01 March 2010

Bullshit headline; bullshit story

“Quebec Innu hunters may face charges” screams the headline above a cbc.ca/nl story.  The subject  - the annual caribou frenzy  - rivals the annual march madness of the seal slaughter for the media play it gets and the howls of protest from people within the province.

There is the first sentence that supports the headline and makes it look like the provincial government might actually be doing something to stop the hunt of caribou near an endangered herd.

The second sentence is a quote from the minister:

"We certainly do," [justice minister] Felix Collins told CBC News. "We certainly hope that the evidence will be sufficient to lay charges.”

Unfortunately the rest of the story reveals the naked truth:  the headline, lede and quote are sheer bullshit because the provincial government doesn’t have a scrap of evidence worthy of the name. 

There’s a quote from the minister that anyone with half a clue could figure out:

"Evidence taken from surveillance cameras presents some challenges because you have to identify a shooter with a dead animal on the ground, and given the angles of the cameras and the lighting and the clothing and distinguishing one individual from the other and what not, it takes quite a challenge to do that."

Collins said no evidence was seized at the scene.

If you listen the audio that goes with the story, Labrador Morning host Cindy Wall very simply notes for justice minister Felix Collins that there have been no charges laid despite the fact this stuff goes on regularly. Collins gamely insists that work is progressing and evidence is being assessed.  He even tries to make it sound like there is still a possibility charges might be laid arising from events last year.

Good luck with that one, there Felix.

Collins even insists that charges would be laid against anyone, including Innu from Labrador.  Wall pointedly corrects that one, too by calmly speaking truth to power. The last time Labrador Innu hunted in a restricted zone they got their gear back and no charges were laid.

Admittedly, Collins is in a hard spot on this one.  He’s caught between the domestic political pressure to do something and the practical problems of trying to do anything at all with a massive hydro-electric legacy project at stake. 

But Collins dilemma hardly warrants a news story that starts out with sheer crap for a headline, lede and opening quote.

Leave that for the crowd in the Confederation Building who get paid huge amounts to pour out just exactly that kind of bullshit.