Scott Tracey of The Guelph Mercury looks at how crime stats and the federal government’s tough-on-crime agenda are out of sync in “Lower crime rate an inconvenient truth for ruling Conservatives.” This part is gold: “’Unlike the opposition, we do not use statistics as an excuse not to get tough on criminals,’ Pamela Stephens, a spokesperson for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, told reporters, apparently with a straight face.”
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Here’s an excellent blog post called “How can journalists know the truth? A Twitter dialogue” by David Akin. He’s right, sometimes — particularly when science is involved — it is difficult for a journalist to know the truth. On the other hand, sometimes it is not.
Today’s Globe and Mail has a story about Councillor Doug Ford, brother of Mayor Rob Ford, blaming unions for orchestrating criticism of proposed budget cuts. The reporter, Elizabeth Church, quotes the brother’s keeper ranting about how unions are issuing “marching orders” to their members and claiming that “Ford Nation is too busy working, paying taxes, creating jobs. That’s what they are doing.”
What the story doesn’t do is offer any context or fact checking. After reading the piece online last night, I tweeted:
Two people I have a great deal of respect for immediately disagreed with me. First Jonathan Goldsbie tweeted:
And Ivor Tossell backed him up:
Well, Ford’s comments may come across as self-evidently vile to people who disagree with him, his brother and their political agenda. But it’s a mistake to assume that there aren’t people who will read that piece and nod in agreement.
So what is there to add? A quote from a union leader perhaps. A sentence or two about the role social media played in filling the gallery at city hall for the Jarvis bike lane debate. Recognition that members of Ford Nation (though it wasn’t called that then) did show up at city hall to yell “Shame” at David Miller and his council when an issue moved them to do so. Hell, even a code word such as “bizarre” to describe Ford’s statements would have helped.
Yes, perhaps I am over-reacting here — wouldn’t be the first time — but I think the problem is this story is representative of a long-term problem in the Globe’s coverage of city hall. So it’s at times such as these that I miss long-time no-guff columnist John Barber the most.
After Edward Keenan fact checked Rob Ford’s July 22 date with CP24’s Stephen LeDrew, Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt on Twitter) figured the mayor’s performance was worthy of a highlight reel. So he created one.
Bernie Farber, a candidate for the Ontario Liberals in the provincial election, wrote a piece for Shalom Life that all but blamed the Mike Harris-era Conservatives for the death of his sister-in-law because of hospital closures, layoffs of nurses and longer waiting times. After the woman’s widower disputed that take in the comments, the Toronto Sun’s Christina Blizzard called him up and wrote “Bernie Farber fables?”
You’d never know it from the media coverage, but Canada’s crime rate is falling and is now the lowest it has been since 1973. But Stephen Harper’s “tough on crime” Conservatives are not fond of facts — why do you think they hobbled the census? — so they just ignore them. In “Tories judge evidence of falling rates inadmissible,” Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson calls them out on it.
Rob Ford told a few whoppers on his cozy date with CP24’s Stephen LeDrew. So The Grid’s Edward Keenan went to work on “Ford fact check: CP24 edition.”
Toronto Councillor Doug Ford said, “We have more libraries per person that any other city in the world. I’ve got more libraries in my area than I have Tim Hortons.” Maureen O’Reilly of the Our Public Library blog didn’t have to go to the stacks to get the facts.
In this piece — called “From $350 million surplus to $774 million deficit in one Ford year?” — The Grid’s Edward Keenan explains why the big scary numbers that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is throwing around don’t mean as much as he’d like us to think.