Well, the weather outside was indeed frightful, no matter in which part of the Deranged Dominion you reside. I had the distinct pleasure of spending an unscheduled three days in Edmonton in a particularly sub-arctic chill after our plane wasn't allowed to land at a snow-bound Vancouver airport, uncharacteristically up to its knees in the white stuff.
And, I must admit, I certainly did not understand the efforts of the Vancouver media to pillory Air Canada because of the weather. The talk shows and the newspapers were filled to excess with examples of how people couldn't get home or wherever, and somehow it was Air Canada's fault and Westjet, which handles a fraction of traffic that Air Canada does, was somehow beyond reproach.
In the space of four days, major airports Pearson, Halifax Stanfield, YVR then Pearson again then YVR again, got blasted with snowstorms so severe that Environment Canada called the phenomena "Storm-a-geddon."
And somehow that was Air Canada's fault? Flights were delayed all over North America over the Christmas period. But the media seemed to focus on Air Canada. One has to wonder at the critical thinking abilities of the mainstream media. Are they so focused on whatever their political agenda is that they are unable to ask critical questions?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Despite the several days warning preceding the extreme weather, officials at YVR didn't see the necessity to bring in extra de-icing fluid. No, really, I'm not kidding. Flights were delayed at YVR because the airport ran out of de-icing fluid and airlines had to wait for de-icing fluid to be trucked in from Calgary. But the mainstream media and the talk show hosts seemed incapable of discovering that salient fact.
I'm no apologist for Air Canada, God knows they have their challenges, but the criticism they got for the weather delays across the country and most especially in Vancouver was grossly unfair bordering on libel.
And I guess that the media unfairness is what lies at the heart of this rant.
When I was first hired at the Montreal Star in the early '70s, I was taught by then City Editor, John Yorston, the concepts of objectivity in reporting and above all, checking sources and questioning everything. I see little of that anymore in the mainstream media.
Take, for example, a Toronto Star piece published to ring in the New Year. Toronto police Chief Bill Blair was quoted in a story talking about how the murder rate has dropped in that city: "We live in one of the safest metropolitan cities in the world. So, it's bland, it's boring here. Boring is good."
This, from the police chief of the city that had a gang shootout on Boxing Day a couple of years back that took the life of a beautiful, 15 year old girl out shopping with friends. The Jane/Finch area of the city is a virtual "No Go" area for everyone including the police. Crack cocaine and methamphetamine is the currency and guns and bullets are the calling cards.
The city was so "boring" that only a few hours after midnight on New Year's Eve, shots rang out in several parts of the "boring" city. By dawn there were three gunshot victims in area hospitals from separate incidents. And those are only the ones that I know about.
Blair is obviously trying to spin some good news into a public relations win for a police department beleaguered by scandal in recent years. I get that and I get that he would want to do that. But please, neither he nor the Toronto Star should insult the intelligence of the public.
Drugs, guns and shootings are a part of all our major cities in Canada in this day and age and any attempt to minimize that is irresponsible on the part of our police leaders or politicians. The swallowing of the irresponsible spin by the mainstream media is an abdication of their responsibility in what I used to believe was a proud calling.