The Media Is The Government
The man won the biggest majority in Canadian Parliamentary history and still was cowered by them.
You either loved Brian Mulroney or hated him. There was no in-between. In Peter Newman’s book there are his taped conversations about Meech Lake, his anti-apartheid actions, free-trade and his views of contemporary politicians that made the headlines. But to me, it was what he did at night that is the most fascinating.
Now get your mind out of the gutter. Sure it was pillow talk, but not that kind.
According to Val Sears,
- "His problem, as Peter C. Newman makes so clear in his book of interview tapes, was that he was obsessed by the media. He hated it and worshiped it, even keeping a radio under his pillow at night so he could listen without waking Mila.
"So, what are the boys saying?" became his mantra and as his press secretary, Michel Gratton wrote: "He helped us to forge a new approach to administration -- the media is the government."
Shades of Marshall McLuhan’s old line about the medium and the message!
Imagine, not sleeping and listening to the news at all hours. Perhaps he was trying to discover what the media were going to do next. Brian’s media fixation made me think about the Mayor given his fascination and dependence on the media and the fact that he works 18 hour days. It is no big secret that Eddie tried very hard before he was Mayor to make friends with the media in Windsor, and he was very successful, and that he hardly sleeps.
But in Windsor now, as in Ottawa, who rules whom?
That question jumped into my thoughts when I took a look at Council Agenda Item #16 on October 11 under the innocuous title, "Art Gallery of Windsor Public Art Project." [Whoever dreams up these subject headings that hide what these controversial matters are dealing with deserves a big salary increase from this Administration!]. That item is to ratify and confirm what Council did in secret! That item is to confirm the removal of the "sign" (not work of art mind you) from the waterfront via Council’s actions via e-mails.
What a waste of time I thought and what a joke. Not ratifying the secret in camera actions of Council on the border or the arena move to the Racetrack or the bus terminal financing but ratifying some action on a piece of art!
I kept wondering about it and wondering about it. What could have caused this to happen? There had to be an important reason for the matter to be put in front of Council. Then, EUREKA, I got it: the media is the government.
It all started coming into focus now! I went back into history and did a timeline. Look at what popped out from some Windsor Star articles. The co-incidences seemed startling. Had the Media slipped up? Had I uncovered what terrified Brian Mulroney, not in Ottawa, but in out-of-the-way Windsor?
- December 1, 2003 EDITORIAL…it is absolutely imperative that elected officials be accountable for all of their decisions… there are two tools that councils can use to ensure accountability thrives -- recorded votes on all issues and a commitment to conduct business in open, public meetings…In Windsor, mayor-elect Eddie Francis has been a strong advocate of both those checks and balances and we think it's something every council in this area should endorse as their first order of business.
- February 24, 2004 News in Brief. Francis adds a new face to city hall team. A former council committee's secretary for the Town of Tecumseh has been added to Mayor Eddie Francis's staff and will handle policy matters and inter-governmental affairs…Norma Coleman replaces Matt Marchand…Francis is still in the process of hiring a chief of staff to replace Jane Boyd.
- April 6, 2004 Closed sessions defended; Most of city council's time Monday spent in camera city council met behind closed doors for three hours Monday night...Even though many councillors campaigned on the issue of open and accountable government, in-camera meetings have been lasting for more than two hours in recent weeks. Monday's public meeting lasted just 51 minutes…Mayor Eddie Francis said it reflects a new way of doing business rather than a need for secrecy.
- April 27, 2004 Closed city meetings to continue No reason to change procedural bylaw despite number of in-camera sessions, says Francis
- May 10, 2004 Windsor Star Editorial. City council: Keeping the doors open When Mayor Eddie Francis ran for his job last fall, he promised to lead a more open city council. But in recent weeks, council has been anything but open.
- July 14, 2004 Boyd sues city for firing. (last paragraph of story)
"After Jane Boyd's departure, it took until May for Mayor Eddie Francis to fill her position [CHIEF OF STAFF]with Norma Coleman. Coleman had originally been hired away from the Town of Tecumseh in February to be policy adviser to Francis"
- September 20, 2004 Editorial Windsor's police services board has an obligation to ensure that the discussion is open to the public….So far, openness hasn't been front and centre. …Mayor Eddie Francis, who is also the board chairman…
- June 25, 2005 Council defends secret meeting City councillors are defending a closed-door meeting they held with a lawyer this week
- July 12, 2005 Mayor hopeful about more job announcements Yet another was discussed during an in-camera meeting of city council. ..There's nothing that would please me more as mayor and as a member of city council to stand up and talk about these things. However, the reason we've been successful, part of the reason, is we've been able to maintain confidentiality."
There, don’t you see it. The media wants to know what the Mayor and Council are doing at all times. Be open, no secrecy. Let us know everything. You dare not keep secrets from us. When they did, or tried to, they were scolded like naughty children
The first day the new Council came into office, the message was delivered, loud and clear.
I naively thought that Norma Coleman was hired by Eddie for her political connections. Interestingly, her appointment was mentioned in an article that many people would miss. But what was not mentioned in the article and is vital to understand is that NORMA COLEMAN IS THE WIFE OF JOHN COLEMAN, THE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR OF THE WINDSOR STAR!
Clearly Eddie had not learned his openness lesson as several more stories disclosed. Norma was promoted to Eddie's #1 assistant. This was disclosed 2 months after the appointment and found only at the end of a story about Mike Hurst's chief. It was not made the subject at all of a big annnouncement from City Hall.
Eddie must be a slow learner. He tried again to get around the Media dictum with the Police Board first, thought he could get away with it under "solicitor-client privilege," pretended that economic development was important. Emboldened, he thought he could have Council action by email and Blackberry rather than public session.
That was his downfall.
This insubordination could no longer be tolerated. The Mayor had to be made to grovel, to face public embarrassment and shame.
Then it happened, and with full force. The recent Star Editorial--A case for openness--and the Henderson column criticizing the Mayor by name on the secrecy were the final blows. He had not learned from his errors in the past and now he had to be taught a lesson. Ergo Agenda Item #16. Complete humiliation.
Eddie knows now who is boss. I trust he now understands his role. Repeat after me: the media is the government, the media is the government, the media is the government.