Monday, May 02, 2011

Toronto Star endorses Jack Layton and the New Democrats; 50 reasons to avoid the Conservatives like the plague

The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper, is endorsing Jack Layton and the New Democrats in the May 2 federal election.

As shifts go this one is huge.

In each of the last seven federal elections dating back to 1988, the Star has supported the Liberals. This time things are different.

“Voters who believe that Canada can — and should — aim higher have an important decision. Until 10 days ago, they had only one realistic alternative to the Conservatives — the Liberal party under Michael Ignatieff. Today, that is no longer the case,” the Star editorial board said on April 30.

“The New Democrats have been reinvigorated under the leadership of Jack Layton. After Monday, they may well challenge the Liberals as the principal national standard-bearer for the roughly two voters in three who disagree fundamentally with the course charted by the Harper Conservatives. Progressive voters should give them their support on Monday.”

The Star says the biggest disappointment has been the Liberal party under Ignatieff.

“Going into the campaign they had by far the biggest challenge — to connect with voters and offer a strong alternative to the Conservatives. They had to overcome the Conservatives’ brutal but effective framing of Ignatieff as something other than a real Canadian. With only two days to go before voting day, all the signs are that they have fallen short,” the board said.

With Stephen Harper, the board states that another Conservative victory would be bad for the country. “The last thing Canada needs is an affirmation of a government obsessed with control, dismissive of critics, and determined to further diminish the role of the state in charting a better future for the country.”

In the past it has been easy to dismiss the federal NDP as naive idealists, the board said. That no longer applies. In this campaign they have emerged as a credible force, for many reasons.

▪ The party is on the verge of a historic breakthrough in Quebec, which would go far toward establishing it as a truly national party.

▪ The platform the NDP offers voters is ambitious and puts people first.

▪ On economic issues, long the NDP’s weakest point, the party is much sounder than it has been in the past.

▪ In Layton it has a leader who has won the trust of many voters — a rare feat in a time dominated by cynical, ultra-partisan politicking.

“Elections are about the future, and the Liberals have not made a persuasive case for themselves as the alternative in 2011,” the board said.

“Fortunately, this time there is a real choice. Voters who believe Canada should aspire to something greater than the crabbed, narrow vision offered by the Harper Conservatives should look to Jack Layton and the New Democrats on Monday.” [Toronto Star endorses the NDP (Toronto Star, April 30, 2011)]

Over at the National Post and the Globe and Mail it’s more of the same old, same old with both newspapers backing the Harper Conservatives.

In the case of the Post, it comes as no surprise. Ever since the first issue on October 27, 1998, the newspaper has been staunchly conservative. It backed Tories Mike Harris and John Tory for Ontario premier. It has supported Stephen Harper in four straight elections now.

When it was clear the federal Liberals under Jean Chretien and provincial Liberals under Dalton McGuinty would win in 2000 and 2003 respectively, the Post hoped for stronger showings by right wing candidates the next time around.

The Post also has the dubious record of endorsing George W. Bush for president of the United States. Any newspaper that would back a war monger and criminal and support the illegal U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.

The Post gives Harper a free pass saying that during his tenure he has provided “intelligent, sober leadership”. [Conservatives a clear choice in uncertain times (National Post, April. 28, 2011)]

They must be talking about a different Stephen Harper; the one that’s not mean, vindictive, contemptuous, deceitful, petty and unethical.

The Globe and Mail is often considered the newspaper of record in Canada. That’s why its (third straight) endorsement of Harper on April 27 is so disturbing. The editorial is one of those pieces that you have to double check the masthead because you can’t believe what you’re reading. It’s as if the previous five years didn’t exist.

The first hint comes in the opening paragraph when the board says the current election campaign has been “unremarkable and disappointing”. This is odd given that advance polls showed a record number of voters turning out. And what’s not remarkable about Jack Layton’s sudden explosion in popularity?

The board states that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has “failed to show how the Conservative government has failed.” The editorial board chooses to ignore the stories within its own newspaper documenting Harper’s sorry record over the past five years.

The board comes off the rails with this preposterous passage:

“Only Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have shown the leadership, the bullheadedness (let’s call it what it is) and the discipline this country needs. He has built the Conservatives into arguably the only truly national party, and during his five years in office has demonstrated strength of character, resolve and a desire to reform. Canadians take Mr. Harper’s successful stewardship of the economy for granted, which is high praise. He has not been the scary character portrayed by the opposition; with some exceptions, his government has been moderate and pragmatic.

“Those who disdain the Harper approach should consider his overall record, which is good.” [Facing up to our challenges (Globe and Mail, April 27, 2011)]

The board is clearly out of touch with reality, a fact that’s driven home by many of the 4,700 comments left by readers. Unfortunately, this disappointing piece of work has cost them whatever journalistic integrity they may have had left.

Here is some of Harper’s record that the Post and Globe ignored:

1) Squandered before the recession the $13.2 billion surplus it inherited from the previous Liberal government

2) Ran up a record $55.6 billion deficit in 2009-10

3) Projecting a $40.4 billion deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year

4) Chuck Cadman affair

5) Maxime Bernier affair

6) Rahim Jaffer affair

7) Helena Guergis affair

8) Bev Oda affair

9) Bruce Carson affair

10) Toronto G20 Summit debacle

11) Refused to implement the Kyoto agreement

12) Scrapped the Kelowna accord

13) Lost bid for U.N. Security Council seat to Germany and Portugal

14) Reckless GST cuts

15) Reckless corporate tax cuts

16) Prorogued Parliament twice to avoid defeat in the House of Commons

17) Axed mandatory long-form census then lied to defend it

18) First government in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament

19) Promised to spend billions building new prisons as crime rates declined

20) Ignored police report on long-gun registry that says the registry is a crucial weapon in fighting crime and gang violence

21) Harper broke his own fixed election law

22) Produced a 200-page manual to control and disrupt committees

23) Changed the Government of Canada to the Harper Government

24) Federal Court of Appeal ruled the Conservatives’ 2006 election ad spending violated the Elections Act in the so-called ‘in and out’ affair

25) Deceived Canadians about the spiraling purchase price of untendered F-35 stealth fighters

26) Fired Canadian Wheat Board president Adrian Measner for refusing to adopt the Conservative government’s position that the board’s monopoly power be repealed

27) Fired Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission president Linda Keen after her agency ordered the shutdown of the Chalk River reactor over public safety concerns

28) Sacked RCMP Chief Supt. Marty Cheliak, director general of the Canadian Firearms Program, for defending the gun registry

29) Publicly maligned Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin for blowing the whistle on the treatment of Afghan detainees

30) Dropped Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, who had long called for more independent oversight powers

31) Fired outspoken Canadian Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran who repeatedly criticized the Conservative government’s treatment of injured soldiers

32) Created Parliamentary Budget Office then routinely attacked budget officer Kevin Page’s integrity or analysis

33) Muzzling Conservative MPs

34) Silencing scientists at Environment Canada, preventing them from speaking publicly about climate change without permission

35) Broke promise to Saskatchewan to remove non-renewable resource revenue from equalization formula then denied making it

36) Fired CFIA whistle-blower biologist, Luc Pomerleau, for leaking a government memo proposing to allow the meat industry to handle its own inspections

37) Political meddling in access to information requests

38) Boycotting the Afghanistan committee by refusing to show up

39) Broke promise to strengthen Access to Information Act

40) Cancelled the Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS)

41) Ideologically driven funding cuts to numerous women’s groups

42) Dozens of Conservative MPs refusing to participate in all-candidate forums

43) Lack of transparency surrounding the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership, including meetings of the North American Competitiveness Council

44) Cancelled the popular Energuide program and replaced it with the inferior ecoEnergy home retrofit program

45) Broke promise not to tax income trusts

46) Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz joking about Listeriosis deaths

47) Appointed Michael Fortier to the Senate so he could be made an unelected cabinet minister

48) Environment Minister Rona Ambrose stops Environment Canada scientist Mark Tushingham from speaking publicly about his science fiction novel called Hotter than Hell

49) Dumped Peter Tinsley, the head of the Military Police Complaints Commission, before he could conclude his enquiry into torture allegations of Afghan detainees

50) Chief Statistician Munir Sheikh resigns because he could not remain head of an agency “whose reputation had suffered” under the Conservatives

51) Lying when it says that Canada is leading the global economic recovery when, in fact, it is expected to slip to 10th in 2010 and ninth in 2011, according to the Conference Board of Canada


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