Letter: Editorializing journalists should stay out of the headlines

People tend to use the language they are handed

To the Expositor:

I wish some reporters in the media would go back to reporting only facts regarding “breaking news” without instructing me as to how I should be expected to react to it. Then I could decide for myself, for example, how “tragic” or “devastating” an event might be, or whether I should be “outraged” or not by my prime minister’s handling of the Lavalin “scandal.”

The danger is that when reporters editorialize in this way, people have a tendency, having been given such adjectives, to use the language given to them to hang their own opinions on, finding it convenient and timesaving to avoid going to all the trouble of doing any critical thinking about the issues themselves.

For example, even by referring to the Lavalin issue as a “scandal,” they immediately lead readers, viewers, and listeners toward “outrage” as a reasonable reaction. So a charge of “self -interest” and “partisanship” against the PM seems logically to follow.

Resisting the easy path to criticism of this type, when trying to sort out different aspects of the case, I discovered a number of reasons for supporting the actions taken by the PM. First of all, it seems to be in the best interest of everyone involved, from the employees at Lavalin, to the families who rely on their paycheques (as does the economy), to taxpayers of all political stripes, and, yes to Lavalin as well, in spite of their alleged conduct.

Given the above factors, the PM’s solution to this complex problem could be considered as not simply acting in his own self-interest, but rather as reasonable under the circumstances, and as tangible evidence of a sincere intent to do the best he can by the greatest number of Canadian citizens. When viewed this way, his measured response to the complicated Lavalin issue could be one more reason for voters to give this government another mandate in the fall.

Even the Conservatives could support the path the PM took. Conservatives generally claim to be interested in staying “open for business,” keeping people working, and being “fiscally responsible.” Given that the PM’s solution addressed all these concerns of Andrew Scheer’s party, his charge that the PM’s actions were “unforgiveable” rings rather hollow.

But what about the law? Aren’t I “outraged” about the flouting of the law? Given the charges, shouldn’t Lavalin be prosecuted to the full extent of the law? Frankly, for quite a few reasons, the steps taken to resolve the Lavalin issue seem to me to be within the scope of legal prosecution. 

Even if the actions of Lavalin had been found to be criminal, I am satisfied with the results of what could be interpreted as a plea bargain, in this case, one that required assurances by the company that they would implement reforms to their way of doing business, thus helping people to keep their jobs and their families free of the stress related to unemployment.

The fact that this government exercised fiscal discretion in not going to trial is also a relief, as the government would have incurred considerable legal costs in the prosecution of the company. Even if the government won, the inevitable appeal by the company would cost both sides even more, to the detriment of employees and taxpayers alike. The only winners in that fight would be the lawyers.

That is why I resist the efforts of the media to make me feel “outraged” by the Lavalin “scandal.” Rather, I respect the controversial, but measured and effective steps taken by the PM to resolve a very complex problem. I see what looks like a plea bargain, that works within the scope of the law and also benefits the main parties involved, as a win-win situation; and I expect the government to hold the company’s feet to the fire, to make sure it follows through on its promises. 


Deborah Wilson

Little Current