Almost four years ago I wrote, “Pretty much every day since the October election my Twitter feed has been full of 140 character rants about either or both of the “evil Canadian media” or the “stupid Canadian voters.”” There’s no change in 2019, except that Twitter now allows 280 characters.
Is some media biased? Yes … and some of it is biased towards the Conservative Party, too. Do some voters select candidates without much thought? Yes … and some of them select Conservative candidates, too. Do some commentators and some voters favour selfish, local, parochial interests over the national interest? Yes … and some of them shill for and vote for Conservatives, too.
There’s nothing much wrong with the media. I personally, favour a major revision to how the government supports the media. I believe that the economics of operating in the information (internet) age have fundamentally changed how traditional print and broadcast news service can operate. An informed public is vital to the health of a free and democratic society and history teaches us that free and democratic societies are the only ones that have succeeded for the past 300+ years (since the Glorious Revolution in England, in 1688). It is not wrong for a government to support public broadcasting nor is it fundamentally wrong for governments to try to support the media, as Justin Trudeau wants to do. Having an informed public is always a laudable goal. I’m not convinced that the CBC, as currently structured, or Prime Minister Trudeau’s $600 million media bailout are useful or helpful but neither is an attack on democracy or good sense.
I said, in 2015, speaking in the first person as a committed Conservative, that we need to bring a million or so Canadians who voted BQ, Green, Liberal and NDP “into our “big tent,” our respectful tent, our moderate tent in 2019 … [so, I added] … let’s put the blame where it belongs, on our policies and our platform and our campaign. Stop blaming the media and, above all, please stop blaming Canadians.” I stand by that admonition today and I will, again, for 2020, or 2021 or 2022 or whenever the next election comes.
And let’s go back to those Atkison Principes (first link in the first paragraph). They are, The Star tells us (with links to The Star‘s detailed explanation of each one):
- A strong, united and independent Canada;
- Social justice;
- Individual and civil liberties;
- Community and civic engagement;
- The rights of working people; and
- The necessary role of government.
Now, exactly how Joseph Atkinson saw the role of government about one hundred years ago was quite different from how modern Conservatives or Liberals see the issue … I suppose that if The Star was really consistent with his notions it would have supported the CCF and NDP for the last 75 years, but when you look at the first five Atkinson Principles, including at many of the details, like “better working conditions, technical schools and night university for workers wishing to advance … [and] … employment for the handicapped,” they ought to be part of any principled, moderate Conservative‘s principles too. More about that in the coming days.