About that National Post op-ed…

A few days ago, the esteemed Kelly McParland of the National Post published a piece on the Post’s online group blog Full Comment on the Quebec student protests and education boycott.

He included this paragraph,

[The York Federation of Students’ (and various leftwing groups’)] petition, posted on the website of Stephen Taylor, director of the National Citizens Coalition, heaps praise on the efforts of the small minority of Quebec post-secondary students who managed to disrupt the final weeks of the school year through a program of street violence and intimidation.

I read the piece on Full Comment at the time and it didn’t strike me as odd or out of place. But then again, I know my position on the student protests and McParland does too as he published my own op-ed in Full Comment on the Quebec student protests and how Charest would do well to polarize against them. In fact, McParland has been nothing but fair to me and, as you can see, has been good enough to me to encourage my own contributions.

Yet, the piece ran in print today and boy, did we get letters at the National Citizens Coalition! Are we in favour of the student demonstrations in Quebec? Have we donned red squares and joined the riots? Have we lost our good conservative minds?

No, no, and no.

It is the petition that I uncovered that heaps praise on the protesters. It of course heaps praise upon them because it was written by Ontario Marxists. I was only bringing it to everyone’s attention. The sentence structure in McParland’s op-ed takes two ideas (my website and the petition) and breaks the flow between mutually exclusive actions (posting and praise). I posted the petition. The petition praises the protesters.

In short, I think the petition is mad. And those spoiled students don’t know how good they’ll still have it in seven years time.

I hope that clears things up!

Edmonton Expo 2017

In addition to Don Martin’s story in the National Post today, I’ve learned a few more details about the Edmonton Expo story:

The government’s top-line message on this has been one of fiscal restraint. This theme was starting to make rounds online last night and has been echoed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Toronto today.

Shifting security costs were a main concern about the Expo bid. For example, original estimates of Olympic security had been about $175 million and rounded out to about $800 million when all was said and done. Organizers of the Edmonton Expo have projected security costs at $85 million, a figure which the Public Safety minister has dismissed as very conservative for a 90 day event. Actual security costs are projected closer to $1 Billion.

Alberta itself is in deficit and Alberta Finance minister Ted Morton released a provincial fiscal update describing a province in the red, projecting a deficit of $5 billion by year end.

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo had major cost overruns. Originally estimated to be $4 Billion, the cost ballooned to about $80 billion by some reports. Further, there is little evidence that a “world expo” does enough to promote the host country outside of its own borders. Olympic Games, however, are seen to be a major international success by most outside observers.

Don Martin has suggested that the nixing of the Edmonton Expo bid has also scuttled government funding for a Quebec arena. I’ve learned from sources in the PMO that this isn’t necessarily true. The government contends that funding for professional sports facilities remains the responsibility of the private sector. If any funding is to be granted it must be fair and evenly spread across the country. However, the government emphasizes that Canada is in a period of fiscal restraint.

Your move, Warren

The Tories have been criticized lately for putting their party logo on some non-negotiable jumbo novelty cheques. While I agree that the practice of associating party brand so explicitly with public money should stop, let’s remember that news is “man bites dog” not “dog bites man” and there are true masters of pushing the partisan envelope still around.

We see that Warren Kinsella’s old boss said something about pepper on his plate and the parliamentary press gallery had a chuckle and then hit Hy’s for some more vino. However, Andrew McIntosh and Joel-Denis Bellavance from the National Post were on the job and cast some light on Jean Chretien’s partisan abuse of public dollars.

PM comfortable using grants for partisan reasons: ‘nothing to be ashamed’

National Post
Sat Feb 19 2000
Page: A8
Section: News
Byline: Andrew McIntosh and Joel-Denis Bellavance
Column: In Ottawa ; in Quebec City
Dateline: OTTAWA; QUEBEC CITY
Source: National Post

OTTAWA and QUEBEC CITY – Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister, yesterday said his government had nothing to apologize for in seeking to reap maximum partisan political benefit from disbursing $1-billion worth of federal job grants across Canada each year.

He had always made sure since taking power in October, 1993, that voters were left in no doubt that it was his Liberals who were distributing such grants, he said.

“Listen,” he added, “we are the government … I don’t see why we can’t try to get credit for what we do. I hope we do so. There is nothing to be ashamed in that.”

Previously, Mr. Chretien and Jane Stewart, the Human Resources Minister, have insisted in Parliament that the $1-billion in grants for job creation, training, literacy and other projects were not allocated with the intention of gaining partisan advantage, but rather were designed to benefit ridings regardless of their political complexion.

The prime minister, joined by Paul Martin, the Finance Minister, told a news conference that increasing reports of the financial mismanagement at Human Resources Development Canada would not tarnish his government’s fiscal credibility.

The National Post reported yesterday that Peter Donolo, the prime minister’s former director of communications, created and ran a well-oiled public relations campaign to ensure that Liberals — ministers and MPs — took maximum credit for job creation grants across the country.

Job creation money is at the centre of accusations that Human Resources grants were mismanaged and improperly used as a slush fund to win votes and reward loyalists.

Opposition MPs were stunned by Mr. Chretien’s performance in Quebec City, saying that the Liberals will suffer politically if the prime minister continues to deny the seriousness of the HRDC mess.

“It’s pretty brazen,” said Diane Ablonczy, a Reform party MP form Calgary. “Clearly, Mr. Chretien has no shame or contrition for mismanaging taxpayers’ money and abusing the public trust. Canadians won’t forget that at election time.”

Peter MacKay, the Conservative House leader, said, “The prime minister has flipped his wig. He has demonstrated once again he is completely out of touch with reality and he is displaying increadible arrogance by trying to minimize this serious problem.”

Mr. Chretien conceded that there were “obvious” management problems at HRDC, which were condemned in a scathing departmental audit published last month, and that these must be rectified.

The prime minister said, “Of course, there are problems, but we have to place the problem in a certain perspective. We have to make regular adjustments on the basis of recommendations by those people who conduct the audit. It’s a huge department that has over 20,000 employees … There’s no doubt that it’s an extremely difficult department to manage. What strikes me is that no recipient has complained thus far. To go and say that it’s a scandal, one must not exaggerate.”

The prime minister denied, despite a number of documented cases, that Liberal MPs sought extra pre-election advantage by announcing new grants just before the 1997 general election and before the grants were officially approved.

In the House of Commons, the Liberals suffered another verbal pounding over the financial scandal. The opposition claimed that a newly disclosed 1997 review reveals that there was political interference in the approval of Transitional Jobs Fund projects. It showed, the opposition said, that the Liberals used the $100-million-a-year program to buy votes.

Aside from finding incompetence, the audit concluded that HRDC bureaucrats were pressured by political operatives to speed through approval for projects that “did not meet TJF elgibility criteria.” Several were found not to be failing to create jobs.

Mr. MacKay, the Nova Scotia Tory, questioned whether Ms Stewart could be trusted, saying: “Daily the minister of HRDC subjects Canadians to the sad spectacle of self-destruction with the documented mishandling and mismanagement of taxpayers money that was uncovered by the internal audit, the subsequent fallout, the spin-doctoring, the witholding of information, the manipulation of statistics and the sliding scale of eligibility.”

Ms. Stewart brushed off his call for her to resign. She later produced a letter showing that after she became HRDC minister, she removed herself from all decision-making about grants in her riding, Brant, Ont., by delegating her power to approve them to her top bureaucrat, Claire Morris, the HRDC deputy minister.

Fact-checking Canwest’s Don Martin

Yesterday in the National Post, Don Martin wrote a column condemning the Conservative’s “definition” ads on Michael Ignatieff trying to find scandal where there is none.

The Conservative Web site attacking the new Liberal leader is www.Ignatieff. me. Here endeth the federal party’s free publicity.

The .me Internet domain name is registered to the tiny European country of Montenegro, incidentally governed by a coalition, and its Web administrator is based in Arizona. It is, I’m told by experienced Web surfers, often used to showcase pornography.

Columnists and (more unfortunately) reporters often use terms such as “critics say”, “experts agree”, “some suggest” in place of “in my opinion”, “I think”, and “according to me”. Perhaps “I’m told by experienced Web surfers” could be “the Liberal party told me that” but “questions surround” Don’s true source on top level domains and pornography.

I decided that I’d get to the bottom of this. I decided to check Google for the number of sites that came up when one searches for the term “porn”. If Mr. Martin is correct, we’ll see the Montenegro top level domain (TLD) populated with teh porn results. However, I wanted to take a look to be sure.

There are 251 top level domains that I checked (including the 180 or so countries recognized at the UN), the semi-autonomous regions and the other TLDs including .com, .org, .net.

Don’t worry, I didn’t do these searches one at a time, one browser-based Google search after another; I wrote a script that used the Google AJAX API to get the results and crunch them.

For a quick tutorial on google searches, a search for

site:.fr fromage

will return all sites with the keyword “fromage” in the French top level domain.

Using the Google AJAX API, I decided to check every country code for the number of results with the keyword “porn”.

http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/services/search/web?v=1.0&q=site:.me%20porn
where “%20″ is the URL encoded character for a space

I wrote a PHP script that checks each TLD for “porn” and then parses the results to extract the number of search results from the output of the Google AJAX API call.

Here are the results (you’ll want to click each graph to enlarge them)

If you click on the image to enlarge it, you’ll see that the most populated TLD for the word “porn” (as indexed by Google) is .com. In fact, Montenegro ranks at 61 for propensity of porn. In fact, if you’d be more likely to find porn on the (.cx) domain for… yes, Christmas Island. If we want to measure the proportion of porn sites in a TLD, .me is 15th behind the “porn-showcasing” countries of the Bahamas, Norfolk Island, Azerbaijan, Grenada, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Western Samoa, Bhutan, Congo, Togo, Tokelau, Georgia, Seychelles Islands, and the Virgin Islands. Just over 1% of .com domain names contain the keyword “porn”. Montenegro clocks in at just half a percent more. So, I think we can put Don Martin’s irresponsible words to rest. In terms of “showcased porn”, you’re much more likely to see it on German, Polish and Russian servers. Further, the term “showcase” is deceiving as well since most domains are open to registration to all local residents (if not all global residents) and there is generally no stipulation that states that a registrant must feature pornography.

But where did Don Martin’s assumption come from? Given the Liberal Party’s embarrassment and lack of foresight in launching a campaign at onprobation.ca when onprobation.com turned out to be a hardcore pornographic website, perhaps the Liberals were floating some bogus talking points over to Martin to get them published as fact.

Now that we’ve resolved the Montenegro issue, and now that we have a great program that sorts TLDs by search terms, let’s make sure that we’re still #1 for what matters (even though all Canadian team have been eliminated).

Take that, Sweden.

If you’re interested in the PHP program, here’s the source code.

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.

Media endorsements

Globe and Mail
“On balance, Mr. Harper remains the best man for the job in the tough times now upon us. He deserves if not four more years, at least two more years.”

National Post
“Faced with these high stakes, we believe, Canada would be best served if Stephen Harper’s Conservative government were to receive a second mandate, this time in majority form.”

The Economist
And yet, in a sinking world, Canada is something of a cork. Its well-regulated banks are solid. Growth has slowed but not stopped. The big worry is the fear that an American recession will drag Canada down with it. Mr Harper says, rightly enough, that his government has taken prudent measures to help Canada weather a storm it cannot duck: he has offered tax cuts and selective aid to help vulnerable manufacturing towns. But it is his seeming non-reaction to what is so far a non-crisis that looks likely to deny him the majority he was seeking, and could even let in the opposition. In what is the first credit-crunch election in a big Western country, Mr Harper’s ejection would set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.

Toronto Sun
While we respect all the national party leaders, realistically, Canadians Tuesday must choose between Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion to lead us through tough economic times. To us, the choice for prime minister is clear. It’s Harper.

Vancouver Sun
So on the ballot box question that’s on everybody’s mind – the slowing economy – we trust Harper to navigate the rough road ahead. A majority government for the Conservatives led by Stephen Harper is our choice.

Montreal Gazette
“On balance, however, we believe that considering the Conservative record and the goals, policies, and personnel of the other parties, it is the Conservatives who deserve to be re-elected on Tuesday. Amid all the unfair and misleading advertising of this campaign, one Conservative message is truer now than when the writ was dropped: Constancy and prudence with the country’s finances are even more important when we’re in the economic doldrums.”

Ottawa Citizen
“We believe that Canadians should return the Conservatives to government on Oct. 14, but not because Stephen Harper is an inspiring figure. He is not. There are no Obama-esque promises to repair the world. But Mr. Harper offers the steadiest hand and clearest judgment to steer Canada through the rough waters that lie ahead.”

Winnipeg Free Press
“Under the shrill cacophony of the opposition’s cries for action, Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have remained calm. Look at the last two years, the prime minister says, correctly claiming that he has offered generally competent government. In the face of this crisis, he promises more of the same. On Thursday, two major international financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum, agreed with him, saying that Canada was on the right course to weather the storm. Mr. Harper’s economic policy is clear and practical and worth supporting on Tuesday. To turn the old saying on its head, this time, hard times should be Tory times. As The Economist said Thursday, if Canadians reject the Conservatives, it would ‘set a dispiriting precedent that panic plays better politically than prudence.'”

Edmonton Journal
“And in that real world, both Canada and Alberta in particular will be best served if Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are re-elected with the strength to be more than caretakers until we have to go through all of this again.”

Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Each voter will have to respond to this question as he or she sees fit. The way The Record’s editorial board views the situation, there are only two viable options, one coming from Harper’s Conservatives, the other from Stéphane Dion’s Liberals. And when we weigh things as fairly and carefully as we can, we conclude that Harper and his party deserve another term in government.

Ottawa Sun
In every election campaign there comes a moment when someone declares it to be the most important election in a very long time. This is that moment for us. What Ottawa and Canada need now is a strong Conservative government led by Stephen Harper.

Calgary Sun
But on the big question — who should be our prime minister — there’s no question. It’s Harper.

Edmonton Sun
Still, after assessing all the party promises, the Edmonton Sun believes the one that will inflict the least damage on our economy and way of life is the platform presented by Harper’s Conservatives.

Vancouver Province
Rather than roll the dice, protecting Canadians during these difficult and unstable times calls for proven, rational measures from a federal government that uses workable fundamentals, such as keeping taxes low, paying down debt and maintaining controlled spending. That’s why we are endorsing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and urge voters to give them a majority on Oct. 14, a majority incidentally that should include stronger representation from B.C.

Winnipeg Sun
Harper has also proven himself on the world stage. He’s unafraid to make tough decisions and, unlike the Liberals, committed to properly funding our military and giving it a clear mandate and mission, before sending our soldiers into harm’s way.

Brantford Expositor
Like many Canadians, we have been fairly satisfied with Harper’s government since it took office in January 2006. The Harper government has cut taxes and the national debt. It has promised to remove our forces from Afghanistan. It has belatedly responded to the crisis on the stock markets.

Calgary Herald
“Thus, the choice is simple. The Calgary Herald endorses Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. They deserve to be re-elected based on their record, competence, and on the prime minister’s steady hand as Canada heads into uncharted, choppy economic waters.”

Windsor Star
“Harper has come under fire in some quarters for not empathizing more with Canadians fearful about their finances but Canadians don’t want their leaders to feign emotion and pretend to “feel their pain.” They want their leaders to alleviate it through sound policies rather than sound bites, actions rather than words. Canadians need sturdy leadership in these uncertain times and Harper offers it.”

Toronto Star
For all these reasons, Harper and the Conservatives do not deserve to be re-elected on Tuesday. We prefer Dion and the Liberals.

Dion to apologize to Dimitri Soudas or get sued

Lawyers for Dimitri Soudas have filed notice to Liberal leader Stephane Dion for what they claim is defamatory libel against their client. Attached below is the letter on behalf of Mr. Soudas that was hand-delivered to Stephane Dion this morning. Soudas is the deputy press secretary to Prime Minister Harper. According to the National Post, over a year ago Mr. Soudas arranged a meeting between Public Works and Rosedev, a development company from Montreal. Conservatives reject this as well and insist that Soudas only requested information from ministerial staffers with respect to a court case. Despite this assertion, impropriety has been alleged regarding the meeting, which Soudas rejects. Dion, in his classic communications style may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Mr. Dion is quoted in the Canwest papers this morning:

“That means that there was an attempt to extort taxpayers funds to benefit a party supporter and therefore change the decision process and (they say) it’s not important because it didn’t succeed. I think the prime minister has a lot to explain.” — Stephane Dion

UPDATE: Dion says he’s sorry, sort of

Lobbyists and the campaign

Yesterday, the National Post had an interesting story on the connections between lobbyists and governments and how the federal accountability act has evolved to restrict and allow lateral movement between the political and lobbying sectors.

The story highlights longtime Harper communications guru Yaroslav Baran, who recently quit the Earnscliffe firm to work as Chief of Staff to government whip Jay Hill. While news stories about lobbying, including this one, are critical and skeptical in tone, the article points out that Baran will face a five-year ban on returning to the private sector as a lobbyist. Baran’s move is comparatively selfless as an election is expected quite soon and most lobbyists simply deregister days before the writ is dropped, work on the campaign and then re-register and continue in their jobs lobbying government. Baran has instead elected to leave a high paying job and bind himself by the accountability act.

The Conservative ban on lobbyists in a future war room, however, is self-imposed rather than a matter of law, as Liberals have not yet committed to the same standard that Conservatives have set upon themselves.

This makes the tone of the article somewhat frustrating as it implies that Baran is sidestepping regulations internal to Conservative Party (not even legal ones) by being a chief of staff to a cabinet minister just so he can work in a war room?. Baran is sacrificing his earning potential by putting himself under the accountability act and when an election comes, the outcome is still unknown; Yaroslav could be out of a job (and legally restricted from returning to his old one) in as little as two months. While war rooms are the stuff of political junkies, the prize isn’t one of monetary enrichment or increased political contact; Baran already has an extended history built with Harper. Perhaps Baran is more interested in being a team player and has long term plans of public service?

CBC and China

cbc-communists.jpgThe CBC has recently come under fire for rescheduling and retooling a Falun Gong documentary at the 11th hour. The state-funded broadcaster admitted to reacting to requests by the Chinese government to pull the doc and provide ‘balance’, however, anyone that watches CBC aired documentaries knows that, at previous times, this hasn’t concerned the execs on Front st.

Now, consider this recent news story concerning the popular children’s toy “Aqua Dots” published on the CBC website (byline is CBC)

7 more children fall ill after ingesting Aqua Dots beads

Last Updated: Friday, November 9, 2007 | 4:06 PM ET
CBC News

U.S. officials said Friday there are seven more reports of children falling ill after ingesting Aqua Dots toy beads containing a powerful chemical that metabolizes into a potent date-rape drug.

The children were treated in hospitals in Texas, Delaware, New Hampshire, Illinois and Utah after ingesting beads from Aqua Dots craft kits, said a spokeswoman with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. On Thursday, U.S. officials had confirmed two associated cases of children being hospitalized.

Toronto-based Spin Master has issued a recall of 4.2 million Aqua Dots toys in North America.Toronto-based Spin Master has issued a recall of 4.2 million Aqua Dots toys in North America.

Officials in North America and Australia pulled the toys, called Bindeez in Australia and Aqua Dots in North America, after testing showed the toys’ beads contained 1,4-butanediol, a potentially harmful chemical that can cause seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

The packaging says the toy contains 1,5-pentanediol, a non-toxic chemical commonly used in glue, according to Australia’s Minister for Fair Trading.

In Australia, four children were hospitalized after ingesting beads from the Bindeez toys. No illnesses have been reported in Canada.

Toronto-based distributor Spin Master Ltd. has issued a North American recall of about 4.2 million Aqua Dots toys.
With files from the Associated Press

A critical piece of information is missing from this article. There is no mention of China being the source of these chemically infused children’s toys. Why?

It isn’t Australia, Bindeez, or Spin Master that has a history of defective and toxic products. There is, however, a history of this sort of thing happening in products originating in China.

(ie. pet food, toothpaste, lead in toys etc.)

In the news media, this is called “relevance”. I don’t know why this would be left out of the news story, especially since Canadian consumers need to make informed decisions about the products that they buy for their families.

Even though the CBC is funded by our government, it should never bow to the pressure of it or any other. The omission that I point out above may or may not have been actively made by the broadcaster and it may or may not be a function of institutional bias and culture at the CBC.

Consider this story that came to light last week from Gazette reporter Elizabeth Thompson,

OTTAWA — The RCMP spied on CBC and Radio Canada employees for years and was convinced at one point that communists had infiltrated the CBC in Montreal, according to secret documents that have just been released.

Moreover, it appears that senior CBC managers knew that the Mounties routinely investigated the political views of staff members such as Rene Levesque and kept such “adverse records” in personnel reports on file long after the employees had left the broadcaster.

In one heavily censored 1958 report marked “secret” and titled “CBC Montreal — Collaboration of Officials with Known Communists” the force says conclusively that there were communists working for the public broadcaster.

“If the present report serves no other purpose, it does establish beyond reasonable doubt the presence of Communists in the CBC and their active conspiracy to use its facilities for Communist purposes,” wrote the author, whose name was blacked out. “It would, therefore, give some measure of reassurance to the Minister that there is at least a proven intended threat to security on the part of such persons as (blacked out) and perhaps others as yet unknown to us.”

UPDATE 11/12: Lorne Gunter asks some tough questions about the CBC too.

UPDATE: A CBC employee registers their discontent and frustration at CBC censorship at China’s request.

Maybe the CBC has it online? No, the show “was pre-empted for a timely documentary about Pakistan and President Gen. Musharraf.” Nothing to do with the Chinese at all, you see. And nothing at all to do with our Olympic broadcast in 2008. Be sure to tune into Canada’s Own Network this summer!

Stonewalled again. And I still don’t have the information I need to make an informed decision about Falun Gong or the Chinese government, let alone a good blog post on the subject.

Hold on, am I allowed to blog about it? The answer is not clear. Isn’t my site blocked inside the CBC? To be safe, maybe I should check with the Politburo.

Er, I mean, my supervisor.

Announcing the Blogging Tories Newspaper Viewer

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a bit of a complex media research tool and web project that I’ve dubbed the “Newspaper Viewer”. Using the application, one is able to view some of Canada’s most popular broadsheet and tabloid newspaper front pages from just over the past year when I started to collect them.

In June of 2006, I wrote a web script that collected PDF files of about 15 newspaper covers per day. I let the script run automatically each day since that time and I’ve accumulated over 3 GBs of PDFs on my server! These files weren’t browsable in any convenient form and without purpose — beyond my own general interest in having a stock of these files — they were becoming a burden on my server which hosts this blog.

Like any web designer amazed by the presentation abilities of Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash, I’ve poked around the application since its early versions. However, up until this time I’ve never really been confident enough in Flash to publish anything substantive. That is, until I was faced with an idea to take this very visual collection of files and present it in a complimentarily visual way. I transfered the gigabytes of files from this server to my more permissive btblogs.ca server and got to work on the project after buying a book on Flash and its underlying object-oriented language, Actionscript. I also recommend subscribing to the video tutorials at Lynda.com

This Newspaper Viewer is the product of that initial script that I wrote over a year ago and the result of my clumsy climbing of the Flash learning curve over the past few weeks. I believe that this is the only archive of its kind available online and I hope that you enjoy browsing through this collection.

There are two ways that you can sort through the database. On the right, a dropdown box contains dates from June 5th to the present day. By selecting a date from this dropdown, you can view the newspapers from that day. Try browsing today’s newspapers or view how the various newspapers differ in covering a certain event, such as the Toronto 17 (June 5th, 2006), the Dion leadership victory (December 3rd and 4th, 2006), the Virgina Tech shootings (April 17th, 2007) or the Conrad Black verdict (July 14th, 2007). The other dropdown menu contains a way to view each newspaper by month. Thus, you can see a monthly spread of each newspaper.

When flipping through the newspaper archive, if you double-click on a particular paper, it will load the original PDF of that cover. I recommend trying this because some of these covers come in beautiful detail and those that appreciate design and layout will want to take a closer look.

I also designed this application as a media monitoring/research tool. A significant number of Canadians get their news from Canadian newspapers and some researchers may find it worthwhile to track the evolution of a story as expressed to Calgarians via the Herald, or to Torontonians via the Sun, to give two examples. To illustrate another example of this tool’s use, one might find it interesting to see how the National Post was covering the Conrad Black trial in comparison to other newspapers. Further, some believe that papers cheer for political parties during elections. It may be interesting to see if this is true by tracking Globe and Mail or Sun media headlines over the course of a writ period. A lot of power resides in news media as reporters, editors and columnists are able to influence millions of readers by a carefully crafted headline or by highlighting/burying scandalous details above/below the fold. As Canadians, we ought to be savvy media consumers in order to be informed participants in our democracy. Hopefully, as a comparative tool, this Newspaper Viewer application will help contribute.

I do hope that you enjoy this project. I would appreciate any comments, suggestions, bug reports via email or in the comments section below.

Click here to launch the Newspaper Viewer