Last year, 2020, there was much written and reported about how we ought to comport ourselves during the pandemic. In short, we were advised to be compliant, socially distant, wary of exaggerated or factually incorrect media and social media posts and, for the most part, encouraged to learn about the COVID-19 virus and its impact on our health and consequences for society.
My good friend, political mentor and business associate died this past weekend. As life goes, and for many, having a friend die is normal, but not everyone has a good friend, political mentor and business associate who is a former Prime Minister and one of the most recognizable political figures in modern Canadian history.
Take a tour on any social media site and any number of posts appear from the most generalist of social media “experts” on how best to manage through the COVID 19 Pandemic. Let’s be clear, we are in the throes of a pandemic – defined clearly as an outbreak of a disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time. And which has spread across a wider geographic range – more so than an epidemic. This pandemic has affected a significant portion of the population in almost every country on earth!
The results of provincial election 2018 changed the province of Ontario forever. Gone are the governments of Dalton McGuinty – Ontario’s sixth longest serving Premier (after iconic Premiers Mowat, Davis, Frost, Whitney and Robarts) and Kathleen Wynne (who holds the distinction of being Ontario’s first elected female Premier and the tenth longest serving Premier of all 26 Premiers ever elected in the province).
These are great accolades but in 2020 not such great ones to celebrate per se. The Ontario Liberal Party has held office in the province for a generation – 2003 to 2018. This writer has been on record in media during and after Election 2018 admonishing that the Liberal Party should have spent more time celebrating its accomplishments while in Government rather than attacking its opponents. After all, fifteen years in power is a lifetime and a party with so much promise, authenticity and good fortune seemed to squander it with scandal, terrible political judgement and poor communications.
The federal election and all its craziness and vitriol are now behind us. Canada has spoken and it has given the Liberal Party a mandate (sort of) to form a government. Canadians gave “Team Trudeau” the opportunity to form a minority government meaning that the opposition parties in the collective have more seats than the Party who formed the government.
From his grave in Sleepy Hollow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American essayist, almost seems to be aiming his words at Canada. Election 43 is one for the history books and many have an opinion about its outcome.
Over the past week, many political observers , pundits and those in media have suggested Canada is in for a rough ride in the coming years. Western alienation, they say, is at an all-time high, Quebec nationalism, they say, is on the rise and left of centre politics, they say, will consume the policy agenda in Ottawa.
Niagara is a big part of the legacy of former Prime Minister John Napier Turner – he has helped grow her fortunes by attracting major international business while in private practice as a lawyer and in his public role as MP; he’s been a prominent voice for her cultural and agricultural attractions like the Shaw Festival and many, many wineries. More importantly John Turner has many friends and associates from Niagara. Most especially he is a stalwart champion for water – the most famous attraction in Canada being Niagara.
The culmination of activities in Ottawa with respect to the testimony of the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould at the Justice Committee and the subsequent fall out has laid bare that Canada’s system of Government has been affected over the years, through dramatic judicial and political reforms. Reforms designed to transfer policymaking dominated from the bureaucracy to the political executive – the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Further, this transition – in the context of Magna Carta – where in 1215 the supremacy of parliament and, therefore, the role of the member of parliament was paramount – has now morphed or, more importantly, produced over recent decades a centralization of power. The entire issue facing the Prime Minister, his office and his Government is focused squarely on this evolution.
The work we do often puts us in the position to comment in media on issues we are the subject of or on the nature of the work we do for others. Fuller disclosure – K&A is presently a focus of a media report in Niagara Region about a mandate we had for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA). We struggle with why our mandate is worthy of any media attention at all. The scope of the work and the fees we charged were approved by the NPCA under its Board’s contracting process.
What I know of reporters and media is a lot. Good reporting is ostensibly about the discipline of verification. In the end, verifying information is what separates fact from fiction and/or propaganda. Attend a lecture at journalism school and the first lesson is focused on understanding what happened and reporting it correctly.
Verifying sources and fact is a discipline. The discipline of verification demands the profession act in a particular way—objectively. As media has evolved, though, it doesn’t mean nor do I imply that reporters be free of bias. Quite the opposite – objectivity calls for reporters to develop methods of testing information. The standards of test from our experience are transparency and evidence. These standards evolved in media so that biases wouldn’t undermine the accuracy of a reporter’s work. In other words, the method is about objectivity, not that the reporter ought to be.
Given the run up to this election and the weirdness from each of the three main Party campaigns, I’d venture to say that there has not been an election this strange since the “Dooms Day Election” of 1917, when then Prime Minister Borden- fighting against Wilfrid Laurier tried to create a win by introducing the strangest of legislative initiatives. It backfired.
Sound familiar? In a sense, the Wynne Government took great pains to move the government so far to left with legislative and policies decisions that long-time Liberals scratched their heads wondering if this was really the Liberal Party anymore. The Budget in 2018 was likely the last straw for Wynne’s government, notwithstanding that her popularity had taken the biggest hit in polling history – the lowest at 12% – the promise of a balanced Budget was thrown to the curb so that the science experiment created by Wynne and her brain-trust to control the left of the political spectrum would pay dividends – they thought.
Thursday March 21, 2018 was World Water Day. The intent and focus of such an occasion, I would assume, is to create awareness about the value of water. What are most people in the region doing to honour is auspicious occasion? For the vast majority – nothing. In fact, I’d reckon few knew of the event or even cared.
I submit, we should care…and more now than ever. Water sustains life. It’s said that people can live without food for long periods of time but living without water – even for short periods of time – is as fatal as trying to survive without fresh air.