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ROBBINS responds to Vancouver Sun Editorial on Surrey's crime rate
  May 15, 2007

THE VANCOUVER SUN THE EDITORIAL PAGE THE NEWSPAPER’S VIEW

Commentary
Re: “The jury’s still out on why Surrey’s crime rate has dropped drastically”
After reading your newspaper’s editorial piece on Surrey’s crime reduction success and the quasi-analysis of the ‘statistics’ which you believe makes Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts decision to ‘take quick credit’ of the progress a “bit much”, I couldn’t help but think how hypocritical it is that your newspaper would dare to even comment in the first place, given the extent to which to gloss over or completely ignore other reports, statistics, news, etc. which benefits your favourite client, Gordon Campbell, ‘and the rest’.
Where to start? In your recent handling of the Olympics business plan, you focused on the operations budget, to the general exclusion of more relevant information regarding the overall cost of the Games. Comparatively speaking, the operations budget is nearly irrelevant, the overall budget is without question the relevant centre piece of the debate (if your newspaper is desirous of one at all). I suspect that the operations budget news came out when it did because of the trouble with Dobell’s lobbying, the MLA Pay Wage scandal, the BC Rail trial, and a series of other things that the BC Liberal government isn’t handling well (that you apparently) don’t want your readers to focus on.
Focusing on the operations budget (which is but a fraction) of the overall cost to produce the Games, a cost which is most relevant because it involves British Columbians tax dollars that would not necessarily have been spent had Vancouver not won the Bid. So the Vancouver Sun consciously selects to have a debate about whether or not the BC Liberal selected Auditor General is correct at 2.5 billion or the BC Liberal VANOC committee is correct at an amount less than that. What we do know is revenues are unlikely to match operations cost. Whether the shortfall is equal to or greater than the cost associated with Glen Clark’s Fast Ferries is a matter for forensics.
It is also important to note how little focus you provided to securities costs which have precedent values from other Games, and which VANOC dismisses as essentially someone else’s (the federal government’s) problem. The recent historical costs of security are in the range of 1 billion dollars. I believe VANOC is taking responsibility for about 15% of the costs, although as critic Chris Shaw suggests “there is only one taxpayer”.
It is important that we shine the light on the OVERALL costs, or the cash flows which are associated with the Games. Remember, the Olympic Games are someone else’s property, they are not BC’s property. Yet, all British Columbians are paying for them. A recent ROBBINS Sce Research (1998) poll indicated that British Columbians believed more than one half of the construction of the Canada Line and the Sea-to-Sky Highway ought to be attributed to the OVERALL costs of the Olympics.
The security and the construction of the Canada Line and Sea-to-Sky Highway does not benefit people living in Kamloops or Golden, or with the rising price of gasoline, people living in Coquitlam for that matter. The Canada Line benefits people living in Richmond and Vancouver. The Sea-to-Sky benefits people who travel to Squamish and Whistler. The OVERALL costs of the Games are billions over the amount of ‘offsetting’ revenues. The OVERALL economic benefits of the Games will not be known until well after the Games are completed. The OVERALL costs of the Games will be known well before the Games are completed.
Your newspaper virtually ignores the discussion of the OVERALL costs of the Olympics which is owned by multinationals with Head Offices in Switzerland, yet spends little time focusing on the OVERALL costs of Kyoto but presumes the OVERALL benefits. Instead, so much of the focus of your newspaper, when dealing with Kyoto or the Olympics sticks to the label, the mantra, and the underlying political personalities associated with the debate, but provides little of the important evidence associated with the massive costs of these undertakings, notwithstanding the difficulty (in the case of Kyoto) of constructing such a global regime in a world occupied by chaos on nearly every strategic front, not to mention the consideration and acceptance of yet another unelected International agency to oversee this regime, when many who support the name label Kyoto are the same people who won’t support unelected International regimes in other areas. There is good reason for citing this Kyoto debate, because is really underscores how manipulative the mainstream press can be when it wants to make readers believe that some causes ought to supersede some principles, while other should not.
I am saying that your newspaper when it is convenient, (and it usually is that) dumbs down the debate, and when it is more convenient focus’s on abstracts of discussions, or illuminates more greatly less relevant discussions. This is less reporting of news than it is manipulation of it.
Most recently, a panel of alleged independents got together to compose a report on MLA pay raises. One aspect of the report focused on a potential explanation of why is was that the public was not receptive to one. This involved an alleged study suggesting that 90% of British Columbians believe MLA’s were paid $200,000 per year. To an extent a recent ROBBINS study suggested that this explanation was bogus on its face, and bogus in fact, and so bogus that no reasonable person ought to accept it. The greater mainstream news accepted it and attempted to sell it to the mass audience (or what’s left of it). Moreover, the day after ROBBINS released a ‘rebuttal’ to this obvious misinformation/propaganda, one of the panel suggested that what she had “signed off” on the report, it had soon thereafter been altered, amended, or ‘enhanced’ while she was away in Europe (a metaphoric opener huh?), once she was ‘out of the room’ as it were. In response, a second panel member, a lawyer who works as a Director with ICBC essentially said that the first panel member did not understand elements of the overall Pay Wage increase, including primarily the one dealing with pensions.
Yet, despite all of this the BC Liberal government wants to make legislation (make a law) predicated on a Report which any reasonable person would say is bogus or should be set aside.
You have mainstream polling companies in BC with ex partners who are members of the BC Liberals, and we are made to understand we should believe these numbers aren’t cooked up to favour the BC Liberals, why? The mainstream promotes pollsters doing business On-Line whose numbers track within one percentage deviation between day 1 and 30 and than change by 25% overnight owing obviously to massive manipulation by outsiders, and we call these legitimate because we like the guy who owns the firm, AND now we want to conduct an analysis of Surrey’s crime rate with some degree of vigor, when apparently we could care less about valid arguments when it involves people or governments we are friendly with.
Please explain to me how your Editorial Board can do this with a straight face?
I believe that overall, this is dishonest journalism promoting the continued proliferation of dishonest government, justice for none, etc.
Let me provide you with a glimpse into the future. My daughter in Grade 12 goes to the BC Supreme Court with her Law 12 class. They meet and speak with a Judge. One student asks the question “which is worse, an innocent man going to jail or a guilty one who is set free?” The BC Supreme Court Judge answers ’you never want an innocent person to go to jail, and a guilty one will likely commit another crime and we’ll catch them again’. To which my daughter Kellie responds “so your telling me that its all right to let a guilty man go free to commit another crime so we can get him the next time around”, to which the BC Supreme Court Judge says nothing. The students leave shaking their heads. They already understand that the circus and the institutions have intermingled.
There are some people, many people who don’t notice the damage that Helter Skelter reporting of news has upon the community, but the new market of younger people en masse isn’t buying what is being sold by the mainstream press, and the expectation that they will change their mind as they get older is unlikely given the increase in use of Internet and alternative media sources each year. Ignoring this reality and continuing to report from an 'objective' perspective on one hand, and than using manipulative techniques when it suits you, is in my opinion damaging our culture, and your newspaper and its owners need to take responsibility for this.
Glen P. Robbins

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