By now most of Ontario has heard that former Attorney-General Michael Bryant sped down the wrong lane of Bloor Street in Toronto with a bike courier, Darcy Allan Sheppard, clinging to his car, trying to scrap the man off on trees and mail boxes until Mr. Sheppard finally fell under the tires of Bryant's car.
But last night I was surprised when CBC's edition of The National kicked off with a character attack on the dead bike courier, firing the first salvo in Michael Bryant's defense. They lined up experts and even police who talked about how drunk Sheppard was before the incident and how Bryant may have been defending himself from an assault.
This could certainly be true. Anyone who has driven in downtown Toronto knows that many bicycle couriers ride as if they are exempt from the highway traffic act but have been deputized to aggressively enforce it against cars. We'll have to wait for the trial to really get to the bottom of this tragedy.
But here's what got me about the piece on The National: if former Conservative Premier Mike Harris, or right-wing Toronto councillor Rob Ford, had been in Bryant's place, I can't picture The National starting off by highlighting the courier's drunken history.
Instead, I'm betting they'd have begun with the protest march of one thousand cyclists that snarled downtown traffic during yesterday afternoon's rush hour, which resulted in network news helicopters buzzing for hours over my neighborhood. After that the CBC may have mentioned quickly that the courier was allegedly aggressive and drunk, but I don't believe it would have been in the first line of text.
Of course, I can't say with certainty that the CBC would've covered this any differently if it were a right wing politician in handcuffs. I'm just suspicions since the CBC usually trumpets the advantages of two wheels over four, and usually takes the side of the working class over the $100,000+ a year class. To hear them start off by digging through a bike courier's sordid past while excusing the Harvard-educated, convertible-Saab-driving lawyer struck me as out of character. If he'd been a bank executive, I venture to say they would've reluctantly reported mitigating details only after they were read into evidence at the trial in a few months.
For a long time now I've believed that the cappuccino-sipping, university-educated liberal establishment has been losing touch with the common people, whose well-being they constantly trumpet they are defending. More and more, I hear liberal politicals and even the NDP speak of the common man with contempt, as a buffoon who doesn't have their deep understanding of global climate change or congestion traffic planning, and must be socially engineered and controlled. Didn't Michael Bryant pass laws against cell phones in cars?
Michael Ignatief, Jack Layton and Toronto Mayor David Miller also definitely have this disease. Indeed, I wonder if Mr. Bryant shouted at this bike courier with the contempt of a 17th century Russian aristocrat addressing a surf? If so it was unfortunate timing, because Mr. Sheppard had just had a very bad day.
Listening to CBC zealously defend one of their liberal golden boys, the youngest man ever to fill the role of Attorney-General of Ontario--once presumed to go on to be premier one day--indicates to me that the liberal-left don't realize what an elite they have become, and how far they've wandered from the lives of people who don't have gold-plated government pensions--like bike couriers.
The CBC might not alienate their viewing public by blaming Mr. Sheppard, since most people drive cars regardless of what the Toronto Transit Commission says, but they will fail to make a hero out of a rich liberal who, with a 3000 pound car, runs over an impoverished drunk on a 25 pound bike, no matter how justified.
They can't save Michael Bryant's career, and they should stop trying.