On “Fox News North”, Mostly

I’ve been busy as all hell lately and keeping on updating this blog has been difficult. You can partially blame the incredibly frustrating WordPress iPhone app for that too, because it’s been pissing me off to know end to get really into writing something and then have it crash on me. No autosave feature? Really? That’s what we’ve been reduced to in this day and age?

I’ve got one post I’ve been tinkering with since January 22, one that’s now pretty much worthless, and now I’m going to try to bang something out in 30 minutes or less because I’ve got stuff to do tonight to prepare for the weekend, I’m off to Toronto to take care of some business and have to pack and so on.

There’s been so much ridiculousness in the world lately. I was paying so much attention to the events that started in Tunisia and have spread throughout the Arab world that I lost track of some of the developments in my own country, which have been rather disturbing as I catch up on them.

Last year, the Canadian media giant Quebecor/QMI, which owns Canada’s Sun chain of newspapers and a large stable of local newspapers including the one in my old hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, decided to apply for a license to start up a cable news channel, Sun TV News. They wanted it to get special treatment to essentially force cable companies to carry it. It was pretty clear given the slant and (lack of) journalistic quality of its other media outlets what it was going to resemble, and it didn’t take long before it was being referred to as “Fox News North”. Quebecor is run by the Péladeau family, one of the most powerful families in the country, and fairly obviously supporters of the Conservative Party of Canada. Furthering the controversy was the fact that the chief spokesperson for Sun TV News is a guy by the name of Kory Teneycke, who before taking the job happened to be Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Director of Communications. What a job to have before becoming a lobbyist, no? Eventually he departed, only to return later. Quebecor decided to press on with their effort to launch the channel as a Category 2 channel, meaning that carriers are not required to carry it, they may choose to.

It all gets intriguing though, when the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (which basically regulate everything from telephony to internet to licensing TV and radio stations) announced they wanted public feedback on a law that would soften existing laws about false news, basically making it legal to make false or misleading statements in the news media so long as they weren’t going to cause a danger to the public. Essentially, it would be okay to report just about any bullshit you want if it wasn’t a direct threat to public health and safety. Not surprisingly, Canadians responded with outrage and the CRTC promptly declared the idea DOA, and expressed some sort of relief, because, not shockingly, it has emerged that they were basically directed by a Parliamentary committee to study the change. Now, who would want to be able to report false or misleading news? Whose agenda would that serve?

It only gets more ridiculous when my former Member of Parliament, Dean Del Mastro, Parliamentary Secretary to The Heritage Minister, told a CBC interviewer that the changes were being studied because apparently his constituents were complaining to him about “attacks on free speech”. Maybe I’ve missed something, but when did being able to report false news become a free speech issue to most Canadians? Oh, right. Never. This, by the way, is the man whose great legacy to his riding is an effort to bring commuter rail to the city of Peterborough, a project that seems to make very, very little economic sense for a variety of reasons I won’t get into. The first federal election in which I refused to vote for the Conservative Party of Canada was the first one in which he ran, because when I saw him speak and got the chance to talk to him it became readily apparent that we had nothing in common. He also happens to be the champion of the equally idiotic (and strangely undemocratic and fiscally unconservative) Senate bill S-10 which among other things sets mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offences and was sped through our unelected Senate without any debate (and without any Liberal Senators present to vote against it, either, if I remember right). Again, my contempt for Canada’s Senate is another issue.

So I guess I’ll have to just carry that one forward to another entry.

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