Shame on the Star

What was yesterday’s/today’s top Canadian news story? Of course, it was the repatriation of four fallen Canadian soldiers at CFB Trenton. The event was sombre and private, however, the media did have limited access in order to adequately bring the story to Canadians while being respectful to families and other mourners. Closeup filming of grieving family members was prevented.

The limited access however has the Toronto Star remixing the story of the day into a story about themselves and they shamelessly splash their dyspepsia onto the front page.


Above the photo, the headline teases and complains: FORBIDDEN THE IMAGE YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO SEE

The headline of the story reads: “Return of fallen soldiers not meant for public eyes.”

To the Toronto Star, the story wasn’t the sad return of soldiers to Canada, the story was instead the media’s limited access to the mourning soldiers and families. That other war (separate from the Canadian military) that involves the PMO and the press is purely inside baseball and it seems that the bitter attitude on behalf of the MSM has spilled over onto something that is supposed to be apolitical.

The Edmonton Sun reveals some truth into the deceit of the Star in its caption from its front page photo: “The last of four caskets of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan is unloaded at CFB Trenton in Ontario. In keeping with a new policy the media were kept at a respectful distance but were still able to photograph the sombre moment.

Click to enlarge

The Edmonton Sun notes that while their access was limited, it did allow them to cover the event respectfully for Canadians. The Toronto Star provides a similar yet more distant photograph and claims it to be some kind of clandestine and illicit photo smuggled out from past the Tory iron curtain. We learn from the Sun that this is a fabrication.

I understand that there is a dispute between the Conservative government and the press over access to the government, however, the attitude taken by the Toronto Star today to focus the lens upon themselves instead of the news, (especially the news yesterday) is shameful. If I wanted to read a journalism trade journal on government relations I’d buy one. The Toronto Star however bills itself as a national newspaper and that’s what I thought I was getting when I picked it up this morning.

George W. Strawman

The following quotes were taken from various media sources regarding the Conservative government’s decision on not lowering the flag to half-staff during an active military engagement, and the banning media from base upon the return of fallen soldiers to Canada.

“This is yet another example of Harper’s fascination with all things Republican. Instead of openness, another deliberate move to keep a negative hidden from the public. You would think Harper would have learned something from Bush’s tactics which have earned the disdain of most Canadians and the lowest approval ratings of any President in U.S. history but it’s obvious he hasn’t.” — Pat Walters, CTV selected viewer feedback

“I guess that’s the face of transparency. Maybe I’ll check the White House home page to answer my original question as to what’s next.” — Marcel Massie, CTV selected viewer feedback

“I think it should be a concern of Canadians that Mr. Harper seems to be, in many ways, following the example and policies of the Bush Administration” — Donalda Williams Clogg, CTV selected viewer feedback

“Let us not fall into this horrible fate that the US and the UK have. We need to continue to be fully aware of the constant sacrifices and dangers our excellent troops make every day.” — Diane Bradford, CTV selected viewer feedback

“It echoes a policy attempted by the Bush administration. The White House tried and failed to prevent publication of pictures of caskets covered by the Stars and Stripes out of concern for diminishing support for the Iraq mission.”Global TV, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Sun, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun, 680 News

“The Harper government has decided to ban the Canadian public from viewing today’s repatriation ceremony of the remains of four soldiers killed in Afghanistan on the weekend, evoking parallels with the Bush administration’s controversial policy of barring photographs of the coffins of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.”Mike Blanchfield, Canwest

“All media outlets are quick to note that the media ban parallels a similar decision taken by US President George W. Bush not long after American casualties in Iraq began to mount.”Jonathan Monpetit, maisonneuve

“The Conservative government is refusing to all media to cover tonight’s return of four Canadian soliers killed in Afghanistan, a surprise decision that has critics accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of adopting American-style tactics to limit public exposure to Canada’s casualties” — Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star

“In the United States, the Bush administration has been criticized for banning images of the arrival of flag-draped coffins containing the remains of soldiers killed in Iraq. White House officials imposed the ban out of worry that such photographs would lower public support for the military campaign.”CBC News

“In the U.S., the Bush administration’s concern that a stream of images of coffins draped in the Stars and Stripes would diminish public support for the Iraq war prompted the White House to impose a publication ban in 2003.”CTV News

“I agree with (Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s) decision to not lower the flag at Parliament. But banning the media? Seems unnecessary, not to mention a little George Bush-ish …”Toronto Star, selected reader feedback

“He has lifted a page from the Bush book and borrowed the Bush modus operandi .. “Dare I say president Harper is following in the footsteps of President Bush?” — Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh.

If George W. Bush is an unpopular figure in Canada, does the media’s invocation of the U.S. President when commenting on Stephen Harper’s government’s policy on not lowering the flag after every military death (and the restriction of media on Canadian bases when fallen soldiers arrive home) merely allow them to offer negative commentary when they are supposed to be filing so-called unbiased reports?

Goodale out of the race

I just received a copy of a fax that Ralph Goodale sent out today from his Parliamentary office. No, this one didn’t have anything to do with partisan fundraising but the content was nonetheless particularly partisan (at least he’s not a Minister of the Crown anymore).

Ralph Goodale fax about Liberal leadership (PDF)

Ralph Goodale will not be running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

He cites bilingualism as his downfall. This is an honest admission. Goodale’s French ranges from weak to non-existent. At least he didn’t make up a cover story about those confusing voting systems! (mon francais est mieux que vous pense [sic]).

However, would the pending investigation into income trusts and the potential distaste among Liberals for yet another scandal focused upon their leader be too much for Goodale to make a good run at the Grit’s top job?

Regardless, Goodale will watch the race with interest and lists 5 ideas rooted in “liberalism” that he wants to see in the party under a new leader:

  • National unity and “cohesion”.
  • Canadian pluralism and identity
  • Fiscal responsibility (and hot stock tips)
  • Knowledge economy
  • Environmental sustainability