Thursday, 31 January 2013

NDP Trade Policy - Part 1: On trustworthy sources

A series of articles has raised alarm among many NDP members. These articles insist that the NDP leadership has quietly adopted the opposition's antiquated & dogmatic approach to trade. Of course, no such thing is occurring. The NDP leadership is merely executing a "re-branding" of our traditional - prudent & merit-based - trade policy.

In a series of articles hosted here, we will examine the NDP's contemporary trade strategy & all related issues of significance.

In this particular article, we will deconstruct the media's approach to NDP trade policy. While such an exercise may seem petty & trivial, it is absolutely required - because too many NDP members are refusing to perform due-diligence. Rather than seek clarification from official sources, members have blindly out-sourced the task of "analysis" to Liberal PR flacks (known as "political journalists" in Canada). Such sources do not convey NDP policy with any accuracy or clarity.

Campbell Clark's 'Globe & Mail' article NDP working toward balance as it crafts new foreign policy is highly representative of the majority of articles produced on this topic. It may have been "the first", thereby influencing the tone & substance of all subsequent op-ed's & reports.

Adhering to rigorous 'Media Party' standards, Campbell Clark reduces the NDP's traditional (small "c") conservative trade policy to two words: "loonie left". He insists that Canadians are "scared" & "nervous" of the NDP's past insistence on reciprocity & net-benefit. This is clearly news to Canadians! Ignoring apocalyptic warnings from a cabal of finance elites & opposition parties, Canadians recently chose to catapult the "loonie left" from 4th place to "official opposition" status.

Continuing his vacation from contemporary history, Campbell Clark offers a theory of evolution: "Just over 10 years ago, the NDP was expressing sympathy for the anti-globalization protests at World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle. It is now going to urge Canada to try to reinvigorate the WTO’s global trade talks". Clark would have readers believe that no one is capable of walking (expressing sympathy for protestors) and chewing gum (supporting WTO talks) at the same time. This would be news to the Nobel prize-winning economist who served as chief economist & vice president of the World Bank! Like the NDP, Joseph Stiglitz has both explicitly sided with WTO protestors & called for reinvigorated WTO talks.

Having established his parallel universe, Campbell Clark then proposes a "basic character test voters use to judge fitness to govern". According to Clark, this "real test" would have the NDP approve of "a real trade deal, with the European Union" and "the bid by China’s state-owned CNOOC for Alberta’s Nexen Inc". Thankfully, I need not interject on this absurd Campbell Clark himself concedes that the Canadian public rejects the validity of his self-devised "test". He admits: "the trade issue is not the big vote-getter in elections".

Tucked in-between all this fanciful conjecture & framing, are carefully edited statements from NDP officials. Naturally, these statements are presented as affirmations of the reporters own biases. To be fair, there seems to be a "quid pro quo" at play here. The NDP allows Campbell Clark to manipulate the record in his exercise of Liberal self-validation. While Clark blindly assumes the role of "useful idiot", disseminating a public impression of the NDP's choosing. This dangerous game will be explored in a later article.

But while the dangerous game is played, the substance of contemporary NDP trade policy remains obscured. In the next article, we will explore the content & specifics of contemporary NDP trade policy...relying on official, rather than second-hand accounts.


  1. Here is a problem I see. You say that people shouldn't trust the mainstream media in Canada (maybe you don't use those exact words, but that's the message I get). But when it comes to winning people over with arguments, what media sources are good to use? What I mean is, aren't people going to take your more seriously if you site the Globe & Mail than a blogger such as yourself?

  2. Anonymous,

    That would be a gross misinterpretation.

    You presented me with a general query, so I can only offer you a general response.

    Facts continue to exist, events continue to occur, and research continues to be published. For the most part, such "raw data" (for lack of a better term) gets reported.

    The problem with contemporary journalism is that we have tolerated the "padding" of articles. That valuable raw data is now surrounded by colour commentary & conjecture. This is done with the intention of leading readers to certain interpretations & conclusions.

    Lazy readers will read and & be lead like some dumb sheep. A wise reader will read & distinguish between an article's valuable "raw data"...and the worthless "framing" surrounding it.

    Hope that helps,
    Dan Tan