Monday, January 24, 2011

Saving the Intergrity of Canadian Journalism: Action Needed

A while ago I blogged about the attempts to introduce Fox News in Canada. Now there is an important development which doesn't bode well for the future of Canadian journalism. This is what Canukistani, the reader who alerted me to the news, wrote in his comment:
I’d like to make an update based on an article in the Toronto Star today. A piece by Stephen Scharper stated that the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission) “is seeking to relax restrictions concerning the broadcasting of specious information on radio and television.” Currently a Fox news or right wing American style radio shows cannot exist in Canada because the law stipulates that broadcasters “shall not broadcast any false or misleading news.” Last month the CRTC put a notice on its website that it wants to modify this law to “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.”

Now, this is very important. For now, we, the citizens of Canada, are protected by the laws of our country from an advent of irresponsible propaganda-mongers ready and willing to spread lies without any concern for the truth. If you have had any sort of consistent exposure to Canadian newscasts, you couldn't have failed to notice that Canadian newschannels differ greatly from their American counterparts in that they actually transmit news. Not political spin. Just news. Today we are about to lose all that. The result will be sad for all of us:
So who decides which information is false and endangers the public or is false and just funny entertainment for the masses? - A triumvirate appointed by (guess who?) our Conservative government. Of course we have nothing to worry about based on their long and distinguished commitment to transparency and evidence based policy i.e. two prorogations of parliament in one year, eliminating the census, increasing spending on prisons due to an increase in unreported crime. I could continue but I think that you get the picture. I can see in the near future where this new news channel which starts broadcasting in March could call the Liberal party a communist front organization which wants to bring a Soviet style regime to Canada while the CBC, referred to by conservatives as the Communist Broadcasting Company could not offer an accurate rebuttal without the threat of having its licence removed.

It is not too late, though. We can still act and at least try to prevent this from happening. Let's not allow Fox News come into Canada and spread its lies and propaganda. We don't need to subvert our own laws to help this unfair and imbalanced mouthpiece of hysterical right-wingers everywhere move into our country. Let's act! We only have until February 9 to make our opinions known, though, so there isn't much time left:
At a time of increasing economic turmoil and insecurity for the majority of citizens in North America, we seem to have a developing anti-democratic impulse on the right. Is a Kristallnacht coming? The CRTC is accepting comments on its proposed ruling change until Feb. 9. For information on how to submit comments, follow this link.
 Thank you, Canukistani! I would have missed this without you for sure.


Anonymous said...

There is a very easy solution to this problem. Don't tune in!!!

Just the other day I was driving and tuned in to Sean Hannity's show by mistake. I simply changed the frequency because I know Hannity is a huge jackass and he has nothing positive or constructive to say. The point is we are conscious individuals who can make our own decisions on who we want to listen to without needing big daddy government to do it for us.

Patrick said...

If you are so blind as to think that the CBC & CTV are NOT the mouthpieces of the Liberal party, then you haven't been paying attention.

Canadian 'journalism' has never been impartial. It has a left wing bent which is unmistakable to those of us on the 'right'.

Are we so afraid of hearing another opinion? I like what the first fellow said - if you don't like it, don't watch it. That's why I don't read the Toronto Star, or watch CBC news anymore. Because I can't stand the biases that exists in the message.

Clarissa said...

So the answer is to have a broadcasting company that is biased to the right? That hardly makes sense. If you are against bias, you have to be opposed to any kind of bias, I'd think. The proposed measures will hardly make CBC less biased, just the opposite. So it stands to reason that you should oppose this measure.

Patrick said...

No - the answer is to avoid them all, unless you subscribe to that particular ideology.

It's patently unfair to allow the left wing bias in the media, call it "freedom", and deny the opposing point of view.

Clarissa said...

I don't subscribe to any particular ideology, so I'm not disagreeing with you.

Where do you go for news, then?

Patrick said...

Most news really isn't relevant - pick up a month old newspaper and be amazed at what was "headline" news. Most of it is simply propaganda of some kind - in Canada for the next 4 weeks, you'll see all kinds of stories, columns and reports about "financial planning", which is just a mask for investment firm advertising during the RRSP season.

As for my day to day news - I listen to radio feeds - moving between CBC, Rogers communication, EIB network. I read online articles, sourced from the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, local newspapers, Huffington Post, CNN, Yahoo News, etc. . . The point - I don't 'rely' on anyone. I listen for the facts, and make my own assessment concerning cause and effect. There is a grain of truth in every news feed - it only takes effort to find it.

Clarissa said...

I have started relying more and more on independent Internet sources for my news. Print journalism has gone to the dogs (in the US more than in Canada but still even there). TV journalism has always been unreliable, in my opinion. Since I don't listen to the radio, Internet it is.

"in Canada for the next 4 weeks, you'll see all kinds of stories, columns and reports about "financial planning", which is just a mask for investment firm advertising during the RRSP season."

-Very true. How annoying is that??

Patrick said...

What is most annoying is, despite the myriad of articles, stories and advice provided over the last 30 years, most people still do not understand what an "RRSP" is - I tell them to invest money in stocks, they say they have to save to buy an RRSP. Outrageous ignorance. My tongue begins to hurt from having to bite it so often.

eric said...

@Patrick--obviously you are conservative. You are also Canadian, and this alon renders you far more intelligent, articulate, and well-read than 99% of those calling themselves "conservative" down here in the States.

Trust me, if you were locked in a room with a couple of American-style right-wingers for twelve hours, you would grow to despise them. Immensely.

Clarissa said...

I'm ignorant. I have no idea why RRSPs are bad. :-( But at least I recognize my ignorance.

eric: So true. A Canadian conservative is often the same as a US liberal. :-)

Patrick said...

I am only conservative because I have always opposed the jealous redistribution of the wealth of another. It's amazing to watch the transformation of NDP supporters in Canada as they became the very 'rich' they railed against years ago.

Could I survive a day with an American conservative? I like to think so - probably more so than a day with some of the radical leftist's who decimated downtown Toronto this past summer. Who were, by the way, portrayed on the CBC as the 'victims' in the riots, not the perpetrators. Apparently, the police should have allowed them to burn the city down, rather than move in and arrest. It's that kind of left-leaning reporting that drives me around the bend in Canada. They were criminals, and should be treated as such.

Clarissa - RRSP's are simply a way to describe something. They can be savings accounts, bonds, stocks, etc. . . - one does not 'buy' an RRSP; it doesn't exist on it's own. With my previous example, if someone was 'saving for an RRSP', they would have the money for stocks, could buy the stocks, and simply register them as a retirement account. Really, pretty simple. Yet, I would say over 1/2 of Canadians think of the RSP as a unique and distinct product, like a shoe or a purse.

eric said...

"Could I survive a day with an American conservative? I like to think so"

Sir, if you wish to through your lot in with the likes of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, then that is your prerogative.

I sincerely hope Faux News doesn't make its way to Canada. How then can we American leftists fantasize about moving to Canada (which we idealize greatly) when the next far-right coup comes around (as with Bush II)?

Patrick said...

There is far too much idealization of Canada by the American left. Some realities:

Despite our "universal" health Care, I haven't had a family doctor in 10 years.
If I need care, I have to go to the emergency room, which isn't open after 4pm or on weekends; so I better not get sick after hours.
For this privilege, I get to pay approximately 52% of my income in taxes. That's right, everything I earn between Jan 1 and approximately July 8th goes to one level of government or another. And I'm one of the "rich", because I have the audacity to earn more than $50K/year.
What, precisely, do American's find so appealing about Canada?

Anonymous said...

Awesome response Patrick. It's nice to get a first view of the issue up in Canada. American liberals seem to think Canada is some sort of liberal paradise where everything works and big daddy government makes all problems go away. It's good to get your perspective on the issue.

Must be infuriating having to give up over 50% of your salary to the government. I'll take the Tea Party over something like that any day, even if it means crippling the government.

Clarissa said...

I'm sorry but this is just simply not true. I have family living in different provinces in Canada (Nova Scotia and Quebec) and I can absolutely guarantee that making $50,000 or even $120,000 per year does NOT get you to pay over 50 % in taxes. I know that for a fact, so let's not exaggerate here, ok?

In return for the 30% in taxes that people getting over 60K per year pay, they get amazing free medical care (once again, I know from personal experience what I'm taking about), very cheap(in Quebec nearly free) higher education of fantastic quality and a social safety net. So they end up definitely better off financially.

Please let's not spread myths about Canada on the blog of a Canadian person, ok?

Clarissa said...

"big daddy government makes all problems go away"

-Maybe you should take your Oedipal issues to a psychoanalist, eh? They have no place in a dsicussion on politics.

Patrick said...


Is that an offer to pay all my taxes over and above the 30% threshold?

Don't forget about WBC premiums, EI premiums, CPP Premiums, sales taxes (15% on nearly everything you purchase), property taxes, service fees (which is why we pay taxes in the first place anyway) and all the other red tape one has to pay in Canada.

If you have relatives in Canada who only pay 30%, then they are cheating the system.

The medical situation as I described is quite true, whether you choose to believe it or not. At various times in the last decade, the rate of Canadians without a family doctor reached 25%.

If you live in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or another major centre you'll likely have a doctor and access to good care. If you happen to live outside those major centres, then your SOL.

I appreciate that you have experience in Canada - but please don't spread the myth that it's all roses and sunny days here. There is a lot of regional disparity, substantial discontentment with the social programs and a general malaise about our ability to sustain ourselves going forward.

Clarissa said...

"please don't spread the myth that it's all roses and sunny days here."

-Compared to the US, it is definitely a lot better in Canada on all fronts. I'm trying to think of any areas where Canadians en masse are a lot worse off, and I can't think of anything. Any thoughts?

Even though we disagree, I'm overjoyed to have another fellow Canadian join us. Care to share what part of Canada you are from? We have people from Montreal, Ontario and BC here. That I know of, of course.

Patrick said...

I had previously lived in Southwestern Ontario, but now reside in Cape Breton.

The problem with Canada - the central government. Ontario unemployment rises to 8%, and it's cause for a 60 Billion deficit and stimulus spending.

Cape Breton hasn't seen unemployment in the single digits in most peoples life-times, yet we can't get assistance to repair hurricane damage.

There are a lot of problems in Canada - we haven't been represented by a government elected by a majority of the population since 'The Chief' - which was when our parents were kids.

Our public school system locks - literally putting chains on the doors - during the school day. They spend their time being a warehouse for kids while the parents work, and send home 'worksheets' that have at best historically questionable facts.

And the tax burden is excessive in Canada, considering what you get for it. Look up "Tax Freedom Day" in Canada. Depending on province, it ranges from Early June (Alberta) to early July (Nova Scotia & NFLD).

TO be fair - I wouldn't trade living in Canada. There is much to be appreciative of; however, I caution anyone who subscribes to the notion that we're some type of socialist Utopia.

Anonymous said...

-Maybe you should take your Oedipal issues to a psychoanalist, eh? They have no place in a dsicussion on politics.

It's called an allegory. Look it up.

Patrick said...

Where I am in error, I will always admit to it.

I've looked up the anticipated TFD's for Canada, 2011, and have found them to range from early May (Alberta) to Mid June (Atlantic Provinces).

TFD was pushing into July in the middle of the decade. Since the Harper Gov't has taken control, it's been sliding back consistently.

My gut instinct tells me that the day is understated, based on my personal experience (I actually do track what taxes cost me each year - what can I say, I'm an accountant), but the source of TFD is the Fraser Institute, which is a conservative, anti-tax think tank in Canada. So it's highly unlikely that the average figure is understated.