The Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 3, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4-THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD Thursday, January State of the fourth estate A somewhat gloomy view of press freedom around the world, set forth in an annual, year's end review, is emphasized in recent action taken by the Finnish government against that country's publicly-owned broadcasting cor- poration. In Helsinki, the government has told the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation that it must follow the official foreign policy line in its programming. The foreign minister reasoned publicly that since the corporation was considered abroad to be a mouthpiece for the government and since the government had to answer to foreign countries for views expressed on the air, therefore those views should stay within official foreign policy. There is little doubt that this edict stemmed directly from the main fact in Finnish life, the absolute necessity of staying on good terms with the Russians It is the first time that a government of- ficial of such high rank has been so ex- plicit about the news media and indicates a desire for tighter control. The annual review with the gloomy view is the 1973 Press Freedom Report, published in Zurich by the International Press Institute. It covers the world by political bloc and by continent and this year's subtitle tells the story: "Erosion of the People's Right to Know." The investigative reporting of the Watergate affair, a triumph according to the review, is offset by the dis- appearance of press freedom in Chile and elsewhere and by such actions as that taken in Finland. The director of the institute criticizes his native France for its policy toward the state radio and TV networks, which are not allowed the freedom of expres- sion that the BBC, for example, has managed to defend against all comers. He concludes thaf'the very principle of the right of people to diversified, com- plete and well-balanced information suf- fers from an endemic erosion." The ad- jective is a painful one and follows close- ly on the theme of the 1971 report that the world's press was questioning its destiny, role and economic future, and the warning in the 1972 review of an in- visible cancer gnawing away at a press resigned to accept limitations. Much valid criticism can be (and has been) directed at the journalism profession The necessity of filling X number of columns and X number of minutes with news every day leads to such detailed speculation and prediction that actual events are frequently lost in the proliferation of psuedo-news. And the repetition made necessary by the voracious appetite of the mass media precipitates a sense of constant crisis which is frequently not observable on the scene. It is true that a false sense of om- niscience pervades many news rooms. Headlines are sometimes misleading, written by an editor too pressed by time or space. What passes for investigative reporting is frequently simply a collec- tion of opinions. And it is true that humility seems to be a rare virtue among journalists. When all this has been conceded, it should be pointed out that journalistic intentions are often misunderstood and that the Fourth Estate, made up of human beings trying to do a good job, serves democratic societies as well, if not better, than most of their institutions and that every local newspaper purveys more news (hard, soft or otherwise) and provides more avenues for criticism and the exchange of opinion than it is ever given credit for. In short, it is a profession in which one can, and should, take pride. ERIC NICOL Downtown information only! VANCOUVER A fellow wrote a letter to the editor the other day, praising the growth of the city, the downtown area with its "large hotels and stately office towers that give the city a sophisticated and worldly at- mosphere." I thought of this while I was downtown do- ing my Christmas shopping recently. As I came out of a sophisticated and worldly department store, my head buzzing with the quality of life I had found in the Budget Basement, a gaunt youth handed me a pamphlet announcing the end of the world in 40 days. The comet Kohoutek is the harbinger of Doom, it said. Now, if I hadn't gone downtown I might never have known that the world was coming to an end in 40 days. Out where I live, in Suburbia, some distance from the large hotels and stately office towers, nobody bothers to inform us of perti- nent events such as the end of the world. We get flyers about a supermarket special on chucfr roast and stuff like that, but for the really meaty message I have to go into town. I didn't read the whole pamphlet that the spectre handed me outside the department store, because I was being buffeted fairly vigorously by the gritty winds that whip around our stately office towers. But I read enough of it to learn that God has had it up to here, with our evil civilization, and has sent up a flare in the form of comet Kohoutek to warn us that we have only a few weeks in which to repent. Stylish dress for the repentant, said the pamphlet, is sackcloth This was bad news, as I had made a point of wearing my cuffless trousers with the slash pockets in order to blend with the worldly atmosphere of down- town Turn around Cameron there's going to be a shortage of gas in Canada Disallowance considered over energy matters By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator I briefly considered going back into the sophisticated department store, to see if they were by any chance having a sale of discon- tinued lines of sackcloth. But it seemed un-" likely. The price of sackcloth has gone up with that of other items of clothing. To get a decent sackcloth, the doubleknit durable enough to see you through the apocalypse, can cost you the earth. For some reason, standing there in the midst of the towntown traffic and the noise of construction of new stately office towers and the acrid fumes of diesel buses, I was not too upset to hear that the world had 40 days, and counting. Indeed I felt a certain satisfaction. Almost a sense of relief. "Good old comet I said, to no one in particular. (That's another amenity of a growing downtown you can talk out loud to yourself without attracting attention.) "Good old comet Kohoutek. He signals the end of this headache I got trying to remember where I parked my car." This is the kind of pleasure a person finds only in the worldly atmosphere of a rapidly- developing city. Out in the country, surround- ed by unsophisticated flora and equally crude fauna, you look forward to imminent destruc- tion by divine wrath with considerably less relish. You may even view the end of the world with regret. Stranger things have happened. But so long as our city continues to proliferate its elegant office structures and accelerate its exciting pace of impersonal violence, we shall have no shortage of haggard-looking people standing on the street corners handing out tidings of great moment. Forty days. Maybe I just have time to go downtown and exchange my Christmas neckties for a hair shirt OTTAWA Shortly before Christmas, a New Democratic member directed the atten- tion of the minister of justice to a bill affecting teachers which had received second reading in the Ontario Legislature. the minister recommend dis- allowance of the legislation since various sections, in Derek Blackburn's view, were contrary to civil liberties? Otto Lang might very well, in the circumstances, have dismissed the question as premature. After all, the bill had not been passed at the time and may not become law. But the minister, although noting quite properly that the question was premature, went beyond that point to state the general posi- tion of the Trudeau govern- ment on such matters. This is "that the power of dis- allowance is a rather extraor- dinary one, to be used in special circumstances. The ordinary remedy for dealing with laws of the provinces lies in the political processes in the provinces." On December 27 little more than a week after his general and obviously in- complete statement in the House Mr. Lang, in a reported interview, attacked the Alberta and Saskatchewan oil marketing legislation as ul- tra vires. In his interpretation, the measures interfere with interprovincial trade. The federal govern- ment will probably take action in the courts to implement "its one-price policy for oil in Canada." If necessary, it may even use the power of dis- allowance. The official description of government policy becomes more and more baffling, es- pecially to people in eastern Canada who are already by the reckoning of Donald Mac- donald paying seven to eight cents a gallon more for gasoline and heating oil than their compatriots elsewhere whose products are refined from domestic crude. In fact, Mr. Macdonald's case for sub- sidization is that, without it, the spread may go to 20 cents. However the policy is described, it may well be threatened, as the minister of justice maintains, by the measures proposed by the dis- obedient western provinces. Assuming that Mr. Lang has a good case, the federal govern- ment will certainly be within its rights in launching a court challenge. But these constitutional ac- tions often take many months. The federal government may well feel that it cannot wait. All through an anxious fall and winter, time has been its enemy. At every stage it has been forced to improvise in energy policy, reacting rather desperately to events which ministers could not control. In other words, we are now in a situation which was not foreseeable in more tranquil days when ministers could talk so lightly about dispens- ing with, the reserve powers. Events have shown that there is a strong case for retaining the powers of disallowance and reservation for use in ex- ceptional circumstances when the federal government can- not wait on the courts. This argument has, of course, been developed over and over again in these columns since the day when Ernest Lapointe, who also disliked, .the reserve powers, was forced to use them to protect the credit of Canada when it was threaten- ed by the Alberta Social Credit legislation. There is, however, a very considerable difficulty of Ot- tawa's own making. If the record is examined, it will be found that federal governments since the First World War have employed the reserve powers only against weak provinces; usually against provinces ruled by another political party. Resort to disallowance in ex- isting circumstances is almost bound to provoke charges, therefore, that while all provinces are equal, some are much more equal than others. It is not that there has been a lack of provocation. Interprovincial trade was cer- tainly obstructed by the famous chicken-arid-egg war, but no action was taken against Quebec, which happens to be the second most populous province. Nor was action taken, even in the courts, to attack the James Bay legislation which affected the rights of the native people and could impair the national credit, since Ottawa, has a direct interest in other very costly energy projects more directly related to our present painful shortages. What Ottawa did in the latter case was to fund the In- dians who went to court by themselves and must now watch developments helplessly, although the basic questions remain undeter- mined. The argument against direct action, either through the courts or by means of the reserve powers, was that such interference would be "pater- nalistic." Remarkably, nothing is heard about paternalism when it is a case of protecting white communities, most of .them in the two strongest provinces. Instead, Mr. Lang, as attorney general for Canada, is eager for battle in the courts and, in a further display of deter- mination, is taking a serious look at the possibilities of dis- allowance. This may well testify to the keenness of his legal perceptions and also, of course, to the government's awareness of the perils of our situation. But it would be much easier if ministers had been less selective in their judgments and if there was less in the record to suggest that within our wide-borders, geography makes such a difference. OECD reports grim year for Western World By C. L. Sulzberger, New York Times commentator PARIS The next twelve months cannot avoid being dif- ficult for the industrialized West even though the United States, economically, may survive with less sweat than countries of the European Economic Community (Common The availability and price of petroleum is, of course, the major element contributing to gloom. Airlines and automobile manufacturers seem fated to suffer from a shortage of fuel which, either through hoarding by its producers or its excessive cost, is bound to become rater. And the swollen expense of energy re- quired is almost certainly bound to defer supersonic air transport, at least the Anglo- French Concorde. West Germany, which through Chancellor Brandt's Ostpolitik has been courting the Soviet Bloc, now becomes even more dependent upon it because of the Russian petroleum-and-natural gas pipeline network extending into eastern Europe. Likewise, Japan, hitherto reluctant to invest heavily in the U.S.S.R. oil and gas deposits, because of Moscow's toughness on territorial ques- tions, is likely to be pushed into a more acquiescent frame of mind. Thus, quite apart from chuckles in Arab palaces and tents every time agonized Western groans follow new statements on petroleum, it is also clear the Kremlin can hope to gain much from the situation. Of course Russia is to some degree sensitive to oil supplies and will ultimately become more so. But during 1974 its gains will far outweigh minor in- conveniences. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, headquartered in Paris, has come out with a study of the ensuing year's outlook which was scarcely optimistic even when prepared just before the re- cent doubling of petroleum prices. Now, while reading it, one almost feels the shadow of recession over one's shoulder. It says: "the over-all appraisal was that 1974 would in any case have been a year of slower growth and continu- ing rapid inflation." On this base, one can easily ex- trapolate further reduction in economic growth for the West, probable decline in out- put, and an almost inevitable fall in employment. All this comes as a special shock to most advanced in- dustrial countries which, despite their troubles with inflation, had been passing through the strongest upswing since the Korean War. Now there will be inescapable balance of payments problems which cannot but emphasize economic output, defense, budgetary and employment difficulties.' The eventual consequences could have serious political and diplomatic reflections. To understand just how bad- ly the fuel crisis following the October Arab-Israeli War will hit the West, despite Pollyanna statements favored by its statesmen, one has but to read this paragraph of the OECD study: "In the six months to Oc- tober (1973) the average an- nual rate of increase in the consumer price level in OECD countries was around 10 per cent, which is approximately three times the rate which prevailed in the 1960's. For the first time in the recent history of the major industrialized countries, a significant number of them are ex- periencing inflation rates in double figures, and the possibility of social and economic tensions emerging from real or imagined changes in the distribution of real income cannot be ig- nored." That, I repeat, was before the crisis started. The outlook was already worrying and a momentum for deadly infla- tion had already been at- tained. What happens now? The United States is better off than its allies because only 6 per cent of its total energy re- quirements comprise Arab oil imports and this figure can be shrunk. But Japan? And West Germany, even if it can fall back on coal? And France, about half of whose imports are energy? And Britain, already on the brink of disaster? The famous oil companies once considered weighty political forces are floundering. Today they are but servants of the producer countries any of which can kick them with impunity in the rump. During the next decade there will be massive adjust- ments by industrial nations, seeking to use the energy available in a more rational way and also seeking to develop different sources to power their societies. But that is a 10-year ques- tion if we work very hard. The coming year cannot es- cape being mournful. Hope is steadily waning for Chile's refugees By Terry Bell, London Observer commentator SANTIAGO Several hundred men, women and children in and around San- tiago, exist in a limbo heavily infused with paranoia. They are the refugees official and unofficial. They live with waning hope and increasing fear, the left-overs from Chile's now dispersed and decapitated left-wing com- munity. The country's new military leaders do not want them, although many of their number are being closely investigated for possible "crimes against the public interest." And, as the new year dawns, it is becoming increasingly apparent, even in the relative isolation of the camps, that other countries are also fairly reluctant to ex- tend sanctuary. Many of the "official" of them foreign nationals in camps and the unofficial Chilean leftists liv- ing a nerve-racking life "on the outside" arc beginning to realize that this may be the end of the road. But unlike their com- patriots in asylum here, they lack even the protection of embassy walls. According to existing agreements, the armed forces have the right to arrest and detain any refugees considered guilty of crimes against the state. Although Canada and several other countries are processing applications for immigration from the camps, most of the refugees claim they are being picked over like so much flotsam by the diplomatic seagulls of the developed world. Those refugees with good academic and technical qualifications, who generally have command of more than one language, are the most desired targets. The semi- and unskilled, with little or no grasp of any language other than Spanish, are finding it impossible to qualify in terms of the im- migration criteria laid down, particularly by British Com- monwealth countries. A few have also already received their first rejections, general- ly on the grounds that their' migration would not be in the interests of public safety. Some, certainly, have the sort of militant records which would make them suspect im- migrants to almost any country. Three young Dominicans, for example, have been sitting in a camp outside the city hoping against hope for the past two months that their "terrible tactical error" in hijacking a Mexican aircraft to Cuba three years ag6 will not preclude them from some sanctuary. So far, it has. In cases like these or in those of seemingly ordinary men and women who, for one reason or anther, have little hope of finding a new country, the situation appears desperate. Almost all the refugees have little more than the clothes they stand op in, and modi of the talk hi the camps these days centres about "traditional Chilean chauvinism." These foreign leftovers from a stillborn ex- periment with socialism see themselves with some justification as handy scapegoats for the problems of Chile. Penned up in the camps, it is obvious even to the most naive how uinerable they are. According to several Western diplomatic sources, this is the first time since Spain, 1939, that the world has faced similar thorny problems with foreign refugees and large numbers of people in embassy asylum. "In Madrid after the Spanish war, the Chilean Embassy housed a couple of thousand people for about 18 a Com- monwealth diplomat said. "We no longer have those numbers, but what will happen to the people left, God alone knows The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th Si S Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO LTD and Second Class Mail Registration No 0012 CLEOW MOWERS Editor and Publisher OONH PILLING Managing Editor DONALD R DORAM General Manager ROYF MILES Advertising Manager DOUGLAS K WALKER Editorial Page Editor ROBERT M FENTOft Circulation Manager KENNETH E BARNETT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"