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Yesterday I did a mail-out (click here to get on my list) of a story by Paul Willcocks of the Victoria Times Colonist which questioned the government’s withholding of information on sea lice. I was astonished at this lese majeste – Canwest was supposed to be the government’s poodle and the Times Colonist is a Canwest paper.

Today Willcocks does an editorial comment on the situation at Fish Lake where Taseko mining plans to open a mine while destroying the lake and 90,000 fish with it. I do not agree with Willcocks’ conclusion but that’s not important. I do not expect anyone to agree with me but I simply ask for fair play, Willcocks provides this as he fairly states the issues.

Quite frankly, until yesterday I didn’t know that Willcocks was editor of the T-C. It doesn’t surprise me that he is writing in a way so unlike the Canwest modus operandi. I have always been an admirer of Paul both as a person and a writer.

One swallow doth not a summer make and one newspaper is not the whole chain. Canwest has a lot to atone for.

The Liberals under Gordon (Pinocchio) Campbell have not only been given a free pass by the media, it’s been openly sycophantic. This has caused a great deal of harm to the democratic process.

Under our system of government where 40% gives a large majority the role of the Fourth Estate is crucial. It must hold governments and indeed the establishment’s feet to the fire. I don’t mean to pick on Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun but the contrast between how he treated the NDP government and his treatment of the current lot is striking. There are only two explanations – Palmer has become a convert to Reaganism or the paper won’t print stuff seriously critical of the government or its support base. I have no doubt it’s the latter. If a writer knows that there are subjects which are off limits he’s not going to write on that subject. If Palmer had covered any one of a number of Liberal policies as he covered the “Fast Ferry” issue under the NDP this government would be reeling.

The issue isn’t censorship by the media but self censorship by columnists and editorial writers

Randolph Churchill (father of) once said that “it’s the duty of the opposition to oppose”. In this day and age no matter how the opposition acts, it matters little if their positions and arguments are not reported.

It is said by the chattering classes that oppositions should not obstruct. Of course they should if they deem it necessary. It must always be remembered that the government, having a majority, can do as it pleases. What it won’t do is deal with any of the downsides of legislation and policy; they can only be learned if the opposition and media do their job of making the government honest. It’s only by thorough cross examining of the government with that cross examination being fairly reported that any semblance of good government can be achieved.

It must always be remembered that the government has a four year dictatorship and the only thing that keeps them relatively benign rather than malevolent is strong questions from the opposition and the media.

I hope against hope that Paul Willcocks signals a change in Canwest overall.

One Response to “From Rafe’s desk: Canwest as Liberal poodle”

  1. Kim says:

    I read that article from Paul, the comments section was not available. So I commented on his blog. I like Paul too, he seems honest, unlike his teammate Les Leyne. I must say the TC has occasionally done some actual journalism (speaking of the series on the BC justice system) and Paul’s partner Jodie Patterson has also done excellent work. It puzzles me somewhat that they sometimes let actual journalism through, being Canwest and all…

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