Site Search

Custom Search

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Defending the tribe at BC Blue

There’s a debate over at BC Blue regarding the disclosure by CBC’s Peter Mansbridge that a panellist on his At Issue show, Bruce Anderson, has a daughter who works for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. The debate is whether Anderson is in a conflict of interest by being a panellist on the show.

Reading the comments, I sense tribalism at play—not always a bad thing, by the way. Much is made of the fact that Anderson has worked for the Liberals in a number of capacities. But what of his brother, Rick Anderson, who has been a Liberal early on and then a Reform Party supporter and  a current member of the board of directors of the conservative Manning Centre? Shouldn’t he, at least, be a balance for the Bruce’s daughter?

Tribalism, advocating for your political party or movement, is a good/healthy thing, in my opinion. But, even so, I don’t believe in the principle that my-side-is-right-your-side-is-wrong regardless of the facts or situation. Coherent thought, I believe, requires some degree of balance.

Now, I don’t want readers to think I’m picking on BC Blue as being unnecessarily biased. It’s clearly a conservative blog and makes no claims to be otherwise. I am a fan and regular reader.

But, on this point, I disagree with BC Blue. Anderson, in my view, is not in a conflict of interest—no more than is Warren Kinsella writing for Sun Media, or was Tom Flanagan when he was a regular on CBC and Tim Powers who appears frequently on CBC’s Power and Politics.

Once one starts down the conflict of interest road, there is the danger—not in this case I’m sure—of a public witch hunt. And one can get caught up in all sorts murky contradictions.

A commenter on BC Blue’s Anderson disclosure post writes, in part, “We’ve had some polling flops of late, they’ve been far off the mark which leads us to wonder what exactly is going on.” Taken in the context of Anderson’s Liberal roots, this comment seems to be a jab at Anderson’s connection with Abacus Data, a well known public opinion and marketing research firm. Could the suggestion here be that this firm fudges polls?

Let’s hope not! I often rely on the polls published by Abacus to get a sense of the prevailing winds on the political front in Canada, and it’s preposterous to believe they would fudge their data for some sort of political advantage.

Abacus polls are frequently used by Sun News Network and its CEO Dr. David Coletto appears often on that network. And, as it happens, Bruce Anderson is the chairman of Abacus Data. What then of conflict of interest for Dr. Colette? As I said, preposterous. By the way, the aforementioned Tim Powers is also on the board of Abacus Data. What should we make of that? Powers is a well known conservative; how disloyal is he for consorting with the “enemy?”

Most, if not all, people who are asked to be pundits on television have a political slant. Many live politics and that is one of the main reasons they are selected for these shows. In this case, Peter Mansbridge disclosed on air that Anderson’s daughter worked for the Liberals. (Perhaps Mansbridge was amiss for not also mentioning brother Rick Anderson’s conservative connections.) That’s good enough for me. There may very well be bias in Anderson’s commentary, but no conflict of interest here, at least, that is how I see it.

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. I think it is mostly irrelevant to consider the political leanings of the relatives of so-called people of importance or influence. It is primarily uncontrollable and shouldn't necessarily compromise the integrity of the subject being examined. Moreover, it is a "straining of the gnat" which incites a waste of tribalist energies. There are bigger fish to fry and greater subjects to hold to account. I myself have been dismayed at the lack of disclosure concerning certain media types, regarding their political affiliations while engaged in the business of national correspondence, in positions deemed to be neutral or at least unbiased. Susan Delacourt, for one, will attempt to fly under the profile identity radar while launching salvos against PM Harper's government. BC Blue brought this one out a while ago...http://bcblue.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/stars-delacourts-brother-working-on-trudeaus-leadership-campaign/ There are others also, and I find these members of the Media Party to be the "latent transgressors" in a conflict-of-interest which does more damage to otherwise objective perceptions of our government as seen by the average Canadian. I have found someone like Warren Kinsella to be quite reasonable and more universally-appealing during his discussions with righty Brian Lilley. It is a refreshing form of balance which also displayed itself in an encounter with former Conservative cabinet minister Monte Solberg. Warren's mother wanted him to be nice to Monte because she liked him. There was an ensuing dialogue which was respectful, engaging, and even humorous. I never even knew Bruce Anderson, but I have followed his brother Rick's able analyses through from the Preston Manning days of Reform. Good mention about "polls" too, and more reasons in support of the reminder that we can never really rely on them. Taken with many grains of salt, they are at best a faint indicator of what could be, and a stimulant for spurious debate and vain reactionary strategies of what will be revealed only after the real polls close on Election Day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with both Russ and Robert my parents supported Liberal party.I prefer Liberals over NDP. I am a Conservative supporter.
    I think full disclosure by journalists is important. I do not agree with the twisting of words and misleading reporting that has been rampant since 2006 when PM Harper was elected.
    We all recall the picture of PM Harper taken to show him from behind boarding his Airplane for an important trip. We recall the CBC reporter who deliberately edited the Prime Ministers interview Stephen Taylor exposed that and elicited an apology at the end of the evening news.
    I do not apologize for being careful when seeing polls that scream the majority of Canadians. Abacus is one of the better polling companies . The real poll is election day.
    fhl

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like to follow the digging BCBlue does as well but his responses to your comments on his blog , were just so...immature. He couldn't even recognize his own ad hominens toward you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been told worst things on the Internet, Randal. It seems a crude way to deal with others, but that seems to be the style favoured by some. Maybe they don't know any better?

      Delete
  4. Mansbridge did actually mention Rick Anderson although I barely heard it. Besides I've found BC Blue not just on this issue, but many others comes across as trying to silence those who disagree with his views. Maybe that's not his intention, but its certainly the impression I get. I believe trying to silence debate no matter which side of the spectrum one is on is a bad thing. As long as one discloses their affiliation what's the problem, never mind there were other's on the panel who could refute anything he said. Besides not all families vote the same way, certainly mine doesn't. As for polls, I used to trust them, but after how badly they blew the BC election and also the Alberta and Quebec election, I take them with a grain of salt. I tend to focus more on where the parties are campaigning as they have more accurate internal polls so often that's the best indicator of where things are at. If you watched where the BC Liberals were campaigning in the final week of the campaign, you would notice they were visiting mostly ridings they either narrowly won in 2009 or narrowly lost which was the first sign the polls were off.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I found the CBC "apology" wasn't really an apology
    http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/media082406.htm
    fhl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nive catch, Anon 2:56, well done! Thanks for the link.

      Delete
  6. Avid reader of many conservative blogs, but because of exactly this point you're raising, BCBlue isn't one of them. It's just rabid blindly partisan all the time, no reasoned debate, no thought or insight, just attack anything non-Conservative and blindly defend everything the CPC does all of the time.

    It reflects poorly on small-c conservatives who like a bit more nuance in the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon 2:18 PM, We now live in a very polarized world these days—we see this on both sides of the border. I'm with you, i.e., I "like a bit more nuance in the world."

      Delete

ShareThis