Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ken Epp Award Nominee : Charlie Angus

Charlie Angus is the New Democrat MP for Timmons - James Bay. Yesterday he used his private members' time to denounce federal inaction on the CBC walkout, in language which proves the need for a Ken Epp Award.

Mr. Speaker, seven weeks ago, CBC management unilaterally pulled the plug on the Canadian conversation.

Someone had better tell Mr. Angus to check the Web; there's a perfectly satisfatory Canadian Conversation happening over here.

In doing so, they have undermined the credibility of the CBC, they have gambled recklessly with their audience base and they have reopened the debate about whether we need a national broadcaster at all.

I've bolded that last bit because Mr. Angus has made a classic rhetorical mistake: he assumes that re-opening debate on a "sacred cow" is a bad thing. In this electronic age where television and radio compete for Canadian attention with the Web and other multimedia networks, debate on the need for a national broadcaster and its role in society should be welcomed, not dismissed.
Where is the heritage minister been on this file? She has been missing in action.

Charlie reeeeeally needs to see the Net: the heritage minister's response to the CBC walkout is recorded here.

This is not about a labour battle. It is about a cultural policy adrift. This past summer, for example, the CRTC satellite radio decision overturned the fundamental principles of Cancon.

The minister and cabinet had the power to act but they did nothing while the airwaves were handed over to Nashville and Los Angeles.

Two rhetorical errors here. Since Angus doesn't mention the details of the satellite radio decision, we don't know a) how the decision violates Cancon rules, and b) what exactly are the Canadian content rules anyway. The other error is attempting to imply that the government (in the form of the Minister) is somehow "in charge" of the CRTC (which is supposed to be an independent of the government).

For God's sake, someone get the defibrillators. Our nation's cultural policy is on life support and an IV drip of Liberal platitudes will not bring the patient back.

Rhetorical exaggeration by overemployment of a health scenario. There are other aspects of Canadian cultural expression besides the CBC. Global, CTV, GlobeMedia, CHUM, etc.

In short, Mr. Angus' statement is chock full of the rhetorical silliness that the Ken Epp Award is designed to highlight. Congratulations to Mr. Angus for being the first Award nominee of this session!