If journalists in Canada are hoping to convince the public that they’re anything other than paid for hacks of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, they’re going about it in odd ways.
Case in point was the news conference held by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre on Monday on the issue of auto theft.
We’ve all seen the video by now of Poilievre munching on an apple in the Okanagan as a journalist tried to vaguely, and without proof, claim that the Conservative leader was just like Donald Trump.
“Which people would say that?” Poilievre asked, as he was accused of being like Trump.
The journalist fumbled, couldn’t answer and fell apart on camera. It’s a real problem in this country that news reporters, as opposed to opinion columnists like me, show up with their minds already set on what the truth is on an issue.
They show up not to ask questions and find the truth, but to ask questions which back up their pre-determined narrative. Mostly these days, that narrative is that Poilievre is evil, unCanadian, far-right or whatever latest talking point the Liberals are pushing.
On Monday, Poilievre was putting forward the first part of his plan to deal with the very pressing issue of auto theft. Standing in a shipping yard in Brampton, Poilievre announced that a Conservative government would take four main steps.
- Increase the mandatory minimum on a third conviction from six months to three years
- Remove house arrest for those convicted of by way of indictment for auto theft
- Make it an aggravating factor if the auto theft is carried out for organized crime
- Repeal measures in Bill C-75 that give bail instead of jail to repeat offenders
These are serious proposals that can and should be debated. Auto theft is a major issue, especially in the GTA, where thefts have increased by 329% since 2018, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
So, were there serious questions about this issue? Some, but there were also boneheaded gotcha attempts.
“I love your slogan, ‘jail not bail,’ but then I assume you must want to abolish the presumption of innocence in Canada,” said Brian Weatherhead, a veteran journalist with CTV Toronto.
Weatherhead isn’t some new hire, he’s been a broadcast journalist for near 35 years in the biggest city in the country. Poilievre is talking about doing away with bail for those convicted multiple times, and he asks about getting rid of a basic tenet of our legal system.
It’s a gobsmackingly stupid question, but par for the course of what Poilievre gets from our “fair and balanced” media.
Then came the question about Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s trans policy.
“Why are you telling MPs not to comment on this, and can you please tell us your opinion on your party’s position on increasing restrictions on transgender youth?” asked Jerome from Omni News.
“Well, your question contains a falsehood; you should tell me what restrictions you’re referring to,” Poilievre said.
“That’s the question they gave me,” replied Jerome.
“That’s the question they gave you. Who gave you that question?” Poilievre asked.
The answer of course is that it came from the editors at Omni News, and while the people who crafted the question clearly had an agenda, Jerome wasn’t able to explain or defend that agenda.
Asking Poilievre about internal emails and about his party’s position on this issue is legitimate. Asking in a way that is loaded with assumptions and accusations is not — and that is the issue.
On issue after issue, the media believes their job is to hold the opposition to account rather than the government. Of course, that will change if the Liberals lose and the Conservatives take power.
It shouldn’t be like this, though, and it explains why the public is losing trust in the media in this country.