There's little chance that Jack Layton will get a fair reading of his platform and people's response to it from the mainstream Canadian media. A great example of this is a sleazy little piece written by Gloria Galloway, who's covering the NDP campaign for the right leaning Globe and Mail. She chooses to lead off her article by insinuating that the last time the NDP held a town hall meeting in a northern Ontario locale, it was staged. No proof, just a snide aside and an unsubstantiated rumour.
Those are some crazy journalistic standards they're held to over at the Globe where even the title of the article is misleading: "Nary a rotten tomato at NDP town hall in Sudbury." By all accounts, even those of Ms. Galloway, if you read between the lines, the people of Sudbury were highly engaged and for the most part in agreement on the issues with Mr. Layton -- they in fact gave him a standing ovation after every question. That's remarkable!
What in H-E-double hockey-sticks this has to do with rotten tomatoes is anyone's guess? If Stephen Harper held an unscripted town hall get-together (with more than five questions!) and all his answers received a standing ovation this would be headline news coast to coast and proof that he was indeed the second coming. When Jack does it, it's apparently just surprising that no one threw any rotten tomatoes.
What's also remarkable in the above two linked articles of what took place at the town hall meet-up that Mr. Layton held at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario is that somehow the Globe reporter failed to mention Jack Layton was using this particular backdrop to unveil his party's platform on health care and the Sudbury Star reporter picked right up on this little tidbit. Jack says his plan will bring 1,200 more doctors and 6,000 more nurses into the country's heath care system in the next 10 years - that's a news worthy announcement that would seem to trump reporting on unseen rotten tomatoes. But it is illustrative. Not only will NDP policy ideas have a hard time getting a fair reading in the media, sometimes they won't even get a mention.
Since the Globe and Mail prides itself on being a national newspaper, the failure to report on the NDP platform announcement about their health care plan is more than puzzling. This would seem to be the singular most important aspect of the story at least so far as Canadians not living in Sudbury are concerned. Yet it fails to garner mention and there were some pretty specific details too: Mr. Layton proposes creating a fund to repatriate 300 Canadian doctors now practising abroad -- investing $80 million a year over four years to upgrade medical schools across Canada to make room for the next generation of family doctors -- and his party would forgive student loans for medical professionals who choose family medicine for at least 10 years, regardless of where they practice. He calls these "...practical first steps to ensure that you and your family have access to the health care you need -- when you need it."
Our health care system is currently a mess where five million Canadians do not have a family doctor to call their own and these are good ideas. Certainly worth consideration, but how can the public evaluate them if they go unreported? Maybe we can all get ourselves subscriptions to the Sudbury Star.
You can go have a listen to brief but incisive interview with Mr. Layton about local issues over at the Sudbury Star as well.