Category Archives: Journalism Class

Steven Harper “Only Five Questions”

Stephen Harper has infuriated me before, but, I think he’s taken the cake now. Stephen Harper has announced that he will only answer five questions each day as he travels across the country for his campaign. That’s four from national reporters and one from local reporters. Not each, in total. Five questions for a man who wants to be Prime Minister per day. This is like if you went to a job interview and told the interviewer that you were only willing to answer their first five questions. You know what would happen if you did? They wouldn’t hire you, because you’re starting to show signs that you’re controlling, and maybe a little full of yourself. And if the job you’re applying for is the Prime Minister of a democratic nation, those are traits not really suited to the role.

Way Smarter Than You'd Think

However, it’s also brilliant. Five questions is only enough to gain information on a superficial level. You’ll get the whos, whats, wheres and maybe, if Harper is in a good mood, whys, but fat chance you’ll get a how.  And that’s only if the journalists understand English and French, because the questions are supposed to be split evenly between languages. Not to mention that there’s only one question from local reporters. That’s not enough for any kind of depth. This is great for Harper because journalists, if they’re not careful, can waste questions on something frivolous or be unable to ask a question that popped to mind a little later. And so he can’t be grilled as well and his ideas can’t be dissected as well because we’re lacking information. So the news we get will be limited and superficial, and say things that Harper did and wants to do, and then it’ll be done. People will read it and go ‘hey, this guy has got ideas and there doesn’t seem to be any problem.’

That’s if Harper actually anwsers your question in the first place. He’s been known to reject any question on ethics and social impact on the count that it isn’t relevant. It is, but that’s a discussion for a different place. The problem is that you can waste a question with one he doesn’t want to answer and then all of a sudden you have nothing beyond his (probably riveting) speech. This is a continuation of a problem we’ve had in Parliament. Harper was found to be in contempt of Parliament because he had issues divulging information to the public.

Seriously, is this the guy we want back in Parliament? The guy who hides information and refuses to address his own problems with ethics? It’s fine if a politician hates the media, they can loathe it, and hunt it in the night with a finely worded letter and scowls. However, it’s audacious to treat it like a threat and then cut off its legs like Harper has. It’s not like Paul Martin liked the media, and I bet Ignatiaf wants to stab them right now. (Layton on the other hand seems pretty chummy for a guy who needs a crutch to walk. If he got in he’d be like Canada’s FDR.)

When it comes down to basics, here’s the issue I’m having: it’s working. Tories are gaining in the polls and the Grits are starting to shrink. It’s not surprising, the Conservatives have the momentum and the attack ads has been ripping the liberals apart. Harper is the most competent leader around right now, which is frightening, considering what he’s doing and wants to do. But, don’t despair quite yet. The local newspapers despise Harper for this, and are more passive-agressively fighting this. Honestly, I want to give an award for the best use of the term Harper Government. In today’s news it was used solely in an article that starts “The Harper Government has eroded Canada’s reputation as a human rights champion.” It goes on to explain that the Conservatives weren’t particularly implicated but hell, you have to use the government’s ‘official’ title, right? To do otherwise would be wrong.

So here’s my homework for like the six people who read this. Look at Harper and ask questions. He can do whatever he wants with the media, that will come back to haunt him later, but if he ignores the people he’s supposed to be representing, then he’s not representing you. Also, vote. Do what the politicians don’t expect. Honestly, if you don’t vote you deserve whatever leader we get, even if it is Harper.

(The other benefit is that if more students do vote or ask questions, we’ll get to see the Harper ‘oh shit’ face again, and I’ve been dying to see it again since Stephane Dion announced the coalition back in 08)


He looked like a kicked puppy!

F$*king Christmas Cards

For some context, I did this one a couple weeks ago during the Oneofakind Christmas Show and Sale. I ended up wandering the whole show for hours looking for something to write about, and these niche holiday cards were too fantastic to ignore. Oh, and if anyone’s interested in artisan work, go there next year, it’s pretty neat. Merry Christmas everyone.


Against the far left wall of the Oneofakind Christmas Show and Sale, is a small booth that sells greeting cards.  While these cards have cute animals on the cover, they come with a warning: “This card contains language that some people with no sense of humour may find offensive.”

Ebony Palmer, an arts student at Georgian College, had his eyes on a blue card with a cute Koala and the words “Happy Holidays” on the front. Inside it read, “Well, they’d be happy if you gave me some money.” Palmer chuckled.

“I think they’re hilarious. I really think they’ve got Hallmark beat,” said Palmer, as he picked up a card that read “Santa hates you.”

“I’m not trying to insult anyone,” said Nikki Bordignon, the cards’ designer.

She sits behind the counter of her booth, painting larger versions of her cards onto canvas. She still pays attention to customers as they look over her cards. She offers them help and gives them a little sneak peak of what she’s painting. Monday afternoon she was working on a happy moose that had a blue scarf around its neck. Written in the corner was “Merry Christmas, you materialistic bastard.”

Bordignon says that she got the in Vancouver, while working at a gift shop. “I was unpacking these boxes with these beautiful handmade little Christmas cards. I just thought that if the card said ‘go fuck yourself’ I would die of laughter.”

Before she made cards, Bordignon worked as a music columnist in Vancouver. She said this didn’t suit her, and so she went back to school in 2006 to study graphic design. Her cards came soon after.

“I showed [the cards] to my parents and they loved them. It’s funny, I didn’t intend to actually sell these, but my mom told me to bring a few to a stationery store to see if they’d buy any. I did, and they did, ” Bordignon said, explaining that the cards first went on sale in May 2007.

The cards aren’t limited to Christmas. Bordignon has cards that say thank you, sorry, happy birthday, and many other greetings all with her unconventional style.

“Sometimes they’re things I want to say to people, but would never actually say,” she said about her creative process. “Others are things I hear really gutsy people say. And sometimes they come from TV. It depends on how I’m feeling.”

Christine Abelson is a programmer from the University of Waterloo who was at the Oneofakind show Monday afternoon.  She smiled as she looked through the thank you cards. Unable to pick one, she eventually grabbed a few cards to compare the remarks.

“I’m thinking of getting one for my sister-in-law. I want to say thank you in the worst way possible.”

According to Bordignon, almost everyone laughs when they see her cards, and the Oneofakind show was proving to be no different. “That being said sometimes a guy will pick one up, look at it, and then quietly put it back and walk away,” Bordignon explained.

Bordignon sells these cards in select stores in British Columbia, though most of her traffic comes from trade shows. She follows the Oneofakind show as it passes through Canada, with appearances in Edmonton, Calgary and her hometown of Vancouver.

One woman glanced at the inside of a card and burst out laughing. “Oh my God, this is what I’ve always wanted to say!”

“I said it for you,” Bordignon replies with a grin.