Sunday, March 09, 2008


Corbella: Chip off the Old . . .


Licia Corbella is the new 3 month old Editorial Page Editor of the Calgary Herald.

Prior to joining the Herald, Ms. Corbella was a longtime editor/columnist with the Sun Media organization - first in Toronto and then in Calgary. No doubt, during her days at the Sun she came under the influence of some of the many loony pamphleteers that over the years have taken too much space in its pages - names like Worthington, Amiel, Jonas, Zink and Waugh come to mind - ideologues all. Indeed, all are either - borderline or worse - neocon lunatics of the far, far right whose prose has for years tried to poison reasonable political discourse between contending parties, movements and ideas throughout the country.

The Calgary Herald historically was a much different newspaper than the yellow pages of the Sun. During much of the staid old days of the Southam era, it could rightfully say that it was a newspaper of record. News was reported well and matter of factly. Editorials and columns sought not to incite. The Herald was a proud and honest newspaper during those days, honorably supporting the Social Credit or Progressive Conservative options at election time in a humane, respectful and dignified manner.
Then came the nightmarish regime of the disgraced, self-destructive narcissist, Conrad Black.
Beginning his reign of the Herald in 1996, he soon selected a management and editorial group that would have no problem proselytizing his love for laissez-faire economics, social Darwinism, the United States, the Bush family and the goodness of greed. Nor would they have a problem painting the Liberal Party as big-spending, weak-kneed, bleeding hearts of the extreme left. Among the Black team at the Herald were his foot soldiers with names like Menzies, Crockett, Gaynor and King. In doing the bidding of their now-felon boss, their shoddy treatment of the Herald's staff led to a prolonged and bitter strike, turning old friends and colleagues against each other and excellent professional journalists away from their profession.

With the purchase of the Herald in 2000 by Can-West Global, a company controlled by the family of Izzy Asper, a high profile Liberal and former Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, moderate readers of the Herald breathed a sigh of relief. And it is true that over time, standards of objectivity under the new owndership improved. In the last two provincial elections and between elections, oppostion parties including the Alberta Liberal Party couldn't complain about the Herald's coverage they received. And on the whole, although the editorial pages continue to be supportive of the Tories, there has been a reasonable equilibrium of opinion.

But now comes the Sun trained, Ms. Corbella.

In her election post-mortem published March 8 "Alberta Liberals are deaf when it comes to good advice", she accuses the Alberta Liberals as being "deaf to what the voters said. . . " because Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said shortly after the election that "Losing the election does not mean the Alberta Liberals are wrong about the issues. We are right, and we need the courage and persistance to stay on those issues." That, she says, was 'arrogance' and 'delusional.' Why? Because the Alberta Liberal Party's campaign policies called for the construction of upgraders in Alberta at the same time as establishing an absolute cap on greenhouse gas emissions from all sources within five years.
Those policies are not necessarily mutually exclusive and nor must they be. Be that as it may, one is left to conclude that she finds it arrogant and delusional for Liberals to enunciate policies with which she does not agree. This is an ominous sign indeed coming from the new Editorial Page Editor and bodes ill for anyone hoping to challenge her beloved Tories on her pages.

Her frontal boot attack on the Grit cajones continued with her advancing that old canard of changing the Alberta Liberal Party's name by dropping the word 'Liberal.' The Liberal brand is broken, she says. The Party, she reminds us, has not won in 23 consecutive elections. She takes exception to Kevin Taft saying that "there was nothing wrong with the Liberal brand." I suppose she didn't know that it took the Progressive Conservatives 17 elections and 65 years to finally form an Alberta government in 1971. And she has probably forgotten that as recently as 1993 the Alberta Liberals won 40% of the vote and 32 seats with close to 400,000 Albertans voting for them. Not bad for the Liberal brand not that long ago.

She next trotted out the old NEP BIG LIE to continue her attack. She takes exception to Taft saying that "Albertans should just get over the National Energy Program." She says, "Some of the brightest, most philanthropic people I have ever met and who understand the difference between provincial and federal politics, tell me they will never be able to vote Liberal, so devastated were they, their parents or their grandparents as a result of the Trudeau Liberals' NEP.' She goes on, "Taft wants them to get over something that caused real Albertans to lose everything, but he won't lose a hated moniker." All of which she describes as "more arrogance" and "deafness."

I suppose Corbella would think it is deaf, dumb and arrogant for a Liberal to tell the truth.

These brightest, most philanthropic people who know the difference between provincial and federal politics, I guess, are not as bright as Corbella thinks they are. Because if they were, they would know that the Alberta Liberal Party has been a separate and independent legal entity from the Liberal Party of Canada for more than twenty years.

In fact, these brightest, most philanthropic people who can't bring themselves to vote Liberal because of the NEP are, and always have been, Tories.

And these brightest, most philanthropic people as well as the Editorial Page Editor of the Calgary Herald, continue to ignore or misrepresent the facts surrounding the NEP
Here are some facts about the NEP. The devastation of the 1980's was felt in every oil producing region of the Americas more or less at the same time and to the same effect. It was brought about primarily by high interest rates (sponsored by among others, their conservative hero Ronald Reagan and his Federal Reserve Board), collapsing world oil prices and bright and philanthropic businessmen who did not believe or remember there was such a thing as a business cycle.
These same bright, most philanthropic people and their Tory pals, who include big-time editors schooled in the fine art of Sun Media type of bullshit, have been distorting the NEP for going on 28 years and continue to do so. They are basically lying to the people that they should be informing.

As a parting shot, Corbella sticks her shivy pen into the back of Harry Chase, an earnest, hardworking and very good and gentle man who is the Liberal MLA representing the Riding of Calgary Varsity. To her question as to whether the Liberals should change their name, Chase offered the very thoughtful and articulate response, "That would be a rather sad comment on the capabilities of Albertans (that) something as basic, the veneer of a name, would be more significant than the depth of a policy."

To which Corbella harumphed, "Deaf, dumb and arrogant."

I'll say. And it's neither Harry Chase, Kevin Taft nor the Alberta Liberal Party.