I'm Mad as Hell

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and I can't do a thing about it

Diagnosis: Shoddy Journalism

As a born and raised Quebecker I always felt I had a better understanding of that province than most in the ROC (rest of Canada). I predicted the first PQ victory when all the English Canadian experts were saying that was impossible. I understood the angst felt by Quebecois in both referenda. While I am a federalist, I have a soft spot for Rene Levesque and his crusade to clean up Quebec politics.

That being said, I am truly amazed at the drivel that is being egested by the press in the province of my birth.

Here in Ontario, and I suspect in all of English Canada we have been told about a strange story that is making some headlines in Quebec. Andre Picard and Lysianne Gagnon, journalists I have admired in the past, are ranting in The Globe and Mail that Jack Layton should have come clean about his cancer before the campaign. They say he should have told the public he was in much more serious medical trouble so that we, the public, could have decided whether we wanted to vote for a man who may not be able to serve us in Parliament, and his party as leader.

Gagnon writes further that La Presse Columnist, Patrick Lagace, “didn’t mince words.” She quotes him as writing, ““Mr. Layton ran for the highest office knowing that the crab was gnawing at his bones. We should have been told. This would have changed the vote of thousands of people, that’s clear. And it’s someone who voted for the NDP who’s telling you this.”

This is what Andre Picard had to add via Gagnon, “the public was owed “full disclosure” and that hiding the kind of cancer affecting Mr. Layton constituted “unacceptable fudging.” Mr. Picard noted that, in those cases where prostate cancer metastasizes, “it tends to move to the bones – the pelvis and hips in particular.” Then, he said, “the survival rate drops below 10 per cent.”

Gagnon, Picard and Lagace are calling for a U.S. style full disclosure that would open up party leader’s medical files to the public before election campaigns.

Hey these people are from the same province that wants to register those they consider real journalists and card them, thus keeping the “fake” journalists out of their media conferences. So why am I surprised?

First let me point out the obvious. Gagnon, Picard and Lagace do not, that I know about, have medical degrees. And, even if they had, no serious medical doctor would or should ever diagnose a patient that they themselves had not personally examined. In fact I am certain that 99% of the complainers in Quebec, the ones who voted NDP and now feel cheated, do not have medical degrees.

So the question is obvious. How do they know Layton’s cancer was evident and diagnosed before the campaign started? Heck how do they know Layton’s cancer returned even before the campaign ended?

They don’t. This is the kind of journalism that should give all journalists a black eye, and shame on The Globe and Mail and La Presse for publishing these, so far, baseless accusations.

It seems obvious to me that unless you have hard facts from credible sources that prove otherwise, you have to believe Olivia Chow and Jack himself, that the cancer he died of was neither diagnosed nor evident before or during the election period.

If Gagnon, Picard and Lagace have that evidence, why have they not published it? If they don’t have the proof they should just shut up. That’s how journalism used to work. That’s how journalism is supposed to work. Based on what I have seen so far, it is clear that Picard, Gagnon and Lagace will not qualify for their shiny new Quebec Journalist I.D. cards and neither should the publishers of The Globe and Mail and La Presse.

I am going to give the last word to a comment on the Globe and Mail website by R. Carriere: “As to the column title ” What if Quebeckers had known the whole story about Jack?”..’.what if’ is a game anyone can play and the almost demonization without pure and credible fact is unbecoming of any responsible columnist.

Filed under: Media Commentary, Political Commentary, , , , , , ,

About the Author

Howard Bernstein is a former TV producer. He has worked at CBC,CTV, Global and has produced shows for most Canadian channels as an independent producer.

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