Friday, February 16, 2018

I stand with Patrick Brown - Here's why I'll be voting for him...

If you're a political junkie like me, then you're no doubt hooked on what's happening with the Patrick Brown story.  I'm all over this like Doug Ford's little brother on a crack pipe.

Patrick Brown, left for dead....the knives still stuck in his back with nobody in the party with the guts to take a chance and offer him their support.  The all powerful #MeToo movment convincing them to toss their leader into the political graveyard where he was supposed to die.  

But he didn't die, it took him some time to get his strength back of course.  Understandable after he had just seen everything he'd worked at for his entire adult life go up in smoke.  All because of two anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct that he refuted in the strongest possible terms right from the start.  

The first allegation has been shot full of holes.  It was a lurid tale, an older politician trolling the bars, plying a high school girl with drinks.  Having a friend drive her to his house, luring her to his second floor bedroom and then closing the door, dropping his pants and demanding oral sex...."suck my ###" or "put this in your mouth".  Disgusting if true.  Getting a high schooler drunk and having a buddy drive her to your house....what a scum bag.

But then it all started falling apart.  Patrick Brown didn't live in a two storey house when his accuser was in high school, he lived in a one floor open concept apartment flat with no bedroom door to close, and the friend who allegedly drove her to the house says that categorically never happened.  

CTV obviously never investigated to make sure the details of the alleged incident were accurate.  Perhaps there wasn't time to do the required leg work if the objective was to get the story out and still leave time to replace Patrick with a new leader.  Forced to back pedal CTV updated its story, with the accusser now saying she might have gotten the collateral details messed up...but the rest she maintains happened.

Complicating the matter further is that this first accuser was a housemate of a CTV reporter, really bad optics there.  

And even worse, the second accuser is friends with CTV's Rachel Aiello who worked on the story.  This second accuser, a recently released reporter with Ottawa's 'The Hill Times', claims she was lured into Patrick Brown's bedroom.  However conflicting accounts from others present at the time of the allegations claim she was cozying up all night to Mr Brown, all googly eyed and then followed him upstairs after he'd gone into his bedroom.  

While in the bedroom the accuser's story is that Patrick Brown kissed and climbed on top of her.  She says she told him to stop and drive her home, which she says he did.  Patrick Brown's account is that she in fact kissed him and that he then said he was driving her home.  

Oh what a tangled web we weave.  What really happened?  We may never know, but given the conflicting accounts from those who were there, there is more than just a reasonable doubt in my mind.  As Patrick Brown has said, if the individuals behind these claims truly believe their stories, then go to the police and report it.  

Add the fact that the former and possibly future leader of the party subjected himself to a polygraph test in an effort to bolster his claim to innocence.  And he didn't just get someone from the yellow pages to hook him up to a lie detector, it was done by John Galianos, a professional with some 40 years experience in administering these tests.  He was recently employed by CBC's 'The Fifth Estate" for their Barry Sherman investigation.  

Here's a link to the exclusive story:  

Patrick Brown should be under no more a cloud of suspicion than the man moderating the debates, TVO media star Steve Paikin.  Both Mr Paikin and Mr Brown are the subject of sexual misconduct allegations, however Mr. Paikin was allowed to remain in his position while his government employer hires a 3rd party to investigate the allegations made against him.

So yes, Patrick Brown has my support.  The PC Party put forward a platform under his leadership called "The People's Guarentee" which was crafted after extensive consultation starting at the grass roots.  Maybe that's what irritates some of the PC elites, perhaps they're used to crafting party policy on their own and then selling it to the membership instead of the other way around.  

Is it perfect?  Of course not, this is politics and when you consult you take everything in, and obviously not everyone is going to like everything.  If you want to know what's in it, surprise surprise....its still up on the Party's own website.  While Doug, Caroline and Christine have been busy trying to take over the store nobody bothered to check what's on the shelf:

With that plan in front of Ontario voters the PC's were poised to assume control of Queen's Park in June according to polls.  Now there are 4 candidates who are flying by the seat of their pants, saying they'd scrap the platform...willing to risk being labeled as a party without a plan.  

Supporting Patrick Brown's bid to reclaim the leadership is one thing, but the bigger question is do I think he'll win the leadership.  To be perfectly honest, I do not like his chances.  Not with a media empire like Bell Media on the attack.  

CP24, a Bell Media property, had a pit bull reporter hounding Mr. Brown as he announced his bid outside party offices.  The narrative this Bell Media affiliate kept trying to push was that Patrick Brown would be a distraction to the bigger goal of uniting the party and defeating Premier Wynne's Liberals.  


You want a distraction?  Is Doug Ford's high school illegal drug dealing reported in the Globe & Mail a distraction?  

Is Ben Mulroney's employment as a CTV Bell Media star a distraction given the hatchet job CTV News did on Patrick Brown?

Christine Elliot is my second choice.  I'm very suspicious of the Mulroney CTV connection, but I don't see anything of that sort with Ms Elliot, and until Patrick Brown joined the race she was my first choice.  But she would be going into an election as a rookie leader with no platform to put before Ontario voters, and if it wasn't for CTV's shitty reporting she wouldn't even be running right now.  Call it fruit from the poison tree.

Good luck Mr. Brown, I'll be rooting for you.  Its David versus Goliath without a doubt, and this blog won't help much but I hope it does some good.  Realistically though I know Canadian Soapbox is a fart in a hurricane, and CTV News and other Bell Media properties can blow a lot harder than an obscure little blogger.  

Thursday, February 15, 2018

CTV News - The Donald Trump of Canadian journalism

CTV News has announced that they, "stand behind their reporting" of the Patrick Brown story and that attacks on their journalistic practices are, "groundless and wrong".


They can stand behind their reporting all they like but they don't get to decide if criticism of their journalistic practices is without merit any more than Patrick Brown got to decide if the allegations against him were true or not.  

CTV is starting to seriously sound like U.S. president Donald Trump in trying to defend its tarnished reputation.  Donald loves to express views about himself and present them as fact, saying ridiculous things like: "Nobody understands women's issues better than me, nobody".  And he'll frequently double down on his absurd assertions by punctuating them with something stupid like: "And everybody knows it".  

Does CTV deserve the criticism that's coming their way?  Go onto social media and you'll see CTV getting lambasted for everything from ethics to simple fact checking.  I share the view that this Bell Media division has seriously damaged the reputation of MSM news outlets in Canada.  

It would help if CTV's news director would issue an apology for the shoddy job that was done on this story, but that's likely coming just after 'The Donald' announces that his wanting a big military parade was the result of a lapse in judgement.

What do consumers of news expect from responsible news outlets?  Its pretty simple, report the facts.  If someone calls in with a story about a robbery on Second Avenue and Main Street at the Piggly Wiggly, make sure the details are right.  If there isn't a store of that name at that location, do some digging.  

And don't take sides in the stories being reported, again...just present the facts.  It is up to individuals to make their own judgements.  If a reporter has a conflict of interest that could influence their reporting, then remove that individual from the story and have someone else do the job.   Or at minimum state the bias up front so that consumers are aware of the potential for bias.

And finally, present both sides.  When reporting on allegations with no third party witnesses give both accuser and accused the opportunity to present their side of the story. 

So how did CTV botch the Patrick Brown story?  Number one, they got the facts wrong.  

The individual who claimed Patrick Brown met her in a bar where she was drinking underage while still a high school student, she apparently got her dates mixed up.  I'm not faulting the woman for having a faulty memory, the alleged event took place around 10 years ago.  Its entirely possible that what she said of the misconduct is true, but that she simply wasn't 100% sure of the time frame.  

Sadly for the accuser, this seriously undermines the credibility of the allegations, and the fault lies entirely with CTV News.  Had CTV been thorough in their investigation they would discovered that Patrick Brown was not living in a 2 storey house with an upstairs bedroom when the alleged events are said to have taken place.  

Again, I am not questioning the veracity of the allegations here, but I am going to criticize CTV for not checking the facts.  Because they didn't do their job the individual making these accusations has had her credibility questioned.  This is what should have happened before the story went to air in my view:

CTV to accuser:  We looked into the details of your accusation, and it turns out Patrick Brown was not living in a two storey house at the time you say he took you to a second floor bedroom, closed the door and demanded oral sex.  At that time he was living in a one floor open concept subdivided duplex with no upstairs and no bedroom door.  Is it possible it happened at a later date, after you were no longer in high school?  

The conflict of interest involving reporter Rachel Aiello is even more damning in my view.  It is now a well known fact that Ms. Aiello and the constituency worker who claims Patrick Brown climbed on top of her and kissed her without consent, that these two individuals worked together at Ottawa's 'The Hill Times'.  In fact there are pictures now being shared all over social media that suggest the reporter and her source are in point of fact friends.  

There are two possibilities here as I see it.  It may be that Ms. Aiello never disclosed her relationship to her superiors.  If that is the case, then this goes beyond a simple mistake.  The other possibility is that Ms. Aiello did disclose the relationship with this source, and that her editors decided not to disclose it.  Either way it seriously damages the credibility of this story, and reflects very badly on the ethics of CTV News in the opinion of many who are now criticising CTV.  

Now that the relationship is well known CTV is claiming that they took measures to ensure there wasn't contact between their reporter and the anonymous source.  But its too late now, the damage is done and excuses after the fact won't take that away.  

And finally we're left with the fact that CTV did not give Patrick Brown any chance to respond to the allegations before the story hit the airwaves. Responsible journalism involves reporting, not just one point of view in these "she said, he said" situations, but both sides.  Failing to report on conflicting accounts from others present at the time of the alleged incidents seriously erodes CTV's professional reputation in the eyes of many news consumers.

What CTV News needs to do, if they care about repairing the damage to their image and brand, is to acknoweldge the mistakes they made and to commit to better reporting going forward.  Failing to do so will only lend credibility to Patrick Brown's allegations that this was a politically motivated hit job designed to remove him from his job as PC Party leader.  

With Caroline Mulroney being a candidate and the brother of a CTV media star, the optics here are so bad that any reasonable and fair minded PC Party member should immediately eliminate her from consideration in the upcoming leadership vote in my opinion. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Steve Paikin and Patrick Brown - Why the double standard? #MeToo

I do not know Patrick Brown or Steve Paikin.  Dealing strictly with the facts I know that both have been accused of sexual misconduct.  In the case of Brown the accusations have been made anonymously, while Mr. Paikin's accuser has revealed her identity.  

What I am repeatedly hearing with regard to these #MeToo stories is that when women come forward with accounts of sexual misconduct or worse, that they must be believed.  And I get that, I know that for a long time the balance of power in these "she said, he said" scenarios was unfairly and pretty much entirely with men.  A woman accusing a man of sexual impropriety, even rape, she could see her reputation destroyed and her life torn apart.  

Obviously that is and was wrong.  

What boggles my mind is the double standard being displayed in these two cases.  Both Patrick Brown and Steve Paikin have denied the allegations against them in the strongest possible terms.  Both speak favourably about the importance of the #MeToo movement.  They are both prominent personalities in their respective fields, Paikin in the media and Brown in politics.  And both are paid out of Ontario's public purse, Brown as an MPP and Paikin as an employee of government broadcaster TVO.

That is where the similarities end however.  

The allegations against Brown are anonymous, although based on media reports the former PC party leader is aware of the identities of his accusers. Paikin on the other hand has been accused by a woman who has been bold enough to do so publicly.  Her name is Sarah Thomson and she has accused Paikin of offering to do an on air interview with her in exchange for sex.  

Is the accusation against Steve Paikin true?  

Frankly I don't know, but I'm astounded by the fact that Steve Paikin is still on the air.  I can't think of any other case where an accused individual has been given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to continue in whatever role or position they held prior to the news hitting, not since the #MeToo movement took hold.  

If this allegation is true, that Mr. Paikin offered to exchange on air time for sexual favours, then it goes without saying that he should never be on the air again.  But why are we waiting for something resembling due process to play out in his case?  Is there one rule for government media personalities and another more harsh rule for politicians?  According to proponents of the #MeToo movement there can be absolutely no question that Ms. Thomson's allegations are true and that she must be believed.  

And not only is Mr Paikin being left to continue in his role, his government employer is paying to have the allegations investigated, digging through the dirt to see if Ms Thompson account is credible.  

Meanwhile Patrick Brown is out of politics and being left to fend for himself against a multi-billion dollar media empire that is looking more and more like the National Enquirer North.  He has had to engage his own team in an effort to repair the damage done to his reputation.  If he is successful in proving his assertion that the allegations against him are false, I don't envy him if he tries to seek compensation from a company with the deep pockets that a conglomerate like CTV Bell Media has.

Already CTV has been forced to admit that at least one of the allegations against Mr. Brown is false, that being the age of the individual who has accused him of plying her with alcohol when she was an 18 year high school student and then luring her to his bedroom and demanding oral sex.  CTV is now reporting that she was in fact 19 years of age and not in high school.  

There are individuals suggesting that this entire affair was orchestrated by PC Party insiders to facilitate Brown's ouster.  And in the absence of further allegations, from individuals who aren't the friends of CTV reporters, its an allegation that may be very much worth investigating.  

Comments are of course welcome.  I will make one stipulation however, I won't publish any comments that amount to "everyone says" or "everyone knows"......If anyone has specific information, then use the proper channels, which a blog is not.  I've already seen enough garbage in social media about what "everyone says".  

If you want to spread hearsay maybe try CTV. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why Caroline Mulroney must be removed fom the PC leadership race...

In poltics and in other arenas even the appearance of a conflict can cause serious problems.  And with the way in which Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party is undergoing a leadership race, the PCs should not even be allowing Caroline Mulroney to run for the job.   

Not now certainly, although perhaps some time in the future once the entire Patrick Brown affair has been settled, including the role of her brother's employer in bringing about the outster of the Barrie MPP.

Did the fact that Ben Mulroney is employed by the same Bell Media whose news orginization destroyed Patrick Brown's career and reputation have any influence on how or why the story was reported?  I'm not the only one asking the question, here's a pic that's making the rounds in social media.  

The inference in the above photo is clear.  It suggests that CTV fabricated a story to ensure that Patrick Brown would be removed as leader.  I don't know if that's true or not, but given the emerging facts, CTV's journalistic ethics are certainly being questioned by many people.  

What do we know?  

We know that CTV 's Rachel Aiello had a relationship with the anonymous constituency worker who accused Brown of climbing on top of her and kissing her.  We now also know that Patrick Brown is claming that the other accuser was a housemate of a CTV reporter.  These are matters that need to be investigated.

Mr. Brown also claims that the account given by the woman who says he took her to a second storey bedroom, closed the door and demanded oral sex, is factually impossible.  He asserts in interviews with the National Post and Post Media that he lived in a one storey apartment flat in a subdivided duplex that was open concept with no bedroom door to close at the time of the alleged misconduct.  These facts are reportedly corraborated by a real estate agent.

Obviously there needs to be a thorough investigation.  At minimum it appears that the rush to judgement of the former PC Leader may have been premature.  There are even calls by some to have Brown reinstated as leader of the party, however the only way I could see that happening is in an alternative universe, even if he never in fact formally resigned his position.

One interesting tidbit is that no other women have come foward to accuse Brown of misconduct.  With Weinstein, Spacey, Laurer, Hehr etc....the initial reports opened the floodgates and led others to come forward.  Steve Paikin has stood accused of sexual misconduct, but his defenders cite the fact that no other women have come forward as reason for giving him a presumption of innocence.  Why is Patrick Brown not being afforded the same presumption?

But just as Brown can no longer lead the Progressive Conservatives, Caroline Mulroney should no longer be able to run for the party's top job until a thorough investigation of CTV's journalistic ethics is conducted.  Ben Mulroney's status as a media star of the same orginization whose news division made his sister's run at the leadership possible, it leaves a very bad smell.

And I write this as an interested party given that I am now, and for the first time in my life, a member of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party.  I parted with the $10 membership fee in order to cast my vote for Christine Elliot.  I'm not 100% certain I will vote PC in the coming provincial election, but with Elliot at the helm of the party I will be leaning decidedly in that direction.  If its Doug Ford or Christine Mulroney they have no chance of getting my X beside a PC candidate's name.

Would Caroline Mulroney make an effective leader and/or Premier?  Its possible, so might have Patrick Brown, we'll never know.  Ontario Conservatives need to clean up this mess before the June election and do a thorough investigation to make sure that democracy in this province wasn't hijacked to give Brian Mulroney's daughter a shot at Ontario's most senior political post.