Friday, August 18, 2006

Blowin' smoke on Mountain Ave.

We could go on at length about the inconsistency of the Winnipeg Free Press when it comes to their own position on the province-wide smoking ban.

But in the interest of getting back to the beach, let's just remind readers that when the Doer government introduced the smoking ban, the paper decided it was ok to run an editorial cartoon depicting the premier in a Nazi uniform.

Regardless of one's political stripe, this editorial comment went way too far. It was unnecesarily malicious (everyone KNOWS the paper's editorial board doesn't like Doer), and it trivialized the true, agonizing suffering that ocurred at the hands of the Nazis.

The issue of extending the smoking ban to reserves is a complicated one. It is easy for editorialists and the opposition to mock treaty rights. Where is there a treaty right to smoke? they ask.

In this criticize-everything-Doer-does era of the editorial board, the Winnipeg Free Press ends up doing their own readers an injustice.

The paper knows full well that the issues involving jurisdiction and the rights of Indian bands to make their own decisions is an evolving and ever-changing area of law.

Should provincial smoking laws be extended to reserves and then challenged in court by Aboriginal leaders, would the Free Press be willing to bet a year's worth of advertising revenues that the court will uphold the law? Doubt it.

But instead of penning an analysis that truly explores the complexities of the issue, the editorial board resorts to its tried and true "Doer sucks" refrain.

No wonder the Free Press missed commenting on the strategic brilliance of Gary Doer's recent infrastructure "announcement."

Hugh McFadyen took Doer's bait, cried foul, and has now surrendered the road repair agenda to the New Democrats.
Doer drain the rainy day fund to do it? Not any more than he's likely to raise taxes. The fund has grown substantially during Doer's time in office and he isn't going to jeopardize that sound bite.

What Doer is going to do is take a slice of that economic growth, pour it into concrete and asphalt, and wave bye bye to McFadyen as he stands on the shoulder sputtering in opposition.

But you won't read this type of analysis in the Free Press. Tory blogs, on the other hand, figured out pretty fast that Hugh has been had.