Dr. Dawg

Warren Kinsella: fair and balanced?

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Warren Kinsella put up a piece on the Layton non-story today, drawing high praise from Andrew Coyne (“One of the most level-headed balanced things I’ve seen on l’affaire Layton”) and Colby Cosh (“Yikes! [Coyne’s] right!”).

Balanced? Sadly, no.

Before I get to his article, though, let me point out what we don’t know—what none of us know—about that evening fifteen years ago. It’s important not to mistake insinuations and suggestions for facts.

  • We don’t know that the massage clinic was a brothel.

  • We don’t know that the raid netted any arrests at all. (Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun was honest enough to admit that he couldn’t answer my question.)

  • We don’t know who the supposed “ex-cop” is, except that he surfaced at an extraordinarily opportune time for both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

  • And we clearly and obviously don’t know that Jack did a thing wrong.

On, then, to Warren’s very, very cleverly written piece.

There are two fundamental flaws in it. The first is that he attributes fault to Jack Layton on the basis of assumptions, not facts.

Examples: Layton was “found in a place like that.” A place like what? (See the “what we don’t know” list, above.) Then, “I dislike prostitution.” And this rousing finale:

[H]e showed appalling judgment, sixteen years ago, and…he needs to express regret for that, instead of offering up the standard-issue political bullshit.

The second problem with the post is that, at its core, Warren’s argument is utterly illogical. Here’s the salient graf:

[T]he bigger scandal, here, remains unaddressed: at the time he was detained, Jack Layton was a city councillor on the City of Toronto’s budget committee, which has power over the police budget. The cops knew who he was, they knew the power he wielded over them. So what did they do? They walked him to the back door, and let him pedal away. Were the other men found at that place given that kind of treatment? If not, what happened here is a bona fide scandal, one that Toronto taxpayers need have probed, the passage of time notwithstanding.

Note the adroit manner in which Warren’s “bigger scandal” is allowed to become, at the end, conditional: “If not, what happened here is a bona fide scandal….”

If not what? If other men found “at that place” weren’t permitted to walk away. But we don’t know (see list, above) whether any arrests took place. We don’t know.

And the illogic here is stunning: Layton, already a thorn in the side of the Toronto police, was allowed to walk and pedal his way out of trouble because of “the power he wielded over them?”

Here’s the “ex-cop” turned Sun informant:

“To have arrested him and charged him would have served our egos a lot more. Layton was a thorn in the side of the police, siding with the anti-poverty movement in ‘96 or ‘97 … Jack was anti-police,” the ex-cop said.

“We looked at it and thought do we take advantage of this, or do we look at this like (he’s) any other person, put it away and we hope this thing dies a slow death.”

Now, knowing some of the tricks the Toronto cops got up to in those days to defend their turf, this should have a slam-dunk for them—if anything sketchy had actually been going on. The logical thing for them to do would have been to bust the pesky councillor with a flurry of publicity and thereby politically neutralize him, not hush it all up.

But, the “ex-cop” insists, “we hope[d] this thing [would] die a slow death.” What milk of human kindness ran in their veins that night!

For here is the Criminal Code, Section 210:

(2) Every one who

(a) is an inmate of a common bawdy-house,

(b) is found, without lawful excuse, in a common bawdy-house…

is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

All that was needed was proof that the massage clinic was indeed a house of prostitution. Well, was it? We don’t know. But it should be easy enough to check, for those with access to arrest records at the time and what-not—precisely the job the corporate media should have been doing, rather than publicly projecting sexual fantasies on the eve of an election.

In any case, so much for Warren’s innuendo-laden article, which, as noted, impressed the hell out of two seasoned journalistic colleagues. Didn’t impress me. Not even a little bit.

Comments are welcome—but my buddy is a litigious sort, so nothing defamatory, please.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on April 30, 2011 10:46 PM.

Stephen Harper: a very Canadian coup? was the previous entry in this blog.

Layton non-story: cui bono? is the next entry in this blog.

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