Globe and Mail's top politics writer on "grassy-knoll types" in Parliamentary Press Gallery

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Glen McGregor and Postmedia’s Stephen Maher have spent a great deal of time digging away at what in Ottawa is called the “robocall” story, a story that reports on incidents of the use of automated telephone calls during the 2011 election. McGregor and Maher’s reporting has won them acclaim from their peers in the form of many awards mostly (I believe anyway) for the creativity and doggedness in which they’ve tried to sort out what is a complicated story about what will turn out to be either a marginal event in the 2011 election or an epic event in the 2011 election.

Elections Canada is investigating many of the allegations of potential skulduggery that McGregor and Maher report on and, nearly two years after the election, Elections Canada appears set to recommend the laying of some sort of charge. (We know that because McGregor and Maher reported it.)

And, today, partly as a result of their work, Elections Canada is recommending Parliament introduce some new laws that Elections Canada says will help prevent any future problems. The Harper government says it will review the recommendations but might — or might not — have its own ideas about this issue.

Now, I mentioned up top that the Robocall affair will either be marginal or epic — largely depending on what investigators come up with and can prove in court. The Council of Canadians believe this to be epic, arguing in court that there was a massive conspiracy organized by the Conservative Party of Canada to use robocalls to suppress the votes of non-Conservatives and, in doing so, win ridings it otherwise would not.

A new book says McGregor and Maher, columnist Michael Harris and others in the Parliamentary Press Gallery are “grassy-knoll types” for buying into this meme, most loudly advanced by the Council of Canadians, that runs though the Robocall reporting that somehow the majority government of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives is illegitimate. No, this book is not by Ezra Levant or Brian Lilley who, at times have had very public fights with McGregor (particularly) and Maher (less so) but is, in fact, by none other than the award-winning Chief Political Correspondent of The Globe and Mail John Ibbitson and Ipsos Global Public Affairs CEO Darrell Bricker.

In their book, The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture and What It Means For Our Future, Ibbitson and Bricker have a chapter titled “The Decline of the Laurentian Media: Why it doesn’t matter if the press gallery doesn’t like Stephen Harper”. In that chapter there is this section:

Some parliamentary correspondents were so chagrined by the election results that they simply refuse to accept it. Early in 2012, Postmedia Network reporters Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor uncovered evidence that a rogue campaign official appeared to be behind automated calls to Liberal supporters in the Ontario riding of Guelph, directing voters to nonexistent polling stations … Stephen Harper declared unequivocally in the House that whatever had happened, campaign headquarters had neither authorized it nor known about it. But for some journalists, Robogate — as they inevitably dubbed the story — proved that the Conservatives were guilty of a massive conspiracy to obtain their majority government through fraud. These grassy-knoll types were further emboldened when a judge voided the result in Etobicoke Centre, on the grounds that votes had been cast there that couldn’t be authenticated.

“Just how many other improperly registered votes got into the ballot box that night?” asked Michael Harris at [sic] “How did they get there? Robogate has focused on subtraction or voter suppression — votes that never made it to the ballot box. But what if there was voter addition — votes that got there the same way that stuffing gets into a turkey?”

In the end, the Supreme Court upheld the election results. But for Harris, and for some of his colleagues, the allegations of voter fraud confirmed a deep conviction that the Harper government was illegitimate, that it didn’t deserve to govern, and that it could not possibly be in power through legitimate means.

This conviction of illegitimacy has long been a feature in the political coverage of conservative governments … Conservative governments in the eyes of Laurentian reporters, are different. Genuinely Conservative governments do not belong in Canada. They do not reflect real Canadian values. Real Canadians don’t vote Conservative.

Such visceral distaste for the Harper government from some journalists discredits their bylines. For one thing, it insults the intelligence of readers who vote Conservative. For another, it is a gross exaggeration of Tory crimes or misdemeanours. There is no question that the Conservatives play hardball during elections and in between them. More than once, the party has fallen afoul of elections Canada and been punished for it …The Tories have perfected the art of the political attack ad, and practise that art against their foes with particular viciousness.

But it is ludicrous to suggest that they rigged the 2011 election. Polling data were in line with the election results. The riding of Guelph, ground zero for the Robocalls affair, was actually won by the Liberals….


 On Twitter today Ibbitson and Bricker offered some clarifications:

17 thoughts on “Globe and Mail's top politics writer on "grassy-knoll types" in Parliamentary Press Gallery”

  1. “Such visceral distaste for the Harper government from some journalists discredits their bylines.”
    Kudos to Ibbitson & Bricker and to you, Mr. Akin, for exposing & confirming to a wider audience what many conservatives have thought all along.

  2. The Parliamentary Press Gallery, known to most Canadians as the Ottawa Chucklehead Club, has the most intense case of Harper Derangement Syndrome this side of Angry Tommy’s visceral Harper hatred.

  3. The only reason the robocalls thing is still ongoing is that they haven’t found a Conservative to hang. The only one found to be at odds with the rules is a Liberal, but apparently that doesn’t matter. Laurentian hypocrites.

  4. Thank you Mr.Akin for putting my thoughts into words. My opinion on the “robocalls” scandal is that the proponents have become as deranged as the 9-11 truthers or the Roswell bunch.

    Maher and McGregor simply can’t understand that Canadians voted for a majority Conservative government despite all their propagandizing against Harper.

    Rather pathetic.

  5. David Akin is a Conservative shill for Sun News. And it’s also appalling that he would try to put down the obvious evidence of Conservative voter suppression on a wide scale that we clearly saw happen in multiple swing ridings across the country.

    It’s also disgusting that he would use a ‘grassy-knoll’ analogy since the evidence of a conspiracy in the JFK assassination is overwhelming and has been documented and proven by many authors and admitted to by former CIA & FBI agents and countless others. Any journalist who tries to uphold the lone nut gunman theories of the Warren Commission as Akin is doing here reveals himself to be completely untrustworthy.

  6. What does Stephen Harper have in common with Supreme Court Justices Rosalie Silberman Abella, Marshall Rothstein, Michael Moldaver AND Marie Deschamps (married to Paul Gobeil)? They all love Israel over Canada. Those are the 4 judges (out of 7) who voted against Borys Wrzesnewskyj, former Liberal MP who took the Conservatives to court over election fraud in Etobicoke-Centre.

    I smell a backroom deal for CON Ted Opitz big time. Five bucks Stephen Harper soon awards Abella, Rothstein, Moldaver and Deschamps with Order of Canada medals, to be presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… at a $5,000 award dinner… to be held in Israel.


  7. In an attempt to speed up the court case, and because of the amount of money and time it would take to obtain all the evidence, ***ONLY 10 polling stations out of 236 in Etobicoke-Centre are being looked at.

    AS WELL for the same reason (lack of time and cash), Borys did ^NOT file complaints about voting disruption and the robocalls that went on from the CONS.


    ONLY 10 polls out of 236 looked at + what about da attack on seniors +no $ to investigate robocalls

  8. ‘…The Tories have perfected the art of the political attack ad, and practise that art against their foes with particular viciousness.’

    This is a good article except for these statements. It is a fallacy that Conservatives engage in politics with viciousness anymore than the Liberals or NDP do. Politics itself is vicious. What the Conservatives do better at, right now, is what I call “playing the long game.” Their strategy is based on a long term view of the contest. Right now I can guarantee that they are preparing the story they will use to characterize Trudeau during the next election (years from now). This is not vicious. Calculating, yes, but there is nothing negative about wanting to beat your opponent.

    Contrast that to what the Liberals are doing: Fixated on electing their saviour who they think will sweep the party back into power from where they wallow now, the distant 3rd place party. That is not playing the long game… that is looking for a quick fix.

    By repeating this tired claim, you are buying into the shallow arguments put forward by the very same “Laurentians” you seem to be denouncing. The Conservatives aren’t more vicious, they are simply better under their current leader.

  9. The weird level the Hardy Boys have pursued this non-story has created a level of contempt by Canadians, towards the media that I’ve never seen before.. and I’m close to 60… Congratulations guys, you’ve just proven how morally bankrupted the Canadian media is..

  10. A new phrase has entered the political world,”Harper derangement syndrome”,and Maher and Glen McGregor epitomize said syndrome.

    In their massive egotism,they figure we Canadians were all wrong voting in a Conservative majority,and they were right to oppose him.

    Yup. These leftard kooks are right up there with 9-11 truthers and the Rosewell cultists.

    And Rebecca…if all you allege is true,let’s see some linked proofs. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

  11. “There is no question that the Conservatives play hardball during elections and in between them. More than once, the party has fallen afoul of elections Canada and been punished for it”

    Like the ads with a gun pointed at you. Oh wait, those were proghole Lieberal ads.

    And Elections Canada seem to be just as bigoted and biased as MacGregor and Maher, attacking Conservatives for things that they continually let slide for the proggy side.

    Never, ever, let tyrannical Proggys run anything. They are the most hateful, vile, lying thugs going.

  12. I just don’t understand the Harper haters. I don’t understand what he has done wrong. I don’t want to simplify matters, but the world has, and is going through a pretty tough financial situation, and Canada has maintained a very stable path through this. We may yet face a tough time before everything levels out, how ever, I think so-far, we(under Harper) have done quite well. And, I am sorry for this , but can you imagine being piloted through these tough times by Justin Trudeau, or Tom Mulcair. I certainly can’t imagine it.

  13. The above article is a joke. Not the subject matter, yet the style of writing. I can’t stand journalists that use their own familiar catchphrases as if people understand where they are coming from. Use the power of the written word, written in a clear manner and if you want to add an element of style, add some poetic prose, otherwise your words look like a con……V

  14. Your article points out a very loose edge in the book. On reading it I was surprised to read ‘In the end, the Supreme Court upheld the election results’. Of course they mean.. the Etobicoke Centre riding vote.. but that’s not what was implied..

    By interjecting the more general question & quote of Michael Harris, the authors steered away from that one riding, then returned to what seems a broader, national election frame. That’s a fail.. A Supreme Court decision that has not happened. Inventive history ! But only Harper cheerleaders would fall for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *