The Scandal that Hides a Scandal

by Rob Wipond, September 16, 2010

Which is worse: Corporate perks or a plan to defraud us of billions?

Today's Times Colonist and The Globe and Mail illustrate two decidedly different directions with which to take the same story.

I was reading through an article in the TC headlined, "Canucks tickets cost taxpayers $117,000". I was pleased to see the TC covering the important Basi-Virk political trial story at all (in light of my previous criticism of them for ignoring so much of it), and tickled that they were highlighting the grotesque fact that "BC Rail dished out sports perks after its sale in 2003". However, when I reached the last couple paragraphs of the article, my eyes popped out. From the perspective of importance, the whole story had been written backwards.

During the same testimony yesterday, it was revealed that a former BC Rail president had successfully sued BC Rail for wrongful dismissal. He'd complained that, since the Campbell Liberals had come to power, BC Rail had developed a "failure strategy". Basically, he'd argued in his lawsuit, the company had started deliberately running itself into the ground and intentionally losing money in order to help publicly justify Campbell's plan to sell BC Rail to the private sector. He'd complained about it, and been fired. And then he'd been given a big settlement.

That's very stunning evidence to indict the Campbell Liberals -- especially in light of similar accusations more recently that the Campbell Liberals are also deliberately trying to make our health care system and our education system fail (see also this month's Focus feature), in order to justify privatization.

At least The Globe and Mail recognized the significance of the issue, giving it much, much more prominence in their coverage. The Globe did mention the sports perks, too--but in passing at the very end of the article.

Hm, are some journalists trying to use a trivial scandal to partially disguise the real scandal, or have years of writing sensationalist tripe completely destroyed their ability to distinguish what's truly important?