to be with people who know what's going on, and who care about it. And there are more demos to come. In particular, there's a big one for Saturday at nine at city hall. I wouldn't miss it for the world. The Saturday one is about shale gas.

It says something about the power structure here when people have to resort to going to the street to express their frustration because most of the news media and all of the government refuse to give them information, and refuse to listen to what concerns them. Its not protesters who create disorder. It's lying and incompetent and bought and paid for politicians, and it's news media that don't report anything.

Oh, it did cover an emportant story. Front page. Liquor profits are up. Good news. It means more New Brunswickers than ever are getting the nutrients that they need for good health. The lead story is an ass-kissing blurb about how SWN has had to postpone its seismic programme this summer, and how wonderful a company it has been for New Brunswick and what a good company it is to work for. I mean, it just makes you cry.

Then Brent Mazerolle does his usual propaganda piece for the "metro centre" to revive Main St. Apparently, we're to get all excited and borrow a hundred million because a haberdasher has opened a store on Main St.  It seems this has got Mayor Leblanc all excited.

Does anybody care about the real reason Main St. died in the first place? Apparently not.  All it needs is a hockey rink and Bingo! evenybody will shop on Main.

No. They won't.

The reason Main streets died is the automobile. We don't have a mass transport system that comes even close to serving a busy Main St. Bringing more cars to Main St. will simply strangle it.

For this - and even more pressing reasons - Moncton's first priority should be a very serious re-thinking of mass transportation. (And, no, I don't mean just changing the bus routes.)

The front page does have one, excellent story. It's about Sgt. Mark Gallagher who died in the earthquake in Haiti, and  how his friends have remembered him by raising the money to build a trade school in that ravaged country. It's good news in a situation that has produced very little good news. Of the billions donated to Haiti by governments, almost none has actually reached that country. Most of it has gone to American contractors who did cheap and superficial work, then put the rest in offshore banks. In conntrast, New Brunswickers will have every reason to be proud of  Mark Gallagher Memorial Vocations School - and of Mark Gallagher.

The daily story on Syria (NewsToday) is pure propaganda. It's a story about civilians tied up and shot and close range. The report says it was "probably" done by the government. But, like the previous story about civilians killed in Houla by Syrian government artillery, the only evidence for the this is from the rebel side.

In fact, many European papers are saying the Houla massacre of civilians was not caused by artillery of any sort. The victims were shot up close with rifles and pistols - and that would mean the killers were rebels. So why has the UN been jumping up and down and NATO countries expelling Syrian ambassadors on such flimsy evidence?

Some day, somebody will write a book on how nations invent propaganda as an excuse for war.

The editorial kisses up to the events centre - just in case Brent Mazerolle's kisses weren't enough.

Rod Allen makes a good point in his concern about New Brunswick's lack of understanding of its own history and literatrue - but puts the blame in the wrong place.It's not the fault of the schools. Children in New Brunswick don't read much of anythng - because their parents don't read. This is an extraordinarily passive province in which parents do not read, do not discuss public affairs, do not show much intelliectual interest in anything except watching hockey on TV. And the Irving papers are among the few dailies I have ever seen that do not have a literaty section at all.

Schools can't raise children. Parents and communities have to do that.

Jody Dallaire, as always, is worth a read. Alec Bruce is hilarious, with a wit that cuts very close to the bone.

In This Week, p. 3, top of the right hand column, The TandT lists my monthly current events talk at Moncton library Tuesday, June 5 at 7 p.m. I'm very grateful. They seldom list it. But, even as I choked back a tear of gratitude, I had to note they got the title wrong. My subject will be "The Quebec Student Strike: Protest or Revolution?

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