Saturday, March 15, 2008

Georgia Straight attacks Bill Tieleman in editorial over Vancouver Quadra column in 24 hours

I was disappointed to read the Georgia Straight's editorial in their March 13 edition this Thursday and find that they had attacked me in response to my March 11 column in 24 hours about the Vancouver Quadra by-election and some comments on Green Party candidate Dan Grice.

Here is the relevant section of the Georgia Straight editorial:

"Newspaper columnist and NDP apologist Bill Tieleman has brought attention to Grice for speaking out in favour of a perfectly sensible idea: marijuana legalization.

Tieleman has also tried to discredit Grice because his leader, Elizabeth May, wanted to delay a nomination meeting in Vancouver Quadra to try to find a candidate with a higher profile.

Memo to Tieleman: Delta North NDP MLA Guy Gentner once pursued a nomination against the wishes of the party elites, eventually winning the seat."

I have sent the following Letter to the Editor to the Georgia Straight and hope that they run it next Thursday.

I should add that my point on Grice's comments on marijuana legalization was not pro or con - it was that Grice was afraid to publicly talk about it for fear of Greens being labeled the "marijuana party." On Guy Gentner, there was a dispute over the nominating process; the party leader never sent a letter urging members to "vote no or vote none of the above" in response to a Gentner candidacy.

March 15, 2008

Dear Editor:

I was very disappointed to see the Georgia Straight attacking me in its editorial of March 13, 2008. [“Vancouver Quadra's usual suspects face voters' decision”]

I was proud to be a columnist for four years at the Georgia Straight from 2001 to 2005 and felt privileged to write for a newspaper that is an important part of the Vancouver media. The Straight seemed equally pleased and nominated my work several times for national and international journalistic awards.

So I don’t know why you found it necessary to describe me as an “NDP apologist” or to not mention that I now write for 24 hours weekday newspaper.

I have always been completely open about being a social democrat and New Democratic Party supporter, including the entire time I wrote for the Straight.

But I have also regularly been critical of the NDP and its leaders whenever I disagreed with their positions over the years, most recently for accepting new MLA pensions, and supporting the Tsawwassen Treaty that removes farms from the Agricultural Land Reserve. And I believe my writing is opinionated but fair and speaks for itself.

That hardly makes me an “NDP apologist”, a pejorative term that is neither accurate nor fair. I’m sorry the Straight felt the need to belittle a supporter and former columnist simply because we don’t agree.

Sincerely yours,

Bill Tieleman
Columnist, 24 hours newspaper


Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

That must have been a difficult letter for you to write.

It's really too bad ... but, on the other hand, perhaps putting these things right out in the open, as you did, is good therapy for all concerned.

ASPER NATION, a memorable book, makes an impressive comment where the author speaks about the ongoing crises in Canadian journalism, adding:

" ... A bigger problem is that such a crisis might not even come to public attention if vigilance is not exercised in monitoring media influence ..."

So true.

I particularly dislike the tell-tale Asper back-hand "He's NDP" in all its guises, as if 50% of British Columbians are illegal or something. An NDP "apologist" is even more annoying.

You have a lot of loyal friends in B.C., Bill. I'd like to nominate you for something. Premier?

- BC Mary.


Anonymous said...

Wonder what the folks will call you if you mention that the BCCLA is taking the government to court over the just agreed on deal for ridings, agreed on just before they all flew the coop for two weeks. It would appear that to the Straights anyone not agreeing with them must be a NDP apologist.

Hey Bill, lots of NDP Members, many of longer term than yourself are taking shots at that party for some of the bonehead deals Gordo has come up with and they have supported. With emails it's even quicker to blast any MLA and lots of us do just that. The Greens now they have passed some magic number to get funding are doing their damnest to get a seat, any seat, here or Ottawa. Years ago the Straits used to be the voice of the left but they seem to have changed their habits. I am as much a political junkie as most but seldom spend any time on their site. Blogs are better DL

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I read that the GS faced bankruptcy if a tax imposed on the non giveaway papers was applied ot them. Prior to the rise of that issue, the GS would routinely report on official corruption and abuse of office. I detect libel chill, if not fear of retaliation by taxation, should one of the elite be subject to scrutiny. If I am wrong, would someone tell me of a single hard-edge article that appeared in the GS in the past 3 years. I'm waiting.

Dan Grice said...


Had I any inclination about hiding my opinions and my support for the legalization effort, you may have had a point.

However, you should have received at least two press releases from our campaign in the last few months mentioning our support for the legalization effort, and on my blog, facebook, and the GPC site, I make it clear what my position is. Not to mention, had you taken the time to check video from the all candidates debates posted on my site you would have heard me clearly mention legalization / "end the war on drugs."

Secondly, you could have asked me how much support Elizabeth May has given our campaign before trying to claim that there was some sort of ideological divide between us.

She has come out here twice, had three events in the riding with our campaign, and is fully supportive. There never was an ideological divide in the nomination contest, which happened over a year ago, only unfamiliarity in the process.

Anyways, I am seeking to become a public figure, and I understand that I may subject to ideological attacks. (I've been likened to a snake oil salesperson by you before)

However, when I saw your blog post today, it really irked me that you are unwilling to take criticism of the such that you put out on a regular basis, especially when done in regards to column that could easily be seen as both inaccurate and unfair.

Anyways, I do look forward to more attacks from you in the future and will keep reading your columns... once elected :-)

-Dan Grice
Green Party Apologist

Anonymous said...

The Green Party in Canada holds the same juvenile fantasy over Canadians that Senator Obama currently has over the naive masses of unrealistic & un-informed electorate in the US.

Having seen the German Green Party up close in the 1980s its positions in Canada are in line with the rest of the organic Trekkies and Star Wars groupies out there.

Sad to say comrades not all the world's problems can be solved by . . . legalizing dope.

Bill, to accuse you of being an NDP butt-kisser is a cheap shot since you have been a critic of the NDP high command and its BC leader for a number of years.


Bill Tieleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Budd Campbell said...

In recent years the Georgia Straight has tended more towards the upper class, to which its owners and publishers now belong. More and more the paper falls into the usual category that most Canadian media outlets and reporters/pundits belong, socially liberal but economically conservative.

To some degree that's the inevitable result of being a publication that is full colour, glossy, available free to the consumer, and paid for by extensive and sometimes rather cheesy advertising, coming from everything from fitness parlours offering sexual attraction not exercise, to condo corporations, offering an urban dream rather than any amount of actual housing space.

In addition the editor, Charlie Smith, has a rather particular "thing" about the building trades unions. In the 2005 municipal elections his editorial endorsing Sam Sullivan contained a key point. Rival Jim Green was given demerit points for being supported by the building trade unions.

BC Mary said...

What really is offensive about Georgia Straight hitting on the NDP (as well as on Bill) is that they're campaigning politically -- just disguising it as news and/or opinion.

Fake, fake, fake.

If GS is the newest public relations agency for Premier Campbell's re-election, why doesn't GS stand up proudly and say so?

Oh. Now I remember.


Dan Grice said...


Tis, tis. Usually you take my words out of context, but now you are trying to put words in my month.

Check your sources.

I made no such statement. You are referring to this post by some Green in Ontario.

I have no idea who the person is. I personally would never compare a snake-oil salesman to a politician. That is really unfair to salespeople in general :-)

Dan Grice,
Green Party Apologist.

Bill Tieleman said...

NOTE TO READERS - Dan Grice rightly pointed out my mistake regarding a posting I wrongly attributed to his blog that came from another Green regarding other parties being "snake oil salesman." I therefore pulled my posting, and apologize to Dan for sloppy Google research on my part.

The remainder of my earlier posting, with the wrong info removed, follows:

Thanks for your postings Dan - glad to know you are reading 24 hours and this blog!

First, let me say this - I admire you for running for public office, as I do all the candidates, regardless of party politics. It is a difficult job and when columnists and reporters criticize candidates that is often forgotten.

Second, I don't believe I've called you a "snake oil salesman" but I have certainly said the Single Transferable Vote which you have ardently supported, has been sold as an electoral cure-all much like snake oil - because it isn't.


As to your comments about me being unwilling to take criticism, I think you missed my point.

First, it you search the comments on this blog for the past 18 months, a lot of it whacks me pretty hard. I have never rejected any postings disagreeing with me unless the were defamatory or might have been in contempt of court.

Second, I get hell all the time in letters to the editor or in calls to the Bill Good Show on CKNW and don't complain.

My problem with the Georgia Straight editorial was that after working with their editors and staff for 4 years and doing what I and apparently they thought was a good job, they suddenly want to call me an "NDP apologist" for disagreeing with their views and not even acknowledge where I now write.

A similar situation would be for your former employer who had commended your work to out of the blue say negative things about you in public.

Rather than either ignore it or attack the Straight back, I said what I honestly felt - that I found it very disappointing.

The Straight can say and do what it likes about me but I hope it simply be more fair in the future.

Thanks again for your comments and I look forward to visiting your constituency office in the near future! :]

Anonymous said...

Taking criticism is not the easiest thing in the world to do...My recollection of several of Mr. Grice's posts to the Tyee on a range of subjects including STV is that he takes criticism very badly.

His response above here seems to fall into that same category...which is, in fact, rather a shame.

I'm still not certain whether the remarks attributed to the leader of his party are, in the context in which they were quoted, accurate.

Dan Grice appears not, for some reason, to want to actually address those remarks. I wonder why.

As the start of his career as a ‘public figure’, this isn’t a particularly auspicious start.

On balance, I’d have thought that a neophyte politician would have been more concerned about establishing his bona fides as a dedicated public servant rather than a public figure.

We have, alas, rather too many of the later and far too few of the former.

Anonymous said...

What a well-written letter you wrote. Restrained, too.

Keep up the good work.

Budd Campbell said...

The results are in, and the Georgia Straight won, they got what tthey wanted. They helped the Liberals hold the riding, barely, and just as importantly for the long haul the Green upsurge was enough to keep the NDP vote down in the teens.

Some people still imagine that the Straight is an "alternative" paper, which would normally mean that it's not beholden to wealthy special interest groups. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Straight represents the interests of its corporate advertisers and of the urban chic set who make up its readership. These are people for whom a kind of Liberal-style noblesse oblige is quite fashionable, but anything that actually smells like hard-assed working class politics is way too gauche for the Straight's audience, fascinated as they are by the Ron Zalko and botox blowout ads.

Dan Grice said...

Hi Anonymous,

Being a neophyte who lacks gravitas, I usually dip into self mockery when faced with criticism.

If you have any questions which you feel I failed to answer, feel free to ask me them.

Anonymous said...

Strange comments that the Straight is not left-wing, is somehow "upper-class," etc. If anything it is "anti-establishment" in the grand tradition of the alternative press (and student press): against any sort of entrenched interest, including trade unions and the NDP bosses. In that way, perhaps, the paper may sometimes be politically naive (e.g. the endorsement of Sam Sullivan - probably enough to have actually got him elected, given the margin of votes). Nevertheless, this is an essential position to have out there in the media - the perpetual gadfly.

Budd Campbell said...

"If anything it is "anti-establishment" in the grand tradition of the alternative press (and student press): against any sort of entrenched interest, including trade unions and the NDP bosses."

Well, that's certainly what Charlie Smith would like people to accept, anonymous 1:23. And no doubt the Straight does take on some business interests, including run of the river power producers to name a recent example.

My question is this. How do building trade unions qualify as a powerful economic interest group given how BC governments since Bill Bennett's day (excepting the NDP years of course) have sided with Phil Hochstein's contractors to lower the degree of unionization in the construction industry?

kootcoot said...

Budd sez:
"How do building trade unions qualify as a powerful economic interest group given how BC governments since Bill Bennett's day (excepting the NDP years of course) have sided with Phil Hochstein's contractors to lower the degree of unionization in the construction industry?"

Let's not let Hochstein get all swell headed while we forget the heroic efforts at union busting contributed by Kerkoff, back in the day.............