August 06, 2009


The times, they are a-changin' (Gotham City edition)

Guess which image liberals are upset about?

(Note that the last three pictures all link to stories from the same media source, LA Weekly.)

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May 26, 2009


Give us the money, or local TV gets it

So CTV has launched a campaign to get the CRTC to force cable and satellite companies to pay broadcasters for the right to carry their over-the-air (OTA) stations. But, being the clever marketers that they are, they're not calling it the "Government Should Force Cable Companies To Pay Us Fees That Of Course Will Be Passed On To Subscribers" campaign. They're calling it "Save Local Television."

Of course, this is purely emotional blackmail; there's just as much cause to call it "Save Our CEO's Executive Expense Account." But they know that "local" is a cause that is capable of rallying public support.

CTV says that they deserve the carriage fees, because otherwise cable companies are taking broadcasters' content for free and using it for profit. The problem with this is you could just as easily turn it around: the cable companies are currently performing a free service for the broadcasters by spreading their OTA content to a wider audience, thus increasing their advertising revenues, and so the broadcasters should pay the cable companies.

Fortunately, there's an easy solution to this debate: get the government out of the way completely. (Funny, that seems to be the solution to a lot of problems...) The CRTC should remove all regulations on which stations cable and satellite companies have to carry, where they have to be on the dial, whether they provide "simultaneous substitution," etc. Then, the broadcasters and cable companies can work out amongst themselves who will pay whom, and how much, and for which services - just like any other business deal.

The chances of the CRTC actually implementing such a system? Let's just say I'm not holding my breath...

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February 27, 2008


Name that partisan press release

Let's play a game: try to figure out which opposition party put out the following press release in response to yesterday's Conservative budget.
The Conservative government put its money where its votes are with a federal budget that does comparatively little for more than three million Canadians struggling on the social fringe.

Broad-based tax cuts already committed to drain $60 billion from once-bursting federal coffers over the next five years mean new cash for those most in need is modest.

Child care and affordable housing measures are conspicuously absent, despite long waiting lists in many parts of the country. Extra spending for First Nations, the poorest of the poor, amounts to $135 million this year and next, mostly to clean up dirty water and improve health and education services on reserves.


Rob Rainer, executive director of the National Anti-Poverty Organization, says the Conservatives have taken a particularly ideological approach since taking power two years ago.

"Cutting taxes, encouraging people to take full responsibility for their lives and downplaying the importance of public investment in social infrastructure - that's been their approach. And there's very little evidence to show that ideology is successful."

And the answer is...

Trick question! It's actually a "news story" from (who else?) the Canadian Press. Shame on CTV for using this thing as their "Winners and Losers" roundup.

And their main article on the budget is no better, what with more parroted claims like saying the Conservatives are "accusing the opposition Liberals of a tax-and-spend agenda that's belied by the past decade of Liberal economic stewardship" (emphais mine).


November 21, 2007


You're on notice!

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August 23, 2007


Dogs know what to do with (media reporting on) polls: Alberta edition

There's been some media coverage of a recent poll by Cameron Strategy (anyone heard of these guys before?) which has the Stelmach-led PCs falling to 32% support, down from 54% seven months ago. According to Daveberta, the full results (with January number in parenthesis) are:

PC – 32% (54%)
Liberal – 16% (16%)
NDP – 11% (9%)
Alliance – 5% (3%)
Unsure/Won’t vote – 36% (18%)

Sound really bad for Stelmach... but wait a minute, this looks strangely familiar. Why, it's one of my favourite poll-torquing techniques: leaving in the undecideds, so as to drag down the apparent support for the party you're gunning for!

Here's the real support levels, for both August and January:

PC - 50% (66%)
Liberal - 25% (20%)
NDP - 17% (11%)
Alliance - 8% (4%)

So there's still a significant drop, but nowhere near as bad as it's being made out to be. In fact, Stelmach is slightly above what Klein got in the last election.

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July 30, 2007


Canadian Press, lying as usual

Bob Tarantino pointed me to this CP item:
Alexander Panetta

OTTAWA–The number of people arrested for smoking pot rose dramatically in several Canadian cities last year after the Conservatives took office and killed a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

First of all, the Conservatives did not kill the bill; it died automatically when the 38th Parliament fell in November 2005. Can Mr. Panetta really be this ignorant of the Canadian parliamentary system, given that it's his job to report on it?

Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax reported increases of between 20 and 50 per cent in 2006, while Montreal and Calgary saw their number of arrests dip a few percentage points from the previous year.

So in other words, they're blaming the federal Conservatives for something that is entirely the result of decisions by local police forces.

As a result, thousands of people were charged with a criminal offence that recently was within a whisker of extinction.

Every party in the House of Commons except the Conservatives supported the decriminalization bill, but the Liberal government that sponsored it never brought it to a final vote.

Didn't bring it to a "final vote," you say? In fact, over the course of the entire term they didn't do anything more than refer it to a committee! (And the Liberals also failed to pass two earlier versions of the bill in the 37th Parliament, despite having a majority at the time.)

Also, for what it's worth this pro-marijuana site claims that the Liberal bills would have done little to reduce the penalty on small-time cannabis users, and possibly have made them harsher (such as fining users who previously would have just gotten a warning).

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April 03, 2007


How many mistakes can the Globe & Mail cram into a single sentence?

A recent scare piece on a Tory proposal for a bill to protect freedom of religion (how awful!) contained this:
Ms. Hitch's reference materials included a private member's bill on religious freedom, since defeated in the Alberta legislature, from Conservative MPP Ted Morton, with links to socially conservative websites such as;; and a website that does not currently work called ""
Let's see now:
  1. Bill 208 was not defeated in the Alberta legislature; it passed second reading. What actually happened was that the Liberals and NDP filibustered the Legislature in May and August of 2006 to prevent the bill from getting to third reading; it then died on the order paper at the end of the 2006 session.
  2. Ted Morton's party is called the Progressive Conservatives, not the Conservatives.
  3. Morton is an MLA, not an MPP. (How shocking that Toronto's National Newspaper would make this mistake!)

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March 25, 2007


Liberals try to crush freedom of the press

Hey, that's what the headline would be like if the Conservatives were doing this.

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December 06, 2006



From a TV commercial I just saw for CBC Radio One:
Hear us at 99.1 FM or 1010 AM. The choice is yours.
Yes, you can now get the exact same content on two different stations! Isn't that the ultimate in "choice"?

I think this would qualify as a "mask slips" moment for the CBC brass...


July 31, 2006


This Show Has Too Many Lies

Browsing throught the Mercer Report Archives, I came across this piece on equalization. Now, I've said before that Rick Mercer frequently succeeds at being very funny while completely failing at making a valid point. This time, however, he does a lot worse than that. After describing how Alberta and Ontario are the only "have" provinces who currently support the equalization system for everyone else (the "have not" provinces), he says:
Now, Harper says this is too complicated. For example, the Liberals cut a side deal with Newfoundland, leaving their oil out of the equation. So Prime Minister Harper wants to fix things by cutting a side deal with Alberta, leaving their oil out of the equation.
Um, no. Alberta's oil revenue is already left out of the equation. There are certain provincial governments who are agitating to start including it, but the current formula does not, despite what Mercer says.
So let's take a look now at the revised list of who now has to pay more:

Mercer compounds his orginal error. He claims that without Alberta's oil, Ontarians would have to pay more to support the system. Not only is he wrong about the current situation, but if Alberta's oil were to be included in the calculation, it would throw the average off so badly that Ontario would become a "have not" province, leaving Alberta's 10% of the population to support the other 90% of the country, including Ontario. (Alberta's and Ontario's combined populations are roughly 50% of Canada's total.)

But wait, there's more!
Now, let's go over the list of who didn't vote for Stephen Harper:

Really? Ontario didn't vote for Stephen Harper? Well, let's check on where the Conservatives got the seats that won them the election:
Ontario           40
Alberta           28
British Columbia  17
Saskatchewan      12
Quebec            10
Manitoba           8
Nova Scotia        3
New Brunswick      3
Newfoundland       3
As you can clearly see, Ontario didn't care for Stephen Harper at all. :P

Methinks someone's grumpy that their big endorsement deal was cancelled...

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February 09, 2006


Changing of the guild

If you're a fan of Royal Canadian Air Farce, like myself (although I think its quality has declined over the last few years), you might be interested in this article on which actors will play which Conservative Cabinet ministers.

Don Ferguson: Stockwell Day
Alan Park: Peter MacKay
Luba Goy: Bev Oda, Rona Ambrose
Jessica Holmes: Diane Finley
Craig Lauzon: Stephen Harper, John Baird

Something else in the article that I noticed:
Craig Lauzon, who plays Stephen Harper on the Royal Canadian Air Farce, may be one of the few Toronto actors who saw a positive side to the Conservative minority government.
Hollywood North is anti-Conservative? Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I read that!


January 21, 2006


Dogs know what to do with (blatant manipulation of) polls

Andrew Coyne has commented on how the Globe & Mail buried their poll results when the Conservatives had a big lead, but made them the front-page headline when that lead dropped sharply. Now that The Strategic Counsel has released the full details, the integrity bar drops even lower.

Click here, scroll down to page nine, and look at the "N equals" row, where the sample size is listed. Notice how it's 1,500 people all throughout the month of January... except for the most recent day, when the sample suddenly drops to 1,000.

Why did they do this?

Well, remember that each SC daily number with a sample size of 1,500 is the sum of the last three days of polling, with 500 people each. If the last poll is only two days (January 17 and 18), it means that they threw out the January 16 result a day earlier. And by coincidence, the Conservatives' big 18-point lead happened on... January 16. This means that the polling day which put the Tories way up was conveniently dropped a day earlier than it should have been, which conveniently allowed the Globe to loudly proclaim they had a big drop in support.


See also:
Dogs know what to do with (media reporting on) polls, part 1
Dogs know what to do with (media reporting on) polls, part 2

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January 19, 2006


Google News: Non-Liberals need not apply?

Here's a little experiment to try. Go to the Google News Advanced Search page, put "" in the News Source field, and a common search term (eg. "election") in the main keyword field. This is what you get:

Now back up, change the News Source to "" and try again:

The same holds true for the NDP, Greens, and Bloc Quebecois as well.

Does this seem like fair coverage to you, especially during an election campaign? Please write to Google and let them know that if they're going to include party press releases in their aggregator, they should do so for all the parties, not just one.

Update: Google sent me a reply, claming that "an article's placement on our main page is determined entirely by a mathematical algorithm, based on many factors including how often and where a story appears on the web." That's nice, but it's also completely irrelevant to my complaint. It's not that the other parties get less prominent "placement" than the Liberals, it that they don't get any placement whatsoever. Try again, guys.

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December 13, 2005


Dogs know what to do with (media reporting on) polls, part 2

Even if the mainstream media doesn't have a liberal bias, it definitely has a Liberal one. Sinister Thoughts brought to my attention a Globe & Mail article which makes it look like the NDP are doomed to lose their Ontario support to the Libs.

The article carries the sub-heading "New Democrats' support level drops to single digits" and gives the numbers as Liberals 40%, Conservatives 24%, and NDP 9%. However, you may have noticed that those numbers only add up to 73%. This means that (unless the Green Party has suddenly jumped into second place with around 27%) the undecideds weren't factored out, which is very unusual for this kind of poll. It looks to me like the Globe left the undecideds in just so they could claim that the NDP was in "single digits."

Don't worry, Dippers, we Tories know how to empathize with those who are victims of shoddy poll reporting. All the more reason why we should work together to get rid of the Grits...

Update: Apparently, the 40-24-9 figure was from the "Which Party has the most momentum towards a federal election?" question, with the undecideds left in. So it looks like this probably isn't an example of the Globe & Mail being biased... just incompetent.

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September 19, 2005


Dogs know what to do with (media reporting on) polls

Two new polls came out this weekend:

Leger Marketing: Lib 40%, Con 24%, NDP 15%, Bloc 13%
Strategic Counsel: Lib 35%, Con 28%, NDP 17%, Bloc 13%

Guess which one is getting all the media attention?

(Hat tip: Bound By Gravity)

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July 20, 2005


CBC Spinelessness, Exhibit A

CBC Watch has a discouraging example of the lengths the CBC will go to avoid calling terrorism what it is.

My favourite part was this:
Rather than calling assailants "terrorists," we can refer to them as bombers, hijackers, gunmen (if we're sure no women were in the group), militants, extremists, attackers or some other appropriate noun.
Yeah, we can't risk offending those terrorists insurgents militants heroic freedom fighters against Western oppression, now can we?

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July 17, 2005


More BS from the Globe and Mail

In the race to see who can be the best Liberal Party mouthpiece, the G&M has taken the lead. Saturday's edition treats us to this story, with the headline "Majority want Harper replaced, poll shows." It cites a poll which found that 59% of those surveyed said Stephen Harper should be replaced as the Conservative leader.

Sounds bad for Harper, right? Except that if you're one of the few who reads the whole article instead of just the headline, you'll find that the corresponding number for Paul Martin is 52%.

Hey, Globe and Mail! This means that a majority of people want Martin replaced too, you [expletive deleted]! If you were actually interested in honest reporting instead of fighting the Liberals' battles for them, your headline would have been "Majority want Harper and Martin replaced, poll shows."

This reminds me of a story they did this past February, with the front page headline "Martin gets pre-budget boost." (A modified version of the article can be found here.) Their reason for the headline was that a poll had shown an increase in the percentage who "believe the Liberals deserve to be re-elected." However, tucked away in the middle of the article on page A4 were the numbers on "Who would you vote for?" (y'know, the question that actually matters in an election), which revealed that Liberal support had actually gone down by four percent since the last poll!

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May 29, 2005


Christian Verboten

The Globe & Mail ran this bit of scaremongering on Friday:
Christian activists have secured Conservative nominations in clusters of ridings from Vancouver to Halifax -- a political penetration that has occurred even as the party tries to distance itself from hard-line social conservatism.

At least three riding associations in Nova Scotia, four in British Columbia, and one in suburban Toronto have nominated candidates with ties to groups like Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that opposes same-sex marriage.
Oh my! Eight of the open Conservative nominations were won by known or suspected Christians! Let's see now, with 210 nominations up for grabs, that means the Jews Christians have seized control of a whopping... 3.81%.

If this meets the Globe's standards for "political penetration," I have a feeling that their romantic partners are going to be rather disappointed...

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