Judgement Day for Journalism and Political Posturing

September 3, 2015 marks an all-time low point in Canadian journalism and political posturing. That day we witnessed serious exploitation of the story of a migrant family from Syria that met disaster whilst leaving the friendly shores of Turkey on a crowded smuggler’s boat attempting to reach the shores of Greece, the young mom and her two children losing their life by drowning in rough seas, the dad being the sole survivor. Not only did CTV and CBC cross the bounds of decency when they showed not once, but repeatedly, a graphic picture of the drowned little boy, 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, lying face down on the wave swept beach in Turkey; even worse, they willingly, without question it would seem, took for granted as legitimate what appeared to be a staged photo session by a Turkish news agency. If not staged then maybe they can explain how the photographer and video team got there ahead of a normal paramedic emergency rescue team attempting to revive the boy, a team that would have removed the body immediately after making all efforts to resuscitate him. After all, the Republic of Turkey is working at becoming a fairly modern democracy, is a member of NATO and the G20, and is currently negotiating EU membership; and Turkey also has an advanced medical and health services system, so it’s hard to believe that emergency response was absent on the shore that day. I wonder how long the little guy had to lay there while this so-called “news agency” got their cameras all set up, took the still shots and then had the officer rush in and pick the little fellow up for their video camera shoot? Even accepting a picture such as that in these circumstances from another that clicked the shutter is just as bad as doing the sickening photo op with your own people. Shame on CTV and shame on CBC. It’s rotten journalism. Are we so desperate to illustrate the plight of peoples from war-ravaged countries that we need to resort to such tactics? Ask yourself, if you were the surviving dad or the little boy’s aunt in Canada would you want that picture blasted all over the media? Canadian values dictate the answer. We don’t need or want Hollywood moments like this in Canada!

There needs to be accountability here. In situations like this, when something smells like a rat, perhaps the CRTC should step in and investigate and admonish “newscasters” when they exceed the bounds of criteria defining decrepit, unacceptable broadcasting. In addition to trying to further world support for refugees, a legitimate goal supported by all Canadians, our two main networks used this story to in effect aggrandize their politically partisan broadcast that night in the midst of a federal election. What a juicy story to enable stone throwing at Canada’s immigration policy. After all, to them, the nightly news is only a show with sponsors paying the toll. Lisa Laflamme’s effort on CTV that night, supported by her Ottawa bureau, even outdid the CBC’s spectacle with Wendy Mesley sitting in for her Ex accompanied by their redundant “political panel”, and that’s going some! I’ve been offended before by the tactics of both CTV and CBC but never so much!

This tragedy, being coincidental with the Federal election, saw both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau quick to leap to the fore in the face of the horror of the moment to take advantage of the supposed political points they could score on the backs of the grieving family. Was it disgusting posture? Absolutely. I mean jumping up to a podium at a moment like this to try and disparage the sitting government that way is not only sick, it’s the stuff that makes thinking people dislike politicians. Politics in Canada has never been more obnoxious. Do they really think Canadian voters are idiots that can’t see through their ruse? Trudeau’s comments painting himself as the sole possessor of compassion was pathetic. Who is he trying to kid? Does this boy ever think before he speaks? He seems to be a nice young fellow at times but makes it crystal clear that no genetic aptitude transfer has come down the line. As for Mulcair, his puffy pontificating is the stuff of cartoonist fodder, he’s good at that; and his vitriol-masking, smarmy smile resembles someone with BPH suffering the side effects of Tamsulosin meds with a painful four hour erection.

Of course the punch line for the Opposition Party leaders that night, using the horrific picture of that drowned little boy on the beach as a prop, was castigation of the federal government for not having a more expeditious process in place to bring refugees into Canada. It wouldn’t matter what rules were in place for these guys to criticize the status quo, that’s political gamesmanship, we understand that; but where were they months ago with their refugee policy platform? To use the backdrop of the body of that little boy as their grandstand banner for their sudden policy announcement is unacceptable. Shame on them; they should apologize to the grieving family and to all Canadians. Actually, their targeted tragedy marksmanship employed faulty crosshairs as it was only this little boy’s uncle that had filed for refugee status a while ago, unfortunately for him, via somebody that screwed up the paperwork. Nothing had been filed for others in the family. All Canadians agree that we need to do everything possible to help the Syrian refugee crisis. The unreported fact is that Canada has a very robust policy in place to process refugee applications in spite of the onerous screening needed in a terrorist-riddled world; a process that was enhanced not long ago and that the vast majority of Canadians approve of as it speaks to both fairness and security. Also relevant is the fact that the targeted level for Syrian refugees to gain entry to Canada was raised by several thousand some time ago. Additionally, Canada averages about a quarter million immigrants annually, has done so for several years now. But heck, why mention any of those facts when there’s an election going on, better to play the electorate as fools that will believe anything you tell them. And that’s the irony here as all Trudeau and Mulcair did in this charade, along with their Media Party buddies, was insult the intelligence of all Canadians.

Ron P. Alton