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The 7 - Current Events & Politics - New Canadian Government Bans Media Coverage of Returning Dead Soldiers
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TheBucsFan
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#1 Posted on 25.4.06 1729.29
Reposted on: 25.4.13 1729.50
From yahoo (news.yahoo.com):


    Canada's new Conservative government barred the media from covering the return Tuesday of the flag-draped coffins of four soldiers killed in Afghanistan, angering political opponents and some families.

    The government also has stopped lowering flags to half-staff outside Parliament each time a Canadian soldier is killed, prompting Liberals to accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper of trying to play down the growing human cost of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan

    ...


    When the bodies return to Trenton, where the families receive the bodies for the first time and they come face to face with the reality that their loved ones are dead, this is for their private grief," O'Connor told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday. The four bodies are the first returned to Canada since the Conservative government took office.

    O'Connor noted that media were allowed to cover the solemn send-off ceremony just before a Hercules transport plane left Kandahar with the bodies.

    He also said the Conservatives who toppled the Liberals from nearly 13 years in power in January were returning to an 80-year-old tradition of honoring fallen soldiers by only lowering the flag on Parliament Hill once a year, on Nov. 11, Remembrance Day.


I'm curious what kind of response this will get from the Canadian public. I can't imagine a scenario in which I think the government is justified in banning the press, and this is certainly no exception. Hopefully this doesn't give the U.S. government any ideas.

I really am anxious to know what kind of reaction this draws from the Canadian people, as well as the media.
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tarnish
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#2 Posted on 25.4.06 1844.13
Reposted on: 25.4.13 1845.02

Interestingly enough, the spin from the media up here is that it's a very "Bush-like" thing to be doing.

As a Canadian citizen who voted in the most recent election, I can say I'm rather dismayed by both of the decisions (no media coverage and flags at half-mast only once a year in memoriam of soldiers' deaths). To have made these decisions with no input from the Canadian public on the matter makes it even worse.

If you are going to send soldiers into a situation where they may die, allowing the press to cover their funerals if and when they come home dead shouldn't even be at issue. Everyone should be able to join in the mourning. Further, lumping them all together once a year with a flag at half-staff is not giving enough credence to what price they've paid for the our country and what we as a people stand for. Using the excuse of "bringing back a tradition from 80-years past" absolutely reeks of attempting to put positive spin on an indefensible maneuver.

While the military tradition is certainly well-represented in my family, I cannot say that I've served my country in that capacity. I'm relatively certain those who can say otherwise find this even more odious than I.

AWArulz
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#3 Posted on 25.4.06 1911.53
Reposted on: 25.4.13 1911.55
Not a Canadian, but a Veteran, including a stint in a combat zone..

When I was a boy and a young man, the news agencies here in the states "covered" the return of bodies from Vietnam. And somewhat later, when bodies were returned after the war ended and I was assigned on the honor guard, it was also covered.

My (much later) impression of both of those events is that it was not about respecting the war dead, but showing the body bags (or in the latter case where I was guard, the coffins). For shock, for ratings, for advancement of their own agenda, I don't know.

in '78, I escorted 11 coffins from Travis Air Force Base to various places in the United states with other guys (and one girl). As we left Travis, a bunch of reporters (I wanted to call them a mob) pushed at us through the gate. They stuck Cameras up at the windows, they shouted stuff like "Roll the F***ing windows down so we can get a picture" and "Get the F*** out of the way".

At the actual funerals, in many small towns, there was often a respectful local reporter, but none of those national, big paper, network reporters. The local guys were cool, and family was respected, we did our thing and our buddy finally went home.

I guess I kind of agree with the Canadian government's policy at the reception center. I wonder if it extends to the funeral time.

(edited by AWArulz on 25.4.06 2012)
TheBucsFan
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#4 Posted on 25.4.06 2018.28
Reposted on: 25.4.13 2018.35
    Originally posted by AWArulz
    When I was a boy and a young man, the news agencies here in the states "covered" the return of bodies from Vietnam. And somewhat later, when bodies were returned after the war ended and I was assigned on the honor guard, it was also covered.

    My (much later) impression of both of those events is that it was not about respecting the war dead, but showing the body bags (or in the latter case where I was guard, the coffins). For shock, for ratings, for advancement of their own agenda, I don't know.


The media is obviously very often guilty of trying to "shock" readers/viewers in an attempt to draw an audience, but I think an equally responsible motive in these scenarios is to spread the truth. In the case of war, I think it's natural for newspapers to want to explore the death and destruction because the other end of the "truth" is already well covered. The government is already doing everything in its power to make sure as many citizens as possible see the good that is done in combat - liberation, freedom, blah blah blah - but isn't exactly jumping to share the consequences. The media naturally would feel like these are things the public should be aware of. This I don't have a problem with.

Where it does become problematic is on issues that aren't so clearly divided between "good results" and "bad results." When it comes to sensationalist murder trials, unsubstantiated political scandal leads, etc., too often many media outlets are stuck in this "people want to hear bout the *horror*" mentality. Sadly, it does usually work and people eat it up, that's why they keep doing it.

This also doesn't clear the media of being biased or lazy. It just explains why a reporter's natural reaction to some dead bodies being shipped home is "Did these people really have to die?" instead of "How heroic were these peoples' actions?"
tarnish
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#5 Posted on 26.4.06 0738.19
Reposted on: 26.4.13 0738.36

See, this is why I should wait before I post.

After paying a little more attention than usual to the news, I realize that this isn't all as nasty as I originally thought.

For one, the decision to put the flag at half-mast has been a discretionary one by the Prime Minister for the last number of years. This has led to situations where for one soldier, there was a day of half-mast, while for the sailor who died in the submarine fire last year there was a week or more of half-mast. I can understand the need for a policy here, I just disagree that one day for all casualties is enough.

The issue of press coverage of the funerals isn't so much a "misbehaving media" issue up here as it might be in the US. The Prime Minister is apparently reacting to one family's request for privacy for their service. Meanwhile, however, other families wish to have media coverage so that friends and family who cannot be there have some access to the service. I can see both sides to this. Maybe it should be up to the family to make the final decision as to whether the service is public or not?

I should also point out that the current action in Afghanistan is quite well supported by the Canadian people according to the latest polls. There's no "unpopular war" that the media can stir things up about. So to me it really is about respecting those who have made sacrifices and not so much about questioning the military action itself.

hansen9j
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#6 Posted on 26.4.06 0817.00
Reposted on: 26.4.13 0817.11
http://rickmercer.blogspot.com/2006/04/priority-six-we-are-bunch-of-pricks.html

Commentary from (for all intents and purposed) our version of Jon Stewart).
DrDirt
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#7 Posted on 26.4.06 1019.21
Reposted on: 26.4.13 1021.13
    Originally posted by AWArulz
    Not a Canadian, but a Veteran, including a stint in a combat zone..

    When I was a boy and a young man, the news agencies here in the states "covered" the return of bodies from Vietnam. And somewhat later, when bodies were returned after the war ended and I was assigned on the honor guard, it was also covered.

    My (much later) impression of both of those events is that it was not about respecting the war dead, but showing the body bags (or in the latter case where I was guard, the coffins). For shock, for ratings, for advancement of their own agenda, I don't know.

    in '78, I escorted 11 coffins from Travis Air Force Base to various places in the United states with other guys (and one girl). As we left Travis, a bunch of reporters (I wanted to call them a mob) pushed at us through the gate. They stuck Cameras up at the windows, they shouted stuff like "Roll the F***ing windows down so we can get a picture" and "Get the F*** out of the way".

    At the actual funerals, in many small towns, there was often a respectful local reporter, but none of those national, big paper, network reporters. The local guys were cool, and family was respected, we did our thing and our buddy finally went home.

    I guess I kind of agree with the Canadian government's policy at the reception center. I wonder if it extends to the funeral time.

    (edited by AWArulz on 25.4.06 2012)


AWA, while I wont argue that some of the media are often animals, I want the American public to be schocked. We are on the highway to 3000 dead service men and women, and a lot of Iraqis. The public needs to really understand the cost and too many really don't get it. People our age and older, who grew up during Vietnam have a grasp of the human tragedy of armed conflict but many born after about 1970 often don't.

I want the families to have privacy, but I think that reason here is bs. I want the families to have their children, wives, and husbands alive.

I am not, repeat not antiwar, and I totally agreed with Afghanistan but not Iraq. I just don't think you can do what we are trying to do until the people are ready for it and they don't seem ready. War, no matter how justified, should make us uncomfortable and uneasy. Wasn't it Lee who said that it was good war was so horrible or we would grow to love it too much.
Merc
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#8 Posted on 28.4.06 0056.08
Reposted on: 28.4.13 0056.54
If there is no coverage of the returns, what happens in a case like this: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200604/s1625581.htm where the wrong body gets returned?
I'm sure there's still a report, but the impact a media organisation gains from having a picture is too big to ignore.
I think Tarnish is correct in having the family decide, but if you do that, there will always be someone in the media who says its in the public interest for them to cover the story.
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