Petition to protect Canadian media

Below is an urgent call for support regarding an important issue for Canadians interested in a responsible Canadian media environment. The arrival of "Fox News North" comes with proposed rule changes that severely weaken public protections against false news. Please see below the appeal from and the accompanying information and if you are persuaded, sign the petition.


CRTC plan to lift ban on false news prompts political investigation:

CRTC notice of consultation on fair and balanced rule:

CRTC receives thousands of comments on ‘false and misleading news’ amendment:

Avaaz submission to the CRTC – Feb. 9, 2011


Dear friends across Canada

In 48 hours, public protections against false news coverage could be destroyed. The CRTC may pass a huge loophole to the “fair and balanced” rule that currently prevents media from outright lying to the public.

Canada’s broadcast journalism standards are an impediment to the new "Fox News North" (Sun TV) network being set up by Prime Minister Harper’s cronies, which promises to mimic Fox News — the poisonous US propaganda network. The CRTC rule change, which allows false news to be blasted across Canadian airwaves, comes just as SunTV is about to launch.

We can stop this — last year, we prevented Harper cronies from pressing the CRTC to fund "Fox News North" with public money. Now, we have just two days to raise another national outcry to save the standards of Canadian journalism, and our democracy. Sign the petition below, and tell everyone:

The proposed changes to regulations protecting Canadian airwaves would require any complaint to include proof that the broadcaster knew that the news was false AND that the lies spread could endanger the lives, health or safety of the public — so a journalist could tell any lie they liked as long it didn’t kill or sicken anyone. Proponents within the CRTC are claiming that this change is in reaction to a Supreme Court decision, but that ruling was made fifteen years ago and has almost nothing to do with TV news standards.

Television news is regulated by the CRTC precisely because news that spreads lies degrades public discourse and destroys the ability of Canadians to cast an informed vote. These kinds of lies may not directly threaten our lives or personal security, but they do threaten our country and our democracy.

Avaaz, along with hundreds of other media advocates, has already submitted a detailed legal argument explaining why the “fair and balanced” rule is necessary to protect Canadian democracy. A national call to keep the news honest will focus CRTC attention on the legitimate objections to their dangerous plan. Sign the petition and forward this email to everyone:

Just a few months ago, Canadians prevented government subsidies for "Fox News North" and helped expose the unethical conduct of its director Kory Teneycke, Prime Minister Harper’s former Communications Director. Now Harper’s cronies are back, and hacking at an essential pillar of our democracy, the standards that help prevent media from outright lying to the public. In the next two days we join a long tradition of Canadians who have built and sustained our democracy in the face of all kinds of threats. Let’s do that tradition proud.

With hope,

Emma, Ricken, Laryn and the rest of the Avaaz team

268 thoughts on “Petition to protect Canadian media

  1. All reasonable enough, Coby. (And Wow, who made essentially the same argument.) Just a couple of parting shots before I genuinely allow you the last word.

    First, Richard’s incoherence on this point (you pointed it out before) is a reflection of Richard, not the point. (I mean, look at his silly response to my point about all-volunteer armies: Canada had all volunteers; therefore, volunteers are all you need!)

    Second, the seemingly innocent restriction on “false and misleading” *news*–as opposed to individual free speech– strikes me as arbitrary and easily blurred. What if Richard, for example, eventually received corporate sponsorship from Exxon-Mobile and called himself the Wakefield News Network? At what point is he a “news source” and not just a goofball with a harebrained opinion?

    Don’t worry, Coby. This isn’t one I’m going to fall on my sword over. I don’t know enough about the history of the existing (and as of now unchanged) Canadian law to say one way or the other how good an idea it is. I’ll just say I smell a manifestation of different national histories (revolution against the Crown versus the placid BNA) that has lead to a regulation north of the border that seems dodgy to my Yankee sensibilities.

    I wish you folks the best with it in any event.


  2. “…….Generals in room hundreds of miles away didn’t win the war. Though hats off to Patton, one of the few generals who actually contributed to winning the war. He should have been allowed to do what he wanted and the war would have been over sooner. A debate for another thread……”

    For f###’s sake Dick, will you please stop showing your ignorance. Patton was an idiot who had no comprehension of strategic issues. If you want this debate, then I will give it to you somewhere else if coby wants to start an appropriate thread.

    But I will warn you – I am a graduate of war college, not an ARMCHAIR general.


  3. Patton was an idiot who had no comprehension of strategic issues. –mandas

    But not a *tactical* genius as per the film and legend?

    Not that I care terribly. I generally pride myself in my knowledge of American history but admit to having little knowledge of Patton.

    I’ll think of a climate connection later.


  4. skip

    Yes – Patton was a tactical and operational genius. Bur in strategic matters – which a senior general needs – he was a fool. Which is why Bradley and Eisenhower essentially sacked him.

    But slightly off topic 🙂


  5. skip, I guess my problem with knowing your problem is that this petition and the law from it doesn’t mean that the government gets to say “you’re lying” any more than child rape laws mean the government gets to say you’re abusing children.

    Just because the government could use it to remove an annoying person doesn’t mean we ought to get rid of the laws against it.

    And if you want to use civil courts, they can only redress damage, NOT punish (though the recording industries have managed to get that for their cases too) and expanding civil cases to include punitative action is a far FAR worse idea than letting government assert the law against lying.


  6. Meanwhile – back in Canada…….

    Our mate Dick – who appears to have gone AWOL – recently highlighted that the people had spoken, and that WUWT was the most popular science blog of 2010. I guess he must think that means something.

    I suppose that if people are polled or vote for something, then the outcome must be true. Is that correct Dick (assuming you are out there)?

    So – I wonder what you think of this:

    It would seem your countrymen accept the science of climate change as real, and want your government to do something about it. Given your statements of support for the validity of polling, I guess that means you believe the government should take action. Or don’t you believe in polls and democracy if the vote goes against you?


  7. A journalist speaks up for journalism:

    I like this quote at the end:

    “….You may have heard the phrase, “The flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas.” Well, try this: “The lies of a newspaper in London can get a bloke’s head caved in down an alley in Bradford.”

    If you can’t see that words matter, you should go back to running porn magazines. But if you do, yet still allow your editors to use inciteful over insightful language, then far from standing up for Britain, you’re a menace against all things that make it great….”


  8. We haven’t said much about freedom of the press and Fox News lately, but I just can’t let this one go.

    The stupidity just burns!!!! How can anyone with an IQ above their shoe size believe the crap that spews from these people’s mouths? This is so laughably stupid that you might even think it was Poe – but then you see who is talking and you know they might even genuinely believe it. After all – the tide comes in – the tide goes out…..

    I do like the ‘Freudian slip’ at the start of the video. “More on” Fox news indeed!


  9. Aaaaah! Hormesis.

    Just like settling into a nice gently bubbling spa. You can feel it doing you good. (And you can sign the Oregon petition while you do it. Lovely.)


  10. The clip never got to policy implications . . . a genetically mutated chicken in every pot, and two depleted uranium cars in every garage?

    I actually read one of Coulter’s books (*Godless*: The Church of Liberalism.) It wasn’t even proofed correctly before being slapdashed to press.

    An unmitigated, colossal lunatic–or just a very good and sociopathic self-marketer. I could actually respect her slightly more if I thought she knew how full of shit she was and is just in it for the money gleaned off the drooling illiterati. She actually has a low degree from the University of Michigan, which is no mean achievement, so her insanity/retardation is a puzzle.

    O’Reilly is another piece of work in his own right, but that’s another story . . .


  11. Meanwhile, in the Australian media….

    “Media Watch” is an excellent ABC TV program which critiques the media. Last night they did an expose of how “Talk Back Radio” (read: right wing nut job shock jocks) have dealt with climate change. A link to the show is here:

    One part of the show was particularly interesting. It occurs at 5:23 in the video. The nut-job is complaining about who the Prime Minister is siding with for her advice on climate change, and he sneeringly lists who she listens to, then complains why she is not getting her advice from elsewhere (ie from people who agree with him). Here is the transcript:

    “….She said she knew who she’d rather have on her side, not Alan Jones, not Piers Akerman, not Andrew Bolt, but the CSIRO, The Australian Academy of Science, the Bureau of Meteorology, NASA, the National Atmospheric Administration, and every reputable climate change scientist in the world. Did you hear that? There was no mention of leading Australian scientists who question climate change including Professor Ian Plimer, Professor Bob Carter and Dr David Evans, among others. What, none of them are reputable now?…”

    I think that’s pretty telling. Your average denier thinks that the PM should listen to a group of discredited mining company geologists and right-wing ‘journalists’ above the CSIRO, BOM, NASA, NOAA, AAS and reputable climate scientists. And this is EXACTLY why I will NEVER refer to them as sceptics. They are DENIERS, pure and simple, and worthy of nothing more than utter contempt.


  12. Well, it looks as though ‘Fox News North’, or to give it its real name, ‘Sun News Network’, finally been launched in Canada.

    Here’s a short clip to highlight the quality of the journalism:

    Is this guy the Canadian Glenn Beck, ay?


  13. Of course, we are all deeply disappointed that Sun News Network is not to His Goatship’s taste. But life is full of sorrow, and we will just have to learn to live with his disapproval.


  14. LOL.

    I can not only live with Mandas’s disapproval, but what is no doubt your assessment that the Canadian Chainsaw Massacre Man is the “Mike Tyson” of news broadcasting. You’ve found your Richard Wakefield of television, Snowman. Hope you have satellite service in Sussex.


  15. What is this strange power I have over Skip? We hear not a peep from him for days, but let me make just one comment and he rushes to the blog, breathless with excitement.

    Incidentally, Skip, I assume that – like most of your compatriots – you will be getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to watch the Royal Wedding. Look for me outside Westminster Abbey. I’ll be the guy holding a sign saying ‘Hiya, Skip old buddy’.


  16. What is this strange power I have over Skip?

    The same intrigue that any clown holds for anyone who enjoys tormenting clowns. If you find that empowering, it explains a lot.


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