Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oct. 13: Oh, Brent.....'s at the top of the oped page. Brent Mazerolle's column. For a moment - alas! just a moment - I thought it was going to be about the contamination at Highfield Square. It was - sort of - eventually---

That first half of it was vague summary of some novel. I have no idea why. Then Brent mentioned a call he had received asking why the TandT had not covered the issue of contamination in Highfield Square. Well, geegollywhiz, wrote Mr. Mazerolle.  He says he did cover it, last Spring.

With all due respect, Brent...and as you probably know...I discussed your coverage of last Spring. I discussed in this blog, and at length. I showed how it was written to say a minimum, and to give the impression this was nothing to worry about or even think about. There was no information about what the toxic substances are, how deep they run, how concentrated they are... Your whole article could be summed up as "Don't worry about it, folks. Nothing important." You didn't get much public reaction because you didn't want much public reaction. That was a story written to kill public reaction before it could even happen.

You asked no questions about what this toxicity can do, how it would be disposed of, what it would cost... You asked no questions at all. As to what the toxicity was, you gave only a vague reference to "the usual diesel spills... all cities have this" summary, no big deal.

As to source, you don't mention the original source. It was not "a citizen". It was this blog. You know that, Brent. And you know that it is normal practice at real news media to identify the source of a story.

Even when you get to a professional source, the CBC, you don't mention its name. It was just "another media outlet". Well, of course,  he's not going to mention the CBC. This is the station that makes the TandT look ridiculous every day, the one Norbert Cunningham foams at the mouth about, the one the Irvings would probably love to see closed so they could buy it, and own all the news in New Brunswick.

Then he's surprised that I had to make an official request to get the information from city hall. After all, he called, and they said, "Yes. It's contaminated."

Well, yes, Brent. The told me that, too. But I've done a lot of journalism - and a journalist doesn't stop with whatever some clerk is gracious enough to tell him. And they wouldn't answer me. That's why I went to an official request.

Then he says it's no big deal because it happens in all cities. Yes, it does. So do bank robberies, murders, rapes, big drug deals and the opening of new restaurants. Does that mean these should not be covered in Moncton? Hell, when was the last time the TandT missed any of those - especially the opening of new restaurants?

Then he drops a bomb. He ways he thinks it will be dumped in some local site in Moncton - where we have dumped such contamination before..

WHAT? You didn't ask to find out? This is insane. It certainly should be illegal.Most real cities have to use dumps that pose as little danger as possible - and usually hundreds of kilometres away. Are you serious? Is Moncton actually going to dump this stuff right here? Right by the river?  And has it, as he says, been dumping contamination there before? If you knew that Brent, why didn't you write about it last Spring?

If this is true, it's a bigger story than the contamination itself. It's probably safer to leave the contamination where it is  Has city council really been dumping contaminated soil right here in town by the river?

And  where the hell has the provincial minister of the environment been through all this?

Thanks, Brent, for handing me the job of making another official request for information. It's obvious that the Times and Transcript isn't going to do it.

He ends with a remark that is intended to sound deeply philosophic, I'm sure. But it succeeds only in being irrelevant, having nothing to do with the rights to information and safety that citizens should have. On the question of who made Moncton contaminated, he says, "Oh, right. It was us."

Actually, it wasn't. And even if it were, that would have nothing to do with solving the problems.

This isn't a column. It's a whine.

Bill Belliveau writes a column about the American election. It doesn't matter. The big money has abandoned Obama. Mitt Romney is getting it. And that doesn't matter, either. Both Romney and Obama pursue pretty much the same policies. That's why campaign speeches on both sides are lacking in any substance. That's why both have stayed away from discussing the environment, the enormous power of the military and defence industries lobbies, the uses of drones and the imminence of nuclear war. Both occupy exactly the same positions on these issues. Neither is anxious to discuss them because neither wants to do anything about them.

This campaign is a lot of froth and bombast. But nothing more than that. American democracy now is all "just pretend".

The editorial offers strong backing to the new site for Moncton High. That's a sure sign there's something crooked about it.

As for sports, I see we're still getting that juvenile headline for hockey games "wildtown catfight".
Okay. Let's pretend Moncton is a wild town. But how can it be a "catfight" when the wildcats are fighting the huskies?

And I have to argue with Jana Giles who writes (very well) in the Whatever section, this time on the importance of obeying your parents. I don't mean to say that children should, as a rule, disobey their parents. But - well - parents don't always know best. Getting older gives us more experience. But it doesn't make us wiser. (Take it from a person who's a lot older - but still can be very, very dumb).

We should certainly listen to our parents. We should  certainly think over what they have to say. But there comes a time when we are the ones who  have to make the decision because only we know what it is we really want out of life.

My mother wanted me to be a clergyman. My father, a religious man, was aghast at the damage this could do to the church. I listened to both. Flunking out of high school made it unnecessary for me to make a decision. But it was my father who had it right. I would have been a disastrous clergyman.

When I decided to go to university, both my parents were terribly upset, and even angry. But I knew this was something I had to try. So I disobeyed them.

Obeying is essential as a part of growing up. So, gradually, is disobeying. And we all have to go through it - with great pain on both sides.

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