Saskatoon, December 9, 2008
I'm sending along a piece that I
hope would illuminate the fate of Stéphane Dion
who has now been unceremoniously shafted by the
Liberal party of Canada (of which I am a
member). Never the party establishment's choice
in the first place, he has now been made to
"walk the plank," as this morning's (December
9) front page headlines across the country
declare. The courageous and essentially
necessary accomplishment of forming a Coalition
with the NDP and receiving a guarantee from the
Bloc that it would NOT vote against the
Coalition government in a confidence vote (money
bill) if and when it would assume the reins of
government, has been foolishly, in my opinion,
put aside by the Liberal party establishment
(parliamentary caucus and executive), in the
vain hope that the party can by itself prevent
Stephen Harper's determined push for a majority.
Talk about rose-coloured glasses and wishful
thinking! (The Coalition, by the way,
accomplished major things in its first few
days, forcing the Harper government to
completely back down on the threats it had
issued in it's Economic Update, which included
bankrupting all opposition parties!)
As far as I'm concerned, THE
COALITION IDEA ROCKS! It does represent the
wishes of the 62% of Canadian voters who voted
AGAINST the Harper party. Interestingly — and
perhaps symbolically — enough, 62% was the
exact amount that Stéphane Dion received in his
own riding of Saint-Laurent-Carterville! There
is a message here somewhere... (More on an
electoral coalition, see David Orchard's
widely circulating piece, "Harper checkmated?"
www.davidorchard.com, and Professor John
Ryan's well-argued position paper, "Canada needs
Liberal-NDP-Green Coalition" at
We now have to understand how
Stéphane Dion, party members' but not the party
establishment's choice in 2006, was taken down.
A major role was played by the media, and here
is a piece focusing on that role. (Please also
read my Open Letter to the Liberal party
leadership, November 30, titled "The Liberal
Party HAS a leader and his name is Stéphane
Dion," which you can find on my page at
Stéphane Dion and The Tale of Two
Few would have missed the Liberal leader
Stephane Dion's taped speech on the national
networks on December 3rd, the day before Stephen
Harper, still prime minister of Canada, drove
to meet with the Governor General, asking her to
let him avoid a defeat in the House. (Madame
Jean obliged and allowed him to prorogue, that
is, to send the Parliament home, unable to give
him the vote of non- confidence it had intended
Mr. Dion's speech was late to arrive at the
networks, and when it was broadcast, it turned
out to be of visually substandard quality, out
of focus and with a a disorganized background
that distracted from the speech. (Those who
heard it on the radio, were lucky because they
had no distractions and could pay attention to
the words.) Mr. Dion's speech itself was clear
and personable, not in the slightest difficult
to understand, in my opinion — but then, having
an accent myself, I am accent-friendly! (It can
be heard and read at
) Nevertheless, the production of the tape,
rather than the content, has become THE
political event in the Canadian media.
As many people have written and called asking
"what went wrong?," below are a couple of short
pieces about what happened with the tape, with
names of the responsible ones, at least a few of
them. You be the judge of whether Mr. Dion is
No matter who was responsible, abuse and
contempt has been (again) heaped on Stephane
Dion. Even after the Black Day of Members of
Parliament being locked out of the House of
Commons, the media keeps talking about nothing
but the tape! Whether CBC's The National, The
House, Politics, and other public affairs
programmes, CTVs Mike Duffy and its national
news, or various newspapers, all are full of
commentators, invited guests, pollsters by the
dozen, political and journalistic hacks,
disloyalists from the Liberal party, and so on,
all cackling endlessly about how this episode
proved how dreadfully incompetent Mr. Dion is.
Little is talked about how the very competent
and oh-so-prime ministerial Mr. Harper has put a
boot to Canada's representative democratic
institution, the parliament, and how he intends
to force another election on us, after putting
us through a fundamentally illegal election a
month or so ago, when he broke his own fixed
election law, again with a little assist from
the Governor General. (See Democracy Watch's
court case on the illegal election,
Because of the tape incident, the media
called for, no, demanded, Stephane Dion's
head. Some party members also lined up in front
of the microphones to make their career move at
the leader's and party's expense (something I
deeply resent as a Liberal party member), the
most notable among them being MP Jim Karygiannis
( Scarborough--Agincourt, Ontario), whose
disloyalty and crudeness knew no bounds.
There was another tape....
A short while ago, conveniently just before
election day of October 14th, another tape
surfaced, which was widely and loudly broadcast,
particularly by CTV whose affiliate's interview
it was. It was a recording of a pre-interview
session where Stephane Dion struggled to
understand the confusing questions put to him by
the interviewer and it was not meant for
broadcasting. Nevertheless, it became "the item"
of the election campaign. I recall Mike Duffy
looking absolutely overjoyed, when he announced:
"Look at what we have here!" — and then playing
the tape over and over again, with glee, and
having various "guests" join him to share the
joy and repeat the mantra, "Stephane Dion is a
loser. If he can't give an interview, he can't
run the country." Stephen Harper couldn't
believe his luck and made vigorous use of the
leaked tape. According to all accounts, this
tape critically wounded Stephane Dion and
damaged the Liberal party's chances
electorally. It's important that today we
examine that incident closely, too, as a
critical analysis of it has not been widely
available, and it continues till today to be the
building block in the media to demonstrate how
"Stephane Dion is not a leader!," a message it
has accepted, holus bolus, from the Conservative
party's PR department.
In conclusion, there is more to Mr. Dion's
"failures" than meets the eye — and more to the
media's malevolence and incompetence, and its
habit to act as a pack, all charging after
whoever is the current "it" to be tagged,
labelled, insulted, degraded etc. Remember the
treatment of Joe Clark, whose "lost luggage" on
one of his foreign tours was blamed on HIM — and
he and we never heard the end of it, even twenty
years later — and yet in the case of other
people, we usually blame the airline, don't we?
(Please see my article in
Ottawa Citizen, August 26, 2000,
"Bashing Clark is the new national sport for
Canada's media," at
www.davidorchard.com, where I have a page of
Many have raised
questions about the most recent tape incident,
and I hope that this piece has been helpful, and
has given a window into the world of the media
elites who have unlimited power to define, label
and crush. If we resist this power by our own
instinctive questioning, it would be able to
crush fewer individuals who dare to assume
leadership roles in our society, without being
anointed, appointed and approved by by our
political and media elites, which Stephane Dion
P.S. Note contact information after the
documents, please scroll down.
Dion’s tape fuzzy because the camera
By The Canadian Press,
Halifax Chronicle Herald, December 5, 2008
OTTAWA — Stephane Dion’s grainy, amateur
video address to the nation this week was the
result of a series of miscues, from a broken
camera to rushed, last-minute editing, insiders
The session was taped by one of Dion’s
closest aides, Mick Gzowski, son of late
CBC icon Peter Gzowski. His mother is the
Liberal leader’s English-language trainer.
Gzowski is in charge of broadcast
communications for the Liberal research bureau
and recorded the address with a digital camera.
Insiders say an auto-focus button on the
camera was broken, stuck in the locked position.
As a result, the focus was on a bookcase behind
Dion rather than on the Liberal leader himself,
leaving his face slightly fuzzy.
The last sentence of the printed version of
his address was omitted from the final recorded
version, possibly for its ambiguity.
"I will serve my country until my time to
serve is at an end," says the last line in the
printed version of the statement, released by
the party an hour before the television
There was also confusion about just where to
deliver the digital disc of the address.
Liberals apologize for late delivery of Dion
Updated Wed. Dec. 3 2008
10:48 PM ET
Josh Visser, CTV.ca
The Liberals have apologized for Liberal
Leader Stephane Dion's taped televised address,
after it was delivered to Canadian networks
almost an hour past deadline and in near-cellphone
"I apologize for what happened tonight. I
apologize for the poor quality and the lateness.
I am livid and am doing an investigation as to
how this happened," Johanne Senecal,
Dion's Chief of Staff, said to CTV News tonight.
Dion was supposed to deliver the networks a
pre-taped statement to the nation Wednesday
between 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 ET. It was to air
after Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed
the country at 7 p.m. ET about the political
crisis on Parliament Hill.
CTV, along with other major Canadian
networks, pre-empted regularly scheduled
programming to deliver the addresses. Harper
went to air shortly after 7 p.m. but networks
were left scrambling to fill airspace when
Dion's tape was nowhere to be found.
Alphée Moreau, a senior Liberal
communication staffer, explained how the series
of technical mistakes on their part resulted in
an embarrassing snafu.
The timeline (all times ET):
- 6:15-6:30 - The Liberals miss their
promised deadline to deliver Dion's
statement to the television networks.
- 6:40 - Liberals arrive with a single
tape at the press gallery in Ottawa. They
were supposed to deliver two tapes: one in
French, one in English. They arrived with a
single tape in DVD-minicam format, which is
not broadcast quality.
- Shortly after 6:40 - The Liberals decide
to run back to their offices -- a block away
-- because the French portion of the tape
needs another edit.
- 7:05 - Liberal staffers are still in
their offices as the networks go to air with
the Harper address.
- 7:07 - Harper's statement finishes and
network anchors are forced to kill time as
they wait for Dion's address.
- 7:10 to 7:15 - Liberal staffers arrive
back at the press gallery on Wellington
Street with a DVD-minicam player that they
had taken from their own offices, along with
the associated cables. There is still only
one tape, not two. A press gallery official
tells the Liberals that the gallery is not
the feed point and an argument ensues. The
Liberals ask why they weren't told that
earlier. The feed point is next door at the
CBC building, which is the long-established
feed play point for all network pools. The
Liberals are informed that they need to be
walked into the building by authorized
- 7:20 - English network anchors are still
live on television, wondering where the tape
is. CTV has still had no communications from
the Liberals about Dion's address.
- Approximately 7:15 - CBC receives the
tape and begins dubbing into French and
English versions. This takes about 10
- 7:28 - CTV decides to go off-air and
back to regular scheduled programming at
7:30. CTV has still not seen a feed of the
- 7:28 - CBC incorrectly punches out the
finished feed only to their network.
- 7:30 - CTV signs off broadcast at
"We missed our deadline," Moreau said. "The
shot was not all that professional. It was
CTV received angry emails within minutes of
signing off. Some viewers thought CTV was
ignoring the Liberal leader, while others
thought Dion was purposely snubbing the
THE FIRST TAPE:
Here is the story of the first tape,
which Toronto Star editor-in-chief so ably
dissects. (The analysis is followed by
the full transcript.)
Dion interview shows need to extend clarity
TheStar.com - Federal Election - Dion
interview shows need to extend clarity to
October 11, 2008
J. Fred Kuntz
In journalism, the story you get is often only
as good as the questions you ask.
On Thursday [October 9] , Liberal Leader
Stéphane Dion was interviewed on CTV. His
performance, seen by some as showing him in a
muddle, was denounced by Prime Minister Stephen
Harper as proof that Dion cannot lead on the
I've reviewed the video and, in my opinion,
it was not Dion who was confused, it was the CTV
Anyone can verify this by watching the
interview on YouTube.
The first time, the interviewer asked Dion
what "would you have done" on the economy, if he
were prime minister, "now." Look at that
carefully. The verb tense "would have" suggests
Dion was asked to say what he would have done in
the past; but the word "now" could suggest he
was asked what he would do today.
These are two different questions. The first
asks: Could government have averted this
economic trouble? The second asks: can the
current mess be fixed?
Dion rightly asked for clarification: Was he
being asked what he would have done if he had
been prime minister since the previous election?
The interviewer said no, he was not asking
what Dion might have done for the past
two-and-a-half years, but rather, if he were to
act "right now."
Just to be sure, Dion asked whether the
interviewer meant if Dion was elected on
The interviewer explained that he meant
"hypothetically" right now, at this very moment.
Dion said that he would take the question to
mean "today," not after the election and not
But just as Dion was about to answer, the
interviewer, apparently backpedalling,
interjected that he wanted to know what Dion
"would have" done.
Moving along, Dion began to answer that he
would launch his 80-day plan to boost the
economy. But he stopped mid-sentence, displeased
with the erratic opening to a pre-taped
broadcast. He asked whether they could start
The interviewer agreed to a fresh start, a
commitment that CTV may have dishonoured by
airing the aborted segment.
On second try, the interviewer launched a new
wave of confusion, making the question more
about the past. He asked Dion, if he were prime
minister "now" (present tense), "what would you
have already done" (in the past) that
Harper "hasn't done."
This was baffling. Had the interviewer
regretted saying just moments prior that he
meant "today" and, on reflection, preferred to
reframe the question as a hypothesis about the
Dion paused, then asked just what time frame
the interviewer was trying to place him in, this
go-round. Now? A week ago? Three weeks ago?
The interviewer, getting fuzzier, said, "No.
No. If you were prime minister during this
time already." But what did he mean by
"this time already"?
Turning away from the interviewer, Dion asked
an aide off-screen for clarity. However, she was
just as unclear, answering that the time frame
was "when Stephen Harper was prime minister." As
we know, Harper has been prime minister since
Dion asked whether she meant since
"two-and-a-half years ago."
She replied: "At any given time." In my view,
that's a shrug. It could mean two years ago, it
could mean today. Dion was no farther ahead.
It was as if the whole studio had gone down
the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Several people,
including Dion, began laughing.
They began a third time.
One could argue Dion should have sidestepped
the fog, saying anything he liked about the
economy. He might have taken a cue from
vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who
proved adept in the U.S. debate at ignoring a
But Dion, remember, was champion of the
Clarity Act, a law requiring any Quebec
referendum on separation to pose an unambiguous
question. This Liberal leader may be willing to
answer questions, but he does demand questions
It's a fair requirement of any on-air
interviewer, or newspaper reporter, for that
J. Fred Kuntz is editor-in-chief of the
The Dion interview on YouTube
Text of the Dion interview: You be the judge
TheStar.com - Canada - Text of the Dion
interview: You be the judge
October 11, 2008
Below are contact information for people you
might want to communicate with:
A transcript of the tape aired by CTV
Thursday evening of the beginning of an
interview with Stéphane Dion:
CTV: Mr. Dion, the economy
is now the issue on the campaign, and on that
issue you've said that today that Harper has
done nothing to put Canadians' mind at ease and
offers no vision for the country. You have to
act now, you say; doing nothing is not an
option. If you were prime minister now, what
would you have done about the economy and this
crisis that Mr. Harper has not done.
SD: If I had been prime
minister two-and-a-half years ago?
CTV: If you were the prime
minister right now and not for the past
SD: If I am elected next
Tuesday, this Tuesday, it's what you are
CTV: No, I am saying if you
were hypothetically prime minister today ...
CTV: ... What would you have
done that Mr. Harper has not done?
SD: I would start the 30-50
plan that we want to start the moment we have a
Liberal government. And the 30-50 plan, in fact
the plan for the first 80 days, I should say,
the plan for the first 80 days once you have a
Liberal government. Can we start again?
CTV: Do you want to?
CTV: Yeah. I'm okay to start
SD: Because I think I
misunderstood your question.
CTV: Mr. Dion, good of you
to come again.
SD: Thank you.
CTV: Mr. Dion, you've said
today that Mr. Harper has offered nothing to put
Canadians' mind at ease during this financial
crisis, and you go on to say that he has no
vision for the country. You say we have to act
now; doing nothing is not an option. So, I'd
like to begin by asking you, if you were prime
minister now, what would you have already done
in this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn't done?
SD: (Pauses) Again, I don't
understand your question. Because are you asking
me to be prime minister at which moment – today?
Or since a week, or since three weeks?
CTV: No. No. If you were the
prime minister during this time already ...
SD: (Laughing) We need to
start again. I'm sorry. If I were the prime
minister starting when? Today? "If you were the
prime minister today?" (Looks at aide.)
AIDE: If you (were) the
prime minister when Stephen Harper was prime
AIDE: At any given time.
AIDE: What would you have
done differently from Mr. Harper to change the –
SD: Yeah, but if I had been
prime minister two-and-a-half years ago, we
would have had an agenda on – let's start again.
CTV: (Starting over) Okay.
(Pause) Mr. Dion, thank you for coming.
SD: Thank you, Steve. (Dion
and others in studio begin laughing). Let's
CTV: It's a good job that
tape is cheap.
SD: But give me a first day
when I am prime minister, that I can figure out
what your question is about.
Hon. Stephan Dion "'Hon.
<Dion.S@parl.gc.ca> mail to: House of
Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6; Constituency
office: 750 Marcel-Laurin Blvd,
Suite 440, Saint-Laurent, Quebec, H4M 2M4.
Liberal party president
Doug Ferguson Ferguson Doug
Don Newman, CBC, "Politcs"
Mike Duffy, CTV "Mike
Donations for the
Coalition can be sent to the Liberal Party
and/or the New Democratic Party, thrugh their
Donatons toward Mr.
Dion's campaign debts (from the leadership
race) can be sent to:
to the bottom left and choose Mr. Dion from
among the 2006 leadership candidates)
NDP leader Jack Layton
Green Party leader