Woe Canada. Here we are in the midst of what should be the biggest political scandal since Jean Chretien and some of his buddies tried to woo the Quebec populace over to the federalist side with prime ministerial golf balls, oh yes, and tens of millions of the taxpayers’ hard earned dollars spent on untendered and questionable advertising contracts going to friends of the Quebec branch of the federal Liberal Party; yet there is an amazing lack of journalism going on.
Of course I’m talking about the billions of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars spent on pork disguised as the G-8 and G-20 summits.
To be fair the Leader of the Opposition has completely disappeared after a few poorly chosen questions in Parliament. Jack “I never met a camera I didn’t like” Layton has been un-Jack like on the massive government waste, saying very little and being heard even less. So why should I expect Canada’s media to take up the cause?
How about, because it’s their job?
CTV, CBC and Global have shown an amazing disinterest in the obvious pork barreling and huge waste of money. They have mostly limited their coverage to Question Period in the House and a few scrums. The Globe and Mail thinks coverage ought to consist of the odd story about security. The Toronto Star has been the best media outlet so far. They headlined stories about the road to nowhere in cottage country and the major airport fix-up to an air strip that will not be used by the summiteers but even they seem to be looking away from the waste as the summits approach and focusing on profiles of the leaders of our summit partners.
Everybody’s main focus of the coverage of the summits has been the security details, the fences that surround a large portion of downtown Toronto and Huntsville, the street closings and the charges and counter-charges from the protesters and the police about what each of the groups is preparing in order to greet our foreign visitors. There have been the inevitable think pieces and op-ed deconstruction of summits past and what they accomplished. University profs are cashing in pondering the usefulness and possible success or failure of this summit. Heck, Global TV is even doing a story on the legacy of the summit on the Muskoka region, who knew the G-8 was about helping out Ontario’s lagging tourist industry? This may be good public service information but it misses the point for all but a few Canadians who live and work in the fenced off parts of Toronto and Muskoka or are macro-economists and historians.
Canadians want to know about the fake lake, but as a symbol of the money being thrown away. Yes, the fake lake is a national, no international, joke and it truly is a waste of 56,000 dollars but it is such a small part of that waste. I still do not know how the government of Canada is going to spend over a billion dollars to do what the United States did in Pittsburgh last year for $30 million and what the British did two years ago in London, a much more difficult city to secure than Toronto, for a mere $50 million.
It would seem to me that these questions should be the fodder and the lifeblood of everyone who calls him or herself a journalist in Canada. So far we have not seen or heard of any of the investigation and the resulting reportage that I for one, expected from our fourth estate. Until now we’ve got the obvious. Tony Clement’s riding being the recipient of millions of dollars of summit cash for fake summit projects to beautify towns that are nowhere near where the world leaders will be. Mr. Clement won his riding by a mere 38 votes in the last election so Prime Minister Harper is buying him enough votes to get re-elected in the next election. But even that is a drop in the bucket of the over a billion dollars. Do the fences cost that much? Is police overtime the issue? Are the transportation and hotel costs of police from across Canada driving up the cost? Why isn’t the army being used more? I don’t think we have to pay them overtime. Why are the costs more than twenty times more than in London? Where is the money going? Are there partisan political connections to where the dollars are being spent?
These are the kinds of questions Canadians are asking and not getting the answers to. From coast to coast citizens are asking how a government that preaches belt tightening can throw away billions on a five day palaver about the world economy. Yes it is Stephen Harper’s job to explain, but when he doesn’t it is a journalist’s job to poke and pry and get to the bottom of what is all too clearly a boondoggle.
For those people in the PMO and the folks behind Canada’s new right wing news and talk channel who claim a left wing media bias I say look at the coverage of the summits: the Tory Prime Minister and Tony Clement are getting away with a big one and the mainstream media have been giving them a pass.
Is it because of summer holidays? Is CBC’s investigative unit tanning at the lake? Are the CTV reporters still tired from Olympic torch relay? Is Global so caught up in their sale they have no time to actually cover major events? Where’s “Canada’s national newspaper”?
I am embarrassed by the lack of strong, relevant coverage. How about you?