CanWest betrays the public interest
Date: Sunday, October 09 2005
CanWest owns just about every newspaper in western Canada, with the Vancouver Sun having a special place in their universe to modify and shape the political views of British Columbians.
The Vancouver Sun has always been right-wing, but their bias has rampaged unchecked and barely tolerable, during the 4 years when the 77-seat Campbell government could bully the 2-woman Opposition. It was Opposition Leader Joy MacPhail especially who won the resurgence of New Democrats in the 2005 election ... more about her later.
If it weren't so serious, readers could have laughed at such Vancouver Sun articles as the one published on 16 July 05, in which Harvey Enchin declares that the B.C. Liberals had allowed "A failure to communicate ... [allowing the dastardly NDP] to falsely define them as right-wing monsters!" Wha-at?
Who would have published such vile falsehoods? Certainly not the Vancouver Sun, not the Vancouver Province, not the Victoria Times Colonist, nor even the North Shore News, not any of the other CanWest newspapers. Who, then? Who??
It was "bloggers' bombast, union rhetoric, and writers who should have known better ... " says Enchin. And he's not joking. Nor is CanWest. This nearly full-page story includes a flattering photo of Premier Gordon Campbell blocking a football tackle. Just pretend, of course.
The Sun has cooled down a bit, since the May 2005 B.C. Election. Although I, for one, will be a long time before I can forgive the Sun for what they said about Joy MacPhail on 13 July 2005.
Joy is the great granddaughter of Agnes MacPhail, one of the Famous Five women whose political gallantry is memorialized in the bronze sculptures on Parliament Hill in Ottawa; that in itself merits celebration, given the courageous 4 years Joy, with Jenny Kwan, upheld that tradition by representing the British Columbians who opposed the Campbell decisions.
In May of 2005, Joy retired from political life. She married James Shavick, a film producer from Los Angeles, starting a whole new life there.
To mark the occasion, what did the louts at Vancouver Sun publish in her home-town newspaper? "SOCIALISTS CAVORT IN L.A., THE LAND OF CHEAP DRINK" ran the heading. "Even progressive socialists can be forgiven for trying to save a buck ..." said the Sun on its editorial page, about "Comrade" MacPhail's wedding.
There ought to be a law ... a Press Council ... some way for citizens to protest this kind of gratuitous insult masquerading as a free press in the service of the public interest.
We know this about CanWest: they think it's OK to subvert the democratic process, to publish warped, carved-up, slanted, or outright fallacious stories as news. Remember the erroneous claim published 2 days before the B.C. Election, that BCTF would take a strike vote immediately after election day and in the midst of year-end exams? Wasn't true. But it was cleverly timed so teachers hadn't time to respond before the vote ... and undoubtedly, this report scared some voters into changing their outcome of the election. It was, after all, New Democrats 41% and BC Liberals 46% -- a close-run thing. As CanWest well knew.
CanWest's tactics create two kinds of readers:
1) Those who believe everything they read in those newspapers and therefore are ill informed,
2) Those who become extremely disillusioned and have difficulty believing anything they read.
Neither group is well served ... and yet they (we) are the public. We are the public interest which is being subverted by CanWest. We are the people whose lives are changed by an unaccountable board of directors.
CanWest might continue to make corporate profits off misleading news reports in future. You can see it beginning, for example, in the way they are handling the CBC Lock-out and aftermath.
Watch how they print only the stories, editorials and Letters-to-the-Editor which suggest that it really wouldn't matter -- and nobody would care -- if CBC were destroyed. The Sun prints things such as:
Viewers will seek unique networks like the CBC
How relevant is CBC in a 200-channel universe?
I kept asking myself why CanWest would publish such things which are so blatantly unfair and unhelpful to our public broadcaster. Silly me.
It eventually dawned upon me that CanWest has enormous illusions of grandeur ...
CanWest sees itself as the one, the only national news service. Heaven forfend.
Let us contemplate the CanWest universe: Stephen Harper (or Stockwell Day) will be prime minister of Canada and he/they will do no wrong, not ever. Ms Belinda Stronach will be offered her chance to come home (for a certain price) and to wear the mantle of Minister of Finance. The federal Liberal/Reform/Socred government's Opposition (whoever they may be) will be referred to, if at all, in disparaging terms and they will never be re-elected to govern. Canadians will be urged to sell anything that's left to sell (if it isn't nailed down).
How relevant is CBC in a 200-channel universe? asks the Vancouver Sun.
I'd say that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a public service is absolutely essential to Canada's future. And CanWest is the reason why.