The Gazette Flying It’s True Colours

Everyone who pays attention to such things know that The Montreal Gazette is owned by a corporation outside of Quebec that is conservative and would support Steven Harper’s “Reform Party” in a federal election. It supported Gerald Tremblay in the election last fall, suggesting that a regime that had been ducking corruption charges left, right, and center, was somehow the lesser of many evils. That was grossly irresponsible, but not painful for a right wing media empire. In trying to take a tough line along what it perceives to be it’s Anglo readers’ sensibilities, Gazette editorials attempt to take advantage of Anglo insecurities constantly raising old fears in an inept effort to maintain outdated emotions and gather support for conservative values. It’s working in other provinces as part of The Great Dumbing Down of Canada. I tend to think that while Anglo Quebecers may have politically voted themselves into a corner over the last forty years or so, I don’t believe they are so easily manipulated as to buy into this American style of aggressive fact bending and outright lying.
Gazette editorials are completely out of touch with Montrealers as the following article strongly suggests.
In this article The Gazette attempts to do a hatchet job on the Projet Montreal team in Le Plateau that were elected last fall. The article focuses on the recent decision to ban large billboard advertising in Le Plateau and tries to defend the rights of advertisers as being an essential component of free speech as well as the jobs behind those advertisers.
Check out this classic,
“Advertising does not exist to serve his borough. And companies that advertise create the jobs, the products and the wealth that governments tax.”
Wow, is everyone in the Plateau collecting welfare? And when is the right for corporations and businesses to advertise on billboards more important than the rights of citizens to demand a decent quality of life in their neighborhoods?
The Gazette may be shooting itself in the foot while insulting the intelligence of it’s readers by attempting to question the motives of the Projet Montreal team in Le Plateau. Of course, we are not used to this kind of thing either – politicians actually getting elected and making good on all their campaign promises! Change can be stressful and there is certainly going to be some growing pains here and there, but the people of Le Plateau voted for change and now that they are getting it, and much to the delight of most of it’s residents, The Gazette has nothing better to offer than running desperately around the schoolyard going nyah nyah nyah like a bully who finds no one listening to him anymore.

7 responses to “The Gazette Flying It’s True Colours

  1. Ah, Gazette editorials. They’re brilliant and insightful when you agree with them, and they’re out of touch and stupid when you don’t.

    I don’t write those editorials, so I’m not going to defend them – I certainly don’t agree with all of them – but they’re also not written by this evil, conservative outside-of-Quebec Harper fan corporation you describe either. They’re written by people who have opinions that differ from yours.

    Yes, The Gazette endorsed Tremblay. It did so with serious reservations, and it strongly encouraged readers to elect independent council candidates to keep him in check. It also gave plenty of space to one of its star columnists to endorse Projet Montréal. I’d hardly call this a “tough line” or “grossly irresponsible”. And the fact that voters (particularly anglo ones) elected Tremblay would seem to suggest that the paper isn’t as “out of touch” as you say it is.

    You accuse The Gazette implicitly of “aggressive fact bending and outright lying” without providing any evidence of either. You say it attempted to do a “hatchet job” on Projet Montréal and attempted to “question the motives” behind this decision, neither of which I see in the editorial you link to.

    You say “And when is the right for corporations and businesses to advertise on billboards more important than the rights of citizens to demand a decent quality of life in their neighborhoods?” – Do you have evidence that existing billboards somehow prevent people from having a decent quality of life?

    You say Projet Montréal (a party you ran for – a fact you should probably actively disclose when writing posts like this) is simply fulfilling its campaign promises. But the promise was to “impose a moratorium on new outdoor billboards. Gradually make Montreal a city free of outdoor billboards.” This was accomplished earlier with a ban on new billboards. Nothing in the campaign literature promised to do away with existing billboards in the Plateau or elsewhere.

    It’s easy to assume that people who write things you strongly disagree with are just evil and wrong and stupid. But sometimes they just see the world a bit differently.

  2. Well, this sure has the potential to get ugly, lol. Yes, I did run for Projet Montreal, and you work for The Gazette, or at least you once did, I can’t say for sure I know for a fact that you still work there. Is this some kind of Mexican standoff?

    You open a lot of room for me but I am going to save us both a lot of back and forth by simply stating that I totally stand behind everything I have said up there. I don’t pretend to be almighty right, nor do I pretend to be a cheerleader for any political party, including Projet Montreal, whose fundamental ideas are very much in tune with my own, views I have had long before there was such a thing as Projet Montreal. There is really nothing new about Project Montreal, but the actually doing something, putting relevant ideas into action, now that is surely different.

    The banning of billboards has been done in Sao Paulo, Brazil, much to the chagrin of it’s business community, which is reasonably predictable, but with 70% approval of residents. And some American cities, notably Los Angeles, are looking at banning advertising. The problem in the US is that politicians and Big Business have most judges in their pockets so it’s a wonder anything gets done down there at all. The people in Le Plateau are simply ahead of the curve and their elected city officials are bravely acting on ideas whose time has come. Change is stressful as I have said before, but we are in deep trouble if we fear change so much we refuse to act.

    The Gazette articles are indeed very biased against the Projet Montreal team in Le Plateau. Those billboards bring in $40,000 dollars a year in borough revenues – a sum that probably wouldn’t get three and a half sidewalks swept. This is hardly the work of people who are out to destroy the social order by imposing their fanatical ideas on a naive population – this is the work of very smart business people who have done the math and can clearly see that there simply is no bang for your buck with having billboards which otherwise are terrible eyesores whose messages are simply sales pitches designed to draw the eye in, to distract the subconcious. It is indeed a better idea to just get rid of them. But the Gazette seems perplexed that some usurping of basic capitalism is taking place here, let alone some horrible squelching of free speech. The Gazette can’t seem to wait for the wheels to come flying off Projet Montreal in Le Plateau. Much better balanced reporting is needed, though certainly not expected.

    You might have a different scenario playing out if billboards paid for something significant like snow removal, but I can’t quite see anyone wanting to live in a place loaded with billboards that could read something like, Snow Removal in Le Plateau Is Brought To You By The Bottlers Of Coca Cola!”

    Of course The Gazette itself is almost totally dependent on advertising, so it does make sense that it would feel strange supporting something so at odds with the people who write the checks – not good to bite the hands that feed you.

    As for me, well, I enjoy blogging. I have no advertisers to please, and I have the zero revenue to prove it, lol. Yes, I do get to just blast my opinions out, well, because blogs are pretty much one person shows for the most part and it wouldn’t be any fun at all if there was an editor hovering over my shoulder. Common sense may occasionally sneak in though I usually try to fight it off. It’s been pretty good so far.

  3. I’m sorry but I just can’t buy that billboards negatively affect quality of life. Some of the best postmodern art has in fact been inspired by billboards and other aspects of advertising culture. I’m a left-wing, socially liberal guy but I have nothing against advertising. I do believe it’s part of a free society to let companies advertise how they want. As far as Project Montreal goes, I’m getting pretty fed up with some of their ideas for the Plateau, a neighborhood I’ve often lived in. They want to make it hard for small local concert venues by imposing heavier fines for noise. I’m sorry but I don’t know why you would choose to live directly on St-Laurent or Mt-Royal if it wasn’t to appreciate and participate in the cultural scene their. If you want to keep your distance from the noise, live on a side-street or better yet, go to Rosemont or Villeray or any number of central, adjacent neighborhoods with the same (or better) quality of life as the Plateau and less noise.
    In fact the only agenda I can agree with Projet Montréal is public transit, and then only provisionally. I would like to see large highway infrastructure reduced in size and capacity, and less parking spaces in urban neigborhoods, wider sidewalks, and eventually, maybe, pedestrian malls. But whether it’s car or pedestrian traffic, main streets need traffic. Or they die. I would rather see non-stop automobile traffic on Mt Royal boulevard than see small bars closing down because they can’t afford tickets from noise complaints.

  4. I like a strong club scene as well as anyone but this is something that will always be a problem, unless you ban people with children from living in the vicinity. People who are already hard pressed for sleep have a low tolerance for noise. But having acknowledged that…

    I remember when the Jazz Festival started up it was just a couple of blocks on Saint Denis with the corners of Emory and Saint Dennis being pretty much the heart of it. Well, you should have heard the complaints from people who lived in the area at the time! Of course the festival grew and moved to a location where hardly anyone lived except now people are buying condos with a view on the festival and you can bet that some of them just don’t like the noise. Make sense? Not really, no, not at all, choosing to live in such a location would make it seem like you WANT some noise, but if you ever figure out what makes these people tick, please do share.

    It may come as a shock to some, but I don’t agree with Projet Montreal on this one. Streets like Saint Laurent and Saint Dennis are part of the nightlife of Montreal. Perhaps some type of noise barriers could be part of some kind of a solution that works for everyone? I don’t live in the area so I have to admit I don’t really know just how loud the sounds are or how far they reverberate from the perspective of someone who lives around the corner, but sound does travel freely at night. There is not much you can do about people with a buzz on walking home, that’s just city life, and I like it most of the time.

  5. I must correct Steve Faguy on this one. He’s quite right that there’s considerable diversity of opinion within the Gazette newsroom, and that not everything that gets published in the paper reflects the owners’ views. But the editorial page of The Gazette is one place where the owners’ opinions really do count. The current editorial-page editor, Brian Kappler, is probably the most rightwing person in the entire Gazette newsroom. He rose to his current position when the Aspers owned the Gazette through CanWest, and were trying to foist centrally controlled corporate editorials on the paper and the entire chain. The paper’s editorial-page editor during the Conrad Black era was Peter Hadekel, another conservative. Previously, in the Southam era, editorial-page editors tended to be politically liberal, reflecting the outlook of the chain’s then owners. Joan Fraser (now a Liberal Senator) was the last liberal-minded editorial-page editor at The Gazette; she was fired from the position after Conrad Black bought the paper from Southam. Ever since then, the Gazette has had editorial page editors who are well to the right of mainstream public opinion in Montreal. That is particularly the case now with Brian Kappler.
    Kappler, let’s remember, would have been behind the Gazette’s endorsement of the ADQ in the Ville-Saint-Laurent byelection (they ended up getting 8 per cent of the vote!) and the its editorial calling for the scrapping of the federal gun registry (a vast majority of Montrealers disagree).
    Many Montrealers realize that Gazette editorials are out of step with mainstream Montreal values, which is why they carry little weight with the public or opinion leaders.

  6. this post won me over 100% to this blog. i agree 100%. the gazette’s editorials are outrageous. i can’t read them because they make me so angry.

    any local paper that endorses the conservative party is incredibly out of touch with montreal. and that’s one of their least offensive moments

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