“…it takes courage to publicly express an unpopular view,” writes Ponoka contributor

The way our media forfeits their rights to freedom of the press and freedom of speech so they can pander to advertisers and ruling political powers is a growing concern to me.

Dear Editor;

The way our media forfeits their rights to freedom of the press and freedom of speech so they can pander to advertisers and ruling political powers is a growing concern to me. In Russia, Vladimir Putin is trying to make it an act of treason to criticize the government. I’m not aware of any similar law in Canada, but by willingly printing only what they assume suits the Conservative mind-set, publishers and broadcasters of political news act as if it is dangerous to promote the truth here too. This became more obvious after the coalition formed to bring democracy and functionality back into Canadian politics.

To reiterate a few facts ignored in most western news: The Conservatives were elected to form a minority government. In order to function, a minority government must cooperate, that is, work with the opposition. Harper and his caucus consistently proved themselves unable and unwilling to cooperate, and thus rendered themselves dysfunctional. The majority of Parliament lost confidence that Harper could aptly govern Canada. The majority of Canadians never did have confidence in Harper and his Conservatives. The majority of Canadians did not vote for Harper and his Conservatives. The majority of votes were for the parties that came together to support a coalition government.

Instead of presenting those simple facts, the news ran with what can only be called ‘Conservative-crazy’. As crazy makers usually do in order to distract attention from their own bad behavior, Conservatives intensified their disrespectful name-calling, bullying, and blame and denial tactics. They tried to make it a separatist issue when in fact it was mostly an economic issue. Separatism had nothing to do with it: Immediately after committing his support to the coalition, Gilles Duceppe said he will always work in the best interest of Quebec, but with the greatest respect for the rest of Canada.

After Parliament shut down, most Conservative MPs probably did as ours did: came home and presented all the newspapers in his constituency with only what Conservatives wish us to believe. In the town where I live, anything contrary to that Conservative propaganda does not get printed. So the masses were cunningly manipulated by Harper and his gang and were distracted from the facts by fear and ignorance. But, even if in the minority, there were Albertans who did not let western prejudice blind them to the good-willed intentions of the coalition. Thus, it was extremely reassuring to read your editorial of Dec. 9. I recognize that it takes some intelligence to see through the dark Conservative fog that impairs most western vision, and that it takes courage to publicly express an unpopular view.

It may be that many people do not want to hear the truth, the facts, or face reality. Masses and majorities are strange bodies. They tend to assume, erroneously, that everyone is of the same opinion as them. Anyone whose perception differs from what has become accepted as the norm, is considered deviant, suspect, wrong, or even evil so that it can be outlawed and abolished. “The masses have never thirsted for truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduces them,” confirms the book, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.

It would serve all our best interests to be reminded that in a democracy, dissent is not a bad thing, it is a nutrient – it encourages us to think and question and grow. In a democracy, the truth is not feared; challenges are accepted with the confidence that creative solutions are more likely to be discovered if citizens are not muzzled, but are free to speak their minds and share their visions. The most dominant feature of democracy is that although the majority rules, it does so only after seriously considering all minorities, because every voice carries at least some bit of truth.

Evone Monteith

Ponoka, Alta.