1/18/2006

Letter to the Post re: Article on Tory "Scheme"

Send your angry letters to feedback@canada.com.


I was extremely disappointed to read your story Alleged Tory Internet scheme sparks call for probe by Allan Woods, this morning. The story is not at all indicative of the professionalism that I have come to know and respect in the Post.
Quite the contrary.
This story is extremely biased and full of errors.
While you are certainly right to report on any investigations underway by Elections Canada, I feel I must point out that your story neglects to mention the fact that there are blogrolls for both NDP and Liberal supported (the Blogging Dippers and Progressive Bloggers respectively). There is also Rabble, not a blogroll but certainly a very partisan web community.
If, as your article sugests, Mr. Parks told you that "he was approached by senior Conservative MP Diane Ablonczy in December 2005 after a Tory caucus retreat in British Columbia and asked to head what he described as a pre-election initiative on behalf of the party" and that this initiative was the Blogging Tories blog roll, all I can tell you is that he blatantly lied.
I have been a Blogging Tories member since May 2005.
How would that be possible if the community was established in December, as he suggests in the above quote?
As journalists, you had a responsibility to examine the validity of his claim before printing it in an article. What's more, you also had a responsibility to contact the Blogging Tories founders before suggesting that they were in violation of the Elections Act, something you did not do. Such an unfounded accusation borders on libel, especially given that you did not provide the Blogging Tories founders an opportunity to defend themselves.
Your article goes on to suggest that the Blogging Tories could be in violation of "third-party election financing laws" which "state that it is illegal for a group to spend more than $150,000 during an election period related to a general election. It can also spend no more than $3,000 of that money "to promote or oppose the election of one or more candidates in a given electoral district.""
I have never spent a dime on my blog. Neither have a lot of people. The chances that the entire group has spent anything near $150k since the election campaign started is extremely unlikely. In any case, you did not provide even a shred of evidence for this accusation. Also, as we are spread all over Canada, it is equally unlikely that members have spent anything near $3k in a given area. Setting up a blog roll
is free. Anyone can do it. Just visit http://www.blogrolling.com and create an account.
In the interests of journalistic integrity, I respectfully request that you correct your article to reflect this new information.

Sincerely,
Ruth vanHooydonk

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

you are completly right. The idea that some one(s) spent that much money is dumbfounding. How did they get that much to spend? and for one election? This is bordering on the idiotic. I have troubles think of a reason for a blogger to spend even $100 in a election (except for liberals).

alsocanadian said...

Wonder how much all those anti Harper google ads cost...

Brian Lemon said...

If the Liberals didi it, they'd probably have spent 150 million.
Way You Go Ruth.

It is to laugh

shane said...

Dear Editor,

I am embarrassed that a purportedly national creditable newspaper could publish such an unresearched and slanted article, on the eve of an election. The substance of this article, that two individuals have called for Elections Canada to investigate the Blogging Tories for 3rd party reasons is absolutely ridiculous. Five seconds of research by your staffers (who I noticed didn't embarrass themselves by attaching their name to the piece) would have ascertained the following clear facts:

- that the Blogging Tories been in existence for more than a year
- that the community itself is made up of very few card-carrying Conservatives
- that blogs themselves involve next to no investment of capital to operate - and most of the blogs in Blogging Tories involve none, hence the impossibility of the Conservative Party financing the blogs.
- that most of the membership have been blogging for more than a year, and their archives are all available for perusal by the public, and they provide no evidence that anyone has received money or encouragement from the Conservative Party for publishing their blogs
- that the media (and that includes YOU) are not and have in no way been forced to use or utilize the information contained in those blogs for news stories or information to pass on to the public. YOU use them as a source so you are the "third party" that is influencing this election!
- that there is ZERO indication that the Blogging Tories are so well read by the average Canadian that they could possibly influence the preferences of voters on a national scale.
- that the NDP and the Liberals together have 3 different blogrolls (Progressive Bloggers, Blogging Dippers, and Libblogs), comprising a much larger membership than the Blogging Tories, following the exact same model, and you did not even MENTION them in the article.

This is irresponsible journalism at best, outright bias and influence peddling to damage support for the Conservatives at worst. You ought to be ashamed to call yourselves journalists. I demand a retraction to be printed in your next issue immediately, for the outright slander you have used in your headline against the Conservative Party - of which I am not even a member! I further demand that you publish prominently a look at how blogs work and what influence they really have on public opinion, and whether they actually, as you have implied and others have alleged, represent a third party influencing the election. What blogs represent is ordinary Canadians, speaking their minds about the election in a public forum. We have a RIGHT to free speech, we have a RIGHT to form groups and communities of like-minded individuals. If EXERCISING our RIGHTS is considered "3rd Party Election Influencing" then you and they are sentencing US ALL to blind elections without ANY INFORMATION on whom we are electing. For Shame!

(sent 1 minute ago)

Jonathan said...

Shoule we try to hit up any of the other groups involved? It's somebody else who made the false (and absurd) allegations and to another body.

Ruth said...

Nice email Shane! (By the way, your bandwidth limit is exceeded. I can't get to your blog. Maybe you need to go back to your old design?)
Jonathan, who would you suggest we write to? Any ideas?

Shane said...

I ran out of bandwidth yesterday. I am working to change to another host who will give me bandwidth. Waiting for my account to get created so I can migrate the info.

My old company wanted me to upgrade my hosting from 3.95 to 12.95. No chance. I found another host who has a 2.95 deal with 4 times the bandwidth of my old account.

Les Mackenzie said...

I wonder to whom I should award the asshat this week...

Ruth said...

looks like it will be such a tough call, Les
;-)

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