Editorials - March 10, 2022
Taking the loss
Ontarians are scheduled to receive a refund on the last two years of their licence plate stickers, as well as anything they have prepaid. Premier Doug Ford’s government announced it was scrapping the annual fee for sticker renewal, retroactive to March 2020 when vehicle owners could defer the renewal during the pandemic. Ford says that the fee ($120 annually in southern Ontario and $60 in the north), is too much of a burden for families and small businesses. By eliminating it, he says, we will stimulate the economy enough that the revenue won’t be missed.
Sure, this will keep $120 in the pocket of every vehicle owner every year, plus a little windfall cheque arriving conveniently during the campaign of the spring election. No one wants to be cynical about paying fewer taxes, but the licence sticker program was intended to be a user-pay system where the cost of building and maintaining roads and other necessary infrastructure was borne by drivers. Eliminating renewal fees is estimated to cost just over $1 billion a year with no clear plan articulated on how the revenue would be replaced.
As Ontario begins the slow process to recover from the pandemic, is removing (and refunding) a fee that amounts to $10 or $20 per month for most families really an economically viable budget strategy or a pre-election ploy to gain popularity with suburban voters? – DS
The age of the bully
Last week, famed Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak took to Twitter to provide a thoughtful, compassionate and poignant defence of his contestants, urging the amorphous blob that is social media to “have a little heart” in the wake of what was being called “the dumbest two minutes in Wheel of Fortune history”, as it swept across the world.
“Another feather in your cap” was the answer the three contestants were looking for, but they took the scenic route, littered with wrong answers, wrong letter selections and bankrupt and miss-a-turn spins. Sitting at home, it was no doubt frustrating to watch the contestants flounder. “It always pains me when nice people come on our show to play a game and win some money and maybe fulfill a lifelong dream, and are then subject to online ridicule when they make a mistake or something goes awry,” Sajak said in one of several Tweets, pointing to the pressure of being on national television, among other factors.
He said that “good-natured laughter” is fine, but that mocking and name-calling was too far. Such is the state of the internet and social media, however, that the reaction was far from a surprise.
Coincidentally, that same night U.S. President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address and was subject to that same kind of dark-hearted and cruel ridicule, only this time it was live and in person. As he mentioned fallen American soldiers, alluding to his own late son Beau, controversial Republican Representatives Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene heckled Biden in a widely-condemned display.
These are, unfortunately, the times in which we live; a place where comments sections are removed and to send anything into the world is to invite ridicule, nastiness and hate. Try to have a little heart, despite our differences, it’s an admirable feather in your cap. – SL
The outlet that cried wolf
While readers may not always agree with what they see in their local newspapers, most of them endeavour to keep a semblance of balance in their reporting and The Citizen is no different. Yes, editorial departments may take a side in an issue, but typically they make every effort to guarantee that stance isn’t reflected in the actual reporting on the issue.
For example, The Citizen has taken the stance that vaccination is both important and mostly safe, however that doesn’t mean reporting favours that position. Reporting is based on what is said by the experts and professionals in charge of decision-making, and nothing else.
Despite those efforts, many still find it difficult to trust the media, especially in the last few years and most of the damage is coming from larger broadcasters and media brands and not from your friendly neighbourhood newspapers. While people on the left blame organizations like Fox News for having an axe to grind against liberal ideologies and people on the right cling to the “fake news” narrative, the fact is there is blame on both sides. You could throw a dart at Fox News’ website or television schedule and find bias, but anyone following CNN recently, for example, may have seen ever-growing superlatives used in coverage of the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riots.
While the coverage is important, the fact that every new revelation is being identified as “the most damning” or “definitive” cheapens the coverage on the whole. Part of that is due to the 24-hour news cycle and the need to generate clicks, but part is also because CNN has, almost unabashedly, taken a side in political debates over the past several years.
Sensationalism, however, is feeding into the notion that media can’t be trusted and every organization, from community newspapers to major broadcasters, needs to remember that. – JDS