Thursday, March 11, 2010

VERITAS: FUMBLE - KENNEY CAUGHT OUT


This week's perspective from Orli Giroux Namian:

Canadian Press recently broke the story, supported by official documents, showing that the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney requested the removal of all sections referring to gay rights from a Citizenship Guide for new Canadians .The excised sections referred to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the legalization of same sex marriage in 2005. In December, the Minister told a gay rights group that the omission was an “oversight” and would be corrected, though no such change has yet been seen. Mr. Kenney has spent most of this week denying any involvement in the decision to keep the gay rights-related text out. This has been a contrast to his spokesperson’s response last week when asked to explain the decision to remove the gay-rights material. The initial answer offered up was that the guide could not be "encyclopedic." More recently, the tune has been changed to protect his Minister from the perception of direct involvement, with his spokesperson noting that the Minister’s signature wasn’t on any decision notes. Days into this story, Minister Kenney finally decided to take full responsibility for the “content of the Guide” but still hasn’t provided clarity on the question that has been asked of him repeatedly this week: ‘Did you or didn’t you have the text removed from the Guide?’ When confronted with a straightforward question about an undeniable decision that was made on your watch, don’t dodge it just answer it. Own up to the decision and stick to the reasons behind it or lay out a plan for fixing it.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - LAYTON FAR TOO READY FOR HIS CLOSE-UP


This week's perspective from Orli Giroux Namian:

Canadian Press recently broke the story, supported by official documents, showing that the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney requested the removal of all sections referring to gay rights from a Citizenship Guide for new Canadians .The excised sections referred to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the legalization of same sex marriage in 2005. In December, the Minister told a gay rights group that the omission was an “oversight” and would be corrected, though no such change has yet been seen. Mr. Kenney has spent most of this week denying any involvement in the decision to keep the gay rights-related text out. This has been a contrast to his spokesperson’s response last week when asked to explain the decision to remove the gay-rights material. The initial answer offered up was that the guide could not be "encyclopedic." More recently, the tune has been changed to protect his Minister from the perception of direct involvement, with his spokesperson noting that the Minister’s signature wasn’t on any decision notes. Days into this story, Minister Kenney finally decided to take full responsibility for the “content of the Guide” but still hasn’t provided clarity on the question that has been asked of him repeatedly this week: ‘Did you or didn’t you have the text removed from the Guide?’ When confronted with a straightforward question about an undeniable decision that was made on your watch, don’t dodge it just answer it. Own up to the decision and stick to the reasons behind it or lay out a plan for fixing it.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - LAYTON FAR TOO READY FOR HIS CLOSE-UP


This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Nothing says “man of the people” like having a few cold ones and watching the big game, eh? Numerous political players were trying to get in on the nation’s singular focus on the gold medal hockey game last Sunday in Vancouver – something which must be done deftly, lest it backfire big time. Before the games opened, I offered a blanket warning to politicians about trying to hard to horn-in on the Olympic spotlight. So there was federal NDP leader Jack Layton, comfortably ensconced at Gretzky’s bar, in the company of his wife (MP Olivia Chow) and several hundred delirious hockey fans, rabidly cheering on Team Canada. CTV cut back to Gretzky’s several times during the game, so Jack was getting some quality “hey, look at me, just like all the real people” airtime. All was going well, until the moment of Sidney Crosby’s OT game-winner. The country went nuts, CTV cut to various gathering spots, and there at Gretzky’s was Layton and the rest of the crowd, exploding in celebration, arms up in the … uh-oh. When an exuberant celebrant in front of Layton started blocking him from the camera shot, he reached up, grabbed her arm, and pulled it down, ensuring an unobstructed view for the nation’s TV viewers. The move was captured on tape and uploaded by www.torontoist.com, complete with slo-mo replay. Fumble … or is it two minutes for holding?

VERITAS: FUMBLE - FLETCHER'S NON-APOLOGY


This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Holy crap, what a meltdown! Toronto City Councilor Paula Fletcher absolutely lost it during debate on the new city budget this week – a plan which includes a four per cent property tax hike. A member of the public, one John Smith (honest to God, that’s his name) voiced his displeasure with the city’s fiscal plan. That sort of goes with the turf for politicians – you know, having to hear from less than happy taxpayers? But for some reason, Fletcher became completely and utterly unhinged, practically frothing at the mouth as she ranted back at Smith, outlining a list of programs and services and suggesting that he was advocating gutting some or all of them. “Is that your suggestion?!” she screamed, over and over again, then suggesting that Smith was some kind of mouthpiece for NewsTalk 1010’s John Tory (who encouraged listeners to attend and take part in the budget consultations), and finally daring him to run against her in the upcoming election (“Come on down, baby!!!”). Now, politicians do dumb things all the time, but it’s how they handle the aftermath that really takes the measure. Fletcher, the following day, in response to media pressure, issued a classic non-apologetic apology, one of those if-anyone-took-offense-then-I-apologize statements, coupled with a “but” about how passionate she is about protecting services. Later, she was more forthright, admitting that she “lost it.” Too little, too late. If you drop the ball, be upfront and prompt in saying you’re sorry – don’t get dragged there, and certainly don’t be equivocal about it.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - FLETCHER'S NON-APOLOGY


This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Holy crap, what a meltdown! Toronto City Councilor Paula Fletcher absolutely lost it during debate on the new city budget this week – a plan which includes a four per cent property tax hike. A member of the public, one John Smith (honest to God, that’s his name) voiced his displeasure with the city’s fiscal plan. That sort of goes with the turf for politicians – you know, having to hear from less than happy taxpayers? But for some reason, Fletcher became completely and utterly unhinged, practically frothing at the mouth as she ranted back at Smith, outlining a list of programs and services and suggesting that he was advocating gutting some or all of them. “Is that your suggestion?!” she screamed, over and over again, then suggesting that Smith was some kind of mouthpiece for NewsTalk 1010’s John Tory (who encouraged listeners to attend and take part in the budget consultations), and finally daring him to run against her in the upcoming election (“Come on down, baby!!!”). Now, politicians do dumb things all the time, but it’s how they handle the aftermath that really takes the measure. Fletcher, the following day, in response to media pressure, issued a classic non-apologetic apology, one of those if-anyone-took-offense-then-I-apologize statements, coupled with a “but” about how passionate she is about protecting services. Later, she was more forthright, admitting that she “lost it.” Too little, too late. If you drop the ball, be upfront and prompt in saying you’re sorry – don’t get dragged there, and certainly don’t be equivocal about it.

VERITAS: VIDEO REVIEW - O CANADA REWRITE DOST BAFFLE

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

I think this story got more ink and airtime than anything else this week, and yet I still can’t make a call on it at this point. Columnists and talk radio hosts (like me – well, today anyway – I’m subbing for John Tory on NewsTalk 1010 from 4 to 7 PM!) got tremendous mileage out of that curious component of the Harper government’s Speech From The Throne regarding O Canada. At issue is the gender inclusiveness – or lack thereof – in one line of our national anthem, “in all our sons command.” Some of “our daughters” apparently take issue with the old-school verbiage, so the feds are saying they’re going to put the matter to a parliamentary committee for review. It’s an irresistible water cooler debate, so the amount of media coverage it generated wasn’t surprising in the least. But what’s less than clear is the strategy and message behind it. Was it designed to be some sort of diversionary tactic to shift focus away from the rest of the somewhat same-old, same-old speech content/agenda? Is the government’s desired message that the Conservatives care about equality and inclusiveness, and are listening to the at least one Canadian woman who wrote in about it? Some kind of attempt to capitalize on the outpouring of patriotism throughout the Vancouver Olympics? Could be one, some or all of the above. Trouble for the feds is, the overall response seems to be one of annoyance that an issue of this nature is even being stirred up in the first place. In the absence of a clear sense of message, motive and strategy, it’s hard to make a call. Tons of media is cool and all, but unless it accomplishes something strategic, it’s just noise.