Friday, April 10, 2009

Clairvoyance & War

Two things stand out in the latest developments in Dangovt's negotiation with the nurses' union.

First, in the initial media coverage, the Tely stood out as the most DW-focused. Not even VOCM framed the story as all about Danny. Here are three headlines:
"Williams disappointed by nurses’ union decision."

"Strike Still Looming for Nurses Despite Latest Offer."

"No thanks: union urges N.L. nurses to reject government offer."

The three headlines convey radically different impressions. As is often the case with the Tely, the headline is biased towards DW, though usually their actual stories are balanced. In this case, the story is as sympathetic to DW as the headline. Even though it's just a short update story (with full-length reporting presumably coming on Saturday), the Tely stands in stark contrast to the CBC, which opens with the reaction of the nurses' union, not DW's feelings.

The second thing that stands out is DW's claim to clairvoyance. All three stories referred to Kennedy's/DW's claims that they knew from the outset that the nurses wanted a strike, but only the CBC offers a direct quotation from DW: "We've said all along, right from the start, that we felt that the leadership of the nurses union wanted a strike, and it looks like they're going to get one."

This is not the first time that DW has asserted, after failed negotiations, that he knew all along how someone would act. In his letter to the National Post in February, DW gave two contradictory explanations of the fallout from ABC and the Shaft. His first account was that after he won the ABC battle, "we began what we hoped was a new era of relations for the benefit of all." Later in the letter he offered a second explanation, "If I have a single disappointment from this recent punitive action, it is not with Stephen Harper, because this is the sort of behaviour I expect from him." As I noted in an earlier post, it's difficult to reconcile the evident contradictions:

Which brings us back to the nurses' union. If DW is now trotting out the "We've said all along" rhetoric, it's not a good omen. Dangovt's propaganda unit is already cranking out ads, and yesterday's remarks signal that the PR dogs of war are going to be released again. As I've said many times, conflict is the lifeblood of this regime.

With DW's foreign policy initiative going nowhere fast, health care stumbling from one crisis to the next, and problems such as the MUN mess still unresolved, the looming war with the nurses will provide a convenient scapegoat.

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