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Canadian Media, The Trucker Tax, And Being Unable To Look Away
#CDNMediaFailed, As It Were
Did the Canadian Liberals introduce a “Truck Tax”? It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be hard to answer – and it’s not – but yet, it’s the media story of the week, for reasons passing understanding.
I’m not gonna pretend I was paying attention, but, basically, a Government advisory committee on Net Zero made some recommendations to the Government, one of which was some form of tax or levy on the sale of trucks, I guess, in an attempt to incentivize the purchase of smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles (at least, as far as I can glean, I don’t care enough to read the report). This has been distorted into a Conservative attack that there will be a Truck Tax from this government, which is plainly crap.
I’ll let the immensely talented Supriya Dwivedi do the actual work of walking you through the anatomy of the lie, and just get to what I find most interesting about this – the collective media failure it represents that the Tories pay no price for making shit up. This isn’t a mistake, this isn’t an error, this is a lie, a lie that is clearly knowable both in intent and integrity. It is inarguably a lie, and yet, it’s festering.
I know why the Tories are lying – they’d rather a fake fight about this than a real, internal war about what to do with child care policy and whether they’re actually going to go into the 2025 election with repeals of three new government programs on the books – but what I don’t get is why the media is as willing to accept that facts aren’t facts anymore. Just as every Conservative keeps calling the Liberal-NDP deal a “Coalition” unchallenged, this will continue to exist in the ecosystem, because the Tories have decided it is better politically for them to lie than to fight honestly – and part of the reason is the spinelessness of the media.
What is the penalty accrued to the Conservative Party for lying? They’re still booked on every edition of Power and Politics, every edition of Power Play, their leader’s response still gets in the video package for every Trudeau announcement on The National, they bend over backwards to book Conservative strategists for two segments of debate, and they bump important stories to cover a political party who are 50/50 to be lying in every public statement. What penalty does the Conservative Party pay, what consequence accrues, for lying to the public? Nothing, because the media lets them get away with it.
Imagine what would happen if a Conservative MP was being interviewed, he said the Liberals were planning a Truck Tax, and the interviewer pushed back? I mean, it’s not hard, it’s how this works now, but then they move on. It doesn’t matter at that point whether it was true or not, because if you can hold your answer through a follow up, the moderator has to move on to the New Democrat on the panel, or they’re accused of being soft on them and tough on the right. What would happen if the Conservative wasn’t allowed back on that show or that channel until they admitted their lie was a lie? What if an edict went out that the Conservative Party cannot appear on that show or that channel until they admit that there is no “Truck Tax” or there isn’t a Coalition government? What would happen?
I mean, it will never happen because the media are spineless, but you’d see the Conservative Party scream bloody murder about media bias, and you’d see the media outlet or outlets engaging in this have to prove their contention – which, in fairness, is really easy to do. It would see the Conservative Party and the word “lie” in the news a whole hell of a lot, and that combination is always very bad for the Conservatives, which is why the media won’t say it that way. Some things are debatable, eye of the beholder things, like whether the Canadian budget put out 9 days ago is understandable moderation or useless excess. What isn’t up for debate is whether a Truck Tax is government policy or not. It plainly isn’t, and therefore it shouldn’t be a matter of debate.
Would a Truck Tax be a good idea? I mean, Stephen Harper proposed a version of that policy in 2007, but that’s a debatable concept worthy of a panel of MPs. But if the Conservative Party is going to lie and claim one is government policy when it plainly isn’t, that’s not debatable terrain any more – it’s just straight up lies.
“Why do we want to give the media so much power”, I can already hear dumbasses say, as if the Canadian media doesn’t wield extraordinary powers of who gets booked and why. In a week of Power Panels on the CBC, there are 12 partisan, or partisan-ish, commentators who fill slots. Are they the only 12 consultants who can do the job? God no, they’re the ones that the P&P producers like, for various reasons. They have their rotation of people, and I don’t begrudge them, but they got chosen out of a much bigger pool. Why them? Because that’s the choice they made.
Why has all the conversation about the CPC Leadership race this week been about Pierre Poilievre’s crowd sizes and not the content of what Skippy’s saying? Because that’s the choice that producers are making when they decide on segments. It’s how the system works. We give unnamed producers extraordinary leeway to do the news based on their belief about what is newsworthy and what isn’t. And yet, when it comes to the Conservative Party, the Canadian media puts on kid gloves. And it’s a betrayal of the very notion journalism is supposed to be protecting more than anything – the truth.
“The dancers still shook and swayed, but I couldn't look away” is playing in my ears right now as I type this, from Hey Rosetta’s hauntingly beautiful Cathedral Bells. I’ve always loved the long because of my own fight with my mortality and my suicidal ideation, and when I would be in dark places, I’d listen to the rest of the verse. Now, hearing the song, I think of the other thing I can’t look away from.
Look at the Toronto Star hiring a new CEO who has declared the pandemic “over”, look at the willingness of the broadcasters to continue to put up with lies, and you get to the same answer all the time – the media is either intentionally biased for the Conservatives, or so scared of being accused of being biased against them that they end up being biased for them.
The answer to the question is simple – the overwhelmingly educated, socially liberal journalist class doesn’t want to be seen as out of touch from “real” issues – but in avoiding their real bias, they end up recreating a bias in a different form. Far from being careful to avoid bias, they let lies get in the way of facts because they’re terrified that telling the truth will get them in trouble with people who hate them anyways. It is a disgrace, but I can’t even be that made about it anymore. It is our present, and our future too, so long as the legacy media betrays this country and the legacy of journalism here and abroad.
Is there a Truck Tax? No. Is one coming? No.
Will the Canadian media start imposing lies on the Conservatives claiming there is one? We know that’s also a no. And that’s the damn problem. Like a car crash, I can’t look away – and that’s the world’s worst sign of failure. The Canadian media is killing themselves, and until they change it, it will kill a country too.