12 October 2008

May is against, for, against, for, against ... strategic voting


I just have to wonder how often Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, can be misconstrued in the media. Is it a concerted effort by all media types deliberately to distort her meaning or is there something about what May is saying which makes her position, at minimum, ambiguous? I mean this question seriously.

Here's the latest press release, issued from the Green Party of Canada a few hours ago:

Elizabeth May did not advise strategic voting

Green Party leader Elizabeth May has not called on voters to abandon Green Party candidates. A news story that states otherwise is misleading.

Ms. May did say that, "Being honest with the voters, I acknowledge that there is concern over vote-splitting in a small number of ridings. But I am not going to say 'vote Liberal here, vote NDP there.'

"I do understand how difficult choices can be due to the perverse results of the first-past-the-post voting system. Canada needs an electoral system that accurately represents how Canadians vote.

"I repeated over and over that I would not advise voters to vote for anyone other than Greens. Attempts to misrepresent my position on this issue are tiring. I do not support strategic voting and I have not advised voters to choose any candidate other than Green."

All media reports of May speaking about strategic voting have included direct quotes. Given the sheer volume of those reports, can we continue to believe there's no truth to them? That they're ALL putting words in May's mouth?

I'm always inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt. But frankly, I'm getting tired of the number of times I've had to do that over the past couple of weeks regarding May's comments on strategic voting.

And that hasn't been the only issue on which May's words have gone back on themselves.

There was that kerfuffle awhile back over May's supposed remark on TVO's The Agenda, which had her purportedly agreeing with the statement: "Canadians are stupid'.

Alas, no guest on that show uttered such a sentence.

What one guest did say was: "Politicians think that Canadians are stupid."

The taped video of that program reveals that May never agreed with a statement which, we've already established, was never made. It did show May turning, in mid-sentence, to someone off-camera. She appeared to remark to that person, in response to something he/she said: "And I agree with that assessment."

Here's the problem. Neither did May say, "and I DISagree with that assessment," which she claimed in a follow-up program of The Agenda, to which she'd been invited in order to clear up the matter once and for all.

Moderator Steve Paikin, who had sat right next to May during the first program, said he had not heard her say 'DISagree' nor did he hear her say it on the video tape of the program which they both watched together. Moreover, it was clear to anyone else watching the video tape that she hadn't said 'DISagree' either. She'd said "agree." But on that second program May continued to insist, having just watched the clip of the first show, that she'd said 'DISagree'.

So, was that the end of it? No.

A couple of days later, May wrote on her blog exactly what most people had thought had happened - what I described above as the first explanation: turning to someone off-camera and agreeing with that person's unrecorded statement.

Which means that May reversed her own explanation as given in that second program of The Agenda.

This is why I'm not at all confident that what May is reported to have said by some media types (the few reputable ones) isn't exactly what she did say.

That aside, there are some peculiar goings-on with media bias particularly during this election.

Therefore, is it so totally out to lunch to suggest that, for example, The Canadian Press - which has been observed to have jettisoned any semblance of objectivity - isn't up to some mischief making? We've already witnessed CanWest media up to no good - e.g., Mike Duffy shilling for the neocons on CTV, ditto Craig Oliver also on CTV and CanWest newspapers across the country all dutifully falling in line with endorsements of Harper.

I wonder who owns The Canadian Press now?

Anyway, combine corporate media bias with May's loose tongue and all kinds of interesting things can happen. None of them, unfortunately, seem meant to further democracy.

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