"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
-Homer J. Simpson

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Saskatchewan Conservative Party Lies and Half-Truths

At the NDP convention last week, some protesters showed up. Thinking that they were the same SGEU protesters that had been picketing the day before (and joined by one of the MLA’s) most people didn’t think anything of it.

So a lot of people who took the literature of the picketers the day before and had talked to them, just breezed on by the protesters on the second day thinking that this was just another day of the same protest.

However, these picketers were not SGEU people again, they were protesters of the government on heath care issues

Here is what Don McMorris (The Saskatchewan Party health critic) had to say in the house about this topic (Which resulting in Deb Higgins getting quite upset and calling him a liar – which is against the rules of the house) :

Mr. McMorris: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Friends and family of Doug Bonderud went to the NDP convention this weekend. They didn’t get any answers. Marj and Terry Rak went to the convention as well. They didn’t get any answers. Some of the members opposite had the courtesy to at least stop and listen, and I applaud them for that. But all too many of these members across the way blew past them like the member from Moose Jaw Wakamow, like the member from Saskatoon Meewasin, like the member from Cumberland. The member from Saskatoon Nutana didn’t even break stride but at least she had the nerve to go in the front door and at least go by these protesters. Whereas the other members couldn’t, didn’t have that common courtesy. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker . . .

The Speaker: — Order, order. Order. Order. Order. Order. Order. Order. Order please. Order please. Order please. Order. Order please. Order please. Members, on a point of order, the member from Moose Jaw Wakamow has made a remark which was unparliamentary and which was heard by all in the House, and I would ask her at this time to rise and withdraw it unequivocally and apologize to the House.

Hon. Ms. Higgins: — Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my remarks and apologize to the House.
Wow! Sounds like Mr. McMorris was there, doesn’t it? I mean, he describes, in detail, who did and did not walk past the protesters and even went as far as to describe one of the MLA’s as “not breaking stride”

The only problem is, Mr. McMorris was not there.

So was he lying in the House? No. He did see this action happen – ON FILM, and we know this because he later admitted as much to the media.

So that seems like a lot of weight to put on a video that was, by his own accounts, quite short and may not have told the whole story. Why would he stand in the House and make a statement based on that video?

Well, it turns out the video was recorded by Ian Hannah, who just so happens to be the Director of Communications for the Saskatchewan Party

Here is what the paper had to say about this this morning:

Hannah's videotape was immediately placed on YouTube (an Internet broadcast service) for all to enjoy and was then raised by Saskatchewan Party health critic Don McMorris in the assembly Monday, as he listed off a number of NDP MLAs that he believed either didn't stop or supposedly ducked the protest. In mean-spirited fashion, McMorris accused NDP politicians like Learning Minister Deb Higgins of not caring for cancer victims, setting off a firestorm in the legislature with accusations of "lying."
Here is the video

You will note that what is most interesting is that the part of the video the Sask Party posted contains a cabinet minister or two talking to the picketers and DOES NOT include the scene described by McMorris in the house.

I wonder why?

Particularly when you factor in who took the video......The Sask Party communications director Ian Hannah.

Again, let's go back to the newspaper:

However, what was truly sad about this is how smugly gleeful Saskatchewan Party MLAs and political hacks seemed to be about using such borderline-sleazy tactics of misrepresentation to drag provincial politics even lower.

Given that both Bonderud and the Raks have been to the legislature several times and talked to several NDP politicians, what exactly does it prove that any particularly NDP politician didn't choose to stop and speak with them on this particular day?

If the roles were reversed and it was Saskatchewan Party MLAs walking into their annual convention with their families, would they be any more inclined to stop and talk to angry protesters? Given that about half their caucus can't make it through a reporters' scrum without losing their cool and walking off in huff, one somehow doubts it.

And didn't the Saskatchewan Party pass guidelines for political ethics at its last convention? Did they include videotaping NDP MLAs and presenting the results in a misleading way?

And that, friends, is the crux of it. While I don't know if any political party has a problem with legitimate use of video and YouTube, I think the problem is that any tool can be used or misused. Given the fact that the Sask Party seems to have a problem with representing the truth when it comes to the written word, what makes anyone think they are not above manipulating the story from start to finish?

For example here are just SOME of the times the Sask Party and Brad Wall have lied or made up quotes or misrepresented the facts and were caught by the media:

At issue was a quote attributed to Crown Investment Corp. Minister Maynard Sonntag, supposedly from a June 13, 2000, debate on the budget estimates. It quoted Sonntag saying: "With respect to Con-Force in the construction of the buildings, they were jointly owned. The ownership was Con-Force 51 per cent and ourselves 49 per cent."

Here's what Hansard indicates Sonntag said: "First of all, with respect to Con-Force in the construction of the buildings, they were jointly owned but they were entirely debt-financed and SaskWater -- the Spudco division of SaskWater -- subsequently bought Con-Force out."

Not only did the Opposition completely distort Sonntag's statement, but it did so to make the point that there needed to be a special legislative investigation of him for "lying to the legislature." That's not just irresponsible. It's contemptible.
"Minister's self-absorption sad" Saskatoon Star - Phoenix: Feb 26, 2003. pg. A.12

Contrary to Wall's near-hysterical press release Wednesday forewarning Premier Lorne Calvert of another looming National Energy Program… no one has actually called for another NEP.
“Oil rant doesn't add much to national debate” Regina Leader Post: Sep 2, 2005. pg. B.7

“In this case, it's all about history, beginning with what has become the annoying, disrespectful and sometimes downright dangerous habit of the Saskatchewan Party of implying scandal, fraud and corruption from within the safety of the legislative assembly when they have had virtually no evidence thereof.”
“Politicians are architects of their own misery” Regina Leader Post: Mar 24, 2006. pg. B.7

“Less than a month after he rose in the house to suggest that SaskEnergy should hurry to lock in a contract at $5.56 a gigajoule until October 2002, Saskatchewan Party critic Brad Wall issued a press release that berates the company for failing to take advantage of prices that have now fallen to $4.61 a GJ for a one-year contract. Forget that Wall was wrong on June 5 about the $5.56 price he was tossing about in the legislature because he failed to include several costs, including delivery charges, that make the price considerably higher in Saskatchewan. Ignore that he's again conveniently leaving out these costs in citing a $4.61 price that applies only in Alberta. Wall's June 29 press release serves to underline why consumers are better served by having experts who know the natural gas market make SaskEnergy's purchasing decisions than to follow the whims of politicians trying to outguess a commodity market that's more volatile than the NASDAQ.”
“Energy critic disingenuous” Star - Phoenix: Jul 7, 2001. pg. A.8

“An Opposition plan to embarrass the government went awry Thursday when a businessperson invited to the legislature to condemn the province's sales tax increase and threaten a move to Alberta found out he doesn't have to charge his customers the PST. During question period in the legislature, Saskatchewan Party MLA Brad Wall said the government's PST expansion threatens to put Stein out of business However, following the scrum with reporters, Stein was invited to meet with Department of Finance officials. Less than an hour later, he emerged from the meeting a contented man.”
“Opposition's sales tax challenge backfires” Star - Phoenix: May 5, 2000. pg. A.8

"Say what you will about Romanow's Opposition, factual mistakes in questions were rare as hens' teeth. But such question period screwups have become a weekly thing for the Saskatchewan Party. Last week, CIC critic Brad Wall railed on about a non-existent SaskTel investment in a Honolulu cable TV company. This week, we heard Brenda Bakken complain about Liquor and Gaming Minister Ron Osika "hiding from the public" an annual report that the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority had actually made public in August."
"Sonntag admits scary ignorance" Saskatoon Star - Phoenix: May 2, 2003. pg. A.14

And after all of that they expect us to believe that they represented this video fairly? That they didn't make any edits or ommisions? *bah*

The Sask Party has just figured out how to use the new media of videotaping and YouTube to carry on their campaign of misinformation from the Internet.