, 12.08.2017 08:59 AM

I stand with Trudeau

We used to be friends, we had a falling out.  And: he has a very different style than my guy, the Shawinigan Strangler.  We were the undersell and overperform gang, you know?  We were more fiscally conservative, we didn’t bet the house on rookies, and (I think) we were a bit more adept on the international stage.

But – upon reading this David Akin report – I’ve never been more proud of Justin Trudeau, and never more happy that he is presently Prime Minister.  Why?  Well, as I get older, and as I get closer to the grave – and as I regularly tell friends and family – I find myself becoming far less partisan than I was in my youth.  These days, I tend to think the differences between the Canadian political parties is pretty negligible.  And, these days, I am a great admirer of pretty much everyone who dares enter public life.

As such, as I prepare to shuffle off to something else, my only partisanship is increasingly my first love, journalism.  I evaluate every politician’s worth, these days, through the prism of journalism.  If they promote a free and flourishing media (like the aforementioned Trudeau), I’m a fan.  If they don’t (like Donald Trump and Melanie Joly), I’m not.

In the Trump era, where political/governmental institutions are failing us, and the only people defending democracy seem to work at the New York Times and the Washington Post and CNN, a free press has never been more important.  Democracy is literally at stake.

Ipso facto, here’s David Akin, who clearly was as impressed as I was.  To me, Trudeau’s words, below, should be inscribed on the wall of every journalism school in Canada.

On Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s last day of a week-long visit to China — a week in which he had done his best to be a gracious guest and not say anything remotely controversial about the dictatorship that was hosting him — Trudeau said something rather remarkable.

It may even be historic.

Speaking on Chinese soil, in the presence of several members of China’s obsequious state media, he said that reporters play an essential “challenge function.”

He told his Chinese hosts that “traditional media” — a traditional media which, in his own country, has been, at times, harsh, unfair, and ungenerous to him personally as well as to his own government — he said traditional media play “an essential role … in the success of the society.”

Journalists. Essential.

In the age of Trump and #FakeNews, this is heady stuff.

It is to Trudeau’s great credit that he said these things and said them in China!

He was not delivering prepared remarks on the value of journalism to grad students at a Canadian university.

He was speaking off the top of his head, from his heart, in response to a question put to him in the midst of a 45-minute press conference in a communist country where independent-minded journalists go to jail.

Trudeau was prompted to make these comments about the value of an independent and free press because a reporter had asked him if his Chinese hosts had intimated that criticism of China in the Canadian press was making it difficult for his government to advance talks on a Canada-China free trade deal.

If the Canadian media was a thorn in Trudeau’s side, he refused to say so. Instead, Trudeau clearly indicated that this was not only the price he was willing to pay, if that was, in fact, true, it was a price he was happy to pay.

“Allow me to take a moment to thank members of the media,” Trudeau began. “You play an essential role: a challenge function, an information function. It’s not easy at the best of times. These are not the best of times with the transitions and challenges undergoing traditional media right now and I really appreciate the work that you do.”

But he was not done. He acknowledged that the spin masters in any political operation from any party these days are set up precisely to make the job of an independent and free press harder.

“We make your job difficult,” he said, acknowledging his complicity, as a successful politician, in trying to manipulate journalists for his own political gain.

I want to underline, once again, that this acknowledgment came on Chinese soil, in a country where the government’s spin — the government’s propaganda — is the only thing one can read in a Chinese newspaper or see on a Chinese television broadcast.

“External factors make your job difficult,” Trudeau said. “But it’s an essential role that you play in the success of the society. That is my perspective. That is a perspective shared by many and it’s one that I am very happy to repeat today.”

15 Comments

  1. John W. says:

    Wow! A CBC interviewer on The Current just adopted the viewspoints from articles and editorials in Chinese newspapers as the foundation of her interview with guests evaluating the Trudeau trip.

  2. Matt says:

    Well, Mr. Open and Transparent did have a meeting with reporters on the plane during the trip home and told them they could only attend if they promised not to report on what he said to them. This was reported by Steve Chase from the Globe & Mail. He chose to not attend the meeting.

    Look, it’s no secret I don’t like the PM. To me, the whole exercise was a calculated attempt by Trudeau and Butts to kiss the media’s collective ass as a distraction to get some positive coverage after what was a failed trade trip to China.

  3. Matt says:

    The Canadian flags Trudeau is standing in front of in the photo aren’t correct.

    How could the PMO staffers not notice that?

    • Matt says:

      Seems some media also noticed.

      Canadian officials blamed China. It apparently also happened on a trip to the US. Canadian officials blamed the US.

      The team that travels with the PM has flags with them.

  4. CuJoYYC says:

    And this: “We have respect for journalists in this country …”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7ZCd-qmd84

  5. the salamander horde says:

    .. life in a Potemkin Village ..

    .. well said, thanks..

  6. The Doctor says:

    I’m no Trudeau bootlicker, but good on him for saying what he said. Unfortunately, a huge chunk of people in the most powerful nation on earth don’t believe that and think that traditional media are evil and the enemy of the people, etc. A quick visit to the Breitbart website and comments section are all you need to confirm that.

    • Patrick says:

      I’m no fan of Breitbart, but people fed up with ownership concentration in traditional media look elsewhere – and it leads to the ugliness of Breitbart. Allowing ownership concentration in traditional media, and ownership across different mediums (Radio, Print, Television) led to this ugly fake news we see today because folks got sick of the one-percent controlling the narrative. The result is ridiculous lying from the fringe, and it’s gained momentum because of control and ownership concentration in traditional media – So, for as much as i detest this horseshit propaganda peddling, traditional media lost a lot of credibility when it fell into the hands of the few.

      • Fred from BC says:

        “. The result is ridiculous lying from the fringe, and it’s gained momentum because of control and ownership concentration in traditional media”

        Don’t forget the ridiculous lying from the traditional media themselves, enabled by that very ownership concentration. When they are all signing the same tune, they don’t need to fear rebuttals from the fringe…

    • Just the facts Maam says:

      Liberal Glen Greenwald(no Trump Toadie) pointed out the false narratives being pushed by big corporate news and causing their credibility to be questioned.
      https://theintercept.com/2017/12/09/the-u-s-media-yesterday-suffered-its-most-humiliating-debacle-in-ages-now-refuses-all-transparency-over-what-happened/

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    I would pay good money for Morneau’s take.

  8. Kevin says:

    “…something else”????

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