NICHOLAS PESCOD/THE NEWS BULLETIN The Fraser Institute’s Policy for Journalists program took place earlier this month in Vancouver at the Blue Horizon Hotel.

Column: Canadian journalists are asking good questions about policy

News Bulletin reporter attends Fraser Institute programin Vancouver

Government policy is something that for one reason or another I’ve always had an interest in but don’t know enough about.

Why do governments make policy decisions the way they do? How do politicians balance good economics with good policy? As a journalist, is there a better way to write about policy decisions made even at a local level? These are all questions I’ve had for years.

Earlier this month, I attended the Fraser Institute’s Policy for Journalists program in Vancouver, where I got to learn a little bit more about policy from a different perspective. I had previously attend the institute’s Economics for Journalists program.

A lot of people have strong and not always positive opinions of the Fraser Institute, but as a journalist, you go into the program knowing they have their viewpoints and that it’s up for you to decide what you want to do with the information. It’s also incredibly healthy to hear opposing views and the reasons behind those viewpoints.

Although it was a worthwhile experience, the program covered a lot of the same material that the Economics for Journalists program did, specifically around policy decisions made in Canada during the 1990s and 2000s.

One of the most compelling portions of the program was the institute’s discussion on policies around health. What they pointed out was that media tends to compare Canada’s healthcare system with the United States, which has a vastly different style of healthcare than we do. The Fraser Institute pointed out that it would be fairer to compare Canada’s healthcare system to countries with models such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and Singapore.

I also appreciated the discussion around economic choices and political choices and how the two are often never the same. As an exercise we ‘played politician’ and made choices not based on sound economic policy, but whether the decisions were good politics. It really showed that often times, the best economic choice isn’t made because politicians – like everyone else – are self-interest driven and are concerned with keeping their job instead of perhaps what is best for their community in the long term.

A focus area was around the Fraser Institute’s positions. That’s fine – after all it is their program and they can do what they wish – but there was very little discussion around different ways to examine policy decisions and what other approaches journalists could take reporting on policy.

Without question the best part about the program was not so much the content but the people. Again, I got to interact with extremely talented journalists – and a few public relations and communication folks – for two entire days. I got to see how they take notes, how they ask questions and how they think.

I got to hear about their communities and where they’re reporting from. When you’re in a newsroom in a community where there aren’t as many media outlets compared to a major city such as Vancouver or Toronto, meeting and interacting with other journalists from around the country is incredibly refreshing and also inspiring.

At the end of each session we asked questions about the content we had heard. Following a session where the Fraser Institute’s positions on energy and environmental policies were laid out, there were plenty of questions about why those positions were taken.

And that, to me, was what made the program worth attending. Sure, I learned some new information about policy and I got to understand a bit more about economics. But, I also got to interact with and watch some extremely talented individuals do what they do best, ask questions. 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram


Just Posted

Stretch of Departure Bay Road to be closed until month’s end for road work

Slope stabilization taking place between Newton Street and Little John Way

Jazz saxophonist touring the West Coast with one of his heroes

Weeds to play the Lighthouse Bistro with New York pianist David Hazeltine on Aug. 20

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cassidy can’t support airport development

Environmental assessment needed on land overtop of aquifer, says letter writer

Sound mixer stolen from Nanaimo nightclub

Nanaimo RCMP ask for tips about theft of sound mixer from Koncept Nightclub

Memorial for drug overdose victims on display at St. Paul’s Church in Nanaimo

Flags of Hope Overdose Awareness Display at Chapel Street church until Aug. 29

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 15

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Most Read