January 19th, 2020

Laying it Out: If you can’t beat him, make him a distraction

By Medicine Hat News Opinion on January 11, 2020.

All eyes on me, and I don’t know what to say. Typical.

If I didn’t suffer from crippling anxiety every time more than a dozen people are looking at me, I would probably be using this space this week to thank the United Conservatives.

What they have given the Medicine Hat News in a little less than a month, I probably couldn’t have obtained over the next three years. Instead of the modest readership growth this space had been earning, the government’s fixation on my colleague, this newspaper and myself has attracted focus on our little operation from across the country.

While I appreciate the attention and extremely flattering comments and emails I have been receiving, I’m a full-time layout editor at a small newspaper who squeezes in time to write this column when I probably should be spending time with my family. I am committed and dedicated to bringing you this voice – in fact I’m about as motivated as I’ve ever been – but I’m hindered by the limitations of other responsibilities and the fact the News doesn’t exactly have Globe and Mail access to everything that goes on.

And that’s why this entire situation is so bizarre. We have a little more than 8,000 print subscriptions and, until recently, had barely any reach online.

Yet a baker’s dozen columns into this, I seem to have the government’s full attention, as evidenced this week with the UCP’s second submission of an op-ed in response to something we have published. I have zero intentions of playing a back-and-forth war of words with every government department that can’t handle criticism, so I’m not going to go through Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz’s piece point by point.

What I will say is it said absolutely nothing in relation to anything I have actually written, other than to offer a silly claim that I personally attacked her. With all due respect, Ms. Schulz, you’re a cabinet minister. If you’re taking the things I have said as “personal” attacks, you’re in the wrong business.

I do not accept your ridiculous straw man arguments as an official response to the things I have written and asked. It seems, once again, the UCP retort ignores the point as it offers up generic nothings I could have pre-written before you hit send.

At best, your work showed the continuous desire of your government to distract from the real point, as did Tom Olsen’s submission before it that was supposed to address Jeremy Appel’s work and never once did.

The News will gladly offer your government space to write as many op-eds as you wish, but what does it say about you that following a now-viral column where I said truth doesn’t need the talking-point version of an elected official who doesn’t answer questions directly, you submitted your own talking-point version of the truth and neglected to address a single question I posed?

The truth is not yours to construct. Answer the questions you’re asked, or get out of the way – this column is neither for you nor about you. This column is for the people not only tired of skewed crap from their elected officials, but other columnists who’d rather write about beards and bellybuttons than do any meaningful work.

This column is for people who are dying for someone, anyone, to offer them a perspective that isn’t funnelled through this garbage notion of economy first, people second. It’s for the people that understand that the collective good is their good – for those who get that your health is my health, that your education enhances mine, and that children who aren’t treated like an inconvenient expense provide immeasurable residual benefits and, therefore, pay for themselves.

And since the day I started writing it, all your government has done is shown to be afraid of it. Afraid that I’m striking a nerve with people who have craved a voice they’ve only ever been told to keep quiet. Afraid that I see through this “shock and awe” way of governing and know where it came from. Afraid that some of the hundreds of emails I have received have come from UCP voters who see through it, too. And most of all, they’re afraid that I know how to use research and journalism to present my case and I just happen to have the platform of a 135-year-old daily newspaper to do it from.

They’re deathly afraid of where this will all lead. And they should be.

PS – To all those who have reached out with words of hope, gratitude and encouragement, there were so many I couldn’t reply to them all. Just know that I feel your support and am beyond appreciative of all the kind messages. This is your province too, and you deserve a voice.

Scott Schmidt is the layout editor at the Medicine Hat News. Contact him at sschmidt@medicinehatnews.com. All opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the News’ editorial board.

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2 Responses to “Laying it Out: If you can’t beat him, make him a distraction”

  1. Les Landry says:

    I’ve noticed online even before Scott started writing about issues that impact Albertans and too many papers are fearful to address, this government is masters at “deflection.”
    My suspicions these deflections are coming from the so-called “War Room,” And I do not come to this conclusion lightly.
    First, why are Albertans paying to lobby for an industry that can afford to do their own lobbying? This is a bad precedent because of government actions. Is the taxpayer going to be on the take to lobby for every struggling industry in Alberta for every province in Canada? Second, why all the secrecy? If it is taxpayers funding this operation, we should have a right to know what is going on. It makes me wonder what kind of information are they gathering on people, and are those people Albertans? And lastly, I have found that regardless of what people post online that is critical to any minister of this government, the response t deflect, attack or distract is instant, and it was Premier Kenney that said himself, “We can respond in realtime.” While he giving the impression, he was referring to the “oil and gas” industry, ask yourself, how often have you seen anybody post anything critical of the oil and gas energy?
    I think all Albertans out to be concerned and be demanding answers to our questions.
    Just what is the purpose of this questionable War Room lobbying operation?
    Just what information is being collected on who and why?
    And the biggest question, “Are the Alberta taxpayers paying for this government to collect information on their political opponents? I think the reaction and actions of this UCP against Scott Schmidt, myself and thousands of Albertans (no exaggeration) are highly questionable.
    I will admit that I did not support either the NDP or the UCP in the last election. I supported the Alberta Party. And the reason I was supporting the AP is that I was hoping for a minority government with the third party holding the government accountable. If that were to happen, we would not be in the situation we are facing now.
    In closing I will say this, You can confirm anyone in the last government or the last opposition that was not kind to minister Sabir, for the AISH issue and mostly because of the service dog fiasco. But not once did Mr.Sabir attack me or even criticize me in public or on social media. What Irfan Sabir did was acknowledge, credited and complimented me on my advocacy.
    Premier Kenney’s government may start to take notice of how the former government actually treated the people they represent because the UCP are supposed to represent more than just oil and gas.
    ~
    It was a nice surprise to get some recognition on my advocacy on the issue of increasing the AISH benefits for people with disabilities.
    Thank you, Hon. Irfan Sabir.
    Part of Hon Irfan Sabir’s reading of Bill 26
    ~
    https://youtu.be/Ukag5raAbOM

  2. MiguelBaines says:

    Thank you, Scott. The work you are doing is much appreciated.


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