LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

Are governments enemies of democracy?

Posted 4.21.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In early April the CBC reported the closure of a reputable Mexican newspaper, El Norte, in Cuidad Juarez, opposite El Paso, Texas. The interview with the publisher focused on the assassination of one of the paper's reporters, a woman specializing in political stories, including government corruption.

Her murder was a message to journalists. She was the third Mexican journalist murdered in March alone. The CBC interview focused on the murder. Rightly so for two reasons -- one, to congratulate ourselves that no matter how inexplicable things might be at home, they are surely worse elsewhere. That's the Canadian mantra.

The second reason for focusing on the murder(s) exclusively, was, I suspect, to side step the second reason the publisher gave, and which the CBC ignored: government -- municipal, state, and federal -- is conducting its own war against the media, newspapers in particular because there are often run by independents.

Specifically, the three governments ran up large debts to El Norte for advertising and public notices. The publisher noted that each administration refuses to honour the bills of the past government. Murders or not, no business can carry big bad debt. \

The local narco-trafficantes don't want reporters digging around -- especially into their relations with politicians. Those politicians don't want anyone digging into their fiscal shadows, either.

How to explain that in Mexico many politicians enter their careers modestly but retire as millionaires? And if you can explain this -- not for one or two, but for the entire political class -- then please explain the same phenomena, say, in Canada.

And if anyone disputes claims of corruption here in Canada the Smug, recall the Charbonneau Commission, which uncovered systematic corruption in Quebec's municipal and provincial politics. The Commission's investigators said the same goes on in Ontario. We are fortunate here in Gatineau for the quality of our city government!

But this is why governments distrust independent media. The corporate media is just fine, bed-fellows, if you like. Social media? It's more malleable than any other media -- a government can crowd the social waves and drown out whatever might try to piece together accurate pictures of our society.

Democracy, we know, requires free elections -- but also a knowledgeable public. The voters have to understand the issues. They get that understanding from media. Media, especially independent and available to all, is essential for democracy to function.

Politicians aren't terribly afraid of inquiries like the Charbonneau Commission, they are afraid of the results of those inquiries becoming public, and that will definitely happen with a free or Real Media.

If a politician tells us he/she wishes to "save taxpayer money" or "exercise staffing efficiencies" by sidestepping Real Media (hard-copy, traceable media), listen more carefully: he/she wishes to silence an independent voice.

If you disagree, what do you say about the Charbonneau Commission -- would the mayor of Montreal be facing charges if no one had read of Charbonneau? You know the answer.

john@johnmahoney.com




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