Saturday, August 30, 2008

New 'waterfronts' in fair and balanced reporting

A news item in the Toronto Star, "Think tank urges Canada to flow towards water exporting", is a classic example of "he said, she said" journalism that still manages to omit important background information required to weigh the two opposing viewpoints.
After quoting a recently released report from a Montreal think tank extolling the virtues of commodifying fresh water for export :
"Large-scale exports of fresh water would be a wealth-creating idea for Quebec and for Canada as a whole" and "it is urgent to look seriously at developing our blue gold"
the writer then balances this with a few warning noises from Environment Canada and the Council of Canadians :
"We don't want to see water commodified and commercialized in this manner," she said, noting it's a myth that Canada has abundant supplies of water.
... and her job is done!
Now what could be fairer than that?

Well, for a start the think tank is introduced as "an independent, non-profit organization that takes part in public policy debate in Quebec and across Canada".
I know my dream of ever reading the phrase 'right wing think tank' or 'neo-liberal think tank' is clearly unobtainable, but having gone this far in promoting said think tank's credentials, is it too much to ask that the writer provide a little actual information to go with it?

The chairman of the board of the Montreal Economic Institute, the 'independent non-profit' so keen on privatizing and exporting Canadian water, is Helene Desmarais. Helene Desmarais is married to Paul Desmarais, Jr, CEO of Power Corporation of Canada and board member of Suez Group, a multinational corporation that is the world leader in water privatization.

See how easy that was?
Space permitting one might also mention that the MEI is in favour of private medicare, P3 toll roads, and disbanding the wheat board. Perhaps also throw in that last year MEI and the Fraser Institute co-sponsored another report, "International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free", written by Mike Harris and Preston Manning, and still available at the MEI website.
It features this choice phrase :
"For Canada, Mexico’s presence at the NAFTA table is no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States."
Puts a whole different 'spin' on all that enthusiasm for "large scale exports of fresh water", doesn't it?


West End Bob said...

Yup . . . .

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Cathie from Canada said...

There seems to be a whole bunch of pseudo-Canadians who think, in their secret hearts, that we should join with the United States. This is ultimately where this is all going, but they don't dare say so. Not yet anyway.

thwap said...

god, this blog is important.

RossK said...

"I know my dream of ever reading the phrase 'right wing think tank' or 'neo-liberal think tank' is clearly unobtainable...."

How about "bought-and-paid-for, sack-of-crap, anti-thinking tank full of codswallop"?

Or some such thing.


Alison said...

I dunno, Ross, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

How about "Broadcasting utter lies lovingly spun here in tankville"?

RossK said...

I dunno.

After all Bullsh*t occasionally builds on some small factual baseline.

(or, at the very least, a few teeny, tiny morsels that can be nourishing to parasitic round worms)

Anonymous said...


Can I buy a vowel?


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