Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Media perceptions...

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Last night's episode of Politics with Don Newman on CBC Newsworld highlighted an all-too common issue related to the media coverage of the NDP in this country.

Jack Layton appeared as a guest on the show and had to answer to Newman's claim that there was a "rift" within the party regarding the "Harper Billion Dollar Offer" to the provinces. The Federal party's position is clear: This hand out is insignificant compared to the damage that Harper's corporate tax cuts and softwood lumber deal have had on our economy as a whole. The billion dollar bail-out only reinforces the NDP's belief that they have mismanaged the economy during their term, and they cannot be trusted to continue with this fiscal policy in the next budget, despite this $1 billion 'goodwill gesture'.

Unfortunately, this supposed "rift" arises because Manitoba Premier Gary Doer supports the handout. What the CBC (and other media outlets) are missing is that Gary Doer, as Premier of Manitoba is answering to those that elected him, the citizens of Manitoba. While there are certainly provincial arguments supporting and opposing his position, his decision is made from a completely different perspective than that of the Federal party. The National wing of the party looks at the net benefits received by all Canadians, not just an individual province.

This is common sense to the media, it seems, when the other two parties are involved. The recent "cozying up" of Shawn Graham and Harper goes unnoticed, or is even praised as "smart politicking". You do not see the media perpetuating a false agenda and highlighting a "rift" between the provincial and federal wings of the Liberal party. There is no criticism or questioning of Stephane Dion's leadership when a Liberal Premier supports a Harper initiative. For the most part, Provincial and Federal governments are viewed as largely separate entities, with only slight ties to their counterparts in other jurisdictions. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Newfoundland and Labrador, where Conservative premier Danny Williams is supporting the "ABC" (Anybody but Conservative) ticket in the upcoming Federal election.

This current issue regarding Doer and Layton's stances does not reflect any wedge in NDP unity, or a loosening of party solidarity, like the so-called "liberal" media would like to try and suggest. It is simply a case of "what is good for one is not in the best interests of all". It happens all the time, at all levels of government and in every party. The news media knows this, and has a duty to treat the NDP as it would the other parties, instead of manufacturing controversy and holding us to a different standard.


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