Through the study of two examples (the Pacific Scandal of the 1870s and the sponsorship scandal of recent years), this activity leads students to interpret the relationship between power and powers, particularly as it relates to the interaction between the state, financial community and media. It also aims to help students formulate a point of view on the role played by the media and public opinion in the administration of public affairs.

The activity takes advantage of the resources grouped under the theme Here a scandal, there a scandal: More fodder for cartoonists, namely: a movie clip an introductory text on the theme five cartoons published in the 1870’s.

Teachers may prepare materials for their students on the basis of the following instructions.

Duration: Two periods of 75 minutes.

I. CONTEXT: POWERS AND DEMOCRACY

To begin, ask students the following question: “Who holds the power in our society?” Then ask them to draw up a list of groups exercising power or influence in society. (financial, industrial, etc.)

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Through the study of two examples (the Pacific Scandal of the 1870s and the sponsorship scandal of recent years), this activity leads students to interpret the relationship between power and powers, particularly as it relates to the interaction between the state, financial community and media. It also aims to help students formulate a point of view on the role played by the media and public opinion in the administration of public affairs.

The activity takes advantage of the resources grouped under the theme Here a scandal, there a scandal: More fodder for cartoonists, namely:

  • a movie clip
  • an introductory text on the theme
  • five cartoons published in the 1870’s.

Teachers may prepare materials for their students on the basis of the following instructions.

Duration: Two periods of 75 minutes.

I. CONTEXT: POWERS AND DEMOCRACY

To begin, ask students the following question: “Who holds the power in our society?” Then ask them to draw up a list of groups exercising power or influence in society. (financial, industrial, etc.)

Next, ask students to identify the three fundamental branches of power found in a democracy or political system such as ours. (legislative, executive, judicial)

Finally, ask them to solve the following riddle: “I am said to be the fourth power in a democracy. I am also considered democracy’s watchdog. Who am I?” (the media)

II. PACIFIC SCANDAL POST-MORTEM

Ask students to formulate hypotheses on the groups that might have exerted an influence on the young Canadian federation, from 1860 to 1880.

To help students understand the relationship between the political and financial worlds, present the movie clip “Here a scandal, there a scandal: More fodder for cartoonists”and provide the following listening intentions:

  1. What caused the Pacific Scandal? (To finance his election campaign, Prime Minister Macdonald received a sum of money from one of Canadian Pacific’s senior executives who was also a shipowner and financier.)
  2. What caused the recent sponsorship scandal? (Public funds were diverted from a promotional campaign designed to raise the Canadian government’s visibility in Quebec and strengthen the popularity of the federalist option among Quebecers.)

Ask students to formulate hypotheses on the identity of groups that influenced the political process during the Pacific Scandal of the 1870s, and the manner in which they exercised their influence.

  • Ask students to identify: 1. the players involved in questionable dealings; 2. those who helped bring the situation to light; and 3. those who spread the news.
  • Have students compile a chart of these players and indicate the role and specific motivations of each in the scandal.

After this first group brainstorming activity, ask students to complete a written analysis of the scandal.

Students’ production outcomes:

  • On the chart, identify the players as well as their roles and motivations in the Pacific Scandal by consulting available resources under the theme Here a scandal, there a scandal: More fodder for cartoonists, i.e. the theme’s introductory text and the five cartoons and drawings with accompanying documentation.

III. DEBATE ON THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA AND PUBLIC OPINION

Discuss the media’s role in exposing the questionable dealings between various groups.

  •  Are the media the watchdogs of democracy? Yes? No? Why? Under what conditions?
1. www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/collection/artifacts/M993X.5.794
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The activity on the learning object Here a scandal, there a scandal: More fodder for cartoonists ties into the Québec Education Program History and Citizenship Education in Secondary 4 (2nd year of Secondary Cycle Two).

It is designed to help students interpret the social phenomena of power and powers, particularly as it relates to the interaction between the state, financial community and media during the Pacific Scandal (of the 1870s) and the sponsorship scandal (of recent years). It also aims to help students formulate a point of view on the role played by the media and public opinion in the administration of public affairs.

The activity is primarily based on vintage cartoons dating from the 1870s and contemporary cartoons published since 2000.

The educational aim is “to enable students to exercise critical, ethical and aesthetic judgment with respect to the media,” and in particular to enhance their “awareness of the place and influence of the different media in his/her daily life and in society,” as well as their “understanding of media representations of reality.”

The targeted educational outcomes are:

  • Competency 2 : Interprets social phenomena using the historical method.
  • Methodology: Interpretation of an iconographic document.
  • Social phenomena: Power and powers.
  • Concepts: Influence, interest, state.
  • Historical knowledge : The financial community and the state, media and the state, the nationalist movements and the state.
  • Cross-curricula competency 1: Uses information.
  • Cross-curricula competency 4 : Uses creativity.
  • Cross-curricula competency 6: Uses information and communication technologies.

From:
Québec, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport [MÉLS]. History and Citizenship Education, Quebec Education Program, Secondary Cycle Two, Validation Document, 2005.


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