Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Great Debate

How the NDP Moved Further Along the Path
to Winning the Provincial Election

There is no question Carole James mopped the floor
with Gordon Campbell and Adrienne Carr last night.
She dominated the debate in a low-key, but relentless
way, hammering at Campbell to explain the policies
of his government to the citizens of BC. That had to
feel good for James, both as a citizen and as the person
who hopes to win the next election. Campbell was on the
defensive throughout the debate, at times looking like
he would rather be anywhere but there, being grilled
by Ms. James. Campbell’s spin doctor’s, no matter how
they try, can’t make him appear more human, or
personable. He looked as though it pained him to smile
and admittedly, he didn’t have much to smile about.
The wooden presentation and inauthentic delivery of
Campbell’s words couldn’t have scored too many points
with voters, even hard core Liberals, who wouldn’t change
their vote anyways. Campbell’s performance did nothing
to boost his lacklustre image as a leader, or the BC Liberal
party, as caring, accountable and representative of the
citizens of BC.

James, in comparison, presented herself as an articulate,
compassionate and caring leader, whose most perti-
nent points were picking up on the broken promises
of the Campbell Liberal government. Throughout the
debate, James continued to ask Campbell to explain
to the citizens of BC the consequences of their policies.
She also challenged Campbell to explain which promises
the Liberals broke, what lies they told to BC and what
statements voters could believe in this election and
which promises they will break once in power. It was
fun to watch Campbell squirm over that one. For
someone who is reputed to be a quick wit, Campbell
sure wasn’t able to jump to his party’s defense in an
articulate and reasonable way. James’ pressed the point
for viewers that leadership is about being responsible
for making tough decisions and through this, voters
can build a sense of trust in their leader. James was
very effective in pointing out that the citizens of BC
have no reason to trust Gordon Campbell, or the
Liberal government, because their track record of lies,
broken promises and painful consequences (or “tough
choices” as Campbell called them) has proven that
they are not accountable, are not and that they have
betrayed the public in many, many ways under through
their leadership of the province over the last 4 years.

Adrienne Carr’s enthusiasm and green ethics definitely
aren’t in question, but her messages tend to get lost,
because she isn’t terribly articulate. Carr made some
good digs at both party leaders as she pointed out the
problematic policies and actions of past NDP and current
Liberal governments. At times, it felt like Carr was the
little sister tagging onto the points of James, who was
clearly directing all of her points towards Campbell, to
the point of almost ignoring Carr. This reads as a sign
that the NDP leader doesn’t consider the Green party,
or Carr as a serious threat to the NDP. Carr came
across primarily as a one trick pony, hammering home
the environmental sustainability platform. I’m afraid
I didn’t feel confidence in her abilities to lead this province,
but I think she definitely holds an important place in
challenging both the Liberals and NDP over present and
past policies and actions. Carr’s closing address provided
a good example of her “green” efforts, as she had to look
down at her notes throughout. Ms. Carr, at this point in
the game, should be able to clearly and articulately tell
the citizens of BC what her party stands for, what their
platform will accomplish for BC and do all of this without
referring to her notes. Anything else at this point is an
illustration that she is not ready to be the next leader
BC needs and deserves.

What is almost more interesting than the debate itself
was the response from Canwest Global. Discussion about
media bias of the Asper monopoly is always a source of
frustration and annoyance to the left. But media bias
was in sharp evidence last night and I have to say, as a
citizen of BC, I found it shocking and deplorable. In
efforts to spin the results of their “exclusive” poll,
Keith Baldrey and the other halfwitthey have on
the late news downplayed the results that put James
at a considerable lead in the debate over Campbell, or Carr.
This continued to the morning news, where Canwest
continue to state there wasn’t really a clear leader in the
debate, but perhaps James had a tiny edge. Hmm, I bet
the citizens of BC would say otherwise, because James
was the clear winner from an objective viewpoint of debate.
Even the lay out of the results gave evidence of bias,
with each slide placing Campbell’s name at the top of
the listings, even the ones where James received the
higher scores. And the discussion between news
continued the shameful display of subjective support
for the Liberals, pointing out how unknown Carole
James has been up to this point. I don’t know, ask
people around the province who she is, maybe they
should do a poll on that. And I suppose it leads to a further
dig that Global, if it were doing it's job properly (unbiased)
would offer the same media coverage of the NDP and it's
leader as it does for the Liberals. It is in the public’s
interest to be concerned about the corporate and
ideological monopoly and bias of BC’s media. This is an
issue of democracy because BC has the unpleasant
distinction of being the province with the highest level
of media concentration. Seeing this bias in action during
this election makes it clear that the relentless corporate
agenda of the BC Liberals does not stop at diminishing
the democratic freedom and liberty of BC citizens to
access information they need to determine who will be
the best leader of our province for the next four years.
We should all be very concerned about that and not
forget that the Liberals have used the mainstream media
bias to create silence around their policies, actions and
consequences for BC citizens. They have also used the
media in this province to escape accountability and
responsibility for their leadership. We should strongly
consider whether this immoral, unethical and unaccoun-
table leadership is what we need for the next four years
when we head to the polls on May 17th, 2005.

David Beers, (February 2, 2005). Creating Counterweights
to Big Media:
How to open up Canada's news media in
an era of corporate concentration.
The Tyee: A Feisty
One Online.

Allen Garr, (March, 2001). Convergence replaces

Government of Canada, (April 2004). Interim Report on the
Canadian News Media. Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications: Fourth Report.

Donald Gutstein, (January 28, 2005). Senate Comes to Scrutinize
Big Media in B.C.: What's it like to live in Canada's media
concentration capital?

Kevin Potvin, (September, 2003). Objective journalist rare as
a boneless leopard. The Vancouver Courier.

Charlie Smith, (27-Jan-2005 ). CanWest Plans Fourth Daily.
The Georgia Straight.

Charlie Smith, (10-Mar-2005). Media overlook story.
The Georgia Straight.

Charlie Smith, (3-Jun-2004). Premier's Office Offers Contract
to Publisher. The Georgia Straight.

Bill Tieleman, (15-Jul-2004). Job From Hell: Liberals' 2005
Campaign Boss. The Georgia Straight.

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