COLUMN: The left-right double standard

There is a double-standard in Canada. Two sets of rules, for two different sides of the political spectrum. This has become more and more clear with the election of the Trudeau Liberals in October, and the subsequent recriminations since.

Glib answers by politicians to questions by the media such as “because it’s 2015” is allowed when said by someone on the left. It is considered cute, intelligent, and matter-of-fact. Had this answer been given by someone on the right, it would be considered arrogant, condescending, juvenile. Cute and devoid of substance is allowed only for one side, not the other.

The double-standard is not just in media coverage of what is said by those on the left or the right, but to holding politicians to account. The media circus that surrounded disgraced-Senator Mike Duffy before the federal election is but a weak shadow of itself post-election. The networks are still covering it, but no longer with the furvour it once was. Duffy finally testified, and yet meager coverage abounded. After all this is just a trial over $90,000 in expenses, a small potatoes scandal.

Yet the real scandal, sits with barely any coverage. Newspapers pulled a full-court-press to uncover issues with Rob Ford, and rightly so. Yet more than a decade of provincial rule by the Ontario Liberals, with the waste and scandal that has followed it, generates modest coverage. If the big-whigs of the media focused the same energy in investigating Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne and the rest of the merry band of members of the provincial government, that they did on politicians on the right, there would have been a different government elected in 2014.

This leads to the biggest left-right double standard, which is the gas-plant scandal. The Toronto Star broke the story Thursday morning that two former staffers for then-Premier Dalton McGuinty were charged by the OPP. Former McGuinty chief-of-staff David Livingston and his deputy-chief-of-staff Laura Miller, who’s names have swirled around for a couple of years as being responsible for allegedly deleting emails around the cancelled gas-plants in Mississauga and Oakville during the 2011 election.

Those on the right-wing side of the political spectrum have cried fowl since Kathleen Wynne took over as premier. Yet the double-standard existed and there was little done. It remains to be seen how long these arrests will stay in the spotlight. If the double-standard is in play, look for another picayune announcement by the Ontario government, or something from the federal Liberals to help deflect attention.

One thing is for sure, had Livingston and Miller been involved with a Progressive Conservative premier, allegedly deleting emails or other criminal acts, there would have been endless resources brought to bare to uncover the truth.

Media, as a whole, should remember their job is to uncover and report the facts, all the facts. Present the facts to the reader or viewer and let them decide. That is journalism. There is no double-standard in reporting the news, and there should not be. If someone on the right-wing does wrong, uncover it with zeal. If someone on the left-wing does wrong, uncover it with zeal.

Double-standards have no place in the news.

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