There has been a raft of comments on social media lately about how the mainstream PEI media has a strong Liberal bias and can’t be trusted – many in response to posts I have made on Facebook – or articles I have published on my website – about the criminal proceeding I have recently initiated against Robert Ghiz.
These comments usually state emphatically that the “mainstream media” in PEI [aka, the Guardian/Journal-Pioneer & CBC] are in bed with both the Liberal party and current Liberal government; that media managers have no interest in reporting political events honestly, especially with scandals such as e-gaming or the PNP which happened under the watch of the previous Liberal premier Robert Ghiz; and that these media moguls are overtly helping to cover-up and/or bury the e-gaming story, or at least Robert Ghiz’s involvement in that story. Consider just a few of these recent comments on two of my articles:
Here’s two comments from my most recent article “Hearing date set in criminal proceeding against former premier of PEI Robert Ghiz”:
“….where is the main stream media????”
“MSM [mainstream media], solidly in the politicians corner. Social media, not mainstream will be the only ones trying to get at the rot.”
Here’s two comments from my article, “What’s really behind the Guardian’s refusal to publish my Guest Opinion.”
“It appears here on P.E.I political stories unless positive are a TABOO subject and hardly ever see print .”
“The hiding of facts about certain members of a certain party here on pei has gone on way too long, you can be sure the only stories coming out of the Guardian, Journal Pioneer or CBC pei will be feel good stories spewing the virtues of the Liberal party…”
I could list many more examples. Needless to say, there’s clearly a growing sense that the Guardian and CBC is failing us, as a Guest Opinion published in the Guardian a few months ago titled, “The Media is Failing us” (co-written by several members of Vision PEI) suggested.
Before anyone gets all revolutionary and radical, let’s take a step back and play the devil’s advocate to see if these serious allegations condemning PEI’s mainstream media have any merit. Is there really a Liberal bias compromising fair and insightful journalism? Can such a claim be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? I don’t think so.
Perhaps we’re just dealing with a bunch of freaky coincidences
Just because something walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a duck: it might be a really tiny member of a theatrical troupe dressed up in a remarkably life-like duck costume, with exceptional duck-like waddling skills, and an eerie capacity to make extremely convincing duck sounds. We don’t want to jump to any premature conclusions about ducks or the media in PEI.
With that disclaimer in mind, let me suggest that it’s likely just a freaky coincidence that the current Senior Manager of CBC in PEI, Jim Ferguson, worked under Michael Mayne when Mayne was the Deputy Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning in the Ghiz government, around the same time as a bunch of bad e-gaming and PNP stuff went down.
You may recall that in Question # 4 – if you’ve been following my e-gaming corruption quiz on Facebook – Michael Mayne was one of the three senior bureaucrats who broke the law by giving the go-ahead to a $950,000 e-gaming loan without proper authorization, and how the loan amount was reduced from over a million to just less than a million (with a loan application rework by McInnes Cooper lawyers) to avoid having to go to Cabinet for approval, something that would have generated a public “Order in Council” document exposing the secret dealings. Mayne was also heavily involved in the Provincial Nominee Program.
Jim Ferguson was the Executive Director of the PEI Population Secretariat – established by Robert Ghiz – and served from July 2009 to August 2010. So Mayne and Ferguson worked together in a Deputy-Minister – Director relationship under Ghiz. What’s that got to do with the fact that CBC has chosen not to report any negative stuff about Ghiz since Ferguson became the Senior Manager of CBC? Things like Ghiz’s illegal destruction of e-gaming government records? Absolutely nothing! Like I said: it’s probably just a freaky coincidence.
And it’s likely just another freaky coincidence that David MacKenzie, the current Regional President of Saltwire (which owns both the Guardian and Journal-Pioneer, along with another 30 or so newspapers in Atlantic Canada), was appointed Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture by Robert Ghiz in October, 2011 [the same month Ghiz deleted Chris LeClair’s email account and e-gaming records, and had his desktop computer “wiped”].
MacKenzie replaced Melissa MacEachern as Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture, who you’d know from Question # 9 – if you’ve been following the e-gaming corruption quiz – since that question asked for the names of three senior government personnel who had their e-gaming government records deleted, and one of those three people was Melissa MacEachern.
Normally an email “proxy” is set up to assist the person replacing someone leaving their position with government giving the new person access to the files in the departing person’s account; especially when that person is a deputy minister involved in lots of important files. When Melissa left her position, an email proxy should have been set up for David MacKenzie, but Neil Stewart had MacEachern’s email account and the government records in that account deleted. What’s that got to do with the fact that the Guardian hasn’t reported any negative stuff about Ghiz’s involvement with e-gaming? Absolutely nothing! Like I said, it’s probably just another freaky coincidence.
Sure, I’ll grant you that it’s a bit of a head-scratcher why both the CBC and the Guardian were covering every significant detail of the e-gaming disclosures by Auditor General Jane MacAdam in play-by-play fashion when the AG was appearing at consecutive Public Accounts Committee meetings in early 2017 – with a slew of almost daily reports from PEI’s “mainstream media” political-reporter husband-and-wife duo: Teresa Wright (Guardian) and Kerry Campbell (CBC) – that is, UNTIL the January 18, 2017 meeting when MacAdam raised eyebrows with the disclosure that it was Robert Ghiz who ordered the destruction of Chris LeClair’s email account and e-gaming government records.
At that point, the “mainstream media” pretty much went “dark” on e-gaming – but we don’t know whether the Guardian and/or CBC management directed Teresa and Kerry to pass on that story, heavily edited their copy, or exactly what happened. I know I don’t have any evidence Teresa and Kerry were stifled. And to be honest, I’m baffled about this and have absolutely no clue why a bombshell news story on the former premier deleting important government records that were legally required to be retained – a story that clearly should have been front-page news in the Guardian, and the headline story on CBC Compass that very same day – with days of follow-up coverage and commentary – never got so much as a mention with either of PEI’s mainstream media outlets; not then….not ever. Nonetheless, I’m certainly not about to scream “cover-up conspiracy” and jump to any conclusions by making statements I can’t back up with facts.
Although it’s true that the Guardian refused to publish my Guest Opinion article about how Robert Ghiz destroyed government records, and how premier MacLauchlan misled Islanders about how that happened; and although it’s also true that the Regional Editor, Wayne Thibodeau, subsequently instructed the Opinion Page Editor (Bill McGuire) to forward to Wayne anything I submitted to him so he could exercise his power as Regional Editor and throw it in the garbage, which he promptly did when I submitted a second, more “benign” article in an effort to inform Islanders of certain uncontested facts regarding this year-old “news” that never actually made the news…. but really, what does any of that prove about a Liberal bias at the Guardian? Nothing.
Maybe Thibodeau got some really bad news that morning from his bank manager informing him the bank wouldn’t be able to refinance his house mortgage just before Bill handed him my Guest Opinion, and in a moment of weakness took it out on my Guest Opinion by crumpling it up and throwing it in the garbage. It could happen. He’s only human. No, any claims made that those “editorial” decisions by Guardian management to not report (or to not allow an opinion writer like me to report) that Ghiz destroyed government records would be little more than idle speculation.
At any rate, the Auditor General’s disclosure that Robert Ghiz ordered government records destroyed happened over a year-and-a-half ago, so although it never was “news” – since, technically speaking, it was never reported by the mainstream media [and if the mainstream media doesn’t report something; well, it can’t be “newsworthy” right?], I suppose a case could be made that since so much time has passed without it being reported, it now qualifies as “old news” – and what reputable newspaper or TV news program wants to report “old news”?
The Criminal Proceeding Against Robert Ghiz
But what about the private prosecution I’ve launched? That’s not old news. So, you might ask: “why hasn’t either the Guardian or CBC had a story on the current legal action against Ghiz?”
Again, to play the devil’s advocate, why should they? It’s just a criminal “proceeding” afterall; it hasn’t yet become a formal “prosecution,” and it may never become one, depending on what Chief Judge Nancy Orr decides on August 28.
Still, it’s curious why the Guardian hasn’t mentioned this legal action since it did publish a pretty substantial news report on December 1, 2015 about another private prosecution against Ghiz titled: “Toronto man tries criminal charges for Ghiz over missed emission targets.” That story was about a Toronto musician who had initiated a criminal proceeding against Robert Ghiz:
“Louis Vautour attempted to lay a charge in P.E.I. provincial court Monday in a rare private prosecution proceeding. This means the charge is not laid by police or by the Crown, but by a private individual. Provincial Court Judge John Douglas did not accept the charge Monday, citing procedural concerns.”
Sure, the two charges I laid in P.E.I. provincial court against Robert Ghiz weren’t thrown out on “procedural concerns,” like Vautour’s was, and a hearing has since been scheduled for August 28 with Chief Judge Nancy Orr presiding, so she can decide whether the evidence is “likely to lead to a conviction,” and if so, initiate a criminal trial; but again, to say there is a deliberate attempt by management at the Guardian to ignore this story as a result of a Liberal political bias would be reaching. Who knows, it could have been an oversight.
So please, please, please people….stop making unfounded accusations against the Guardian and CBC for not reporting unflattering stories about Robert Ghiz. I’m sure David MacKenzie and Jim Ferguson have perfectly sensible explanations for deciding to take a pass on those stories.
And I’m willing to entertain the possibility that the explanations they would give – if they were ever to give explanations – would have nothing to do with political Liberal bias. I just can’t imagine what else they might possibly be; but I’m not naive enough to think that just because I can’t think of any credible alternative explanations they don’t exist, especially if you subscribe to a cosmology like “string theory” where an infinite number of possible universes might exist in parallel dimensions with an infinite number of possible explanations for the Guardian and CBC not covering Ghiz’s central place in the e-gaming fiasco.
To suggest that MacKenzie (Guardian/Journal-Pioneer) and Ferguson (CBC) are protecting Ghiz because of their past and/or present association with the Liberal party; their close personal ties with Robert Ghiz and other people in the Liberal Party of PEI; or because of their previous working relationship with key players involved with the e-gaming and/or PNP files back when they were handed plum jobs within the PEI government by Ghiz, without providing any hard proof could get a person sued, so let’s just cool our jets with the “mainstream media” conspiracy theories already.
We might as well accept the fact that neither MacKenzie nor Ferguson have any legal (although I suppose a case could be made for “moral”) obligation to explain themselves, or share the rationale for their decisions on what gets reported as “news”; either to you, to me, or to anyone else for that matter – including the entire population of PEI.
I’m sure they’ll both come around to covering this Ghiz-e-gaming story eventually – and until they do, well, there’s always social media.