Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sun distorts Rae's position on Quebec arena funding

It wasn't particularly surprising, but I was relieved to learn that Sun Media distorted Bob Rae's position on the possibility of the federal government spending $175 million to help build a professional hockey arena in Quebec City with the goal of bringing the NHL's Nordiques back to the city.

The headline in the Sun chain yesterday, "Hoo-Rae for funding" certainly gave me pause. The article was reporting on a speech Rae gave to a fundraiser on Friday in Montreal, and the lede seemed to report his position quite unequivocally:

Bob Rae has told Liberal party members he backs federal funding for a new arena in Quebec City as long as it’s not the only initiative in the country.

If you read my last post, you'll know that I strongly disagree with that position. And I was surprised, and disappointed, in Bob's apparent position. My curiosity-meter was tweaked though when I went on to read the rest of the Sun story, and found no direct quotes that seemed to support that lede and headline.

The curiosity meter red-lined when I read CTV's story on that same fundraising speech which, surprise surprise, had a much different interpretation of Rae's comments:
Rae also said the Tories should be cautious in considering requests to devote millions of dollars in federal funding to a new hockey arena in Quebec City.

"Mr. Harper's got to understand that this is not just a one off thing that one can do for one city or one franchise. If you're going to have a policy, it's got to be a consistent policy right across the country," Rae said.
Now this position sounds more sensible. While I'd have preferred if he had added "and that's why we can't go funding pro-sports stadiums and arenas, not when we have a deficit and many other more important priorities" perhaps it was felt to be blindingly obvious. And he's absolutely right that you can't play favourites here. If you fund one, you need to fund them all. And how in the heck could we possibly afford that?

Still, the differing Sun and CTV reports raise the question, does Rae support funding the Quebec arena or not? If Sun has it right, why does CTV not mention that certaintly newsworthy fact at all?

Curious to clear this up, I sent Bob a message on Facebook and asked him, did you support funding the Quebec arena as the Sun reported, or urge caution as CTV reported? He replied quite quickly to clear things up:
I urged caution. I never spoke to Sun media. I said Harper needed to understand that this is not a "one off" decision. You can't just dole out money to a commercial arena in Quebec without understanding the implications for the rest of the country.

So it would seem the Sun completely distorted Rae's position, and he did not say let's fund all of them. He said you need to be cautious setting that kind of precedent.

Why torque his comments? Well, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the driving force behind bringing the Nordiques back to Quebec, the fellow who would be the biggest beneficiary of a taxpayer-funded Quebec City arena, also happens to own Sun Media, right? Surely they would have mentioned such a conflict in their coverage if it existed, right?

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Michael said...

Spin spin spin spin spin spin spin spin.......SASASASASPIN???? SPINNNNNNNNN!!!!!

Anonymous said...

what you also forget to mention in this blog post is the fact that Mr.Harper practically said the same thing that Mr.Rae said that is if you are going to do it for Quebec city then you will have to do it for the rest of the country. Another thing that you forgot to mention in your blog is that Mr.Goodale wants the federal government to fund in excess of $100 million in the Regina stadium,another thing that you also forgot to mention in your blog is that Liberal MP Marc Garneau agrees to federal funding of the Quebec arena. He said liberals were saying this for about a year now. If you want proof I can give you the links.

Now all this said,why is it ok for tax dollars to go for the Olympic games that only come once every four years and maybe once in a lifetime in the same city,but it's wrong to spend in the infrastructure of pro sports that will stay in a city for decades to come, and pay millions in income tax?

Jeff said...

PC, in my previous post I discuss the wider issue and lament the differing positions of assorted Liberals on this issue. This post was about Sun's distortion of Rae's comments.

Anonymous said...

ABCER You still haven't answer my question! Why is it ok for tax dollars to go for the Olympic games that only come once every four years and maybe once in a lifetime in the same city,but it's wrong to spend in the infrastructure of pro sports that will stay in a city for decades to come, and pay millions in income tax?

rockfish said...

Let me answer that screeching con-spin... The rationale behind funding a huge part of an Olympic event is how an event of that magnitude promotes Canada nationally and internationally; it becomes a huge pre-games job generator for dozens of industries; the games in themselves focus the attention of viewers/business leaders to our country, and youth and athletes to the greater good of healthy living and fairplay competition; and perhaps most important, the many publicly funded facilities that are constructed for the games become municipal and community houses that can continue to engage and be used by members of the region and country.
Not that there aren't huge downsides to the debate over hosting the Olympics. But if Harper is suddenly opposed to this please get him to stand up and say it. Let's hear that mythical 'small government is good' speech one more time -- only we'll supply the laugh track.

Gletscher Eis said...

PC, the taxpayers of Vancouver are going to be paying for their games for quite a while - as did the residents of Montreal. It's best to use our infrastructure dollars for smaller public rinks and recreation centres in our communities.

As for the Sun, it takes after the Parent.

Unknown said...

Lets face it,the Sun is in the business of distorting anything said by a liberal or non cnservative. As a Liberal supporter I don't take particular issue with the arena funding if done under a stimulus program or regional development. what I do take exception to is the blatant political pork at play here. Harper wants Sun TV to succeed and Peladeau wants a hockey team. That's the real story of blatant pork barrel politics.
the other issue that never seems to come up is Peladeau's own political convictions. His late father was an open separatist and his Journal de Montreal was always full of platitudes to the PQ. I wonder if the apple fell far from the tree in terms of father son politics.

Anonymous said...

I am not saying at any price. I still need to see any details if it's going to happen to begin with! Opposition keep saying that government should help the private sector,well this is one of those times. If governments weren't involved in building arenas the only cities with pro Hockey would be Montreal,Toronto and Vancouver and how many CFL stadium that was built with only private funds. Sure pro hockey players make millions! Nothing will change that. But we need to look at how much they pay in taxes. I do not know about you people,but when I was working just a couple of years ago when I got my pay check every two weeks half of it went to taxes. Now these players who make millions only get paid during hockey season twice a month can you imagine how much governments take off their pay checks? Think about it,and I am not even talking about the income tax that they will need to pay in April.

In Montreal we got back the formula one only because of government involvement. All levels of government had to put tax dollars for it to come back and do not forget the track,you think the car companies actually built it? I could go on,but...

marie said...

Sun always distorts truth and prints its own opinons and as for the media, they are all guilty of blatenly making up their own words in stories in their open support of the fake Tory party.

They should all be attacking them for lying on National TV and asking for retractions from theirobvious lies.

As for proud Canadians, I beg to differ. Their is nothing resembling Canadian by your handle or posts.

Unknown said...

Anybody notice that all negative op eds directed to the right have been directed at Sun Media. Wonder Why??

kitt said...

The Sun must be taking lessons from their southern buddies.

Michael G. Mitchener said...

Good, balanced post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.