Friday, March 27, 2015

CBC: The Appeasement Continues*

Those who read my blog on a regular basis will know that I have felt disaffected from the CBC for some time. While I am a supporter of public broadcasting and believe in its adequate funding, the CBC's futile policy of appeasing its Conservative overlords has eroded my respect for the institution. As well, the recent imbroglio over Amanda Lang's clear conflict of interest and the Corporation's subsequent whitewash has earned it no brownie points with me.

Over at Canadaland, investigative journalist Jesse Brown has uncovered more damning evidence of decline and rot at the Mother Corp. This time, it has apparently succumbed to outside pressure and scratched from its lineup a documentary entitled Volunteers Unleashed, a program critical of 'voluntourism' that my wife had intended to watch earlier this month. While no explanation was offered, Brown has uncovered that
the reason Volunteers Unleashed was pulled was due to "concerns" raised by Craig Kielburger's Me to We, the for-profit sister company to his Free the Children charity. Me to We pops up a couple of times in Volunteers Unleashed. Kielburger happened to be wrapping a stint as a CBC Canada Reads panelist on the day the doc was set to air.

Officially, CBC says the doc was temporarily pulled due to a "copyright issue" and will be "re-edited and re-scheduled". [In fact, it is rescheduled for April 2] Free the Children similarly told us that it was the CBC's use of "unauthorized footage" that led to their complaint.
Brown also alleges
that Me to We may have also raised the spectre of libel with the CBC over how they were portrayed in the documentary. Kielburger has sued journalists for libel before. We asked both parties if libel came up in this case. Neither answered the question.
The larger issue here, of course, is the very real question of how independent our journalism is.
Free the Children spokesperson Angie Gurley was nevertheless quick to dispel any suggestion that her organization tried to kill a documentary because they didn't like how they came across in it. In fact, she asked us to remove our description of the doc as being critical of their organization.

"No Critical Coverage"

Though Gurley admitted that her camp had not seen the doc, they trusted that "there is no critical coverage of Me to We or We Day in the film" because that's what the CBC told them.

Here is the "unauthorized" footage in question, which we present here under the Fair Dealing exceptions for news reporting and criticism in the Copyright Act. You can judge for yourself if it's critical coverage of We Day or not.

Also, Free the Children's Angie Gurley also told us that the CBC assured her that Volunteers Unleashed "did not include footage of Me to We Trips".

You can see here that this is not true:

Brown asks these pertinent questions:
Exactly how is the footage of We Day or the We to Me Ecuador trip "unauthorized"? CANADALAND has learned that the rights to the We Day footage were licensed from Global TV, and does not belong to Me to We/Free the Children.

Is the CBC going to remove footage of a company scrutinized in their journalism because that company asked them to?
That second question should be answered on April 2. As they say, stay tuned.

* Many thanks to my friend Dave for alerting me to this story.

An Instructional Video

The following has been floating around the Internet for some time, but it warrants renewed circulation, in that it shatters some of the stereotypes about Islam. I would suggest it could edify Prime Minister Harper, but I live in the real world, a world where Canada's leader, for crass political purposes, is intent on demonizing and sowing fears about 'the other' within our midst.

Reza Aslan killed these two "journalists"

You need to watch this! Reza Aslan killed these two "journalists". They weren't able to salvage a shred of dignity because they are simply stupid, ill-informed, racist. Party on CNN!

Posted by Issam Bayan on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Apparently, The Proof Is Not In The Tasting

Dr. Patrick Moore, a shill lobbyist for Monsanto, refused to put his mouth where his money is when offered the opportunity to prove his claim that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, has nothing to do with increasing cancer rates in Argentina:
“You can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you,” Moore insists.

“You want to drink some?” the interviewer asks. “We have some here.”

“I’d be happy to, actually,” Moore replies, adding, “Not really. But I know it wouldn’t hurt me.”

“If you say so, I have some,” the interviewer presses.

“I’m not stupid,” Moore declares.

“So, it’s dangerous?” the interviewer concludes.
You can watch the testy exchange below:

Meanwhile, South Of The Border

Ah yes, that land whose political representatives make our elected reprobates look like shining exemplars. For this edition of The Dark Side, we return to the ongoing saga of Gordon Klingenschmitt (a.k.a. Dr. Chaps), recently elected as a Republican State Legislator in Colorado.

A man with many demons (which he regularly exorcises), in this edition he exploits explores a tragedy wrought by the 'demonic spirit of murder' that, it seems, has provoked God's judgement:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meanwhile, In Canada

H/t Anne Montgomery

H/t Michael Nabert

A Solution Lacking Political Will

While reading the following, I found myself pining for the kind of scenario Jerry Ginsburg adumbrates. Then I had my second cup of coffee and reawoke to the prime motivation enveloping our current crop of 'leaders (excepting Elizabeth May): the bald and venal pursuit of power.
Stephen Harper’s Canada is not my Canada. More importantly, it’s not the Canada desired by most Canadians. Two-thirds of us, judging from polls and the last election, don’t want a Canada where policy-making relies on bullying and the suppression of dissent, where military intervention and one-sided bluster have replaced peacemaking as our foreign policy, where core issues like the environment are totally ignored, and where minorities in our community are stigmatized and mocked rather than welcomed into an inclusive, diverse whole.

Many of us are “mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore.” But unless something changes, Harper’s Canada is the one we’re going to end up with after the next election. Once again the Liberals, NDP, and Greens will divide the opposition vote, and once again the Conservatives will sweep into power with a “majority” representing less than 40 per cent of us. This must not happen again. But how can it be avoided?

Both Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau suggest the answer is obvious: just vote for us. Says Mulcair: “We’re already the Opposition; give us a few more seats and we’ll form the next government.” Says Trudeau: “Look at the polls since I became leader. We’re on our way back, and we’re the only party that can defeat Harper.” The hubris is impressive, but we know where this is headed. Mulcair is not going to be the next PM; he’ll be lucky not to end up third. Trudeau may come closer, but he’s been bleeding support for months, and this trend will, if anything, accelerate once he’s exposed to the harsh light of the campaign. Nonetheless, both men, pushed along by their self-interested party organizations, will valiantly soldier on, pretending mightily that success is imminent. The result will be exactly what the majority of us dread: a split vote leading to the re-election of Harper.

I believe most Canadians would prefer to have our opposition parties come together and form a mature, responsible coalition, one that could compete effectively in the election and govern effectively thereafter. Such a coalition would not necessitate the dismantling of the Liberals, NDP and Greens. Each party could continue to advocate for the policies it views as crucial. But each would also have to make significant compromises in the interest of maintaining a functioning coalition. If such compromises were openly negotiated and clearly explained to the electorate, they would not be vilified but respected as examples of the give-and-take necessary for genuinely democratic government to work.

This might seem hopelessly naive and idealistic. But in fact it’s a reasonable description of how our system could function under proportional representation. No party or coalition of parties with less than 50 per cent popular support would have the power to make policy. Can you imagine it: a Canada where legislation actually reflected the wishes of the majority?

Is it possible a unifying coalition could come about before the next election and allow the majority of Canadians finally to rule? It all depends on whether the Liberals, NDP and Greens can be weaned away from the selfish pursuit of minority power to give voice to an electorate with more parties than its current electoral system can accommodate.

Jerry Ginsburg, Thornhill

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Harry Smith Has Stephen Harper In His Sights

Harry Smith is a man on a mission, one that should put disengaged Canadians to shame.

The 92-year-old long-time activist, who splits his time between Canada and England, is ashamed of what has happened under the rule of Stephen Harper, and plans to make a difference as soon as he returns from the United Kingdom, where he is currently on an extensive speaking tour for Britain's Labour Party, which asked him to be a spokesman in the campaign for the May 7 election.

Smith has become a sensation
for his opinion pieces and memoir Harry's Last Stand, in which he draws parallels between his brutal childhood in the U.K. and where the western world is headed today as government austerity grips many of its countries.
Those experiences, and his memory of what Canada was like in the 1950's when he came here with his family to pursue a better life, have informed a life of activism which now takes the form of opposing austerity and corporate greed.

Here is a brief sample of Smith's early years in Britain in a moving speech he gave last year:

When the British election is over, he plans to replicate his tour in Canada,
in a ''full-tilt'' effort on his part to help oust Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

''He is really, to me, the worst prime minister that ever existed,'' Smith said over the phone from Manchester, pausing for a drink of water. ''Since Harper has come into power, everything has gone downhill. He has one consideration, and that is to let the rich get richer and the poor fend for themselves.''

Smith said the ''epidemic'' of child poverty in Toronto, government service cutbacks, and tax loopholes used by corporations are some of the most concerning threats facing the country today.
The Canada he sees today presents
a stark difference from when he first arrived in Ontario in the 1950s to start anew after serving in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

''I've seen this province and the rest of the western world slip back to a society that reminds me of my boyhood,'' Smith said. ''Today is starting to have that same edge -- the same cruelty, the same divisions between those that have, and those that have not, that polarized the 1920s.''
When he arrived here, he saw a country offering people real opportunities for establishing themselves, a country where
none of his friends or neighbours had a problem with paying taxes. Most of them, having grown up in the Depression, thought services paid for by taxes were what made the country a safe and good place to live.
That has all changed now,
as corporations and politicians robbed the public of its social safety net, he said.
With that has come a loss of faith in our political institutions.
Smith said he will tour the country in the run-up to the Canadian election, delivering speeches aimed at youth about the perils of austerity and attacks on government services.

He said young people in Canada need to realize their futures are at risk if they don't oust Harper and vote in someone with ''compassion'' who cares about them.
Smith has an especially sharp warning for the young, disengaged among us:
[Y]oung Canadians must be warned their inaction risks the return to an uncivilized, brutish reality -- one festering with poverty and indifference to those drowning in it.
Harry Smith will be returning to Canada soon and
he said he's ''looking forward to seeing the back of that monster,'' Harper.
I, and millions of other Canadians, wish him every success in his campaign.