Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Fawning.


I will get to the burnishing of David Hahn's golden parachute that began in earnest in the pages of VT-C on Boxing Day later.

But just to make the point that this fawning by the proMedia over all that Mr. Hahn does and says, regardless the actual, you know, facts at hand, did not begin yesterday, the following is something that the illustrious Mr. Keith Baldrey wrote way, way back in 2006 just after the tragic sinking of the Queen of the North:

Early last Wednesday morning - just after 2 a.m. - my home phone rang. That's usually a reason for concern - the first thing that springs to mind is a family emergency somewhere. But this call was about another kind of emergency.

"Keith, it's Dave Hahn. Sorry about the early call, but I thought you should know. One of our vessels has just gone down north of Vancouver Island. I'm trying to get an update on the passengers. I'll keep you informed, but I thought you might want to get going on this."

It was a startling phone call, to say the least. Startling because the ferry had only sunk about an hour before, startling because of the potential magnitude of the ferry disaster, and startling because of the forthrightness of the man who runs BC Ferries.

Mr. Hahn and I talked several more times in the early hours of that morning. He would phone with updates - the most important of which was about the state of the passengers - and try to provide as much information as possible.

As the morning went on, he started appearing seemingly everywhere - one minute on CKNW, the next moment on CBC Radio, the next on Global TV. BC Ferries had hastily chartered a plane to fly Mr. Hahn and Premier Gordon Campbell to Prince Rupert to meet the Queen of the North's passengers. He invited me and a Global cameraman to accompany them.

As this potentially giant crisis was still developing, Mr. Hahn was front and centre with the public. Rather than hiding and adopting a bunker mentality when faced with a disaster for the company, he was out in front of the story, trying to provide information as quickly as possible.

In other words, he was behaving exactly the opposite of how most politicians act when faced with a crisis. The usual experience, from this reporter's perspective, is having to wait for hours outside a cabinet minister's office (or a premier's office) as nervous aides huddle, trying to figure out a damage control plan before saying anything publicly.

Not so with Mr. Hahn.

It's a refreshing approach from the head of a large company, and one that I suspect resonates well with the general public. I ran into Mr. Hahn at a Victoria gas station this past weekend, and attendants there were congratulating him for "being upfront" about everything. The radio phone-in shows have also reflected positive reviews - not scientific research, I admit, but my instincts tell me the approach is working.

All this injects yet another perspective into the ongoing debate over the privatization of BC Ferries. I have a very hard time believing information would have been forthcoming so quickly in the wake of this kind of disaster if BC Ferries were still run by the provincial government.

There are valid concerns about the need for public accountability when it comes to BC Ferries, since the company basically controls the transportation ability for thousands of people who rely on the ferry system for travel, commuting or the shipment of goods.

For example, the company is exempt from B.C.'s freedom of information law, which shields it from a significant level of scrutiny.

There are certainly parts of privatization that trouble many people. But in terms of accountability in the face of a disaster as large as the sinking of the Queen of the North, I'll take Mr. Hahn's approach over his predecessors - as in cabinet ministers - any day.

Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global B.C.

And here is what I wrote in response, way back when:

First, the obvious: Why, exactly, does Mr. Baldrey automatically conclude that persistent attempts at PR Spin = Accountability?

Second, the less obvious: Why, exactly, does Mr. Baldrey not recognize when he himself is, perhaps, being spun?

With respect to the latter question, could it be that Mr. Baldery likes it that way?


Given recent events and the non-responses to them, not to mention the lack of digging beneath the shakey ground that the babbling spokesthingies stand on, it would seem that you could ask the same questions of all of Lotusland's proMedia right about now.




Anonymous said...

I remember when I was in Grade 12, back East, and I took a course called "World Problems." It was for students who did not take Latin 12. In this course, we discussed issues of the day, like the crisis in Viet Nam, Kennedy's assassination, the 1964 US elections and so on. We had polite but spirited discussions. There were no tests nor essays. In the course we received a publication from the UN (I believe) on present world issues.It was great. In one issue was a cartoon with a donkey on one side of a mirror and an elephant on the other. The caption from both animals as they looked in the mirror was, "Horrors, I'm beginning to look like you."
Another article and to the point of this story was about I.F. Stone. and his publication, "The I. F. Stone Weekly." In the article about Mr. Stone, he stated that he never interviewed politicians because they always try to manipulate the truth to suit their purposes. Instead he wrote about them by examining what they said and what they did."
Whenever I see a reporter saying he /she spoke to a politician, I always take it a grain of salt. Baldrey (and other reporters called for a story) should realize that they are being used to spin a story. They are not getting the truth from the horse's mouth.

North Van's Grumps said...

All this flurry of writing on your part Rossk, great stuff, fact is if one were to use some of your key words as a Search in Google, this appears on the screen, fifth hit down:



Bachelor of Arts, University of British Columbia, 1976

In this paper. I analyze how political, economic, and administrative issues were majorfactors in the BC Liberal government's creation of a complex hybrid operating structurefor BC Ferries. The model evolved as the result of a number of circumstances, includingthe former NDP government's "fast ferry" debacle and the Liberal government's decisionto conduct a Core Services Review of all government services, including those provided by Crown corporations. BC Ferries' new structure has similarities to other administrativemodels that have been introduced as a result of New Public Management initiatives andother factors in a number of Westminster jurisdictions. The resulting operating entitiesare having significant impacts on the nature and scope of public accountabilities and on reporting structures."

Yours, is the fourth hit down from June 26 2006

Second from the bottom is "Building a new company with a proud Tradition":

"On April 2, 2003, BC Ferries officially became an independent company. On that day, a 43-year old organization was given a new beginning. And a clear vision to become a world-class marine transportation system. One that's both highly customer-focused and financially viable. One year later, BC Ferries is making changes for the better. We're building on our strengths, we're addressing our weaknesses and we're realizing new business opportunities.

One sailing at a time." etc.

North Van's Grumps said...

Key words search in Google

BC Ferries david hahn "cache" queen of oak bay

Rusty M said...

One question: Why does David Hahn have Keith Baldry's home phone number?

Anonymous said...

Rusty M: Maybe Hahn and Baldrey exchanged phone numbers while they were out on the links at their annual get-together:

Rusty M said...

My point is ... it must be handy for a guy like Hahn to have a media guy on his speed dial.

According to Baldry, long before the shit hit the fan, Hahn had already begun to remove himself from the path of the splattering scat, at the same time making himself look like some kind of altruistic hero ... and, by the sounds of Balrdy's saccharine praises, it worked.

Definitely, Hahn's finest hour ... (with apologies to Winston C.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be crude but when you need someone to cover your ass you call the guy with the "T"paper. (in this case Baldrey. That is the 'pile' the next government will have to clean up.


Rusty M said...

... and that is EXACTLY why a guy like Hahn should not have easy access to a daily scribe ... jeeez! call him in the middle of the night and while he's half asleep fill his head with Jello

Tony Martinson said...

Rusty is only part right. That David Hahn call up the single most influential reporter in the province is not the problem. The problem is tha Keith Baldrey is such a lazy ass that he won't do the simple legwork to determine if Hahn is feeding him utter bullshit. But Baldrey does not do actual journalism.