So, this story came out: “An Underage Girl Says She Was Offered A Bribe To Deny Drinking With Conservative MP Rick Dykstra”
Then people (over)reacted to that story in a fairly predictable way (partisans on both sides reacted with typical extreme shock/derision or obfuscation/defensiveness; almost everyone at least thought the story was “interesting.”)
Then Grant Lafleche in the Standard wrote a response to that response: When Is A Scandal Not A Scandal
I’m not going to do a point-by-point review of Mr. Lafleche’s article, but a quick response:
(Also, the Standard’s headline of the story including “scandal” (and Grant using that word in his column) when very few had referred to it as such, isn’t helpful.)
The problem starts early when Mr. Lafleche writes “some young women apparently posted to social media that they got some drinks from his table where the bottles of vodka were.” That’s obfuscation. The truth is, two underage girls alleged Mr. Dykstra purchased them drinks; which is very different than merely wandering over to his table and taking drinks he bought for his party.
So what we have is a fairly significant accusation (buying booze for minors), which Buzzfeed then attempted to corroborate and found more info (screen grab of the alleged ‘bribe’, another witness at the end of the story.)
I believe that the accusation is unproven and that Mr. Dykstra had nothing to do with the bribe, which I agree with Mr. Lafleche was hardly a bribe offer at all. But I think it is wrong to suggest that there’s “no story here” and criticize another outlet that took the time to look into it when, apparently, the Standard’s investigation was only to speak to Mr. Dykstra at the time of the incident.
It’s worse of Mr. Lafleche to say, as he does, “if true, so what?” So what? Supplying alcohol to minors results in a fine and appearance in court for any adult. (Also, Mr. Lafleche propagates the falsehood that if you’re in a bar you assume everyone is of age by writing “You’d just presume that everyone there is old enough to drink.”. As anyone who has ever been to a bar or been a teenager knows, that is either absurdly naive or just an attempt at mitigation. Mr. Lafleche himself later in the same column calls out this falsehood when he writes “beyond some teenagers getting into a bar (as though that has never happened before).”
Suggesting a significant accusation is only a story because Niagara is bored is quite unfair. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Lafleche, but would have expected more from his response column.
The accusation appears to be unproven, so maybe we should all move on to something else.