Let’s Talk About Bias

The premise is: I’m biased, you’re biased and so is everyone else; now, we can begin.

People get so upset at others pointing out the slightest falsehood in any statement by their Party of choice. They defend it as “unintentional” or a “misstep” or my personal favourite, saying they “misspoke”. In reality, they were talking out of their asses and got caught but we all get a kick out of the pretzel you’ve twisted yourself into to come to their defense.

I’m biased. I don’t like the dispassionate conservatism that seems to value the almighty dollar over people. I don’t suffer liars. I also cannot stand the whataboutism and unyielding virtue of those on either the left or right. Pissing off everyone equally is a bar I’m sure I can reach (and hopefully they have free drinks).

We constantly see the accusations of bias against the media and whether you agree or not, there’s some truth to every single one of them. That doesn’t preclude them from, sometimes at least, nailing something perfectly with a sledgehammer. This was not one of those times.

This week it was a lazy tweet by Alberta’s Premier, Jason Kenney, quoting an article by Kris Sims and Franco Terrazzano, the BC Director and Alberta Director, respectively, of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation. Their biases, respectively, would hardly be worth mentioning except for the firestorm that ensued. 

The federal government benefits massively from taxes generated by our oil and gas industry and workers. So why did the Trudeau Liberals give $2.5 million to a left wing special interest group to attack our energy industry? ~ Jason Kenney, Alberta Premier, July 24, 2019

The article in question details a $2.5 million dollar grant from “the federal government” made to a project at the University of Victoria through the SSHRC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The grant was provided to research the “power of the fossil fuel industry in Western Canada“. No evidence was provided to confirm funding also included “pipeline protesters”.

The first quote above, “the federal government”, has greater importance than it would appear. One could be forgiven for assuming it refers to the current federal government, though one Premier, and a few hundred people who “liked” or “retweeted” it would be wrong. 

Andrew Leach, former professor of economics at the University of Alberta and now soon to be Master of Laws student at the same, noted the grant was approved in April of 2015. For those in the back, a Mr. Stephen Harper was in power with a majority government at the time (also – it’s not as if the Prime Minister even makes these decisions, people; but here we are). The CBC’s Robson Fletcher did some quick fact checking to add some visual aides that confirmed the grant received approval in April of 2015. 

Now back to Ms. Sims who defended the article as written, tweeting:

Federal government is the federal government. Don’t care if the Flying Monkey Party is in power: they need to stop wasting our money. Harper gov shouldn’t have given them taxpayers’ money & the Trudeau gov. shouldn’t continue to do so. ~ Kris Sims, BC Director, Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation

Which is a valid defense if she hadn’t authored or co-authored articles where instead of referring to the “federal government”, it was specifically called “the Federal Liberal government“, “Trudeau’s Liberal government“, or the “Trudeau government“. It would appear from work she has been willing to put her name to previously made special note when the “federal government” was anything but a Conservative government. Unfortunately, it also appears that reference was intentional.

The checks and balances that we once believed were an integral part of mainstream media now seem to be failing. I can’t even suggest that we should be able to trust our politicians to be better because that’s certainly not been the majority of either my experience or my upbringing; but here we are. 

People are biased. That’s a fact. Reporters report – also a fact. If they are not a reporter, they have a personal bias. We all do. Some of us are even willing to admit it. 

This post contains fact and opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

contact: [email protected]

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary; @thisweekinAB for posts. 

1 reply »

  1. You are forgetting the UCP uses this as a tactic. They make the claim, then later say I misspoke. The idea is still out there and the UCP supporters will still be claiming the original statement and spreading it around as fact.