Saturday, February 7, 2009

 

...ONE BORN EVERY MINUTE

Just a few days ago I came across what I'd presumed was a long disappeared vestige of the early 20th Century: The Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Brothers Circus train, heading east out of Tampa Bay, Florida. Lest I digress, my brother has since reminded me that the train was pretty much the "star" of Cecil B. DeMille's Academy Award winning 1952 film: "The Greatest Show On Earth". Well, turns-out it is still making tracks and currently believed to be the largest privately owned train in the world.

The circus' founder, P.T. Barnum, is credited with the 19th century remark - "A sucker born every minute." His words came to mind this week as Senator Mike Duffy single handily destroyed the objectivity of his own iconic 40 year career in Canadian political journalism. A practitioner of the craft of journalism myself, including as a colleague of Senator Duffy at CBC Radio News in the 1970's, I too was offended with his twice repeated comments about the grotesque nature of Newfoundland Premier, Danny Williams, and PEI, Premier Robert Ghiz, "getting into bed together".

Whilst I entirely understand that in politics you..."dance with the one who brung you", it seems to me that the remarks caused near irreparable damage to the objectivity of all Canadian political journalists. Mr. Duffy has clearly chosen to park his career's journalistic principles and integrity at the Senate's door. Although within the Senate's Chamber, Senator Duffy has since withdrawn his disdainful metaphor, his intransigence over repudiating the full nature of the choice of descriptive words may also well have caused collateral damage to the reputations of the other 17 Senators appointed along with him in December...They too should be concerned.

The Prime Minister chose his words carefully on Friday evening in telling CTV News Halifax that the Senator's language was: "Perhaps inappropriate". The message though seems to me clear: Insulting the Premier of the province you represent in the Senate is a hell of a way to ingratiate yourself with the people of P.E.I. who elected Premier Ghiz...especially when the insult comes from a heretofore cherished favourite son of the Island province.

In Canada's Red Chamber, Senator Duffy sits amongst at least two other former CTV journalist colleagues: Senator Jim Munson, appointed by Prime Minister, Chretien; and Senator Pamela Wallin, appointed along with Mike Duffy in December by Mr. Harper. I hope that they both will be able to assist Senator Duffy in reigning-in his sharp and somewhat inappropriate rhetoric; lest the people of his native Prince Edward Island regret that it wasn't Stompin' Tom Connors who was named their Senate representative...Or worse: That such behaviour make the Senate, much like the circus train, a vestige of another time...Wait - It already is!

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