When, in a letter to the editor, I drew attention to Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s ridiculous and outrageous public statement crediting the building of the $1-billion Upper Churchill project to Nalcor and its current managers, a Telegram headline seemed to suggest she was merely ignorant of the history of the massive power development that has haunted our politics and politicians for half a century.
However, I really didn’t believe it was quite that simple.
Now since she appears to have gone and done it again, I am absolutely convinced I was right.
Last week, to participate in a timely discussion of what was labelled “post-truth politics,” CBC Radio Sunday Edition moderator Michael Enright welcomed moral philosophy professor emeritus Harry G. Frankfurt of Princeton University, author of the published essay “On Bullshit,” and columnist Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen, who has written on the same subject.
Their conclusion: today’s politicians are less concerned with reality (i.e. truth) than with manipulating the minds and beliefs of their audiences. So, they engage in spreading what is sometimes known as “bs.”
“If you don’t know what to say, then you make up something,” commented Frankfurt, recalling that as far back as ancient Greece young men were actually schooled in winning political arguments in this very manner by the Sophists, and it is common today.
The discussion focused, for example, on the Conservatives in Canada coming out against an NDP policy to favour a carbon tax, and when that party denied it and demonstrated the claim was false — guess what?
Rather than abandon it, the Harperites actually intensified their campaign!
Does Mrs. Dunderdale making up the story that Nalcor — formed only four or five years ago — built the $1-
billion Upper Churchill in the 1960s, rather than the private company Brinco, somehow strengthen the case for Nalcor doing Muskrat Falls?
Does her predecessor, Danny Williams, in effect denying the existence of Brinco, somehow lend credibility to the administration of the public business?
Rather, it makes them both look silly and causes may people to wonder just how desperate they are to salvage what has been a doubtful, excessively expensive proposition from the start — and why.
William R. Callahan