'Balanced Journalism' Amplifies Uninformed Voices

Introduction

As Ontario voters consider their choices in municipal elections, a new report by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) went back in time to examine the dynamics of Waterloo’s 2010 controversial plebiscite to end fluoridation.

Fluoridation is one of the modern world’s great triumphs. It safely, cheaply, equitably and effectively improves dental health and quality of life for all people, with benefits focused mostly on children and the poor. And yet it has always elicited controversy.

The Ambiguous Definitions of Open Government

My colleague George Wootten and I have a new paper in the Canadian Journal of Political Science out in which we survey journalists, parliamentarians and bloggers in Canada in 2014 and asked them to rank different definitions of “open government”.

We hypothesized that people would choose different definitions of open government that fit their institutional position.

Here is why politicians are held in low esteem

“Please don’t tell my mother I’m in politics. She thinks I’m still playing piano in a bordello.” – late Nova Scotia Senator Finlay MacDonald

Politicians, as a whole, do not rank high in the public’s esteem. Most polls bury them toward the bottom, perhaps a rung or two above bill collectors and telemarketers.

The chief rap against politicians is that they say one thing and do another, that they make promises and do not keep them.

Conservatives’ “Odd Couple” hits the election road

They could be billed as the Odd Couple of Canadian politics: Andrew Scheer and Kevin O’Leary.

Yet there they were last week, the federal Conservative leader and the Canadian-born celebrity from U,S. television’s Shark Tank, on the hustings together as the Tories tested their training wheels for next October’s federal election.

So what does it take to make a prime minister?

 "To be Prime Minister of Canada, you need the hide of a rhinoceros, the morals of St. Francis, the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the leadership of Napoleon, the magnetism of a Beatle and the subtlety of Machiavelli." – Prime Minister Lester Pearson to a Liberal rally, quoted in the Vancouver Sun, Jan. 27, 1965.

Yep, that’s about right.

To Pearson’s list, a contemporary prime minister might add a laundry list of more mundane essentials.

What the U.S. midterm elections mean – or not – for Canada

Canadians, as a rule, do not play close attention to midterm elections in the United States.

We know incumbency fatigue will be a factor, meaning whichever party controls the White House will likely lose seats in Congress, where one-third of the 100 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for grabs on Tuesday.

The outcome may make a president’s job more complicated, but generally it will not provoke big changes in direction, policy or foreign relations.

That’s the conventional wisdom.

Carbon taxes are another historic political gamble

It is far too soon to know whether climate change and carbon pricing will be the defining issue in next October’s federal election.

With Donald Trump, the erratic child president calling the shots from Twitter Control in his bedroom, new issues are bound to be created and old ones re-invented. Any one – new trade demands, tariff barriers, border security, nuclear confrontation with North Korea, a Middle East crisis with Saudi Arabia, and so on – could take centre stage in the Canadian election, as could an unexpected purely domestic issue.

There’s history, education and fun in this new book on the press gallery

There was a time, following the Watergate scandal of 1972-74, when it seemed as though every young person in North America wanted to be a journalist.

Journalism promised excitement and glamour. Universities could not keep up with the demand for new journalism schools. A survey at the time found there were more students in J-schools in the United States than there were jobs on all the country’s daily newspapers.

That was then.

Is Doug Ford eying Justin Trudeau’s job?

Now that he doesn’t have former premier Kathleen Wynne to kick around any more, Doug Ford – being the sort of politician who, like Donald Trump, needs an antagonist to vent about – has turned his sights to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

His attacks escalate by the week.  “We’ve taken Kathleen Wynne’s hand out of your pocket … and we’re going to take Justin Trudeau’s hand out of your pocket,” he told a cheering crowd of 600 that assembled last week to celebrate his first 100 days as premier.

Stormy weather lies ahead in federal-provincial affairs

Doug Ford and Jason Kenney had a grand old time in Alberta the other night.

Appearing together before an overflow crowd of 1,500 true believers in Calgary, the two provincial leaders – one in power, the other in waiting -- pledged their mutual, undying opposition to carbon taxes, and they took turns swatting enthusiastically at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Opinion-Policy Nexus is a forum of opinion and commentary on topics related to public opinion and public policy. Views expressed in any blog entry are those of the author and do not reflect LISPOP's positions.

Authors

  • Ailsa Henderson
  • Andre Perrella
  • Anna Esselment
  • Anthony Piscitelli
  • Barry Kay
  • Ben Margulies
  • Christopher Alcantara
  • Christopher Cochrane
  • Geoffrey Stevens
  • Jason Roy
  • Jorg Broschek
  • Loren King
  • Manuel Riemer
  • Nikolaos Liodakis
  • Robert Williams
  • Simon Kiss
  • Timothy Gravelle
  • Zachary Spicer

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