Saturday, September 21, 2013

Speculation is not journalism

An unacknowledged note to the Editor of the Toronto Star:

Your report of September 13 "Court decision could reveal gang links to Ford" is questionable journalism. The word "could" equally means "could not."  This same sentence begins "If the judge ..." You do not state what would happen "if the judge does not."

You insist on regurgitating that hoary item about the video that "appear to show ..." It may or may not. Let's wait and see.

This is not news but self-serving speculation given the over-wrought Punch and Judy show (or is it vaudeville?) between you and Mayor Rob Ford.

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It is not my mission in life to be picking on the Star, but the editors do have a way of provoking negative reaction. (Actually, too many journalists do that, not only at the Star.) The September 19 issue featured an invitation to "make this column come alive."  To do so, simply wave one of those electronic devices over the indicated item.

By coincidence, I am on the Star's survey list. They asked my reaction to this innovation. I replied that good writing does not require a mechanical instrument to make the story come alive. Good writing makes the words jump off the page.

Nor do I expect an acknowledgement of this message.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Come As You Are From Quebec

 "Come as you are" Ontarians should scream to the soon-to-be-oppressed minorities of Quebec. Under the guise of Quebec Values, the separatist government of Pauline Marois will soon outlaw anyone in a government-funded organization wearing any clothing or symbol of a religious nature. That includes the Muslim head scarf, the Jewish kippah, Sikh headdress, "conspicuous" crosses of Christians, and so on.

The province is already well known for its language police. Make way for the religious police

Premier Marois should be having second thoughts about this ill-founded initiative. Already one Ontario hospital has invited Muslim women doctors to join their staff. The hospital's advertisement reads, "We don't care what's on your head. We care what's in it."

The premier dismisses any objection as "opinion."

The campaign should be Ontario-wide. We should invite devout people of any religion to join the exodus that began several years back. Fearing an independent Quebec, large corporations left that financially uncertain province, and moved to Toronto. Up to that time, Montreal was Canada's largest city, since then, Toronto.

It doesn't register on Marois supporters that their policy of a Quebec separate from Canada will doom their people to third-world status. A French-only nation of some six million in an English-speaking continent of 360 million is a non-starter.

Note how well supports of an independent Quebec speak English. They can afford to send their children to out-of-province English universities. At the same time, they restrict the teaching of English at home. Ultimately, this policy will produce a impoverished unilingual population at the mercy of their bilingual masters.

Do they really believe the new Quebec can use Canadian currency and have a say in the decisions of the Bank of Canada? The Quebec peso will be accepted only in exchange for Canadian Tire money, but at a discount.

Come one, come all. Welcome to Ontario. And yes, come as you are.

An e-mail to the same effect was not published by the  censorship-prone Toronto Star.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Environmental destruction

Unpublished letter to the Toronto Star, Sept 3, 2013

The reclamation of the Sydney tar ponds at public expense illustrates a weakness in the law (Sydney tar ponds site gets 'dramatic transformation', Aug 31).  

When a company in the course of business damages the environment, it should be made liable to repair that damage. The company should not be allowed to disappear and hang the restoration cost on the taxpayer. 

The oil companies in Alberta, for example, must be ordered to create a fund sufficient to restore to their original state the waters and lands they are at this moment desecrating.