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The Crumbling Mainstream Press
and Media in Canada.

Part One. Looking at Andrew Coyne.

The Crumbling Mainstream Press and Media in Canada.
Part One - Looking at Andrew Coyne

By Robin Mathews, March 26, 2014

Think of media journalists. Think of the corner they have on communication. Think how they are looked upon as celebrities. Think how a person like Andrew Coyne plays moderate, centrist commentator – and is given room to pontificate for the Right almost without limit.

Think how many Canadians judge him to be sound and dependable. Think what that does to the way those Canadians shape their ideas of politics and the community. Andrew Coyne is just one example – used here because many “progressive” Canadians accept him as reasonable. The list of people more or less like Andrew Coyne is very long. All we really need to say is that he is a columnist for The National Post.

The role of journalists and journals in a free society is of utmost importance. From them Canadians should receive the information they need in order to make real political choices that affect the country. When journals and journalists fail … they betray every Canadian.

I would say Andrew Coyne is a Reactionary, a neo-liberal – and therefore a part of the threat to Canadian democracy. And I suggest he is not alone. Reactionaries come in a hundred costumes. They get into every organization and movement. They attach to power the way limpets attach to rocks on the seashore. In most Christian communities and in most Socialist parties, you will find reactionaries hard at work. (They have, some say, taken over the BCNDP, and run it.)

Reactionaries are the children of Greed and Fear – the two energies, experts say, that drive the Stock Markets of the world.

When greed and fear are in the ascendancy – as they are in 2014 – more and more people show a reactionary character. The reasons are simple. Many feel it is now safe to show their true colours (Greed). Others believe they have to go along with what is, in fact, neo-fascism – in order to survive (Fear).

At such a time, people read and listen to reactionary propaganda and accept it as reality. They read publications (and partake of other media) which were created to push the philosophy of greed and fear – ‘as if’ the people presenting ideas and commentary are sage, sound, serious, caring, moderate voices. That is how confused things can get!

The National Post is, and was created to be, a weapon of the Right. Its founder just happens to be an ex-convict now who chose to abandon Canadian citizenship in order to gain “rank” in another country. He was recently de-listed as a holder of the Order of Canada, apparently because of certain anti-social actions.

I would suggest that Andrew Coyne is one of the writers who is presented as moderate and sound, but who is a closet, hard-Right reactionary. His columns leap from The National Post into other reactionary publications. Just as there are “carriers” of small pox, I’d suggest he’s “a carrier of neo-liberalism” – to coyne a phrase.

On August 27, 2013, an Andrew Coyne piece “infected” The Vancouver Sun. Two columns wide and the length of the page (B2), the Coyne column pushes hard for privatization – the War Cry of the globalist, neo-liberal One Per Cent … everywhere. In this case, Coyne calls for the privatization of Canada Post services.

Strangely (?) much of what he says is almost opposite to what “facts” are claimed by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). I am suggesting that Andrew Coyne is neither careful with “interpretation” of the situation at the Post Office, nor guilty of thorough research in his push to make a case AGAINST Canada Post and its unionized employees. I am suggesting the column may appear, to careful readers, to be nothing more nor less than a piece of heavy political propaganda for the Right: shilling for Stephen Harper and his neo-liberal goons.

From observing Stephen Harper and almost any of his cabinet or spokespeople, some of us have come to believe they are conducting a full-scale war against democracy, equality, and justice in Canada. And – as we know – the first victim of war is truth. Many members of the Stephen Harper team seem rarely to taint their public statements with truth.

In Andrew Coyne’s column, “Canadians must be delivered from failing monopoly,” Andrew Coyne seems to be, almost openly, a Harper spokesperson. To buttress his privatization case, Andrew Coyne tells readers that several European countries have privatized their post offices “because of a deadline for member states to open their postal services to competition.”

Pardon?

Reactionary Andrew Coyne is not going to say the European Union is controlled by reactionaries who want every public service to be in the hands of Private Greed. Instead, he says, in effect, that because many Europeans are jumping from high buildings into the street, Canadians should do so, too. Quickly.

Our Post Office, Coyne says, “continues to sink under its own weight.” That may be a falsehood. CUPW reports Canada Post has been profitable for years and years with one ‘special case’ year of loss. CUPW also claims that suggestions by employees for ways to make additional profit are ignored by management. As well, CUPW suggests that Canada Post management is managing (as top people connected to BC Rail did in order to destroy it) in such a way as to fulfill the prophecy of doom made by outside reactionary think-tank people.

Indeed, the head of Canada Post is an active member of the Conference Board of Canada which has made lavish claims for the losses to be felt in the future by the Crown Corporation (which Andrew Coyne chooses to call “a monopoly”). It is the Conference Board of Canada that has said Canada Post will begin losing a billion dollars a year before very long. The Conference Board of Canada is a champion of neo-liberal ideas… and privatization.

Did Andrew Coyne look into those matters?

Having presented a hardly convincing case, Andrew Coyne then attempts to sink the sharp, poison-tipped, reactionary dagger. Canada Post – which he calls a monopoly – is not only that. It is a TWIN MONOPOLY, he says. How could that possibly be? Because, Andrew Coyne tells us, it has UNIONIZED EMPLOYEES!!! Aha! What could be more evil?

According to the drift of Andrew Coyne’s argument, a reader may fairly conclude that the supposed profit loss and service loss at Canada Post may be blamed on the fact that it has unionized employees. Clearly, one is to conclude, unionized workers must go!

Turning the knife gently, Andrew Coyne states the fact (the fact?) that the only reason Canada Post, the CBC, and Via Rail remain as publicly-owned operations is “because no one can think what to do with” them. He claims – without giving evidence – that there is, at Canada Post, “rapid deterioration of its finances”. CUPW contradicts him flat out – even though it hints management is doing what it can to run Canada Post into the red.

Taking a full-blown reactionary position, Coyne argues that the national service – Canada Post – should not have a level price for services and delivery. The rich can pay … the others can go without, in effect. He doesn’t write that flatly, but it is what he suggests as he begins tripping over his own feet. That is to say, Canada isn’t a community but a gathering of individuals who may cut each others' throats to gain personal advantage.

But – OOPs – that’s too transparently a neo-fascist argument. So Andrew Coyne tries to change the argument in mid-stream, managing only to contradict himself embarrassingly. If you live in the boondocks by his beginning argument, we may theorize, you can pay $100.00 for a parcel delivery. In Southern Canada you can pay $10.00. The present equality of costs to provide fairness across the country, he argues, penalizes many. And “… all urban mail users, rich or poor [must] cross- subsidize all rural users, poor or rich.…” And so we need another system.

That system, it would seem, is a PRIVATIZED system. How would that solve anything? It wouldn’t. But the reactionaries would be happy. The scalpers of Canadian taxpayers would be running post office services – and they would make money. But how would they make money in what Andrew Coyne has called a system that “continues to sink under its own weight”?

Simple. The privatized operators would be paid A SUBSIDY out of tax dollars!!! (And … Andrew Coyne doesn’t say it, but they would employ non-unionized workers at scavengers’ wages to end what Andrew Coyne calls the “twin monopoly, in the form of unionized employees”.) Just think how that would operate – think of the padded accounts of the private operators, the fiddled delivery reports, the false claims they would make.

First you stone Canada Post to death.  Then you set up privatized operators (your neo-liberal friends). And then you pay them with taxpayer’s money to even out delivery costs so they can be sure they will always benefit handsomely (especially using poverty-level, non-union workers).

Pretending that Crown Corporations are not government creations intended to provide equal and just public services to all, Andrew Coyne ties himself in Reactionary Knots. “Social justice,” he argues at the end of his muddled discourse, is not the job of “the post office.” [Though it was built as it is to provide social justice!] That, he writes, [meaning social justice] tripping over his own feet, “is the job of government.”

Forget why Crown Corporations were created. Destroy Canada Post. And then “subsidize” the newly privatized deliverers of postal services.

As if to make a full-scale comedy of his column, Andrew Coyne then joins Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed by saying ”Social justice demands that we redistribute income from rich to poor….”  That strikes me – in that insane, reactionary column – as nothing more than an insane reach for some kind of muddled credibility.

Is Andrew Coyne confused? I’d say he is. But forgive him. How does a person act as a mouthpiece for the neo-liberals, the greed-driven reactionaries in Canada at the same time as that person tries to deliver the message of Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed? It’s a tough challenge. Almost anyone trying to do it would deliver a confused message.

In his August 27, 2013 column, Andrew Coyne shows, I believe, who he really is: a writer for The National Post, which was created to be a weapon of the greed-driven Right. Except, in this column, Coyne also tries to wedge in a few notions of social responsibility … for, one might suppose, the sake of appearances.

It doesn’t work.

# # #

Read Part Two: The Crumbling Mainstream Press and Media In Canada. Part Two. “The Globe(alization) and Mail”.


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