Right in the Centre - Trudeau's missed opportunity for unity


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Like a lot of people, I read a lot of stories, especially news stories. I am always surprised and annoyed by the holes in the stories, the big gaping holes that just don’t make sense. Last year, as the Freedom Convoy was pulling into Ottawa after many days on the road, it was big news. Everybody knew it was happening, nobody was caught off guard or shocked. Well, except our Prime Minister and the Ottawa police service.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have known what a large majority of the convoy participants stood for. They were against heavy-handed government, against some of the way Covid-19 was handled and against the very foolish carbon tax. If Trudeau had any idea of what was happening, he certainly didn’t handle it well. What he should have done was meet with the convoy leaders, heard what they had to say and then come up with a reasonable answer. Instead, he didn’t meet with them, instead called them down, accused them of many things and told them to go away. That was very dumb and very short-sighted on behalf of a prime minister that has had as much experience as he has had.

He implemented the Emergency Measures Act and we all know how prolonged, awkward and expensive that turned out to be. It took an ensuing multi-million dollar inquiry for Trudeau to admit a year later that he wished he had used  different words  about the convoy participants. Trudeau was plain and simply dumb on this issue. Every conflict resolution expert will tell you that successful resolution requires time, patience and skill. I leave it to you to decide if Trudeau exhibited that.

The inquiry report seems to indicate that he did not. The head of the inquiry, Justice Paul Rouleau is quoted as saying, “In my view, more of an effort should have been made by government leaders at all levels during the protest to acknowledge that the majority of protestors were exercising their fundamental democratic rights”. Instead, Trudeau, and others, called the protesters a lot of derogatory names. That isn’t strong leadership.

News media people, perhaps in their hurry to get the story out don’t ask enough questions. One of my colleagues says the slack news media figure that, “being first is better than being factual.”

Closer to home, there was a sad story about an elderly couple who opted to care for the ailing wife at home rather than in a hospital. That in itself is an admirable goal. However, this story had some holes in it. Again, not enough questions were asked. The couple and the writer asked why they didn’t get the home care they were promised. That’s a good question and, after a period of their plight being in the media spotlight, they were promised some help. Why did they have to wait? Somebody should be able to answer. But there’s another hole in the story. The husband explained that they were naturally disappointed they couldn’t travel. If they could afford to travel, then  why didn’t  the couple use that travel money to try to get private home care services. Maybe they did and maybe not, but the interviewer should certainly have asked if the couple had tried.

I will be the first to admit that my writings fall short, at least some of the time, and even in the two examples noted above, maybe I have made errors. The larger point is that as readers, as consumers of news and information, we all need to be more vigilant. Does the story make sense, are there real or possible errors in the story?

The convoy stories we read over the past year contained a lot of errors and most health care stories are prone to errors, some even caused by bias. It is up to writers and readers to be diligent in sorting it all out, filling in the holes so to speak.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.