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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CTV: Do two wrongs make a right?

UPDATE: Wed. Jun. 3 2009 4:02 PM ET

Lisa Raitt will not lose her job, but the prime minister’s office says one of her staff has resigned after leaving behind sensitive documents at CTV News’ Ottawa bureau. Story here.


Apparently, a binder of documents was left at CTV’s Ottawa bureau by either Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt or one of her aides. The documents are reported to reveal that Ottawa has poured far more money into the aging Chalk River nuclear reactor than the public has been told.

This is troubling on a number of levels. For one thing, this sort of sloppiness on the part of our government officials really is inexcusable. For another, there seems to be a misguided set of media ethics are in place at CTV.

Someone leaves behind secret government documents and CTV staff make copies and reveal the contents to the public. Is that ethical? Certainly the dumb mistake of leaving the documents at their office should not absolve CTV staff of responsibility for abusing the public trust. Government documents marked secret are obviously not meant for public consumption, so why publish them? “Gotcha” politics, that’s why. It’s all about trying to make the Tory government look bad so they can feed their news-machine.

The Tories have left themselves open to much deserved criticism because of this security gaffe, but CTV’s hands are not clean. Failure to notify guests for six days that they have left private property behind and then to copy and make the contents public is wrong—regardless of whether individuals or news services do it.

Not that I’m surprised. CTV promised Stéphane Dion they would not release parts of an embarrassing recording, then they reneged and ran the recording over and over again. Ethics seem to mean nothing to these people.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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9 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. One thing for sure. If you ever enter a CTV studio for any reason, be sure you have your personal property properly secured to your person. Do not leave anything behind.

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  2. The real wrong here is they neglected to run the back ground story about the fact the replacement reactors commisioned by the Liberal gov't and costing over 600 billion to date have a critical fault/flaw in the design that is the same as the "Churnobel" (sp) reactors... The Liberal gov't was made aware of this then under the previous Liberal gov't they bought them out from the private company contracted to build them and then reinvested billions more on a flawed design rather then walking away to let the company sink or swim ... They should have been scraped long ago and started over...like 20 years ago...

    Chalk River has been kept open with duct tape and tin foil because there's no other viable solution...

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  3. Let's look at this "chain of events" What if the Minister did not take that file with her during the interview? and the file arrived at CTV at a later date!!!!..... Would it be a good idea to hand onto it for awhile and then say - it was forgotten a week or so ago - making it look and making people think maybe they did leave it behind.... I think we are going to find out there was more to this story than has been reported to date..... but being a liberal media - will they report what actually happened?

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  4. I wonder if anyone has talked to the RCMP about possible charges against Robert Fife and CTV for breech of Canadian secrecy laws for revealing Government secrets and making them available to the public? The documents were numbered and clearly marked "Secret". What part of that did Fife not understand? Also, why did they hang on to them for a week? They should've been returned immediately.

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  5. CTV was right to hold on to the documents. Unfortunately, this government does have a history when it comes to leaving classified documents behind. I'm assuming CTV wanted to see if they would call to get them back. It was a test to see if they really did improve their security procedures since Maxime Bernier got fired. Obviously, they didn't. That's the story.

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  6. Tell me, Anon, just how did publishing the contents of classified government documents fit in to their "test"?

    Dishonorable, perhaps illegal, acts are not made less so because it is done by the media. This is questionable ethics at best.

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  7. In the Canadian Forces it is automatic that an inquiry must be called to look into the circumstances of lost classified documents. It is appalling that soldiers face an inquiry and cabinet ministers walk. DISGUSTING.

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  8. What a joke. Fire the little guy and the minister walks.

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  9. No wonder the Ottawa Bureau networks never get to talk to the government. They have no integrity nor impartiality.

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