Tim Harper: Collision between union rights and journalistic independence
My union may have made my life more difficult, but it hasn’t compromised my independence, writes the Toronto Star's national affairs columnist Tim Harper.
By Tim Harper, national affairs columnist for the Toronto Star
There is no doubt the union that represents me certainly put one on the tee for Conservatives everywhere.
It wasn’t enough we were already a wedge issue for the federal government in Ottawa. Now my own union has tainted me?
Well, no. There’s a bigger picture here and it deals with journalistic professionalism and the rights of unions to take political stands.
Conservatives have already bemoaned a Canadian media “cartel” that “has greatly complicated our Conservative party efforts to present the unfiltered facts and foundations behind our policies for economic growth, our faith in family values and our commitment to jobs, free trade and prosperity,” according to a party fundraising appeal to deep-pocketed donors.
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They did it straight-faced as newspaper after newspaper endorsed Stephen Harper in 2011 (except this one) and most reprised the performance in endorsing Tim Hudak provincially in 2014 (except this one).
Then the union that represents 2,600 editorial and other media workers at this newspaper, as well as the Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, Hamilton Spectator and tens of other media outlets across the province, took the unprecedented step of wading intoThursday’s Ontario election, asking us not to vote for Hudak.
“Journalists’ union enters Ontario election fray,” sneered Treasury Board president Tony Clement. “In other news, commentators insist they’re not biased.”
“Journalists’ union picks sides in Ontario election . . . but we’re told to believe there’s no such thing as liberal media bias,” said Employment Minister Jason Kenney.
Reaction was also angry and swift from rank-and-file union members and one didn’t have to go far to find it. A stroll through this office sufficed.
The president of the Unifor local, Paul Morse, a Hamilton Spectator reporter, has heard complaints from members, but not a scintilla of direct support.
He understands the principles of journalistic neutrality and objectivity, but he is also paid to protect the interests of his workers and he believes those interests would be hurt by a PC government.
To continue reading this column, please go thestar.com where this was originally published.
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