I hadn't intended to wade into the HarperPhoto-ShoppedPhotoGate story as I felt what had to be said had been well said elsewhere already, but yesterday afternoon I got a call to discuss the issue on Rob Breakenridge's radio show in Calgary last night.
Turns out the Conservative guest for the segment was blogger Steve Janke. You can listen to the audio of the segment here.
My views, in point form, on this issue are as follows:
* The photo was unacceptable, way beyond good taste, and should never have gone online.
* Clearly, the screening process failed and corrective action should (and has, I understand) been taken.
* It's important to remember this was user-generated content in a contest, and wasn't created y the party.
* The photo was taken down and an apology was made, that's the appropriate response.
That said, I also feel it important to note:
* The feigned moral outrage of people like Janke is hard to see as credible given that his party has spent the last three years and millions of dollars launching coordinated and considered vicious personal attacks against Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. Mocked their speech, their spouses, their citizenship, their patriotism. And a graphic, created by the Conservative Party, showing Dion surrounded by bullet-holes with headshots of possible shooters, IS STILL on the Conservative Web site. Dion is still waiting for an apology for that one. Yes, the photo was wrong, and should never have been posted. It was taken down and we apologized. If only they'd hold themselves to that standard.
Anyway, the segment unfortunately quickly descended into a shouting match as it seemed Janke was more interested in interrupting and shouting over me than allowing each of us to make our points in a respectful and civilized way. I tend to turn-out such partisan pundit slugfests myself, as they offer little educational value, so I wasn't pleased to find myself in one. I tried to stay out of it for the most part, but unfortunately I wasn't completely successful.
A much more civilized debate on the topic was had by BigCityLib and Stephen Taylor over on CBC's Power and Politics last night. Taylor did dial-up the rhetoric a few degrees too many as well, but I think with his measured tone he came off as a more credible advocate for his position than Janke did in our exchange. Great job by MJ Murphy too, the satellite interview thing ain't easy.
UPDATE: Everyone's favourite Conservative MP, Pierre Poilievre, weighs-in (I guess he didn't get the talking-points from the PMO not to comment):
But Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre called on Ignatieff to deliver a direct apology for the shocking photos.
"This disturbing picture appeared on the official Liberal party website and Michael Ignatieff is responsible for the actions of his party," he said. "Mr. Ignatieff should do the honourable thing."
Just for fun, here's Pierre a few weeks ago on accusing MPs of supporting anti-semitism:
Federal Conservatives say Liberal MP Irwin Cotler is pretending to play the victim as he attempts to wring an apology for a flyer they sent to his riding that he says accuses him of being anti-Semitic.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers
Quoting a conservative columnist, Tory MP Pierre Poilievre told a Commons committee on Tuesday that politicians live to be unjustly accused of something because “the opportunities to play victim are too tempting.”
“I think that puts some of this into its proper context,” Mr. Poilievre said.