CanWest Global Goliath Goes After Media David
Date: Monday, December 10 2007
by C. L. Cook
The Vancouver Sun, an organ of the Canwest Global media conglomerate, announced Saturday its launch of a law suit against a local publishing firm and long-time Vancouver rights activist and radio host, Mordecai Briemberg.
The suit is related to the June 7, 2007 publication and distribution of a "fake" Vancouver Sun edition. According to CanWest Mediaworks Publications, the defendants hold a "desire to undermine, or hurt, the business of the plaintiff and its principal shareholders."
It's not the first time the paper has been lampooned. In 2002, a group calling themselves "Guerrilla Media" published and distributed thousands of copies of a parody paper that used the familiar Sun frontpage layout, but titled "The Vancouver Scum." The A section was filled with satirical articles, aping topics often covered in the CanWest paper.
Then-president and publisher of The Vancouver Sun, Dennis Skulsky released a statement at the time, that read in part;
* "Satirical publications that poke good-natured fun at established institutions are a part of every day life. They lighten our daily burdens and help to remind us when we take life's events too seriously. Sometimes, however, such publications cross the line. That was the case with Thursday's knock-off of The Vancouver Sun by a shadowy organization that styles itself "Guerrilla Media.""
Doug Ward, writing for CanWest, confirmed the suit against Mordecai Briemberg and a "local printing company," identifying Briemberg as a pro-Palestinian activist. The late Israel "Izzy" Asper, formerly the patriarch of the family-run media empire, once famously declared CanWest would never criticize Israeli government policies, and the paper has since been accused of bias when dealing with the Israeli atrocities in Palestine. CanWest also publishes Israel's Jerusalem Post.
The well-known Asper political slant brings into question the true motives of the plaintiff in this case, begging the point: Is this a search for justice, or the use of the courts to exact political persecution?
Ward goes on to call Mordecai Briemberg a "long-time left-wing activist," feeling it necessary to include Briemberg's 1969 dismissal from Simon Fraser University, (along with other "left-wing" instructors) and quotes his boss, Sun publisher, Kevin Bent as saying;
* "We did say that we would follow up, and I believe our customers expect us to."
Whether CanWest's action is in the interests of its customers is debatable, but looking at the actual writ submitted to the court, as reported by Ward, it appears there is more behind the suit than the damage suffered the Sun, or the alleged "hostility to the principal shareholders of the plaintiff and by a desire to undermine, or hurt, the business of the plaintiff and its principal shareholders," cited.
Contained too in the writ is the curious description of the defendants as;
* "Briemberg and six other unidentified people are involved in anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian media activities."
As CanWest, presumably still following Izzy's orders, is in political allegiance with the rulers of Israel, and is active in promoting that country's image and reputation through its reportage, their characterization of the defendants as "pro-Palestinian media activists" would make Briemberg et al, in essence, competitors, as is Horizon Publishing, the small printing company also named in the suit.
Horizon publishes the Victoria's Street Newz, Vancouver's Street Corner, and the Watershed Sentinel, among other community, ethnic, and alternative publications.
For his part, Mordecai Briemberg has been active in community and global human rights issues for more than two decades, is a current host of the Vancouver CO-OP Radio program, The Redeye, and is, as Doug Ward reminds three times in his article, a "critic of Israeli policies in the Middle East."
Ward reports his company is seeking "aggravated damages and aggravated costs" and an injunction, "prohibiting the defendants from creating any fake newspapers or publications" bearing CanWest trademarks; but it seems obvious there is a more political angle to this suit.
[Proofreader’s note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on December 10, 2007]