Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has passed away.
And as much as I would prefer that the story featured in these pages be as poignant as possible a tribute to Klein, instead it must be otherwise.
The Star has always been a publication with a few blemishes — Heather Mallick and Antonia Zerbisias chiefly among them — but over the last year or so, the editors of Canada’s leading socialist newsrag have stood back and idly watched while the publication has entirely lost its mind. Almost as if it’s a case in point, the Star has managed to fold its response to Klein’s passing inside of its fishing for a story about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s alleged substance abuse issues.
Alleged by who? Why, as it turns out alleged only by the Toronto Star.
The story reached the peak of outrage recently when the Star ran a story claiming that Ford had been asked to leave a military gala because he was “intoxicated.” The story relied heavily on anonymous sources. When finally contacted for comment, however, the event’s organizers denied that Ford had been asked to leave. The story has no credibility.
It descended from this ignominious peak when a Toronto Star reporter attended an event in which Ford presented boxer George Chuvalo with the key to the city. When given the opportunity to ask Chuvalo a question he didn’t bother to ask about Chuvalo’s long list of accomplishments — chief among them fighting Muhammad Ali — or even about receiving the key to the city. Instead, he asked Chuvalo about the suggestions — primarily from his political adversaries on Toronto city council — and asked if he had any advice for Ford. Chuvalo politely told the little muck-raker to go pound sand.
The National Post‘s Chris Selley’s absurd defense of this yellow journalism aside (he seems to be pretending that reporting a story so lacking in credible sources as to be practically made-up is the same as reporting on serious issues), this is the kind of reporting that should have every single journalist in Canada embarrassed to see what one of the country’s alleged top newspapers has come to.
In their self-satisfaction, the passing of Ralph Klein has pushed them to make it ever so much worse. The photo run on the paper’s website is one of Klein holding a pint of beer and looking intoxicated.
Albertans haven’t forgotten that Klein had a drinking problem. In one infamous incident he stormed into an Edmonton homeless shelter and threw change at a man who was actually employed, but couldn’t find any housing he could afford. Klein promptly admitted that he had a problem, and did what all good men do when they have a problem they can’t manage on their own: he got help with it.
Now, on the occasion of Klein’s passing, the Star has confoundedly invoked this in what is very clearly an effort to continue pushing a story that they don’t have — that of Rob Ford’s alleged substance abuse issues.
Until today, the Toronto Star only owed apologies to Ford and his family. Now it owes apologies to Ralph Klein and his. But don’t expect to hear any… unless, of course, Rob Ford opts to sue one out of them.