Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Don't say what you mean. And don't mean what you say.

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Ah political speak.You know that sort of double-talking, “I don’t want to actually be accused of standing for something so I’ll say something without really saying something” kind of political line.Like this one:"The debate is not that the numbers are wrong. It's a debate about what to include and not include.”That particular quote happens to be from Stephen Harper in relation to the costs of the Afghanistan war to Canada. But it could have been any politician, of any party stripe, about any costs.Because when the long and the short of any numbers are crunched there is always a positive way to spin something or a negative way. One might think when we’re talking about a war where soldiers are dying for the cause, that the costs shouldn’t be about what we include and what we don’t include.But in politics we don’t have black and white. We have blue, sort of blue, darker blue, lighter blue, red, off-red, kind-of-red, red-orange, orange, green, well you get the picture.It’s why throughout this election Stéphane Dion can produce numbers showing why the Green Tax will be revenue neutral and the Conservatives can produce numbers showing that it won’t be.It’s why candidates carry around their binders of talking points as if they were gold bricks.However, there is one story I saw this week which really puts this entire system of talking points in question.This is from my colleagues at the Canadian Press.SIDNEY, B.C. - It ain't easy getting a straight answer from a politician.At a media availability Wednesday, Conservative James Moore was asked about the failure of Canada's major banks to pass on the half-point interest rate cut to their customers.The banks only cut rates a quarter point, effectively pocketing the difference for themselves."We believe in lower interest rates and we think it's good for families ..." Moore responded.But what about the banks pocketing a quarter-point difference?"As I said, we believe in lower interest rates. We support what the banks have done here. Lower interest rates will help families."Incredulous reporters tried again."We support lower interest rates, we support what the Bank (of Canada) has done and we support banks lowering their interest rates. It's the right move," Moore replied.Finally, a senior Conservative campaign official pulled Moore aside and whispered in his ear, prompting Moore to deliver the proper talking point."We support the central bank's rate cut and we want to see, of course, lower interest rates in this country. It will help families with these lower interest rates in these economic times," Moore said.And we wonder why voters complain about politicians? Then again, anybody who can so smoothly avoid answering a question and appear so blissfully unaware that he isn’t answering the question should get some sort of prize.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.


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