What’s Happening to Freedom in Canada? Media Control, Ethical Oil? by Richard Komorowski – February 13, 2012

What’s Happening to Freedom in Canada? Media Control, Ethical Oil? by Richard Komorowski – February 13, 2012
CFN– What distinguishes a democracy from its totalitarian neighbours? Freedom to move, to go where one wants, including freedom to leave. Freedom to work at one’s chosen career (assuming jobs are available). Freedom to be friends or lovers with whomever one wants. Freedom of religion, to worship (or not worship) as one believes. Freedom to join a society, a union, a political party, an advocacy group, etc. Free and democratic elections for all levels of government, held at predictable intervals. Freedom to live one’s life in peace, safe from other, more powerful people, safe from people who would cause harm. Freedom to criticise the authorities, those in power, without having to worry about reprisals.What characterises a democracy more than anything else, however, is freedom of the news media to report on whatever is happening, regardless of the governing party’s interest. This does not mean that the media has to be automatically against whatever the government is proposing, just for the sake of cussedness – but if individuals, groups, other political parties, etc. see objections or shortcomings to whatever is proposed, they have a right to be heard equally.One of the hallmarks of a dictatorship is a lack of freedom of the press (which of course includes radio and TV). The Communist party controlled the press in Soviet Russia and its satellites – the Nazis controlled the press in Germany – in many African and middle-Eastern countries, the press prints only what the government permits. China imprisons dissident writers and censors access to the Internet. In Canada and the US, we take freedom of the press for granted – it’s even in our constitutions.

In return for its guaranteed freedom, however, the media has obligations, one of which is to investigate and report honestly. This isn’t always easy. A paper that features the dangers and abuses of infant formula in third world countries might lose advertising contracts from the makers of infant formula. An online journal that probes too deeply into the affairs of city council also runs the risk of losing legitimate advertising revenue.

The Washington Post, in what was probably history’s best example of investigative journalism, brought down Richard Nixon and the Republicans over Watergate. Freedom to post on Facebook or Twitter helped fuel the Arab Spring, and the overthrow of some dictatorships and, perhaps, the birth of democracy there. However, some of these dictatorships want Facebook and Twitter not to carry any pro-democracy messages – Twitter, at least, is considering bowing down to these threats.

Democracy cannot function if the electorate cannot be adequately informed through an unbiased media. Free speech and free expression of ideas are good – deliberate deception is the opposite. The oil industry and its allies, in their promotion of climate change denial, damage more than the environment – they are stealing the very foundation of democracy and freedom.

Censorship in Canada?

Canadians, who for the most part have never lived under any kind of totalitarian regime, tend to be complacent. Press censorship happens in places like Uganda or Iran. It could never happen here – for one thing, we have a charter of rights, which would prevent such an unthinkable idea.During the 2011 general election, the media (with the probable exception of the CBC) refused to allow Elizabeth May, of the Green Party, to be part of the televised leaders’ debates. This worked well for Harper, as he fears Elizabeth May more than any other leader – certainly more than Michael Ignatieff, and even more than Jack Layton. He, and other Conservative big shots, put in a tremendous effortto try to prevent Elizabeth May’s election. A truly free and independent media would have refused Harper’s demand.If one were to examine the relationship between Levant and the Harper Government, Sun Media, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Enbridge, Trans Canada Pipelines and Big Oil in general, one finds one massive echo chamber, with everyone repeating and endorsing everyone else.

Throughout most of 2010, “Ethical Oil” was merely a myth in the mind of Ezra Levant. It immediately drew heavy criticism not only from economists and environmental experts, but also from the oil industry itself. Perhaps the most telling comment from this critique is that “ethical energy is energy that reaches the starving, not the obese.”

Getting the “Ethical Oil” myth to become an accepted term was a hard fought but well-conceived campaign. To be successful, the myth had to be pushed overwhelmingly onto the public, both in Canada and in the US, where it was hoped to sell more Tar Sands bitumen.

The Sun chain of newspapers came to the rescue. First of all, in September, 2011, it published extensive extracts from the book in many of its outlets across Canada. In these extracts it attacked Saudi Arabia, environmentalists, and proponents of green-energy jobs, while defending the Alberta government and the Canadian oil industry. As usual for Levant, he has trouble attacking the actual arguments themselves, so using the skills he has learned as both a lawyer and an expert debater, he attacks the people or organisations involved.

A week later, these same papers published his attack on Greenpeace, which had already disproved his opinions. He makes accusations that Greenpeace is second only to PETA for outrageous stunts that erode their credibility but enhance their PR. PETA, incidentally, has alleged links to the Animal Rights Front, considered a terrorist organisation, so therefore, through Levant’s innuendo, so does Greenpeace.

Levant’s comments about Greenpeace do have some merit, in that they do tend to engage in some “outrageous stunts” to gain publicity. But then again, so does Levant, especially with his anti-Muslim diatribes. However, throw enough mud and some of it tends to stick, and the Sun chain did not allow for any Greenpeace rebuttal of his accusations. All this is in keeping, of course, with the laws of propaganda, of which Levant is such an accomplished master – only tell the half of the truth that serves the cause, and never let the other side contradict or tell their side.

After the book’s publication, it was time for the Harper Government to use this convenient myth in its battle to change reality. Government environment spokesman Peter Kent fired the first round in January 2011 with a promise to clean up the Tar Sand’s image. (Not the Tar Sands themselves, of course, just their image). Since that time, the Ethical Oil myth has become part of the Harper Government’s everyday vocabulary.

Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton started a Senate inquiry into “Canada’s oilsands, the world’s most ethical source of oil.” (Perhaps the US, the UK and Norway are no longer ethical). The Alberta Wildrose Party and the Alberta Conservatives were also quick to endorse the Ethical Oil myth.

CAPP members have been pulling out all the stops with their advertising, trying to persuade viewers that there is nothing wrong with what most people consider not ethical, but dirty oil.

If one examines the relationship between Sun Media and Ezra Levant, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Big Oil in general, and the Harper Government, one finds some very disturbing connections. Basically these organisations are all acting together in a well-coordinated plan to dupe the Canadian public (and also other countries such as the US and EU), into accepting that the dirtiest oil in the world is actually ethical, whereas the much cleaner OPEC oil is not.

This is an ethical debate for which there is no right answer. OPEC oil is not ethical, especially when looked at from a political and human rights perspective. Equally, the Tar Sands are no more ethical when looked at from an environmental, economic and human rights perspective. There is no winner (except possibly Levant, laughing all the way to the bank with his royalty cheques), only losers. The first losers are the people in Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries, who will likely never see their human rights despite Levant’s crocodile tears. Then there are the people of Canada, who are being forced to give away resources to the government of Communist China. Finally, there is the world as a whole, which will have to deal with the climate change caused by our complete dependence on fossil fuels.

However, Canadians are losers in another important aspect. Canada, in theory, has freedom of the press – Ezra Levant is free to rant, and others are free to take him to task. But do Canadians have freedom to get all the truth? Given the echo chamber created by Levant and Sun News, CAPP, and the Harper Government, where only news favourable to CAPP and the Tar Sands tends to be published nationwide, this is a vital question.

Sun News, however, is not the only Canadian media chain guilty of fawning to Harper. The Thompson family, which owns the Globe & Mail (“Canada’s National Newspaper”), is the richest in Canada. What is good for big corporations is good for them. In their April 27, 2011 editorial, a few days prior to the general election where 40% of Canadian voters gave Harper his Commons majority, they informed us that only Harper had the “leadership,” the “discipline” and the “bullheadedness” for the job. This opinion was despite earlier stories about him shutting down Parliament, his attacks on Medicare, etc.

Shaw Media controls Corus Entertainment and CanWest Media. It was Shaw that initially proposed a cap to internet downloads, i.e. making unlimited bandwith plans illegal. None of the opposition parties supported this, and with an election coming, the Harper Government put the idea on hold. Now that Harper is firmly in control, it’s all to their advantage to toe the government line on what the Canadian public sees and hears.

Bell Canada Enterprises owns, among others, CTV, and can thus control the news that many Canadians watch. Former environment minister Jim Prentice, who resigned from the Harper Government before the election, immediately became a Vice-President of CIBC. On July 11, 2011, Bell Canada Enterprises announced that he was to become a director of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada, becoming another Harper Government implant into the world of big business and national media.

Perhaps Canadians should stop and read the writing on the wall. The Harper Government has effectively taken control of all the national media, except the CBC (officially our “State Broadcaster”), which is now the only Canadian media outlet that can be relied upon to present the facts. Given that the CBC is constantly in Levant’s and his friends’ crosshairs, how much longer before Canada’s national media is totally under Harper’s control?

Best Western Cornwall

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Pierre Wells
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Pierre Wells

Great article …..illustrates well that we are entering the dark ages in Canada conferring but not only news media. History if it isn’t censored too radically will regard the Harper/tar sands years as Canada’s decent into US style ‘democracy’.

Loni Eliot
Guest
Loni Eliot

why can I not print this?

Gloria
Guest
Gloria

Harper isn’t a Conservative, he’s a Reformer. Harper very shady, Northern Foundation Party are the lines, he is governing Canada on. Harper’s Northern Foundation Party, was founded in 1989. Harper is a dictator. Dictators are very paranoid and must control absolutely everything to stay safe. The first thing Hitler did, was to also control the media, hence Goebbels as propaganda minister. No bad press for Hitler. Dictators must keep their dastardly deeds, from the citizens ears. Then they grab control, of everything they can get their hands on. Even scientists are not permitted to publish their papers, everything must go… Read more »

swansong
Guest
swansong

Great article touching on the disaster of media consolidation in Canada.

Unfortunately you dropped the ball when you implied that the CBC is the place to get al the facts. That…is utter nonsense.

The CBC is also beholding to someone…besides the gov from which they receive their funding.

There are many stories that do not recieve the appropriate scrutiny or coverage fromm the CBC…unfortunately…Justin Beiber is not one of them.

left-or-right
Member
left-or-right

Gloria…I believe the correct CON-artist spin term used for dictator is “Micro-manager”. Just sayin”……lol

Ed
Member
Ed

Everyone should keep in mind that negative comments about our dear leader will be investigated. No one who posts on the internet is anonymous. I wish I was joking, but I’m dead serious.

bbarry1
Guest
bbarry1

Not mentioned are the lies the media consistantly tell about Harper, the most egregious being that he stole the host at Lebancs furneral. As far as the oilsands are concerned average Canadians are not going to allow the enviro nitwits and their numerous media allies sacfifice our dreatest economic engine to satisfy a global swindle. The MET revealed last week that the earths temperature has risen.015 degrees since 1997 and that earths temperature has been “remarkable stable” for the last 200 years. Like the lies out of Anglia we won’t see that reported in the NY Times or the CBC.… Read more »

The Watcher
Member
The Watcher

@bbarry1: I was debating what next week’s topic should be, but now you have given it to me. Thank you.

Am I correct in assuming that from your general tone, and your unique spelling and grammar, that you are a Sun reader?

left-or-right
Member
left-or-right

So bbarry1 you are suggesting that it is far better to believe an oil funded PM and oil funded statistics coming from an oil funded environmental watchdog reporting to a oil funded government’s controlled agency as well as all these warm and fuzzy propaganda style commercials from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) over all other sources. Bare in mind that if you follow the money , which isn’t hard on the internet, the organizations which deny climate change and global warming are generally funded by oil backed right wing fundamentalists. There is no denying that the tar sands… Read more »

Ed
Member
Ed

left-or-right, not only is our PM backed by oil interests, but he is also backed by, and is an adherent of the ultra conservative Christian Fundamentalist movement. He believes that the world is only about six thousand years old, and that the end will be soon upon us. This kind of explains his disdain for science and scientists, and his lack of concern re climate change or anything else in the distant future.

NCK
Guest
NCK

So the only organization that tells the truth is the CBC? Am I correct in assuming that from your general tone, and your unique spelling and grammar, that you are a Star reader?

Travis from CAPP
Guest

CAPP is not a “denier”. Here is a link to the prinicples we support for climate policy: http://www.capp.ca/getdoc.aspx?DocId=199365 …in fact, oil sands producers already pay a $15 Can/tonne price on carbon produced in Alberta. The European Carbon Exchange (https://www.theice.com/marketdata/reports/ReportCenter.shtml?reportId=83) is pricing carbon today at $7.30 EU, or $10.20 Can. Regardless of what you think the price of carbon should be, oil sands companies are already ahead of the curve on GHG reporting, transparency and payment.

bbarry1
Guest
bbarry1

No left or Right that is not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that the working man knows that to put food on the table he has to work. At present the greatest economic engine we have is the tar sands. We are not going to support the nitwits who want to sacrifice that on an alter of a cult whose ultimate purpose is to increase the coffers of its parasitic adherents. The information revealed by the MET was derived from hard data which is clearly not the variety posited by that discredited gang from Anglia. That and… Read more »

Steve Jalsevac
Guest
Steve Jalsevac

This article is the proverbial case of the pot calling the kettle black. The CBC is a source of truth? There are a lot of alternate names given to the state broadcasting monopoly, but none of them emphasize that it is a source of truth. Greenpeace a reliable source of environmental information? Hardly, and some former members have gone public about the heavy ideological and money greedy motives behind that organization. Harper controlling the media? Wow! I am not a Stephen Harper fan, but I do sense that the lock that the left has had on all of Canada’s media… Read more »

bbarry1
Guest
bbarry1

@ Richard

The article contained nineteen spelling errors and numerous grammatical errors. Are you the author because I see no name attached to it? That kind of attack is lowbrow so I will not pursue it. As a suggestion for your next topic why don’t you discuss the self censorship practiced by the mainstream, predominantly left wing, media? Some topics that immediately come to mind are abortion and the intrinsic threat contained in a religion that sanctions murder as a means of conversion

Reg Coffey
Guest

Wow, Richard you have caught the attention of Steve Jalsevac of Lifesitenews.com, a right wing, fundamental religious organization dedicated to re-educate the masses to the neo-con point of view.

You are going to hell now!

bbarry1
Guest
bbarry1

@ Reg

Duly noted that you prefer character assassination over confronting the issue. Not surprising since that is the last refuge of the cowardly as well as the hopelessly wrong.

Ed
Member
Ed

That’s hilarious Reg. I’m sure the Harper Theo-con team has thousands of volunteers scouring the net looking for subversive articles to dispute and/or report to Vic Toews and his “Public Safety” people.

Reg Coffey
Guest

Sorry bbarry1, I’ve been baited by better writers than you. I’m not biting.

The Watcher
Member
The Watcher

@ bbarry1 19 spelling and grammar mistakes, eh? Umhh, in an article of only 1700+ words. That’s a little more than one error per 100 words. I challenge you to find them. There is one typo (… a tremendous effortto try…). However, this was something that happened in the actual posting of the article – it was not in the original manuscript. I also used rather more paragraphs in the original article. Now, looking at your first comment: Not mentioned are the lies the media consistantly (sic) tell about Harper, the most egregious being that he stole the host at… Read more »

CrackerJim
Member
CrackerJim

Heh, heh, heh. Good one.

Hashmoder
Guest
Hashmoder

Nearly two decades ago, immediately after the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, United States Congress member (later Presidential candidate) Paul Simon sought my father’s opinion on how he sees the Middle East post Gulf War. My father provided Mr. Simon his written opinion on The Shape Of The Post Gulf War, Middle-East. It became part of U.S. Congressional Record. One Part of that written opinion dealt with the background of the Arab region. On January 2011, my father updated that part on the Arabian region. And here, he re-titled it as “The Arab Countries: At a Glance.” Surprisingly, what… Read more »

Stuart Blaber
Guest

This article is right on the money. I have been tweeting about the Harper dictatorship for quite some time now, as have others. He is even going to China to get pointers. One small point though, if you want reliable news about Canada and the US the CBC is far too shallow in its reporting. For good reliable information you can watch Russia’s NT television via Livestation on the web. It is a real eye opener.

Stuart Blaber
Guest

I can certainly see how, when one’s country is on the brink of dictatorship, than anyone who dares to point it out, must insure that his spelling and grammar are beyond reproach. Yah, right!

bbarry1
Guest
bbarry1

Smart play Reg.

jules
Guest
jules

Canada is no longer free and is going to be a communist country along with the entire world with the time. This is no joke folks and for years I have been studying this. I have been making some criticisms but didn’t want to go into this making people think that I fell on my head. The media is all controlled and that is why I said before pull yourselves away from the “boob tube” you call a TV – you are all programmed by that cursed thing. Go on alternative news to get some things right. Study what is… Read more »

jules
Guest
jules

I have something here for everybody to go on youtube.com and type in “Pawns in the Game” by Willium Guy Carr – exposing the Synagogue of Satan and this video is 1:34:53. There are plenty of information on all of this. William Guy Carr was a Canadian in the military (navy) way back in the 20th century and he exposed to the world in books and videos about communism infiltrating the world. The Bible talks about it as well as in videos and books. People this is all true and I want people to go on alternative news to find… Read more »

Franck
Guest
Franck

Great article. But I am afraid that CBC is already hypnotized. By Harper’s cuts and therefore under is controlled. In fact the whole world is being controlled by huge corporations. They influence policy by lobbying, votes by survey, propaganda by means of the media and even kill the leaders that would stand in their way (Diana, Kennedy) poisen them ( Arafat, Castro, Chavez).
There is nothing we can do but live our lives like mindless robots like Ed here.

PJ Robertson
Member
PJ Robertson

The CBC, alas, is a pale shadow of what it was twenty, thirty years ago. Fluff and sensationalism. No substance, no depth. Exceptions are axed — for example Despatches (Rick MacInnes-Rae) and Connect, its TV counterpart, (Mark Kelley) gone this month. The only hope for freedom-loving people is to support and participate in thoughtful debate on forums on the Net such as CFN, Avaaz, LeadNow, Care2. Also, if we wish to be informed about the world, still worth touching base with the Guardian and the Independent and the BBC World Service in the UK. The NY Times not so much… Read more »

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

Wow, what nonsense. Especially Gloria’s post about this Northern Party, whatever it is. Total fabrication and paranoia.

Eric..
Guest

According to information on the parliamentary newspaper the Hill Times, Bell and CAPP have the same lobbyist Knowlton and Hill Strategies. Coincidence? Considering the amount of advertising CAPP was pushing prior to the keystone and northgateway projects, no wonder no one in the media criticized these projects. Comment policy reminder CFN has a new comment policy. You must use your real first and last name. As well if your email bounces we will terminate your posting privileges. We value all input from our amazing CFN viewers and are always trying to improve the viewer experience which includes making this a… Read more »

David Oldham
Guest

Bbarry1…I was close to losing hope on discovering intelligent life in cyberspace…your perspective doesn’t so much linger on your obvious ability to read but rather your ability to comprehend.