A Political Rant

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THE POWER OF THE PRESS

My Father once told me to never get into a peeing match with someone who buys ink (or paper) by the ton , but I am somewhat of a non conformist, so here goes.

I read a great article this week by Terence Corcoran, a veteran financial columnist and Editor of the Financial Post. He tells it like it is when it comes to a concerted media campaign to defeat the Harper government. In fact he says, ” As the election approaches, the media are emerging as the Harper government’s biggest political opponnent, bigger than the New Democrat or Liberal parties.”

Corcoran goes on to say that, ” The Canadian media complex is in the grip of Harper Derangement Frenzy (HDF) which is an upgrade to hurricane status from Harper Derangement Syndrome, identified several years ago by Lorne Gunter (National Post Columnist) as an ideological hatred of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that is so acute its sufferers’ ability to reason logically is impaired. The upgraded HDF extends the definition to incorporate the media hell-bent on a pre-election campaign to bring down the Harper government regardless of any facts.”

My sentiments exactly. I respect the right of the media to have their opinions, as I have mine. However, freedom of the press does not include the right to manipulate, distort or to bury issues favourable to the government of the day, in order to achieve a partisan political objective.

As an example, last week the Reputation Institute ‘ the world’s leading research firm for reputation’, published its Annual Report in which it recognizes Canada as the most reputable nation in the world. Canada leads a 55 nation list for perceived trust admiration and respect based on a survey of 48,000 people around the world.

Now I would think this is something to crow about, something that every Canadian should be proud of. But it barely appeared in the media partly I suspect, because after 10 years in power, they could hardly say that the Harper government had nothing to do with it.

No government is perfect and the Harper government is no exception. While I usually vote Conservative, I am not an apologist for them and I am not a right wing idealogue. But they do not deserve the perpetual thrashing from the media that clouds their record and distorts their accomplshments and they do deserve some recognition for governing the most respected country in the world. Ya think?

While I am still on this rant, let me make a prediction. In the Fall election campaign, the Toronto Star will support the New Democrats. To do so, they will be jumping ship as they have a long tradition of supporting Liberal principals. But they are far more interested in defeating the Harper Government and have obviously concluded that the Liberals cannot do that. The glutinous coverage of Thomas Mulcair in this weekend’s Star is a sure sign that the rats are leaving the Liberal Ship. A banner headline on the front page..’.Hitting the road with Jack’ and then three whole pages of NDP coverage in the Insight section of the newspaper.

No doubt, as the election gets closer, if it appears that the NDP cannot achieve a majority the Star and other media will push for a New Democrat/Liberal coalition. Mulcair is making no bones about it. He would be interested. Kudos to Justin Trudeau however. He firmly shut the door on such a concept, knowing no doubt, that any propping up of an NDP led government would signal the demise of the Liberal Party.

Liberals have a long and respected reputation as a national political party. They are not socialists and they are not controlled by Unions. They are a Party of the middle and have much less in common with the NDP than many people think. My bet is that they will hold their own in the coming election and they will stick to their own principles, deserted by the media or not.

THE REAL REASON THEY ARE LEAVING

There are a record number of federal politicians who have announced that they will not seek re-election this year. Contrary to some reports, they are not all Tories and they are not leaving because they fear the election results. Here is the real reason, at least for many of them.

Currently, a member of Parliament who has served at least 6 years is eligible for a pension at age 55. Depending on years of service this could be as much as $150,000. per year for life. The Government has enacted legislation reforming parliamentary pensons, to change the age of entitlement to 65, effective the end of 2015. Therefore an M.P. who is 55 or older, can collect their pension if they leave now. If they seek re-election and win, under the new legislation, they would not be eligible for their pension until they reach 65. In addition to their pension, many will also be in a position to accept other employment so it all comes down to simple mathematics and not politics.

THE SENATE

On the campaign trail this week, there was finally a proposal for Senate reform that actually makes sense. Yes… it was proposed by Harper, but that in itself does not make it wrong and surely it is one the other Party leaders can support. It is simple really. Just declare a moratoium on appointing Senators.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Government cannot bring about Senate reform. This power lies primarily with the provinces. Thomas Mulcair has said if elected, he will abolish the Senate, which he would have no constitutional power to do. Justin Trudeau says he would have an independant body appoint Senators, but how independant can they be, if they themselves are appointed by politicians?

The answer is to force the Provinces to the table and the way to do that is to stop appointing Senators until the Senate is unable to function. A drastic measue indeed but one which has the potential of bringing about real change and reform to an otherwise disfunctional upper chamber.

Hugh Mackenzie

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