This may surprise some readers, but back in the early 1970s, when your blogger was a callow youth working as a cub reporter for the Calgary Herald, newspapers did their own fact checking!
This important task was done by a special category of editorial employee known as a “copy editor.”
Some younger readers of this blog may have trouble believing this was so, and some may even have never heard the term.
That is because copy editors – like linotype operators and paperboys crying ,“Pape-pape-pape-paperrrrrr! Read all about it!” – are now memories from the distant past.
And yet, I can assure readers that such creatures existed. As for newspaper copy editors, I even earned my paycheque for a spell doing that job for two large, profitable and perfectly respectable daily newspapers, one of which was the very Herald mentioned above.
In the 1970s, the Calgary Herald considered itself “the newspaper of record of Southern Alberta (a bit of a self-conscious riff on how the New York Times then described itself) and, accordingly, took errors of fact seriously.
A cub reporter could lose his or her job for making more than a couple that found their way into print. Having a correction published about your story, and noted in the files, was considered a grave humiliation. And those copy editors – God-like entities in the hierarchy of the newsroom – were charged with ensuring it never happened, or at least with vanishingly infrequency.
I mention all this ancient history because of a column published by the same Calgary Herald as well as other newspapers owned by the Postmedia newspaper (and identical website) chain on May 18, which contained errors, and which therefore became a topic of heated discussion on social media yesterday.
You see, it has come to pass – and this is not a good thing – that members of the public, for example, University of Alberta professors, have to take on the role of the copy editor without reward, except for the abuse of other social media users, of course. (This falls under the general heading of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Especially in Alberta.)
So when Andrew Leach, professor of environmental and energy economics at the University of Alberta, pointed out some serious errors in a column by Licia Corbella that ran under the headline, “Rachel Notley can’t run on her record as premier because it’s a disaster,” he was subjected to the usual abuse from the usual suspects, no doubt as he expected.
In her column, Ms. Corbella wrote that when the NDP came to power in 2015, the province’s debt was $11.9 billion, but that when the United Conservative Party was elected in 2019, it had grown to $85.9 billion. “Thankfully,” she continued, “the UCP brought in surplus budgets and whittled away at Notley’s reckless debt.”
Dr. Leach took issue with that on social media, writing: “Reality: total taxpayer supported debt in 2019 was $62.7B. Total in 2023 was $79.4B.” In the same tweet, he added rhetorically: “Does whittled not mean what I think it means?”
“She is, unquestionably, living in a world of her own imagination,” Dr. Leach said of the columnist in another tweet, pointing to an Aug. 27, 2020, story in the Calgary Herald, headlined, “Alberta $24-billion budget deficit largest in Canada in percentage terms in three decades.” The subhead added, “Deficit will be $16.8 billion higher than forecast this year.”
Ms. Corbella’s column also said, of Ms. Notley’s time as premier, “Every economic indicator went down except … the debt.” This phrase also made it into the sub-head on the National Post’s version of the story.
This too prompted a riposte from Dr. Leach: “Reality: Employment? Up. GDP? Up. Population? Up. Labour productivity? Up.”
A certain amount of inevitable palaver followed, wherein apologists for the UCP Government argued for the consideration of various factors in defence of the government’s performance. Fair enough, said Dr. Leach, but, “That there was a good reason for deficit budgets doesn’t mean there weren’t deficit budgets. That there was good reason to take on more debt doesn’t mean that more debt wasn’t taken on. This holds for NDP and UCP governments.”
In other words, the facts are the facts, and Postmedia did not report them accurately.
There was a day when reasonable efforts would have been made at the Calgary Herald to avoid misinformation of this sort being published.
In the event some was and someone pointed it out, an appropriately humble correction would have promptly appeared – something I doubt we are likely to see in this case.
Be that is it may, I should add that a regular reader of this blog points out that the oft-quoted $11.9 billion starting point for Alberta’s debt when the NDP came to power also appears to be a misrepresentation of the facts as reported in the historical tables of the Government of Alberta’s 2021-22 annual report.
Or, as my interlocutor put it, “more than a stretch.”
Add debt from government business enterprises to “total debt” as shown in the historical tables, and the total debt for the last year of the Progressive Conservative Government of Jim Prentice would appear to be $32.8 billion, not $11.9 billion.
“The difference in ‘total debt outstanding’ between the last PC year (2014-15) and the last NDP year (2018-19) is not $74 billion, but $53 billion,” my informant wrote. “Still a significant sum,” but Postmedia then neglects to say that “‘total bebt’ increased by a further $30.6 billion under the UCP to $111.4 billion over the next two years by the end of fiscal year 2020-21.”
“Over four years, the NDP added an annual average of $13.3 billion in debt,” he said. “In its first two years, the UCP added an annual average of $15.8 billion in debt. But according to (Postmedia), it’s the NDP who drove the economy into the ditch.”
Well, this is murky stuff, possibly too deep for even for the copy editors of the Herald’s Golden Age (so known because Bill Gold, a conservative but an honourable one, was the editor).
The Herald – knowingly or otherwise – mischaracterizes the economic management of the NDP government and omits facts to spruce up the image of the UCP, which fared even worse in its first two years.
And that’s before we consider the potential future impacts of Premier Smith’s R-Star scam, which could easily turn out to be the biggest boondoggle in Canadian history if it’s allowed to proceed.
On debate night, Notley mostly told the truth, Smith not so much
Speaking of fact checking, Brett McKay and David Slater of MacEwan University and well-known Edmonton-based investigative journalist Charles Rusnell fact checked the statements made by Premier Danielle Smith and Opposition Leader Rachel Notley in their May 18 debate.
Their conclusion, published in The Tyee yesterday: “Notley was the more truthful. Smith made numerous misleading statements in which figures were cherry-picked or taken out of context and in some cases her statements were flat out false.”
Since past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, all Alberta voters are advised read this story.
It should be quite apparent that columnists such as Licia Corbella, Lorne Gunter, Jack Mintz and David Staples are parrots for these pretend conservatives and Reformers. They will never mention anything truthful, in whatever they write. Unfortunately, there are people who believe the garbage that they get published, and anyone who calls them out on it in comment forums are called nasty names. They blame Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau for the problems we have in Alberta. What they overlook is the problems that were caused when these phony conservatives reduced Peter Lougheed’s oil royalty rates to a pittance, losing us hundreds of billions of dollars, allowed very bad corporate tax rates, which lost a large amount of money, did the most priciest shenanigans, which cost us a fortune, spiked insurance and utility costs, made the worst cuts to the public education and public healthcare system in Alberta, made poverty levels, as well as crime levels increase, and didn’t protect the environment. Peter Lougheed called it a horrific mess, and was right. There used to be columnists with integrity, such as Mark Lisac. If I recall, Ralph Klein didn’t like getting criticized for his big mistakes, and his career at the Edmonton Journal was ended. Rod Love, an associate of Ralph Klein, may have had something to do with this. In addition, in newspapers, such as Postmedia owned ones, letters which are exposing what these phony conservatives are doing will never be published. This is a shame.
Licia Corbella? Isn’t she the long-time *opinion* journalist at the Calgary Herald, who had a dozen columns wiped from the paper’s website archive because she was a member of the UCP while activity promoting Jason Kenney and his UCP spawn? I guess her grasp of reality is as strained as her weird pic on Twitter recording the moment she cast her vote for Kenney’s leadership. Licia Corbella boasted that Global Warming is good because “some places benefit from it”. I can imagine her believing that, thanks to Global Warming, there will be rows upon rows of orange trees on Memorial Drive. Compared to David Staples, at least Corbella had this weird sense of fun about her missteps in the facts. Staples’ only defence is that he is still praying for an Oilers Cup victory before he dies, and his trusty You’re Blocked feature on his Twitter will keep him safe. But I disgress.
When the Edmonton Journal ran that strange piece of election advertising for the UCP, not once but twice, proved it wasn’t a mistake. And there was no apology from the Journal. More recently, when the Journal ran a similar promotion for the Rachel Notley and the ABNDP, unlike the UCP ad, it was presented and bannered as election advertising by the campaign, the Journal fell over itself throwing mea culpas for taking the NDP’s money when they ran such a deceptive piece. The hard up Postmedia taking the money and calling itself the victim in the whole drama? For shame.
I recall years ago, someone informed me that before the dictatorships took over in South American countries, they would set up media outlets, like newspapers, to spread disinformation. Garish tabloids would appear overnight and spread the most amazing lies about the opposition to an ignorant public. This how democracy died in South America. The same tactics are being applied in North America with chilling effect.
Wait until Licia Corbella and David Staples nameplates are slapped on an AI bots that spew out similar disinformation nonsense for mere pennies. And I need more popcorn.
Yes, the debate and the election could use some more rigorous fact checking. Its too bad the Herald or the Journal don’t do that much anymore.
The sanctimonious comments from Smith about Notley running from her record were way over the top. Of course, Notley wasn’t the one trying to down play past comments about not wearing poppies, recent ethics convictions or even about being Cherokee. No, Smith is the one trying hardest to distance herself from her own past, if she even knows what it is. But I suppose a these days this is considered a good strategy – accuse your oppononent of what you are most guilty of.
Its too bad some of our mainstream media is now complicit in perpetuating this myth of the NDP’s terrible economic record. Yes, there were falling oil prices and economic difficulty, but if you want to talk high deficits and high unemployment, the UCP has the NDP beat.
No, Smith, the UCP and their usual media cheerleaders are not just running from their own economic record, they are either totally ignoring it or distorting it.
In a close election this may matter. Those voters who have concerns about fiscal and economic management, but are not enthusiastic about Smith and the extremist tilt of the UCP may be a deciding group. So the NDP and the media should not allow a false narrative to take hold, that somehow the UCP were great fiscal and economic managers while the NDP were not. Its just not true and not supported by the facts.
Hi Dave. Accusing your opponent of what you do yourself isn’t merely good strategy. It’s a tried-and-tested tactic of the Right. So is outright lies about what your opponent has been up to—and what you’ve been doing, too. Slater and Rusnell’s Tyee article is enlightening (unless you’re a Danielle Smith fan).
It’s because the mainstream media is biased against the left (even a party that only slightly tilts left) because they know that both the Conservatives and, on the federal level, the Liberals, will continue to let them pay no taxes and not have to have any journalistic ethics, as the article shows. And while the provincial NDP might let them get away with it, a strong federal NDP could throw a wrench in this whole thing.
Remember the time Licia Cornbella’s articles were pulled after word of her membership in the UCP got out? She had endorsed Jason Kenney during the voting period for the UCP leadership.
To this day six years later, Licia Corbella remains a UCP propagandist in the minds of many, who often remind us of her Kompromat on social media.
Back in the day of copy editors and linotype, surely reporters had the common sense not to join political parties, in order to remain impartial or at least appear that way. But card-carrying members of any party? That must have been a step too far.
Here we are in 2023. No wonder it’s hard to tell a propaganda outlet from mainstream media, when a once-respectable newspaper like the Calgary Herald has gone down the Republican rabbit hole. I might argue that there’s something other than a rabbit in the hole, but that’s just me. Licia Corbella or Keean Bexte? Hard to say who’s who in the zoo.
I am reminded of an old news article that called someone “a man of no use to himself or others”. Alas, when reporters for a mainstream media outlet show us their membership card in a political party, that is what they become. Useless. Without fear or favor? Forget the Herald and Corbella. Kompromat.
I ran a paper route for the Edmonton Journal from 1955 to 1960 a friend helped me delver 155 papers a day. It was when you could trust what you read to be true. Now we have these fools like Licia Corbella, David Staples, Lorne Gunter creating their own home grown lies to help these reformers spread their lies. Don’t you wonder if they are being paid to do so? When you have so many ignorant Albertans believing them you have a problem. The $32.8 billion debt David indicates is a lot more realistic, but it doesn’t cover the deficits that Notley also inherited . You can’t ignore the $260 billion orphan cleanup mess, or our roads filled with potholes, that could cost $20 billion to fix road workers tell us and you certainly can’t ignore the massive shortage of schools these phony conservatives created. Notley only built a small amount of what is still needed. From the financial statement I was shown by a former MLA Notley was a hero for what she was doing spending our money mainly on building 55 new schools we desperately needed and what she was trying to accomplish. Watching Brian Jean make a fool of himself by bashing Notley for daring to want to increase corporate taxes shows how stupid he is. Under Lougheed and Getty corporate taxes were 15% and Royalties were 32% higher than they are today. I wonder where Jean thinks we are going to find the money to pay for this horrific mess these reformers have put us in? Norway charges their oil industry 78% in taxes. I haven’t forgotten what I heard when Klein was talking about slashing corporate taxes. CEOs told him not to , taxes were not a problem, we can afford them, but no one told Klein what to do he was his own little dictator. I will never forget how furious members of his own family were with him for what he was doing to us. His own mother knew he would be a disaster and he was. too bad so many Albertans wouldn’t listen.
Wasn’t Gunter’s wife gifted a sinecure from Kenney?
Alan K. Spiller: I even remember when Angie Klein, Ralph Klein’s daughter, was voting for the NDP. It shows how bad he and the Alberta PCs were. Peter Lougheed wouldn’t appear with Ralph Klein at social events, because he knew Ralph Klein was bad. If Peter Lougheed were still around, he’d also say the UCP are bad.
Anybody can make a mistake. Even the best journalists are not infallible.
But Postmedia’s false narrative of the NDP’s economic record — a “disaster” owing to bad management — is not founded upon a single error.
What we have seen in recent weeks is an orchestrated effort — leaving no stones unturned — to pull the election out of the lake of fire for the UCP.
Postmedia has called on all its columnists, op-ed warhorses, and zombie scribes — living, retired, and dead — to attack the NDP’s record (2015-19). If facts and figures get in the way, no problem. Invent new ones.
When Postmedia calls the election for the UCP, that’s not a prediction, it’s a mission statement.
If enough Calgary voters buy into Postmedia’s fictions, that could tilt the election.
Albertans waking up on May 30 may wonder if the election was stolen by the U.S. hedge funds that keep Postmedia afloat.
To clarify a point:
“Add debt from government business enterprises to ‘total debt’ as shown in the historical tables, and the total debt for the last year of the Progressive Conservative Government of Jim Prentice would appear to be $32.8 billion, not $11.9 billion.”
In fact, Total Debt is the sum of three line items on the Govt of AB’s fiscal summary. $11.9 B ($11,922 M) is just the first line item.
For 2014/15, Total Debt was $29.6 B ($29,567 M). Add the relatively small GBE Debt ($3,270 M), and the “total debt outstanding” is $32.8 B ($32,837 M).
PostMath counts four items against the NDP ($85.9 B), but just one line item in the debt calculation for their PC predecessors.
Dead silence on the UCP’s first two years, which were worse.
Now take another gander at the AB Govt’s Fiscal Summary, and fire up your spreadsheet program:
The PCs recorded relatively small deficits from 2008-09 to 2013-14.
During a protracted slump in oil prices, the NDP racked up four annual deficits totalling $32 B. An average of $8 B per year.
Followed by a UCP deficit of $12 B in 2019-20 and $17 B in 2020-21.
In Alberta, big deficits are a function of low oil prices.
As the UCP Govt admits: “The province’s revenue and economic health are also strongly correlated with oil prices.” (Alberta Budget 2020: Fiscal Plan: A Plan for Jobs and the Economy 2020 – 23)
If you give the NDP the resource revenue the UCP got in 2021-22 (leaving aside the increase in personal and corporate taxes due to the oil price spike), the NDP records three surpluses in a row (the last 3 years). The last of which (2018-19) exceeds the UCP surplus in 2021-22.
From fiscal years 2008-09 to 2021-22, expenditures increased 3.6% per year on average.
During PC years (2008-09 to 2014-15), expenditures increased 3.5% per year.
During the NDP’s term (2015-16 to 2018-19), 3.2%.
During first three UCP years (2019-20 to 2021-22), 4.5%.
NDP spending increases were below average.
The NDP record is not nearly as dire as portrayed. Postmedia and the UCP omit key context: low oil prices and low royalties. In its first two years, the UCP fared even worse.
A healthy, independent media is a pillar of democracy. Without an independent media to inform Albertans, we have no real democracy. When the media disinforms Albertans, it undermines democracy.
On May 30, the UCP can thank Postmedia for its support.
And Albertans can thank Postmedia for four more years of Danielle Smith.
“If you give the NDP the resource revenue the UCP got in 2021-22 (leaving aside the increase in personal and corporate taxes due to the oil price spike), the NDP records three surpluses in a row (the last 3 years). The last of which (2018-19) exceeds the UCP surplus in 2021-22.”
I love how you abuse statistics. This is entirely speculative and does not take into account spending and Notley loves to spend. She’s been promising to sprinkle money everywhere and on everyone in exchange for their vote.
As for your comment on the importance of a healthy, independent media to democracy: Nice sentiment but in truth, the only media you’ve ever approved of is one which agrees with your viewpoint. If it doesn’t agree, then it must be dishonest, far right and you’d probably agree that it should be censored which is what the liberals/ndp have attempted to do. This is pretty much how Climenhaga parses the world as well.
Davey: Badmouth me if you wish. It goes with the territory, I reckon. But be careful with Geoffrey. You’re going to get a lot of reading material. DJC
Due to an incomplete revision of my spreadsheet, some of my figures were slightly off. Fixed now. My apologies.
The revised figures put NDP spending in an even better light. NDP increases were below average:
From fiscal years 2008-09 to 2021-22, expenditures increased 3.9% (not 3.6%) per year on average.
During PC years (2008-09 to 2014-15), expenditures increased 4.1% (not 3.5%) per year.
During the NDP’s term (2015-16 to 2018-19), 3.2% (as stated above).
During first three UCP years (2019-20 to 2021-22), 4.5% (as stated above).
If you give the NDP the resource revenue the UCP got in 2021-22 (leaving aside the increase in personal and corporate taxes due to the oil price spike), the NDP records four surpluses (not three) in a row. The first and last of which (2015-16, 2018-19) exceeds the UCP surplus in 2021-22.
Of course, one can only speculate about NDP spending if oil prices had not taken a nosedive in mid-2014.
Davey wrote: “Notley loves to spend. She’s been promising to sprinkle money everywhere and on everyone in exchange for their vote.”
Notley’s actual record shows more restraint than the governments that preceded and followed.
Funny, Smith is accused of the same thing — by conservatives!
“Danielle Smith’s approach — her inconsistent libertarianism — has been to grow government indiscriminately. Hers is the largest cabinet in the history of the province. Her 2023 budget reversed many of her party’s fiscal gains, boosting spending by 10 per cent. Even traditional allies criticize the plan as unconservative. It is telling that the most temperamental conservative in her cabinet presented it … and then promptly departed.”
“Jared Wesley and Ken Boessenkool: Danielle Smith is not a conservative” (Apr 28, 2023)
Fraser Institute: “Alberta government wastes generational opportunity to restore provincial finances”
“In its first budget, the Smith government had a golden opportunity to use Alberta’s surpluses—fuelled by a temporary windfall in resource revenue—to improve the province for the long-term.
“…The first step towards accomplishing any of these priorities, however, was to not spend the windfall. Unfortunately, the Smith government gave into this temptation.
“A big-spending budget the Danielle Smith of old might have hated — except the parts she’d love
“Election’s coming in Alberta. Perhaps not the time for fiscal conservatism”
Jason Markusoff, CBC, Feb 28, 2023
Lobbyist-Premier Danielle Smith is the poster child for economic mismanagement. Smith’s full-blown RStar scheme would gift $20 B in royalty credits to her friends, and reward delinquent O&G companies for bad behavior. Indefensible.
As an unrepentant leftie, I support wise investments in Alberta’s future, even in times of low oil prices. I do not support corporate cronyism that funnels billions of dollars in future revenues that belong to future generations to largely foreign-owned delinquent O&G companies currently raking in billions in profits.
Davey wrote: “the only media you’ve ever approved of is one which agrees with your viewpoint”
People are entitled to their opinions. People are not entitled to their own facts.
I support journalism that does not confuse fact with opinion. Journalism that sticks to the facts. Media outlets that take care to avoid errors; amend them swiftly when errors are identified; and publish retractions, if necessary. Journalism that does not impose a narrative on its readers. As the CBC Ombudsman can attest, I have taken the CBC to task for its failures to adhere to these principles more than once.
Postmedia is flogging a narrative based on invented facts that depart from reality.
Long enough? 🙂
The most chilling aspect of last Thursdays’ leadership debate was more than the lies themselves, but the utter confidence and self-assurance displayed by Danielle Smith as she spoke those lies.
As for Licia Corbella, she is a known and proven distorter of the truth. Smith has to be the only target in the final week of this election campaign. Obsessing about Corbella just takes peoples’ eyes off the target that matters.
As an aside, I enjoyed your trip into journalistic history, but will note that media integrity was never as pristine or thorough as you seem to suggest.
Andy: Well, we tried to do something about that journalistic integrity thing, anyway. Heard your words on the CBC the other day! DJC
While the ndp were in power 5 million Albertans lost their jobs, another 7 million were vaccinated with microchips laced with hiv/aids, and an additional 9 million had their childrens gender identity changed without them even knowing until they stumbled upon old photos of their children. To top it all off they left the province a million billion trillion dollars in debt. Whoops I just sent you my resume to become a reporter at the national post.
Back in the ’70s, when I too was at the Herald for a while, we also had eagle-eyed proofreaders (yes, really!) and some sharp cookies in the composing room. They too caught a lot of errors before they rolled off the press. I always remember a wonderful linotype operator named Charlie Lorenzo, the sharpest cookie in the batch, who could spot more errors, upside down and backwards, than many of my fellow deskers. (Charlie died tragically around 1991, in an avalanche while cross-country skiing.)
Robert: When I was at the Globe, each Report on Business copy editor was responsible for proof-reading two pages of the bulldog edition, which hit the streets circa 9:30 p.m., then we all proofread the bulldog, then we read proofs of the first morning edition. Stuff still crept in, but not much. Well, first they came for the bulldog edition, then they reduced the number of proofs (saved paper, ya know), then they started getting rid of copy editors. As far as I can tell nowadays, no one proof0reads anything and I’ve seen Postmedia reporters at political meetings filing their copy straight into a web content-management system. Apparently nobody knows anything and nobody learns anything. As they say in the computer business: garbage in, garbage out. DJC
I would agree. I’ve noticed a number of sentences in mainstream media as of late that make no sense. Complete grammatical failures that leave you wondering. No verb, sometimes no subject etc. Nevermind issues of truth and accuracy. My only consolation is newspaper readership is plummeting so fewer people are being misled. I hope?
Sadly, no. I’ve seen the same kind of grammatical and spelling errors in online publications, including CBC and the Guardian. About BBC I’m less sure, because I don’t read as many of their articles–but it wouldn’t surprise me.
During a lifetime of writing, I became obsessive about typos. Sadly, even in the Globe, which I read daily (NOT from beginning to end, of course), I almost daily find typos. Sigh. I wish I could obliterate this obsession.
Thanks to Bob Bott for introducing me to this blog.
Now, they mostly get around this by labeling each article they print as opinion, instead of the actual news. I don’t think they need to go to a journalistic school; because opinions are like you know what, everybody’s got one.
I came to the conclusion a few years back that PostMedia has a horrendous case of Fox News penis envy.
Is anyone really surprised? Post Media that far right US vulture firm that pretty much controls print media in Canada and has destroyed “journalism” as an honorable career? That welfare bum that takes taxpayer money to keep the National Post running (30M subsidy)? The people working at it must know which side their bread is buttered on. So, what’s the surprise at the lies & distorted ‘facts’? It’s business as usual I think. We are fortunate that people like David Climenhaga keep honest, analytical reporting alive – online! Thanks DJC!
Not to stray off topic, but is anyone able to fact check the mailers?
In the UCP mailer that dropped in my mailbox today, there is the statement in relation to lowering the initial tax bracket from 10% to 8% (and was stated by Ms. Smith during the debate), “Saving EVERY Alberta taxpayer $760 per year (emphasis mine). That’s over $1500 per family (bolded in the mailer)”.
This is both a lie and egregiously misleading. Only those with incomes well above $70K will save anywhere close to that amount. Those with incomes <$22K will save $0 (say a retiree on a fixed income with a spouse who never worked). It is summarized in depth here https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/may-2023/ucp-income-tax-bracket/
My concern is those of limited means, or seniors taking this at face value. While buyer’s remorse may be in effect on May 30, no returns will be accepted for four long years.
I like to ask my conservative neighbours to define MSM in Canada. “Oh well,” they say “it’s the damn CBC, the Toronto Star and the Globe.” So I like to ask about the Post Media stable of papers and websites (which have many more eyeballs) or AM talk radio (100% right of centre) or the bully pulpit of evangelists if we stretch the definition of media. Dead silence.
So the bottom line? MSM is a pejorative label for anything or anyone the right hates.
I keep in mind that a province governed for 44 years by a single party—the second, in fact, of nearly eight decades by two successive right-wing parties—must still be in transition from one- to multi-party democracy.
Call it strikes, standing-eight-counts, or whatever, the 29th will yield another harbinger of what is to become of the province’s veteran right—perhaps ‘peri-harbinger’ since a process has begun that isn’t yet complete. In 2015 Alberta voters, tired of that hegemonal ProgCon party, punished it by voting for its supposed ideological opposite just to get rid of it, exercising long-flaccid and out-of-shape political muscles with a little help from training wheels— one side, big-belt-buckle hubris, the other, prayer— to calculate a return to one-party rule. Heck, it’d be over in no time—just like lazing away a Sunday afternoon drinking a few cool ones and shooting rats at the local landfill—entertainment, at very worst.
Sure enough, in 2019 the electorate duly surged back to the nominal United Conservative Party, electing it government by a nearly-convincing, nearly-60% of the pop-vote. But not all former ProgCons could have been as nearly convinced as to return to the new UCP: the NDP might have lost power but it won 24 seats, six times what it had prior to its upset win in 2015, and a dozen times what it had prior to the 2012 election—the Dippers ran a pretty good government in spite of low petroleum prices set by the global market and an acceleration of the size and frequency of wildfires due to climate change, yes, all true, but the dirty pool, mean-spirited rhetoric and Soldiers-of-Odium affiliates Jason Kenney used to shotgun-wed far-right and centre-right parties during the first half of the NDP term cannot be discounted as a distinctly distasteful turn-off for many voters, and thus the transition from what conservatism was to whatever it’s becoming could plainly not be put paid in 2019 as if a flip of the Dipper-switch.
Then there’s now: in just six days Albertans will bless the first partisan-political rest they’ve had since K-Boy created the heaven ands the earth just four, agonizingly long years ago. No matter which party wins power, the NDP will have doubled or nearly-so their number of seats and, no matter what, the transition—a word the UCP utters hatefully for somethings else, possibly to distract from an uncomfortable truth—, the metamorphosis of Alberta’s partisan-right will still be incomplete, certainly not a Dipper-done-deal, maybe even an eventual undone-deal.
This is what Alberta conservatives are looking at: even if the UCP wins, it’s grim, and it’s hard, if not impossible to categorically predict that it would be grimmer under the NDP—at least in purely administrative terms. If Rachel Notley wins the votes she and her party deserve and they return to power, the ensuing tumult—I guess it could be called part of the transitional right’s rite of passage—will be as vicious as it deserves. But it won’t be the NDP’s and it won’t distract from their good governance. Of all the party leaders contending, nobody but Rachel Notley wants to settle things done more than she does, and whatever devolution the right takes will be, at least for a short while, a pathetic —and, I’m not afraid to say, eventually hopeful transition back to institutional respect, federal rectitude, fiscal responsibility and a cooperative-communitarian ethos.
I can only say to my conservative friends in Alberta—and especially those moderate Tories who will cast their votes in the swinging city of CowTown— that the Calgary Herald is the gift-bearer for the UCP, and alls they got for y’all is this tried, once-true, and now totally tired set of canards the NDP does well to shed like water off a duck’s back. That’s it, that’s all.
What’s even more insulting is that the Herald article has gone from marking statistical twain to far beyond forty-fathoms of easily marked bullshit. The UCP hasn’t got anything more for you centre-right Tories that wouldn’t upset its perennially dyspeptic base, and for this tokenism to y’all, y’all expected to cast your token vote like it’s nothing to you so long’s the UCP wins.
But who am I to tell you how to solve your biggest problem: your own party? The transition ain’t over yet, but I know you’re getting the hang of it. If the Herald piece is as dismissible as I know you know it is then, a fortiori, so must be the UCP. Let its factions duke it out on their own time while more sensible people do their best to pull things back together and get back on the right track for everyone, including them.
“She is, unquestionably, living in a world of her own imagination,”
Or it is simply the case that, the MSM [in the Alberta Petro-state] generally and specifically functions as a ‘distorting lens’ and a propaganda instrument serving the economic ruling class and their vested interests, while; at the same time tending to produce systematic biases that favor the economically and politically powerful.
The Post media example, as noted and discussed above, favorably reinforces that analysis and its conclusions, that is for example,
“The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda.”
We live in an era of corporatocracy, not democracy. And Postmedia, as we know, is a right wing propaganda mill for the corporate class and their political machine, the UCP. To get their job done, the far right relies on half-truths, outright lies and misinformation to convince the people to vote against their own interests. It’s time we start calling Postmedia by what it really is, a right wing propaganda mill.
Andrew Leach, the NDP pet economist says its so, then it must be!
The 2015 election was called because of the grave situation around the main source of government funding. The NDP ignored that and sold the election on, lets make the oil companies pay for everything.
How did that work out Leach?
Basically, if youre digging a hole and you cant change direction, sooner or later you get to China (thats the NDP promise land, obviously).
Thats the take away.
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