An op-ed (opposite the editorial page) is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board. These are different from editorials, which are usually unsigned and written by editorial board members.With political controversy raging in British Columbia, might this be an appropriate time for Vancouver's largest newspaper to feature an independent writer presenting opinion contrary to its editorial board? Is the newspaper brave enough to expose new ideas, at least occasionally?
Well, visiting the Vancouver Sun website today, I pushed past the important stuff at Home Page, about a storm near Belize, a report on a drug death last June, full coverage about a minor Hollywood celebrity who fears "star-whackers" and sports and various non-political news, except for a bit about a complaint in Ottawa over heating costs. I aimed to look at recent op-eds to see who was filling space at the Sun's Issues and Ideas page. I found this:
- The Friday item was commentary on why the Disney company deserves a gold star, written by Fazil Mihlar. "Wait a minute", I thought. "Isn't he the ex-Fraser Institute guy who is the Sun editorial pages editor and a regular Sun columnist?" Hmmm, I thought he already had a platform.
- Also, there was a dramatic call by the Sun's religion reporter to silence North American restaurants and retail outlets that blast out increasingly louder music. I know. I know. My grandmother hated that too.
- Dan Gardner, columnist with Sun sister paper Ottawa Citizen, provided a profile on 85-year old Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, renown Asian scientist. Gardner also weighs in on why the pundits are wrong on Barack Obama.
- Then we had ex-Liberal politician, and current BC Liberal government consultant on Special Prosecutors, Stephen Owen. I suppose he's an alternative voice and from his current senior management position at UBC, he is able to tell us why the university is so well run by its senior managers.
- Don Sandberg advises aboriginals how they should throw off the yoke of oppression and accept outside financial controls and eliminate native leaders from tribal government and get rid of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), which is - gasp - subject only to the will of elected band chiefs. Sandberg, by the way, is associated with Winnipeg's Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP) which last year brought us the Friends of Science radio commercials and website promoting a handful of obscure climate change deniers. The FCPP is a minor league Fraser Institute, also substantially supported by oil money, with helping hands from private healthcare providers and other "enlightened" philanthropists.
Too bad there is nothing going on in BC politics worthy of comment in op-ed pages, particularly comments by people who don't already have a podium; new voices, not ones representing the same old vested interest. People able to discuss topics like:
- the failure of journalism to cover an ethical meltdown in government,
- the politicization of the Supreme Court and the justice system of BC,
- the foot-dragging on introducing true public accountability to all forms of policing,
- the looming crisis in school funding,
- the failures of public-private partnerships,
- the elimination of open bidding on government mega-contracts,
- the destruction of equal access to healthcare for all,
- the change from a system of progressive taxation to one based on user-pay fees,
- etc., etc.