By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – It was CBC radio’s big chance to prove it had not turned sycophantic and it blew it big time. There on November 11, Remembrance Day, Veteran’s Day across the border, it boasted that Hamilton will have an air cargo hub.
Windsor’s former mayor Eddie Francis had often pretended he was doing the same in Windsor, but made quite the laughing stock of himself because it was all pretence. There was added hilarity given his antics as, at one point, he was bragging about a major logistical company taking up quarters at the taxpayer’s airport. He was quick to talk of negotiating with the company for a number of months.
Confident a done deal was done, he paraded out some executives for public view. It was much like his many staged events that are often, at best, meaningless.
In this case, however, he was exposed completely. In reality, he was not even negotiating with the company he said was involved. Being a public outfit, concerned about what misinformation might do to its stock price, it quickly issued an announcement that it had no bother with Francis.
This mayoral faux pas reminded some residents about the many failed Francis announcements.
On a couple of occasions, it was about Windsor becoming a software development hub because Wizie and Arada were coming to town. Wizie was actually going to settle on the second floor of the airport’s terminal building.
On January 22, 2009, Francis, according to the local newspaper, took, “another step toward economic diversification.” Francis was pretty much beside himself declaring that efforts were, “shifting the focus to what this region has to offer. We have a skilled workforce here and that message is starting to get out.”
Wizie was expected to have a command presence in the city, although some pundits were doubtful. They had good reason. It was supposed to be doing research and development but would pay, “$11 to $15 per hour to start, with higher salaries to those with more skilled qualifications.”
It didn’t seem to make sense. The wages were way too low to suggest any good was about to happen.
As is often the case, the pundits hit the nail on the head. Wizie bailed.
Ironically, the announcement was held at the Hilton Hotel which later bailed as well; the second senior tier hotel to do that.
Despite Wizie, and many more, the CBC has shown considerable broadcast reluctance to take on the role of actual journalists, telling things like they are and not what the mayor would like to hear. The CBC says it is guided by a mission, “to inform, to reveal, to contribute to the understanding of issues of public interest and to encourage citizens to participate in our free and democratic society.”
Yet, for some unknown reason, in Windsor it seems quite satisfied to give up its high standards and become a communications conduit for the mayor, which is why its report on Hamilton’s air cargo hub is so problematic.
To get some background, the newscaster talked to the mayor who claimed that, while Hamilton was indeed graced with being near the Greater Toronto Area, Windsor was near the most travelled border crossing and, “enough said,” its cargo hub would feature FedEx, despite the reality that its cargo planes will not land here.
Of course, like Wizie and Arada, FedEx is not really coming to Windsor. It will relocate an already operating, minor ground parcel shed to the airport and relieve itself of paying property taxes for a specified period.
The CBC claims itself to be, “independent of all lobbies and of all political and economic influence. We uphold freedom of expression and freedom of the press, the touchstones of a free and democratic society. Public interest guides all our decisions.” But, it has never explained why its takes everything Francis says at face value.
Is the CBC really letting public interest guide its decisions?
Why did it not contest the Francis claim? How can one attract a company that is already here? Does it really advance the cause of helping listeners understand the issues if it is unwilling to separate spin from fact?
The publicly-financed broadcaster had a chance, but elected to continue its sycophantic ways. Listeners need to be cautious of its so-called news.
For more of the Rest of the News listen to CJAM 99.1 Monday evenings at 8:30.