The week in media ethics at The Globe and Mail

A couple of years ago, shortly after becoming Sun Media’s National Bureau Chief, I stood in front of Rideau Hall along with a couple of dozen other reporters hopeful of being picked by the PMO press handlers in order that I might put one — just one — question to Prime Minister Stephen Harper about an issue that had made front pages in our chain and that we had been writing about for nearly a week. The issue for us was the use of taxpayer funds to help a theatre festival in Toronto stage a sympathetic portrait of one of the Toronto 18, the would-be terrorists who plotted to blow up a chunk of downtown Toronto. Almost no other news organization was picking up on that story except for theatre critics who took issue with our coverage of the issue. (A blog post at The Torontoist contains a chronological accounting of our coverage of that issue and the fallout that seems pretty accurate to me.)

The big issue for The Globe and Mail‘s reporter that morning Continue reading The week in media ethics at The Globe and Mail

Madmen at the UN today: Iran's Ahmadinejad and Zimbabwe's Mugabe

Protesting Iran's President Ahmadinejad
Protesters hollered “terrorist” and “murderer” outside the hotel on September 25, 2012 where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is staying in New York City. Ahmadinejad addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday September 26, 2012. (David Akin/QMI Agency)

Call it cruel coincidence but today, on Yom Kippur, the holiest of days for Jews around the world, the United Nations gives its most prestigious speaking platform — the podium at the General Assembly — to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Somehow doubt he’ll be wishing his Jewish friends an “easy fast.”

The General Assembly session kicks off at 0900 EDT with a speech from Yemen’s H.E. Mr. Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour.

Continue reading Madmen at the UN today: Iran's Ahmadinejad and Zimbabwe's Mugabe

The Politics of Carbon Pricing

Like they did in 2008, in the 2011 general election campaign, Jack Layton and the New Democrats put an election platform before Canadians that included commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by, among other things, doing the following:

We will put a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system, which will establish hard emissions limits for Canada’s biggest polluters to ensure companies pay their environmental bills and to create an incentive for emissions reductions;

In its costing statement for its election campaign commitments, the NDP said the federal government would receive the following revenues as a result of its cap-and-trade system: Continue reading The Politics of Carbon Pricing

Ms. Candice Bergen (Portage-Lisgar) has a Members Statement

This afternoon in the House of Commons, the member of Parliament for the Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar rose during the “Members Statements” period of the proceedings to deliver the following:

Ms. Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar, CPC)  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform you, my colleagues and my constituents that I have decided to return to my birth name, Candice Bergen. This change will take place as soon as this statement concludes. I realize that many will associate that name with a popular actress, but it is in fact the name that my parents gave me and I am extremely proud and honoured to resume using the name Bergen in that it has a deep history and strong ties in my riding of Portage—Lisgar. I am so grateful for the strong support I received from my constituents during election time and between elections and I am very honoured to be referred to as their member here in the chamber. Although my last name is changing, I can assure my constituents I will continue to serve and represent them here in Ottawa and work for their families in the riding and I appreciate their interest. If members hear on the Hill that Candice Bergen is here, it is not Murphy Brown people will be referring to. It will be me.

Ms. Hoepp– , er, Bergen will be a familiar face to many Canadians as the one of those MPs most closely associated with the fight against the long gun registry. Ms. Bergen’s marriage to Mr. Hoeppner recently ended in divorce and, hence, the name change.

Putin calls Harper a "Trotskyite" and other post-Arab Spring reflections

Picture of Prime Minister Stephen Harper at APEC 2012
RUSSKY ISLAND, Russia – Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to reporters on Sept. 9, 2012 after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC 2102 summit. (David Akin)

Last weekend in Vladivostok, Russia, at the annual summit of the Pacific nation leaders who are part of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation organization, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met Russian President Vladimir Putin for 50 minutes. The two men, flanked by half a dozen officials on either side, met for about 50 minutes. They talked about a range of issues. Harper questioned free speech rights in Putin’s Russia. In defending free speech rights, Putin used the phrase “gang bang”. I found that odd enough that I wrote about it here. 

The two men also talked about the situation in Syria. Continue reading Putin calls Harper a "Trotskyite" and other post-Arab Spring reflections

Hu meets Harper: What they did and didn't talk about

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a one-on-one meeting with China’s President Hu Jintao here in Vladivostok, Russia on the margins of the annual APEC summit.

The two met for 30 minutes with a bevy of officials on either side.

According to Canadian officials inside the room, there was no specific mention of the following: Continue reading Hu meets Harper: What they did and didn't talk about

APEC Notes: Getting a coffee

APEC 2012 International Media Centre
The tall building to the right of the frame is the International Media Center for the APEC 2012 summit

The summit site for this weekend’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit is at a newly built university campus in Vladivostok, Russia. Once world leaders clear out, the students will take over.

The International Media Centre is in a building that looks like it will be campus’ main hub once it becomes Far Eastern Federal University. I’m in that centre now as I write this. Continue reading APEC Notes: Getting a coffee

It's that time again! CRTC wants to know what you think about the CBC

Offered without comment.

Ok, just a couple of comments: The CBC will be provided, this year, with a subsidy out of general tax revenues of just over $1 billion [PDF]. That’s billion with a ‘b’. One comparison: This year the federal government has allocated about half that — or $554 million for grants to students who need the help to attend post-secondary institutions.  

Now you may think that the vast amount of programming produced by CBC on radio, television and the Internet is a bargain at a billion dollars a year because no other organization in Canada can or does produce the programming CBC produces.  Or Continue reading It's that time again! CRTC wants to know what you think about the CBC

Debunking the "our banks are the best" meme

The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Index is out today. See the hi-lites and political implications here.

But can we trust this “Index”? To my layperson’s eyes, there seems to be some serious flaws with the methodology the WEF uses to arrive at these “rankings.”

First, the common understanding of a “ranking” is that the benchmarks being used to develop a ranking, the judge or arbiter of these rankings, and the objects being ranked all have something in common. Continue reading Debunking the "our banks are the best" meme

Our banks are number one! Our governments, er, not so much

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just released its 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Index. One datapoint in that index that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most of the Conservative caucus have clung to like a lifeline over the last few years is this one: Canada is ranked number one in the world when it comest to “Soundness of Banks.”  We’ve held that title since 2008 and we’re number one again this year. That guarantees that that talking point will be a highlight of Harper’s speeches abroad and around the country. In fact, he can boast of this statistic once again tomorrow when he speaks at a conference in Vancouver organized by the Bloomberg news service for investors and the like.

The Harper government — along with provincial governments — may also wish to boast over these two other data points: Continue reading Our banks are number one! Our governments, er, not so much