Tag Archives: 2011 federal election

A time for moving on

23 Apr

Vaughan's leading candidates Mario Ferri, left, and Julian Fantino are on the campaign trail and no worse for wear now that the contrived story of local Conservative controversy has run out of steam.

It’s a credit to both Julian Fantino and Mario Ferri that they didn’t fall into the trap of lashing out at each other in the aftermath of the brouhaha kicked up mid-campaign by that infamous tale of controversy conjured up by the CBC. Instead, they appear to have weathered the storm, and have now returned to campaigning as they would have done.

Good, because whichever one goes to Ottawa on May 2 as the Vaughan MP should do so based on how well he represented himself and his party in the context of moving forward Vaughan’s interests, and for no other reason. (It will be one of them; the Green Party and the NDP fielded candidates, but they did not bring game.)

Partisan supporters, whose passions become inflamed in situations like these, are always at the ready to divide the world into two camps: Us and Them. So it’s not surprising to say we have heard it all, from both sides, in the last week. In fact, it’s been like a conspiracy theorists’ retreat around here, with Conservatives blaming Liberals for setting up the CBC writers with a bogus story, Liberals accusing Conservatives of somehow having a hand in Michael Ignatieff unwisely sounding off about Vaughan (for which local candidate Ferri stands to bear the brunt of any backlash) and we, ourselves, being accused of doing the right wing thing — and not the right thing — in pointing out that a gross injustice had been committed.

Now that the bit actors and jesters appear to have left the stage, you can see that little skit for the sideshow it was. The real performers are of far greater character, and the drama they participate in much more substantive. It is worth noting that Fantino, the Conservative incumbent, and Ferri, his Liberal challenger, are both good men who have performed appreciable community service through the years, often without fanfare, and with the best interest of Vaughan at heart.

They have both been involved in the drive to bring a hospital to Vaughan, long before Fantino became the MP (and the conduit through which federal funds for the project would come). And they likely will be found working on that shared mission after the election is over, regardless of whether Fantino returns to Ottawa or Ferri takes his place in the time-honoured quest to find favour with the federal government.

In an election campaign, though, the gloves come off, and when an unexpected storm blows up to threaten the predictability of schedules and campaign plans, it is not uncommon for fingers to be pointed at each other in all sorts of ridiculous ways. In war, the other side is always responsible for the bad things that happen.

Fantino and Ferri are to be commended for recognizing that the enemy in this one truly was out there.

 The CBC story that started it all on April 13 may have begun locally, using local ingredients even, but it never did describe a local controversy. It was a shabby tale tacked together by a couple of reporters unfamiliar with the territory, who mistook an activist’s pitch for a scoop and then ignored all the warning flags as they raced to file a “national” story.

Truth be told, its narrative suggests a lot more about the ethical state of Canadian journalism at the national level than it does about how development is achieved in Vaughan. The wider discussion coming out of this needs to be about the presence of activism in the dissemination of news to the Canadian public. It needs to address the elements of entitlement, impunity, careless copycat practices and a willingness by so-called impartial journalists to change effects in a desire to effect change. And perhaps more importantly, someone needs to initiate a discussion about the zoned out audience, which seems more outraged by being roused from its slumber than by what is taking place around it while it lies sleeping.

We have hopefully moved on from that particular story in Vaughan. There is nothing we can do about the attitudes of Canadians afar who have been influenced by it, nor about the unrepentant and seemingly ungovernable national media machine. But as I’ve said all along, we in Vaughan never were impacted by the ridiculous premise of the story, for there was no story; it is the blow to reputations — done callously and with seeming impunity — that wounded. But even that has lessened.

When last we checked, Fantino and Ferri were out and about, getting on with the business of conducting their campaigns — not surprisingly, in step with the character their parties portray. They’re both out knocking on doors: Fantino in his terse, no-nonsense, all-business approach; Ferri, whose personality many see as the honey to Fantino’s vinegar, doing his thing in Aussie hat and upbeat, easygoing style.

Business as usual. And that’s a good thing.

— Dan Hoddinott

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