Even a brief perusal of their website will confirm that CBC has brazenly become a shill for the Liberal Party of Canada. If that’s not enough proof, last Sunday, just as the Liberals were desperate to turn around their sagging fortunes (tied with the NDP), CBC Radio magically comes to the rescue granting Stephane Dion a full hour of free (or rather tax payer funded) air time, on a very popular nationally broadcast show on politics, Cross Country Check-Up. I await to see if the same courtesy (invitation to appear in this highly coveted time slot) and hospitality (serving up easy questions and allowing Dion uninterruptedly to proselytize, to mischaracterize his opponents, to misrepresent their platforms, etc.) is extended to Jack Layton and Stephen Harper.
That The Star should do the same is shameful and irresponsible, but it is not, in my opinion, an obstruction of democracy and fair elections as is the case with the CBC, which is publicly funded. The Star is privately owned and supported and may express, however prejudicially or irresponsibly, whatever opinions it wishes. In fact, I’d be surprised if the Star’s editorial board doesn’t come out and officially endorse the LPC. But again, that the CBC, a publicly funded network for all Canadians, is essentially endorsing one party over the others, refusing to engage in responsible reporting and not informing Canadians as best it can, all with money that I cannot voluntarily donate, is a basic affront to democracy and a clear obstruction of free and democratic elections.
Anyways, I don’t pretend to be surprised or even shocked that Dion and the Liberals have thrown all principles over board and have gone decidedly and desperately negative. I knew it was around the corner when CBC started using the words “more aggressive” and “feisty” to describe Dion’s approach heading to the debate. Of course, that was simply code for “going negative in a big way.” And have Dion’s Liberals ever started the mud slinging and the gutter politics. They’re desperately looking through everything candidates has ever said or done that might rightly or wrongly be construed in a negative light. They’re looking for “truthers”, exposing Harper’s “plagiarism”, tapping into old fears in Ontario that a Harper government would be worse than a Mike Harris government, demanding apologies and resignations. Some of it strategically motivated (i.e. looking to hurt NDP candidates in BC where Liberals were really slipping), while some is just perpetrated out of malice and distress.
And the Liberals have gone negative because it works! To get votes that is. Except it also works to cheapen democracy and to decrease voter interest and turnout.
Yet there might be some collateral damage in all of this. Gerard Kennedy will likely become a casualty of this approach. The few Liberal candidates actually running on the Left of the Liberal Party and running on principles rather than Liberal brand will likely be hurt by this.
Gerard Kennedy, whether principled or not, has been forced to run on principles, because otherwise he’s seen as either the kingmaker with poor judgment who served up Dion and ensured the return of a Harper government. Or the king maker who chose selfishly to position himself to for a future run at the leadership, thereby ensuring the return of a Harper government. Kennedy’s only tack now is that of principle: he truly chose Dion out of principle, which conveniently fits in with the whole food bank activist thing, working together thing, etc… Kennedy is running on a principle and a clean campaign.
Problem is, as Kennedy begins to adopt more and more the desperation of the Liberal Party and goes decidedly negative, he also undermines his electability. For instance, at an all candidates meeting last night, when pushed on Liberal absenteeism as the Official Opposition, Kennedy couldn’t respond with a tactical justification (i.e. our squabbling and infighting coupled with our low polling meant we would have lost an election). Thus, Kennedy responded that the Liberals’ ineffectual opposition was, in reality, honourable and done on behalf of all Canadians. Of course, he was rightly and resoundingly booed. There is never an upright reason to abdicate a basic democratic duty!
At that same meeting, constituents also began to see a more desperate Kennedy, who like the Liberal party, is resorting to fear mongering and tapping into the fears Ontarians have regarding the Harris/Eves governments. This tack can easily backfire on Kennedy. It wasn’t the Canadian people that handed Stephen Harper a “majority” the last couple of years, it was the Liberal Party of Canada. Many Canadians, thanks to the LPC experienced the Harper “majority” as “not horribly bad government” (the same strategy made so successful in Ontario by McGuinty), and thus, the fear mongering is likely to be less effective. Thus, resorting to fear mongering undermines both the credibility of the LPC and the honour on which Kennedy is running.
Going dirty in this riding also is not very wise, since one of the nastiest smears in Ontario politics happened in Parkdale High Park and constituents seemed to vote resoundingly to denounce negative campaigning. Constituents here are intelligent, ethical, and not easily deceived. Kennedy is implicated in two ways. First, it was his abandoning of the riding to seek, rather impossibly, the leadership of the LPC that sparked that fateful by-election in the first place. Second, Gerard Kennedy was a DIRECT participant in the smear campaign against now MPP DiNovo. So much for principle, honour, and the high road!
Going decidedly and nastily negative is not “Progressive”. Just another reason for “progressives” not to vote for Liberals.