Politicians’ Disrespect for Citizens Growing

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harvoverfeldpic
By Harvey Oberfeld
Keeping It Real…
October 11th, 2014

It’s one of the few things politicians at ALL levels of government in BC and Canada now have in common: a heightened DISRESPECT for the people who elected them!

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Sure they tell us BEFORE the election how they will be “transparent”, open the books, make public reports we paid for and answer all kinds of questions about policies, procedures, performance and practices.

But AFTER getting into power, ALL of them now move almost immediately to shut down public or press inquiries, access to publicly-paid-for reports, documents and all but press releases, propaganda and photo ops.

Whether it’s at the municipal level under Vision in Vancouver, the provincial level under the Liberals in Victoria or the federal level under the Tories in Ottawa, governments of ALL political stripes are OBSTRUCTING the public more than ever from obtaining details about how, where, why and how much PUBLIC monies are spent; preventing us from seeing documents behind, supporting or criticising various policies; and, even accessing some very basic program details and data.

Why?

This is an INSULT to our democracy, our freedom and our right to know.

And I believe this arrogance and disrespect for the public by government’s and politicians … so often reported by the media …   is contributing to DECLINING VOTER TURNOUTS.  What’s the point if, whoever you vote for, turns their backs on you if they win and dismiss any interest you might have in following, knowing or , God forbid,  investigating their decisions, actions and behind the scenes manoeuverings.

It’s OUR money they are spending. The public should have the RIGHT to all documents, reports, studies and analyses WE’VE PAID FOR. The ONLY exceptions would be personnel or legal matters, etc.

However, the politicians know most of the public  … even those who vote … get easily distracted after elections by other happenings in their lives, at work, at home, with friends, family, sports, what’s on tv or even what’s happening elsewhere in the world.

So WE let them get away with it. Because except on Voting Day we are basically powerless.

BUT so do the media.  And this need not be the case!

If I was still working, I would have ENJOYED taking up the cause of freedom and asking the Mayor, the Premier, the Prime Minister AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY questions like:

* Why are you blocking the public’s right to know about (insert the appropriate topic, report, data)?

* Why are you denying the public access to (insert topic, document, request)?

* Why won’t you let (whatever ministry or official) answer questions or provide information on (you get it!)?

There’s a whole variety of tough questions that should be asked OVER AND OVER  .. and their squirming answers  reported OVER AND OVER … not just once and then accepted and go on to cover their photo ops and press releases … so the politicians learn it’s the PEOPLE who will set the agenda and the politicians who will be exposed OVER AND OVER for their duplicity, arrogance and disrespect for those who elected them.

Believe me, if the media …at any level … took up this cause IN UNISON and FOUGHT for the public’s right to know  ..not just occasionally mention its breach … reporting it OVER AND OVER, every day or every newscast, in every newspaper … the politicians will get OUR message.

And NOTHING moves a politician more than PUBLIC PRESSURE .

The media should take up this public cause … with any effective tough-questioning reporters they have left!

Harv Oberfeld

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. While reporters had the ability to ask hard questions in the past, very few do so now, simply because their backs are up against the wall in a “damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t” situation.

    How many stories have been spiked at Global, Bell, et al, simply because when upper management found out about the line of inquiry being taken by a reporter, it was decided that it wouldn’t be in the company’s best interest to provoke their political friends? If head office is going to be bidding on new spectrum for the cellular division, or wants to lessen the license restrictions on some of their newly purchased specialty cable channels, they don’t want to have to smooth over any ruffled feathers that may arise from a story investigating an MP or MLA. When billions of dollars are at stake, these companies will do anything to eliminate issues or problems that may interfere with their business objectives, freedom of the press be damned.

    Also consider that, even if the reporter could get the authorization from their news director to pursue a particularly damaging story, few would be willing to face the repercussions that may result, such as losing access. If you’re a Legislative or Parliamentary reporter, and you’re “suddenly” shut out of interviews, you won’t be in that reporting position for much longer, instead you’ll be shuffled off to soft human-interest pieces on the family of ducks at the local pond, or how the barista at the coffee shop downtown makes happy faces in the foam on a latte. I’m guessing that Harv, during his extensive career, either knows people who have suffered this fate, or at least has heard whispered stories about its occurrence.

    The time when media once had reasonably open access to the political system has now been replaced by a steely wall of handlers and government flacks who will do everything in their power to prevent un-vetted information from leaking out.

    The only broadcast media that seem to have any ‘balls’ and are willing to suffer fallout are the CBC, who are still asking hard questions and digging deep into stories, via old-fashioned journalism techniques. But even that will soon be muzzled, as Herr Harper and his jackbooted brown-shirt cronies continue to slice and dice the CBC out of existence.

  2. Does it really matter anymore though Harve?

    There are so many other sources of information in this information age. Granted anyone can post anything without overview by anybody, but that becomes less important when the so-called Mainstream Press has become little more than puppets dancing on the strings of special interest puppeteers anyway. Not the working Joe’s fault, of course… nobody wants to lose their job in these harsh economic times.

    Meanwhile the bean counters are getting rid of (expensive?) vetran journalists as soon as they can replace them with (cheap?) neophytes.

    Nothing wrong with neophytes – we all fell into that category when we started, but alas, today these eager talented, hard working young folk are increasingly left with no mentors in their newsrooms and therefore without the benefit of that body of experience.

    IMHO, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better….
    …no wait, It probably ain’t gonna get any better.

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