Press releases from politicians, by and large, are a reaffirmation of our parliamentary democracy in which — short of defaming each other or shouting fire in a crowded theatre when there’s no fire — people can say whatever they like, no matter how dumb or unhelpful it is.
To take it a step further, this country is governed, at least to some extent, by press release. Also known as media advisories, they are the battlefield upon which opposing forces face each other, laptops and smartphones drawn and at the ready.
Those in government usually get to make the first move, and often have the best ammunition. They focus on churning out press releases about good news, such as funding for projects or community groups, or showing what good guys they are.
For example, the prime minister’s office Wednesday released the news — and stop the presses on this one — that Stephen Harper had a presented a flag to one Pierre Lavoie, president and founder of the Grand defi Pierre Lavoie, in honour of Flag Day.
Take that, you Opposition cads.
Indeed, in Opposition, the object is to draw attention to bad news — or what can be characterized as bad news — about something the government is doing.
Last week, every non-Conservative MP was sending out righteous entreaties that the Tories stop messing with Old Age Security, a worthy topic, to be sure.
Joyce Murray, for one, the Liberal critic for small business and tourism, representing Vancouver-Quadra, warned that any changes would widen the income inequality gap and might be “negative” for women and the disabled.
The Tories, her advisory stated, indignation slathering every syllable like jam on bread, were being “incredibly irresponsible” with such talk.
“Murray noted that, although there is a demographic change happening in Canada, weakening OAS is not the solution,” it said.
But no sign of a Liberal solution. We should, presumably, rest assured that whatever the government is thinking about, it’s going to be bad, and leave it at that.
This month’s Award for Nice Try In A Press Release, though, is reserved for someone closer to home.
Kamloops-North Thompson NDP candidate Kathy Kendall is beseeching, nay demanding that the B.C. Liberals fix the overcrowding situation at Royal Inland Hospital.
Friday afternoon, “for immediate release,” came the call from Kendall that “the B.C. Liberal government… take action on overcrowding” at the hospital.
“This situation calls in to question whether patients are getting the care they need in a timely manner when they are admitted to hospital,” Kendall quotes herself as saying.
“Terry Lake and the B.C. Liberals” must explain themselves. They must “work towards a solution.”
Again, the solution word, and the NDP will solve things when they make government.
“Adrian Dix and the New Democrat team are committed to strengthening the health care system in British Columbia. New Democrats are proposing practical solutions to reduce wait times and health care costs for B.C. families.”
And how will those practical solutions work, exactly? Will the NDP somehow come up with the multiples of millions of dollars needed for the expansion plans for Royal Inland Hospital?
Will they open some magical chest of cash that will open up more beds, build and staff more operating rooms? Maybe wider hallways?
But, the message is clear: somebody really ought to do something.