Liveblogging the PM’s address

6:59pm: PM’s address on Global delivered via Youtube!

7:00pm: Canadians selected the Conservatives on October 14th to bring Canada through the economic crisis

7:00pm: First points past intro are details of the Conservative economic measures.

7:01pm: January 27th will be a budget.  Additional measures there.

7:01pm: “We are consulting with the opposition [on the economy]”

7:02pm: “Instead of a new budget, they propose a coalition that includes a party that wants to break up the country.”

7:03pm: “This is a pivotal moment in our history”

7:04pm: “will use all legal means at our disposal to protect our democracy”

7:06pm: Media coverage: Bob Fife of CTV speculates that if the GG turns down the PM’s request to prorogue, the PM may resign creating urgency for the GG to appoint a new PM.

7:07pm: Craig Oliver upset there was no contrition in the PM’s speech.

7:15pm: Fife suggests Conservatives are actively trying to poach Liberal MPs or have them miss the confidence vote on Monday.

7:16pm: Peter Donolo slamming the PM on CTV.  CTV presents Donolo as a pollster instead of Jean Chretien’s former Director of Communications.

7:17pm: Fife complains that Dion’s hasn’t presented a tape to CTV yet.  Lloyd complains that network time is expensive.  They presumed that they’d be back to prime time television by now.  Fife reveals that Layton wanted equal time as part of the coalition.

7:25pm: CBC says that Dion’s tape delay shows poor communications by the Liberals.  Maybe Dion didn’t understand his own speech.

7:26pm: Liberal tape has a poor start.

7:27pm: Jeffrey Simpson’s global warming book on Dion’s bookshelf.

7:28pm: Dion mentions the Bloc and the Green party will support the Liberals (on issues of confidence – what?)

7:28pm: Dion: Consensus is a great Canadian value

7:29pm: “Rivals are working together elsewhere in the world.  Why not here?”

7:29pm: Dion messaging against possible prorogation.

7:30pm: Dion outlining a potential economic platform.

7:31pm: Dion moves past allotted network time.

7:32pm: Dion describes his letter to the GG.  Outlined his suggestion to her not to prorogue.  “If [Harper] is to suspend parliament, he must face a vote of confidence.”

7:32pm: Dion says he’ll work day and night on the economic crisis.

Here’s Prime Minister Harper’s speech

RallyforCanada.ca by the numbers

It is now just before 11am on Wednesday. Since I launched RallyforCanada.ca at 10am on Monday morning, the rallies have attracted a lot of attention.

After 48 hours, here are some stats:

127,149 hits on the website
20,400 people signed up with their email addresses (and province)
358 followers on twitter

I’ve done a lot of media on the rallies:
CBC: Don Newman’s Politics
CTV Alberta
CHCH
CBC: The National
Citytv

National Post
Le Devoir
La Presse
Metro News (Ottawa)
Canadian Press (CP)
Toronto Star
Hill Times

CHQR (2 hits)
CJAD
CFRB
CBC Winnipeg
CBC Montreal

On my Blackberry, I have 1121 unread emails.

I’ve received calls of support from across the country and a small trickle of hate mail.

Perhaps the most bizarre call I got was from a group calling themselves “les jeunes patriotes du Quebec”. They described themselves as a group of separatists that are against the Bloc joining the coalition and selling out to Stephane Dion. They wanted to know if they could rally with us.

“You want to rally? ‘for Canada’?” I asked.
“Uh, yes” they said.

How disgusting, I thought. This was hardly a group coming on side to support strengthening our country with rallies. I tried to tease as much information out of them as I could by sounding as if I was perhaps considering their ludicrous idea. I invited them to send me an email with their info and request so I could expose it here on the blog. They never did. Too bad.

I think that what bothers Canadians most about this crazy week in politics is the proposed coalition government’s association with the Bloc. If the rogue-faction from the separatists want to rally, they can have their own. As for the rest of the separatists, they can rally with the “Progressive Coalition” which is supporting the proposed NDP-Liberal-Bloc coalition government.

Coalition cracks?

Asked about the first thing he’d do as Prime Minister, Jack Layton in the English leader’s debate said that he’d roll back the $50 Billion corporate tax cut. That would have been his #1 priority. Now we learn that the Liberals won’t support this. Since Layton has supported this coalition, has he sold out his socialist roots? Or is it more likely that the proposed coalition wouldn’t be stable or agree upon much after mere weeks in power?

Poor CTV

and now this:

(would someone pay the bandwidth bill at CTV!)

Consider too:

Last time I checked, funding for the CBC went up to $1.2 Billion under the Conservatives.  While we’re talking about propping up and subsidizing organizations like the Liberal Party and Bloc Quebecois, perhaps we should instead be talking about letting organizations that inspire and provide a competitive product compete on a level playing field with those that don’t and unfairly receive welfare from the Canadian taxpayer.

Cruikshank apologizes for Mallick column, recognizes CBC’s left-wing editorial bias

A mea culpa from CBC News publisher John Cruikshank concerning this column by Heather Mallick published on the CBC website.

In the column, Mallick calls American voters “white trash”, Republican men “sexual inadequates” and Sarah Palin a “hillbilly” among other slurs.

Here is Cruikshank’s letter (emphasis mine):

More than 300 people have taken the trouble this month to complain to the CBC ombudsman about a column we ran on CBCNews.ca about Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Sept. 5.

The column, by award-winning freelance writer Heather Mallick, was also pilloried by the National Post in Canada and by Fox News in the U.S. Despite its age — it is three weeks old, several lifetimes in web years — this posting remains a subject of fascination in the blogosphere.

Vince Carlin, the CBC ombudsman, has now issued his assessment of the Mallick column. He doesn’t fault her for riling readers by either the caustic nature of her tone or the polarizing nature of her opinion.

But he objects that many of her most savage assertions lack a basis in fact. And he is certainly correct.

Mallick’s column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan.

And because it is all those things, this column should not have appeared on the CBCNews.ca site.

Healthy restraint
On the whole, the CBC News policy handbook takes a very anxious view of any mixing of opinion in with the news business. It sees the two as nitro and glycerin, innocuous on their own but explosive together. This is a very healthy restraint for a public broadcaster.

But every news organization needs to have an opinion dimension. Access to different viewpoints helps readers, listeners and viewers make reasoned choices, especially during an election campaign.

As a public broadcaster we have an added responsibility to provide an array of opinions and voices to complement our journalism. But we must do so carefully. And you should be able to trust us to provide you with work that’s based on solid reporting and free from the passionate excesses of partisanship.

We failed you in this case. And as a result we have put new editing procedures in place to ensure that in the future, work that is not appropriate for our platforms, will not appear. We are open to contentious reasoned argument but not to partisan attack. It’s a fine line.

Ombudsman Carlin makes another significant observation in his response to complainants: when it does choose to print opinion, CBCNews.ca displays a very narrow range on its pages.

In this, Carlin is also correct.

This, too, is being immediately addressed. CBCNews.ca will soon expand the diversity of voices and opinions and be home to a diverse group of writers with many perspectives. In this, we will better reflect the depth and texture of this country.

We erred in our editorial judgment. You told us in no uncertain terms. And we have learned from it.

Here was CBC ombudsman Vince Carlin’s assessment of the complaints that followed Mallick’s column,

Ormiston vs. Turner

From Garth Turner’s comment section, CBC’s Susan Ormiston describes how she tried to get to the bottom of the Turnergate story,

The facts Mr. Turner are as follows.

Our producer called you around 11 a.m. Monday morning. He identified himself as calling from CBC News. You spoke with him for a time, and then the producer asked if you would speak with me.. and said we’d like to call you back from a studio where we can record. You agreed.

We called you back within 10 mins. We were delayed a few more minutes as we tried to connect the phone call with the record booth, which we told you.
Then you and I began to talk. I started by saying we were trying to “drill down on the bloggers claims” and you responded as I reported “well I hope you are going to drill down on the kind of gutter politics that creates this crap”.

We talked for roughly 10-15 minutes. At one point you said and I am quoting from the interview transcript:

Garth Turner: “It’s one thing to have it on YouTube, you put this on CBC… ahh, I can’t prevent you, and you can do it if you want and I’ll do your little interview here.”

It is clear to us that you knew you were speaking to a CBC journalist and agreed to do so, and that you acknowledged you were doing an interview.

I might remind you when I tried to further clarify further the events of the doorknocking , you hung up on me.

At the end of the day, Mr. Turner, in your email to Peter Van Dusen of CPAC, copied to us, you were still putting blame on CPAC.
“The bottom line seems to be that CPAC was informed, prior to shooting, that the home in question was that of the son of my associate.”

CPAC has categorically denied that claim. We represented both your side and CPAC’s rebuttal, on our story Monday night.

Regards,
Susan Ormiston
CBC News

Well, Susan, there are two sides to all stories and I’m flattered you feel it necessary to use my blog to get your message out, when a national TV network is insufficient. Actually, I was asked if I wished to be interviewed by you, but before agreeing, I wanted a conversation. When you became argumentative, the futility of speaking with you further was apparent. So, I did something useful. I went door-knocking. At no point did you indicate our words were being taped. You did not ask me, as Peter Van Dusen did, if you could record. In fact, I sent you the following email after our encounter, “Re: Our Conservation. It was not on the record, as you did not indicate so. Regards, Garth.” I copied Keith Boag, which he confirmed. BTW, you never offered an on-camera interview with me, as you did with Conservative blogger Janke and CPAC’s Stringer. But, whatever. You win. Now can we talk about issues affecting Canadians? — Garth

Does Elizabeth May fundamentally agree or disagree?

One thing that we can all agree upon is that Elizabeth May talks too fast and this has got her into some trouble in the past surrounding her February 2007 comments on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin where she says “All the other politicians are scared to death to mention the word ‘tax’. And they think Canadians are stupid — and cannot — and I fundamentally agree with that assessment.”

As I mentioned in my interview on CBC, I was never of the mind that she had said “I” rather than “they” in the sentence where she says “they think Canadians are stupid”. What stunned me was the part where she said “and I fundamentally agree with that assessment”. I didn’t realize there was ambiguity over the pronoun until it was raised by other who saw my video and made comment over at Buckdog.

Now, as it has been confirmed, the audio was “they” but now May reveals that the real difference in interpretation was that she either meant “agree” or “disagree with that assessment”. In Steve Paikin’s Friday interview of May, the Green Party leader explains that she said “disagree”.

However, on Sunday’s CTV Question Period May has a different story that contradicts her explanation to Paikin. May said that she said “fundamentally agree with that assessment” in reference to another panelist who had made an observation that wasn’t recorded.

Most people that run for political office do it out of a love of service for their fellow Canadians. I do not doubt that May’s heart is in the right place. However, her reported off-hand comments after the panel discussion might reinforce for us another element of her thinking. She said “No I want [Hummer drivers] shot actually, jail is not good enough for them!” Of course, any reasonable person would understand that May was joking. However, some might interpret this as a streak of elitism in Ms. May. Some Canadians may get the impression that while she wishes to serve Canada, she likely thinks she knows what’s best for us.

Krista Erickson update

This blog has followed Krista Erickson’s story with the Mulroney-Schreiber testimony, the subsequent scandal which erupted from it and CBC’s reaction surrounding the story. There’s an update today, via email that Erickson sent to updates friends and colleagues on the latest. This email was broadly distributed.

In January, this was among CBC’s response to Doug Finley, director of political operations for the Conservative Party:

Following an investigation by senior management of CBC News, we have determined that our reporter Krista Erickson did, in fact, provide questions to a Member of Parliament in the lead up to the Ethics Committee meeting in December. Those actions, while in pursuit of a journalistically legitimate story, were inappropriate and inconsistent with CBC News policies and procedures, specifically under our Principles, Sec. 3

Given the potential risk to the journalistic credibility of our Ottawa bureau, its reporters and CBC News generally, we have chosen on an exceptional basis to make the detailed outcome of our disciplinary process available to you, our employees and the public at large.

Tale of two tapes

In recent Canadian political history we’ve had two stories of alleged bribes offered on tapes followed by partisan claims of doctoring of the evidence.

In one story, former Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal alleges that he was offered a senate seat or an ambassadorship for his MP wife Nina if he defected to the Liberals as that party was trying desperately to hang onto power. Grewal secretly taped then-Prime Minister Paul Martin’s chief of staff in conversation. The Liberals later alleged that Grewal had altered the tapes.

Currently, we have a story about a sitting Prime Minister embroiled in a taping controversy as Tom Zytaruk, biographer of Chuck Cadman, taped the then-opposition leader allegedly speaking about “financial considerations” for the Cadmans if Chuck were to run for the Conservatives after voting to bring down the government.

As an aside, it’s interesting that these stories occurred surrounding the same event. However, what some may consider tangential, let’s look at how these stories were and are being handled by those that tell the story to the rest of us.

In the case of Gurmant Grewal’s taping, when allegations of doctoring arose, the burden of proof shifted to Grewal, to the OLO’s communication staff and to the opposition leader (Harper) himself.

Yesterday, we saw a number of sworn affidavits detailing the context of the taping of Stephen Harper by Tom Zytaruk, which raise not only the question of splicing of the taping, but the context of the interview itself (whether Mr. Harper returned to the car or not – Harper and his staff (Novak, Olsen) and Dona Cadman confirm under oath that he did not). Further, two forensic audio specialists confirm that the tape was altered with Tom Olsen saying “This tape has been edited and doctored to misrepresent the event as it actually occured”. Sworn affidavits from Novak, Olsen and Cadman (including Chuck Cadman’s assertion that he was never offered anything inappropriate), sworn testimony from audio forensic experts saying the tape was altered and an RCMP conclusion that “no evidence” is available to support an investigation into allegations of bribery.

Why after all of this does it seem that the burden of proof has been shifted upon the Tories in both cases? Thus, it seems, they must bear the burden of politicking while Conservative.

Consider this CBC story from June 5th, 2005 concerning the alleged Grewal doctoring,

Experts say Grewal tapes were altered

Last Updated: Monday, June 6, 2005 | 9:12 PM ET

Two audio experts have independently concluded that the secret recordings made by MP Gurmant Grewal were edited.
John Dooher, a forensic audio engineer hired by CBC News, said Thursday there is a “crude” edit and something “amiss” about a section of tapes made by the B.C. member of Parliament.

while in yesterday’s story concerning the alleged doctoring of the Harper interview, CBC News published,

Tories ask court to stop Liberals from using Harper tape

Tape was doctored, Tory MP says

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 | 7:55 PM ET

According to Gough’s sworn statement, “the tape is not a continuous recording of one conversation.”

Moore did not say that Harper’s words had been changed.

When the CBC’s Don Newman read him one exchange between Zytaruk and Harper, Moore would not say whether or not it had been altered.

“Why would you even raise the tape?” Moore said, adding that experts — hired by the Conservatives — have proved that the tape has no credibility.

CBC News should hire its own set of forensic audio experts as they did with the Grewal tape so that they can confirm Moore’s assertion. They should also give the RCMP the benefit of the doubt when that agency says that there is “no evidence” to support an investigation. Perhaps everyone should also take Cadman’s own word when he stated that no inappropriate offer had been made to him by any party. What has happened is that they’ve refocused the story upon an insignificant question still somewhat unanswered (was that Harper speaking about some sort of financial overtures to Cadman? – yet we know from the sworn affidavits released yesterday that those financial considerations were limited to a suggestion of providing party support for a campaign).

In the case of Grewal, enough of a cloud had been cast upon the validity of his tape (and his character) that any tangential unanswered questions (such, as what did Tim Murphy mean by comfy fur?) became moot to the press for that story.

Two tapes, two alleged bribes, two sets of audio experts, two standards.

Former CBC News head Tony Burman to Al Jazeera

TORONTO – Tony Burman, the one-time head of CBC news, has been appointed managing director of Al Jazeera’s English operations.

Burman, 60, takes over from Nigel Parsons, who has held the position since the network’s launch two years ago. Parsons is now managing director of business acquisition and development.

“In the months ahead, I will … put an emphasis on the expansion of Al Jazeera’s vast audience reach into important new areas of the world, most notably North America,” Burman said in a news release.

He called Al Jazeera’s newsrooms the most diverse in the world with a presence in more than 50 countries.

“I look forward to capitalizing on this strength through increased investment in investigative journalism, more provocative and insightful current affairs and expansion of the network’s large worldwide network of more than 60 news bureaus.”

Burman, an award-winning news and documentary producer, left the CBC last year after 35 years at the public broadcaster, including seven as editor in chief.

In 2006, Burman oversaw CBC News’s introduction of a new look and attitude on all its platforms in response to demands that the public broadcaster try to be hipper and cooler. A survey of Canadians found that parts of the CBC News operation didn’t appeal to young people.

Al Jazeera’s English channel was launched in November 2006 and is now available to more than 100 million households worldwide.

Somehow, this makes sense for the former CBC News editor-in-chief.