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Everyone must do their duty for Canada – even Sun News Network ideologues

Admiral Horatio Nelson gives up his life in the service of his country on the deck of HMS Victory on Oct. 21, 1805. Below: Horatio Nelson; his famous signal to his fleet: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” Surely, Canada should expect no less!


“England expects that every man will do his duty,” Admiral Horatio Nelson signalled from HMS Victory to the brave sailors his fleet as the Battle of Trafalgar, the decisive naval fight of the Napoleonic Wars, commenced.

Sometimes there is a moment in a nation’s history when all good people must do their duty, no matter how hard.

Compared to the fate that on Oct. 21, 1805, awaited many British seamen – including Admiral Nelson himself – the sacrifice required of the supposed patriots employed in the Ideology Department of the Sun News Network is not very great.

Still, we recognize it is a sacrifice.

Sun News Network publishes the Sun tabloid newspapers, owns rural and small town weeklies across Canada and broadcasts the odious Sun TV commentary programs, and as such is home to a raft of so-called straight talkers like Ezra Levant, Michael Coren, Brian Lilley and the former Parliamentarian from Medicine Hat Monte Solberg.

Every one of these gentlemen would have us believe he is a loyal Canadian of the most patriotic stock. Indeed, it is part of the Sun chain’s shtick. The TV network, for example, characterizes itself as unapologetically patriotic.”

Now the owner of Sun News Network and the animating spirit behind its relentlessly spun news coverage and tireless far-right propaganda, Pierre Karl Péladeau, has announced that he will be running for the Parti Quebecois in the next Quebec election.

Technically, Mr. Péladeau is the owner of Quebecor Inc., the corporate owner of Sun News Network and other English and French media operations. But the line from Mr. Péladeau  through his corporate head office to the troops in the understaffed newsrooms of the chain throughout the land is direct and unequivocal.

Mr. Péladeau’s ambition, he bluntly admits, is to sever Quebec from Canada and create a new country that his children can be proud of. It has been said here his commentators have not done much to make them proud of Canada – but that was before the threat was obvious.

Now Mr. Péladeau may very well destroy the nation his network claims to unapologetically love.

Moreover, he says he has no intention of giving up his ownership stake in Quebecor – although it would seem he’s prepared to put it for a spell in what the Sun would no doubt call a Venetian-blind trust if it were a Liberal or New Democrat politician we were talking about.

This is something that men like Messrs. Levant, Coren, Lilley, Bell and Solberg, and a host of lesser lights at lesser Quebecor addresses throughout the land, will have to think about as they put their minds to the work that will be required of us all to save our country.

Now, I’m not saying that they owe it to themselves to say and do the right thing, or that they ought to think about it, or eventually get around to it.

I am saying that they have a duty to speak up clearly, unequivocally and loudly for their country. Now.

These are the people who claim to be the Canadian masters of “straight talk,” and there has never been a time in our country’s history when straight talk has been needed more.

If they are threatened by their arm’s length proprietor, they have a duty to ignore him.

And if they are prevented from doing their duty, they have the additional obligation to quit and no longer serve a man and an organization that – regardless of how they are loved for their ideology by the PMO of Stephen Harper – would then be like a dagger pointed at the heart of our country.

If they do not speak up for Canada directly, forthrightly, courageously and immediately, we will know what they are made of, and what they are.

As Admiral Nelson might have said on that bloody day in 1805: “That will do, gentlemen. Make it directly!”

NOTE: Astonishingly, here in New York City where one comes every year to be reinspired by Broadway, there’s nary a word in the local press about the fate of the Alberta Progressive Conservative dynasty, what Dave Hancock is likely to do in his unexpected role of interim premier, or who may try to replace him. This is shocking in a way since it was just a year and a few days ago that the government of then-premier Alison Redford took out a $30,000 ad in the New York Times touting the Keystone XL Pipeline. Do these people remember nothing? Well, we’ll return to all those things soon enough, leastways, if this blogger makes it out of town on Tuesday ahead of what the local press is covering: “The Snow Bomb.” This post also appears on

PKP to run for PQ: Why PKP, with SNN and CPC PMO spell SOS for Canada, which could be FUBAR

Impressionable English Canadian youngsters tune in to SNN for sinister ideological conditioning by RWN (right-wing nuts) on the staff of the PMO-favoured network. Below: PKP and his now-ex wife (NXW), grabbed from the Internet; SNN broadcaster Ezra Levant.

Oh, H-E-double-hockey-sticks, PKP wants another D-I-V-O-R-C-E!

This time, having just given his common-law wife of a decade the old heave-ho, it’s from us! 

And I don’t know about you, but this smells a bit like C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y.

Let me explain…

PKP for those of you who live in the ROC and are therefore wondering WTF is Pierre Karl Péladeau, who until recently was the CEO of Quebecor Inc. (QBR to the TSE.) Also until recently he was the common law husband of broadcaster Julie Snyder.

QBR was recently described as “one of the worst employers Quebec has ever known,” a statement that it would certainly be fair to extend Canada-wide.

PKP, as he is apparently known in Quebec, remains QBR’s largest shareholder, and working for him is obviously pure H-E-double-L for most of his now-former E-M-P-L-O-Y-E-E-S, fewer and fewer of whom had managed to retain that un-coveted status even before he signalled a career change.

QBR, indeed, is well on its way to being the company that gave the ROC the completely journalism-free newspaper.

More important, though, PKP seems to be the guy who invented the faux patriotic Sun News Network (SNN), the tireless foe of the CRTC and the CBC that is billed by its opponents as Fox News North (FNN, I guess) and calls itself the home of “hard news and straight talk,” which seem to mean “far-right spin and extremely offensive and dishonest commentary.”

Indeed, it was SNN that gave Ezra Levant, who seems to have some troubles of his own just now, a national soapbox from which to insult people who disagreed with him in the basest imaginable terms, a proclivity SNN was willing to spend considerable time and effort to defend.

SNN is also the home of such luminaries of the lunatic right as Michael Coren, Brian Lilley and Lorne Gunter, who when they’re not reprinting Fraser Institute news releases strive with one another to express English Canada’s most offensive opinions and portray our society in the worst possible light.

In other words, SNN and its gaggle of unreconstructed rightists is a powerful symbol of the parochialism and ideological extremism that large numbers of Quebeckers have come to associate with English Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

And BTW, as is well known, SNN, AKA FNN, is a particular favourite of both the CPC and the Harper PMO – which is bound, in the next election campaign, to try to falsely imply that federalists in the NDP have gone MIA.

Now, in addition to being a lousy employer and a tireless far-right propagandist, PKP is a deeply committed separatist. This is news out here in the ROC, although it was long well known in politically alert circles.

Accordingly, PKP announced yesterday he will run as a candidate for the Parti Québécois, and his reason for doing so was informative: “My devotion to the Parti Québécois is a devotion that rises from my most intimate values – that is to say: to make Quebec a country,” he told a PQ rally in the Montreal suburb of St. Jerome to roars of approval.

“I have extremely profound convictions to make Quebec a country,” he emphasized.

Presumably PKP didn’t come by his extremely profound convictions yesterday.

So we have to ask, did he intentionally promote an image of an intolerant and ignorant English Canada through SNN that he knew would make Quebeckers wish the ROC would just FO&DD?

Perhaps having contributed so much through QBR and SNN to making many Quebeckers ashamed of Canada, PKP was advancing his dream of giving his three children “a country they can be proud of.”

SNN, of course, tried to soft-pedal the obvious yesterday, trotting out the ghost of MBM (Martin Brian Mulroney) in its “news” columns to insist there’s no connection between PKP and QBR, and advising the ROC in its “opinion” section to pay no heed to the return of the separatist threat to Quebec if the PQ elects a majority.

IMO, we should treat it very seriously indeed before our entire country is FUBAR.

Indeed, it seems to me the best thing we could do for Canada right now would be to stick with Quebec while severing our ties as quickly as possible with SNN, QBR and Stephen “Firewall” Harper.

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Ford Nation dumped? Stay tuned for more program changes at Sun News Network

Toronto City Hall. Actual city halls in Canada’s largest city may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Rob Ford, Doug Ford, Kory Teneycke and Ezra Levant.

Does anyone seriously believe Sun News Network cancelled Ford Nation after its inaugural show on Monday because of Rob and Doug Ford’s “relative inexperience with the medium”?


Lots of people will accept at face value this claim about the loony-right-wing cable channel’s show starring the Ford Brothers, along with the equally fatuous suggestion “the brutal economics of cable TV” played a role. After all, both ideas come from no less an august source than the Globe and Mail in the self-described National Newspaper’s cover-to-cover reportage of the never-ending meltdown at Toronto City Hall, which, come to think of it, does look a little like a nuclear reactor building.

But let’s think about this for a minute.

The one and only broadcast of the program attracted, according to the same source, 155,000 viewers.

That compares with normal ratings of little more than 30,000 viewers for one of the network’s most popular shows, The Source, with the clownish Ezra Levant. And that’s when Mr. Levant is having a good day.

Mr. Levant took a break from his usual duties to act as one of the hosts of Ford Nation on Monday, gently lobbing softball questions at Toronto’s rapidly disintegrating mayor and his brother, who is now the chief magistrate’s sole remaining supporter on council.

It’s said here this is an audience that Sun News would only have surrendered under the most extraordinary of circumstances, and five hours spent on production time just doesn’t seem sufficiently extraordinary.

Now, about those five hours, I thought the private sector was supposed to be efficient. Isn’t that what Sun News keeps telling us? So how much time does it actually take to blip out even a stream of F-words, P-words and whatever other obscenities pepper the Ford Brothers’ version of public discourse?

C’mon, people! This time estimate strains credulity. Even if Ford Nation ratings were bound to start slipping after Rob Ford’s repeated come-to-Jesus moments started to grow tiresome to viewers still in possession of their faculties, those kind of numbers simply could not be ignored by a marginal operation like Sun News Network, which by its own admission will have to shut down if it doesn’t get some kind of a break soon from viewers or the federal government.

“It’s by far the most successful thing, from an audience perspective, the network has ever done,” the Globe quoted Kory Teneycke, a vice-president of Sun News, as saying.

So what’s really going on? Alert readers will recall that Mr. Teneycke is a former communications aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose office the same day gingerly waded into the issue by saying it was “troubled” by the “allegations” against the PM’s suddenly too-famous fishin’ buddy and fellow traveller. Allegations!

Employment Minister Jason Kenney, of course, was a little stronger in his comments, calling on the mayor for God’s sake to get out and end his occupation of Toronto City Hall, which is rapidly turning into the Hogtown House of Horror.

My guess is the PMO finally put in a call to Sun News and instructed the semi-official state broadcaster to pull the plug on the embarrassing spectacle right flippin’ now! Either that, or expect consequences – especially now that the CBC is behaving itself from the PM’s perspective.

Rob Ford’s long and public association with the prime minister, obviously, is not doing any favours for Mr. Harper or his party, with which the Canadian electorate is growing manifestly weary. And the more the Ford Fiasco is in the media, at home and abroad, the more embarrassing it becomes to the PMO.

The desire of the PMO to see the entire Ford Nation spectacle quietly brought to a conclusion must have been pretty obvious – making the phone call speculated upon in this space the simplest, and hence the most likely, reason for the swift and brutal demise of the astonishingly popular Ford Nation.

Of course, that was yesterday. Today, the Mounties alleged the prime minister’s former chief of staff committed bribery, fraud and breach of trust when he cut that famous $90,000 cheque to Senator Mike Duffy.

RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton said in court documents that Nigel Wright “did, without the consent in writing of the head of the branch of government, pay a reward or confer an advantage or benefit on Mike Duffy.” (Emphasis added.)

Given this opinion by the national police, can charges be far behind? And if charges are laid, can Mr. Wright be counted on to take the fall for his micromanaging former capo?

Given that, will the PMO still be as “troubled” by the potential distraction offered by the Ford Bros.?

Maybe we should stay tuned for more changes in the Sun News Network program schedule!

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Sober second thought: A half-hearted defence of Don Cherry, Stephen Harper and Julian Fantino in military drag

Stephen Harper in his cool green Canadian Forces flight jacket. With him, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, during last June’s flooding, both looking as if they wish they had cool military togs too. Below: Don Cherry in a tailored camo suit and Julian Fantino with a chest full of medals and a nice military blazer. All shots grabbed from the Internet.

A reader writes in response to my commentary on the politicization by so-called conservatives of Remembrance Day: “What combat unit did Don Cherry, Stephen Harper, Julian Fantino and the other chicken hawks ever serve in?”

Good question. A more complicated and serious one, though, it is said here, than it would appear on its face.

As far as I can tell from their online biographies, none of the three worthies mentioned above, all of whom seem to enjoy dressing up in various kinds of armed forces drag, has ever served in the military.

Indeed, Mr. Harper, the prime minister, has never held a real job of any kind. He merely graduated from young Liberalism to tiny Toryism to various ancillary and auxiliary political jobs before rising to elected office, higher and higher, where he has remained ever since.

Mr. Cherry, the former professional hockey player and coach, and current taxpayer-subsidized megaphone for uninformed political and social commentary, dropped out of high school and went directly into the sporting life, or so the Wikipedia tells us.

Mr. Fantino, it should be noted, did work as a mall security officer before joining the police force. So at least he has seen extensive paramilitary service. But I am at a loss to explain the chest full of medals he is shown wearing in his role as minister of veterans affairs on his taxpayer-financed website. Perhaps someone from his office could drop us a line to explain.

“Chicken hawks” in the context meant by my interlocutor is an American slang term for politicians who have never served in the military (or like former President George W. Bush, managed to serve in conveniently safe units like the Texas Air National Guard) yet who adopt a bellicose manner as they send young men and women in the armed services off to their deaths.

Former vice-president Dick Cheney springs to mind, a man who was certainly combative enough when it came to other families’ children, but who himself avoided service in the Vietnam war with five draft deferments, once famously observing, “I had other priorities in the Sixties than military service.”

So, no doubt, did a lot of young men of the same generation who were nevertheless drafted to serve and die in Vietnam.

Mr. Cheney, interestingly, has recently been the recipient of a transplanted heart. But the new one, presumably, is as hard and cold as the one it replaced.

Regardless, Canada is not the United States, and the differences between our countries remain important, even if Mr. Harper doesn’t think they ought to be.

The United States during the Vietnam era had a national male military draft – which, indeed, was one of the reasons for the rising tide of opposition to the war in Southeast Asia. Canada has not had a draft since the Second World War – and even then its enforcement required nuance and subtlety in the context of our national compromise, which predates Confederation in 1867.

So while the idea of chicken-hawk politicians who avoided military service in the 1960s has some validity for U.S. politicians who came of age in that era, it seems to me that considering military service a valid criterion for holding public office in Canada is a far less worthy notion.

Leastways, it’s said here it wouldn’t be a very good idea in a democracy to exclude from higher office anyone who had not done military service, especially in a country where for important and valid historical reasons, universal compulsory military service has not been part of our national experience.

Moreover, there are bound to be times when senior federal officials – ex officio – must make decisions about the use of military force. Again, in a democracy in which the people chose their leaders, this job cannot and should not be restricted to military veterans.

Nor is it necessarily a bad thing that in Canada and the United States today there is no national consensus requiring military service if one is to hold any responsible job, let alone high political office, as is the case in such democracies as Finland and Switzerland with recent traditions of armed neutrality.

None of this is to say politicians unschooled in the art of war should glory in violence – indeed, if they listen to their soldiers, the soldiers will often set them straight about the limitations of military action.

Nor is it to deny there’s not something quite unseemly about politicians who have not done military service dressing up in military drag – although in fairness to all of them, sometimes the military insists that’s how you have to dress if they’re going to invite you along for a ride on a tank, a destroyer escort or a helicopter. But I think we are wiser to emphasize the comedic aspects of this practice than to seek moral outrage in it.

After all, isn’t the Americanization of our Canadian political debate, like the politicization of Remembrance Day, a sign of the success Mr. Harper and his so-called Conservative Party have had in debasing public discourse in Canada to their own neoliberal ends?

There’s nothing wrong, I guess, with what a lefty friend of mine on the West Coast used to call “good ol’ Navy common sense.” But let’s not decide that combat experience is a necessary prerequisite for holding political office – or, in its absence, vociferous chicken hawk bellicosity from any perspective.

Indeed, that idea deserves a little good ol’ Canadian sober second thought.

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This just in: Canada puts all its nuts in one basket!

While Rob Ford’s apparent sanity continues to crumble in public like the proverbial slow-motion train wreck, Sun News Network’s TV arm has moved to extract some profit from the public deterioration of the Toronto Mayor’s mental state.

Treating psychosis as entertainment may be distasteful, but it’s entirely in character for the little network that remains mired at a number higher than 600 on your TV dial, a fact that lends deeper significance than is normally conveyed by the term “remote.”

Sun TV announced yesterday it “has landed the hottest man on the airwaves.” That is to say, the obscure far-right cable station went on to explain, “the Rob and Doug Ford Show is coming to Sun News Network.”

You may have thought Rob and Doug Ford were two men, but I suppose one explanation for the phenomenon we have been witnessing these past few days is that they are in fact one man with two bodies.

Regardless, other Sun TV on-air “personalities” such as Ezra Levant and Michael Coren should be concerned, I suppose, about what this development might mean for their own prospects for promotion, in either sense of the word.

Elevation of the prime minister’s favourite fishin’ buddy to TV stardom can also be argued to mean Canada is now putting all of its far-right nuts in one basket, justifying the common perception of the PM’s favourite TV station as a right-wing basket case.

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CRTC ruling notwithstanding, Sun News and its campaign for subsidies will continue

Sun News Network gets ready to take Phase II of its campaign for subsidies on the road. Actual action plans by the right-wing broadcaster in light of the CRTC’s denial Wednesday of free cash from consumers and a favourable location on the TV tuner may not turn out to be exactly as illustrated. Below: Sun TV VP Kory Teneycke, commentator Ezra Levant.

Canadians troubled by the loony right Sun News Network’s tireless campaign for “mandatory carriage” on cable TV and the forced subsidies from consumers that would have gone with it are entitled to feel some satisfaction at this week’s ruling by the federal broadcast regulator denying Sun TV’s demands.

But opponents of Sun’s style of gutter broadcasting should not assume the ruling Thursday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is the end of the network’s campaign to bury its snout in the public trough.

Don’t imagine for a moment that without cash from mandatory carriage Sun News Network is going away, as Vice-President Kory Teneycke and other network officials repeatedly promised during their campaign to bully the CRTC into supporting Sun’s bid to dip into cable-subscribers’ pockets, or that their demands for a more favourable ruling are likely to slacken even momentarily.

No sooner had the CRTC’s decision been announced than Sun News unblushingly changed its story, vowing to continue its fight for subsidies and a better position on the tuner for its dogmatic ideological bias, dubious facts and at-times hateful commentary.

In a story in yesterday’s Edmonton Sun headlined “Sun News battles on,” the parliamentary bureau reporter for the self-described “plucky, upstart news channel” and its newspaper arm noted that the CRTC’s decision “lays out a proposal for a new category of licenses for Canadian all-news channels” that may solve SNN’s problem with the flaccid market for market-fundamentalist bromides and hateful on-air rants.

“We intend to participate fully in those proceedings and will continue to operate pending an outcome,” said Mr. Teneycke, who by no coincidence was once Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communications director.

In this regard, the defiance of the network and its parent, Quebecor Inc., may very well be justified.

Elsewhere in the same edition of the paper, commentator Michael Coren proclaimed, “the Sun shines on” – or, at any rate, it is said here, to adopt the American vernacular, the Sun will continue to shine you on.

Mr. Coren adopted the whining tone typical of thwarted ideologues in such circumstances, claiming the network called “Fox News North” by supporters and opponents alike is a spunky little challenger of the political and economic establishment it in fact represents, and that it speaks for tens of thousands of people it in reality does not, including many Christians.

It would be fair to say Mr. Coren was engaging in habitual behaviour when he used the article to equate the views of all Christians with his particular take on Christianity. His appears to be a branch of the religion that has devalued to base metal the Golden Rule prescribed by Jesus when he said, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

But then, this is a rhetorical technique not so different from that of all Sun News commentators when they claim their angry and tiresome screeds are somehow equivalent to the efforts of the CBC!

Still, Mr. Coren was right when he stated that Sun News and its incessant demands for favourable rulings from the Government of Canada are not going to go away.

With all thus brouhaha, it’s important to note ample funding has been available and likely remains available for the network – from the same sources that finance Canada’s vast network of market-fundamentalist think tanks, Astro-Turf groups and institutionalized laundries for corporate political donations.

Indeed, it seems likely that at the main goal of Sun News Network’s campaign was not so much the paltry $17 million the network claims to be losing and that mandatory carriage would have replenished, as the favourable and accessible place on the TV tuner it would have given the network’s offerings.

So it is said here this fight was as much about encouraging larger numbers of Canadians to stumble upon Sun’s broadcasts – and, perchance, to believe them – as it was about cash.

So, for a little longer, Sun News commentators like Ezra Levant will have to work a harder to reach and retain their audience.

Speaking of Mr. Levant, it is interesting to speculate on how much his unsavoury and occasionally sinister rants, like his racist diatribe against the Roma people in September 2012 or his obscenity-laden attacks on a corporate executive who failed to toe his line on bitumen exports, may have hurt his employer’s application.

Mr. Teneycke has publicly defended Mr. Levant’s notorious rant about the Roma, barricading himself inside Sun’s “message box” while doing his best to sound contrite about it. In an interview last March, he refused to acknowledge the patently racist intentions of Mr. Levant’s remarks while suggesting they were merely meant to be satirical!

As noted here at the time, anyone who heard the original nine-minute episode of Mr. Levant’s program would find this explanation hard to square with what was actually said. Unfortunately, readers will be hard pressed to confirm that now, since Sun News long ago washed all copies of Mr. Levant’s screed down the corporate Memory Hole and a recording placed on by a third party was removed “due to a copyright claim by Sun News Network.”

It is probably impossible to know how much, or even if, Mr. Levant’s exertions hurt the Sun News Network application. It seems self-evident, however, that they can’t have helped it very much.

Regardless, as we have seen, the network’s efforts to win a better platform for his on-air propaganda are not likely to abate, and citizens who accept such Canadian values as fairness, tolerance and decency will have little choice but to remain on guard.

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A tale of a fateful trip: Alberta Wildrose leader to ship out on nine-day ‘Freedom Cruise’!

Hey little buddy, come with me! Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith chats with Sun News Network TV host Ezra Levant. Below: Mr. Levant with Sun TV personality Brian Lilley. Actual far-right bloviators and politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below them: The actual Mr. Levant, the actual Mr. Lilley and the actual Ms. Smith, caught in a National Post snapshot holding right-wing banana cream pie in the sky.

Avast, Matey! Alberta Opposition Leader Danielle Smith has signed on to ship out with a group of Sun News Network bloviators aboard the Holland-America Line’s MV Minnow for Ezra Levant’s “Freedom Cruise” in August.

It has not yet been announced if Ms. Smith will play the role of Mary Ann or Ginger aboard the Alaska-bound excursion.

Sun News commentator Brian Lilley is likely, it is said here, to be cast in the role of Gilligan opposite Mr. Levant’s natural portrayal of the Skipper. And the Professor? Everybody’s crossing their fingers for a surprise cameo by Tom Flanagan. The Fraser Institute mailing list will supply undeserving millionaires.

Sources high within the Wildrose Party promised yesterday that the “libertarian” Alberta Opposition leader will be paying her own freight on board (FOB Vancouver) and won’t be doing any double-dipping at the expense of Sun News Network, which after all is lobbying hard for additional taxpayer and cable-subscriber support.

That would hardly do, since Ms. Smith has just turned in such a brilliant portrayal of a principled politician giving 8 per cent of her salary to charity – and successfully directing her 16 MLAs to do the same thing and look like they like it. Obviously, based on this, we can expect Ms. Smith to turn in a bravura performance aboard the ideological Flying Dutchman technically known unpronounceably as the MV Zuiderdam.

Alas, for every ray of sunshine like Ms. Smith’s addition to the crew of the Minnow, into every market fundamentalist’s life a little rain must fall. So it’s disappointing to have to report it appears very much as if Pamela Geller, director of both the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and something that sounds like Stop Initialization of America (SIOA) has cast off from the planned freedom cruise north to Alaska.

Ditto Michael Coren, the always-inspiring chronicler of Christian persecution at the hands of really rude and sanctimonious secular humanists. The well-known Christian broadcaster’s eyes have no doubt have turned heavenward, or at least Romeward, since Mr. Levant’s seagoing ideological clambake was first announced.

Leastways, both these leading lights of the right seem to have been dropped from the program, which tersely notes, “List of speakers subject to change.”

Still aboard, however, is Janet Annesley, Vice-President of Communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), who as previously noted will presumably be speaking about the threat posed by anarcho-primitivistic deep ecologists in rainbow-coloured submarines with plans to CAPP-size errant cruise ships full of bitumen buffers. This is a double concern, since so many CAPP members are closely tied to Ms. Smith’s Wildrose Party.

The Minnow will make its stately way through the pristine waters of British Columbia’s Inside Passage. This will give those on the ideologically approved passenger manifest the opportunity to see this marvelous seascape before it is smeared with Ethical Bitumen proudly shipped out of Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s home port aboard leaky Communist Chinese tankers.

Cruise participants must pay up to $8,679 to be trapped for nine days aboard the vast banana boat, which is thought to steer only to starboard. Talk about a carnival at sea!

(Sink the maritime disaster puns already! – Ed.)

Some hints of where Mr. Levant, who is known also to hold extremely strong views about the importation of unethical bananas, and the other loony market fundamentalists aboard would like to steer the onboard discussion may be found in the views on tropical fruit held by the original Gilligan’s Island screenwriters:

GILLIGAN: Skipper, should I pick the yellow bananas or the red bananas, because the yellow bananas are green?

SKIPPER: Then pick the red ones.

GILLIGAN: But the red ones are pink.

SKIPPER: Gilligan, I don’t care if you pick red, white and blue bananas, just pick some bananas!

GILLIGAN: Okay, Skipper… Blue bananas?

But that’s not funny, you say? Well, when you get right down to it, neither are Ezra Levant and Danielle Smith!

Meanwhile, in totally unrelated news, the same senior Wildrose source reports the party is trying desperately to get the so-called National Citizens Coalition to stop using Ms. Smith’s photo in anti-union Facebook ads placed by the sinister and extremist Astroturf group once headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

So far, however, the NCC is said not to be returning the Wildrose Party’s phone messages. For his part, I don’t think Mr. Harper is returning anybody’s.

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Ezra Levant apologizes for Roma remarks

This just in: Sun News Network must want its mandatory carriage on basic cable TV pretty badly. Leastways, that’s the most reasonable explanation for Ezra Levant’s halfhearted effort late yesterday to apologize for and climb down from his racist remarks about the Roma people, originally made in his Sun News Network program, The Source, on Sept. 5, 2012.

After almost six months of silence, Mr. Levant admitted, sort of, that he was wrong to defame an entire people in terms eerily reminiscent of some of the darkest moments of modern history. True to form, however, Mr. Levant first attacked some of his other favourite targets, a well known environmentalist and aboriginal leaders, then tried to blame his comments about the Roma on an errant leftist impulse. He quoted Ayn Rand, the plumbiferous author beloved by the far right, assailing stereotyping as “the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.” Ezra, a collectivist! Who’d've thought!

Mr. Levant also interviewed Sun News Network Vice-President Kory Teneycke, a former spokesperson in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office, who admitted that Mr. Levant “crossed the line” and said the network never should have allowed the episode to be aired.

Canadians still need to ask themselves if Mr. Levant, Mr. Teneycke and Sun News Network have sincerely apologized and committed themselves to changing their ways, and if we should therefore reward them with more generous licensing provisions.

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Ahoy there, matey! Talk about maritime disasters! Trapped on a CAPP-sized banana boat with Ezra Levant!

The captain of the the MV Zuiderdam tells Michael Coren, right, to fetch him a cup of Starbucks. Sun News Network tour group hosts may not appear exactly as illustrated. But you’ve got to admit it’s a pretty good likeness! Below: a sample of unethical oil.

Call me Ishmael!

Would you pay $8,679, or even $2,952, to be trapped for nine days aboard a boat, even a very large boat, with Ezra Levant, Michael Coren, Brian Lilley and a host of other sorry reruns from the Sun News Network commentariat, not to mention the communications vice-president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers?

This is a serious question, people! And if you answered yes to it, then perhaps © Ezra Levant’s Freedom Cruise next August is for you. Anchors aweigh!

I’m thinking I may pass on this particular opportunity myself, although in truth we (the matrimonial we, that is) have been thinking that an Alaska cruise might be a very pleasant way to pass some time as retirement beckons.

Still, I’m not walking across the rickety gangplank of any ship with Messrs. Levant and Coren aboard unless it’s named the Pequod and I am permitted to wear officer’s whites and be in command as we make our stately way through British Columbia’s still-pristine Inside Passage along the route followed by the ill-fated Queen of the North.

Please be calm, people. Everything is under control. The bridge is fully staffed with capable officers such as myself. That rainbow sheen you see on the water is just a slight residue of WD-40 from a passing fish boat, the almost entirely harmless residuum of a quart of completely ethical oil. Coren, fetch me a cup of the finest Starbucks from the Atrium and Ocean Bar below! And be right smart about it, man!

Where was I? Oh yes… © Ezra Levant’s Freedom Cruise. Readers who regularly follow this blog will think I am just making this up out of a malicious and spiteful sense of mischief, but I assure you this is not the case.

Indeed, we must admire the Sun News Network, even as its viewers run screaming for the exits – or more to the point, search the sofa for the TV remote with rising desperation – for industriously coming up with new ways to try to make money.

And thus we have © Ezra Levant’s Freedom Cruise drifting past the site of the unlamented Ripple Rock, eliminated by the Dominion Government in history’s largest non-nuclear blast on April 5, 1958, something that no private company … oh, never mind.

You have to admit, the characteristic optimism of the typical free marketeer is inspiring!

Indeed, should the voyage of the MV Zuiderdam fail to deliver the anticipated return on investment – although that is hard to imagine when passengers will have the opportunity to dine with a different Sun personality every night, go to private cocktail receptions with their favourite SNN personalities and attend seminars with Q&A sessions – Sun News can always hit up the CRTC or its maritime equivalent for a compensatory taxpayer subsidy.

And if things really don’t work out, the Sun News Network’s commentators will have been eased into new careers as cruise ship social facilitators. Not many sinking, as it were, companies would do that for their employees.

Each seminar will examine a fascinating question:

  • Could Thomas Mulcair or Justin Trudeau derail our beloved Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2015? (Quelle horreur, l’horreur à double!)
  • Will environmental activists shut down Canada’s key industry? (Spelling the doom of Ethical Oil.)
  • What happened to Alberta and are conservative ideas safe anywhere in Canada? (Yes! At least aboard the MV Zuiderdam whilst she remains in Canadian waters!)
  • Is the U.S. now a liberal country? (Not while the Koch Brothers live and breathe!)

Passengers will also have the opportunity to hear from Pamela Geller, director of both the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA).

We’re sorry to report that left-wingers in the guise of Stop the Alphabetization of Everything (SAOE), a group that I made up just now as if I were writing a cruise brochure for © Ezra Levant’s Freedom Cruise, are continually trying to bully and erode the free speech rights of people like this Great American Patriot of the Year (GAPOY).

Now hear this! Now hear this! Rainbow-coloured periscope to port! Take the helm, Mr. Queequeg! Hard to Starbuck, I mean to starboard! That is all! That is all!

Also aboard will be Janet Annesley Vice-President of Communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), who will presumably be speaking about the threat posed by crazy environmentalists who could be lurking almost anywhere in rainbow-coloured submarines with plans to CAPP-size Canada’s ethical oil!

Readers will also be relieved to learn, as I was, that notwithstanding their mutual presence on this cruise, no business connection exists between the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Ezra Levant.

Moreover, the MV Zuiderdam is operated by the Holland America line and has never been used to ship unethical Chiquita bananas or burn unethical Bunker C.

Still, anyone who can survive nine days on board a boat with the crew of the Sun News Network without developing a really serious drinking problem deserves the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Then again, anyone who is of a mind to do any such thing probably already has one!

Talk about maritime disasters!

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Sun News Network pleads with anti-choice group to back its quest for ‘right to life’ subsidy

Sun News Network commentator back in the day complaining about how media outlets want the government to solve everything. This goes for Sun News Network and its financial problems too, it turns out. Below: Anti-choice Sun News commentator Michael Coren.

As part of its full-court press to get the CRTC to approve a better spot for it on the dial and give it access to direct subsidies from Canadian cable TV users, Sun News Network is begging anti-choice groups and their supporters to write the national broadcast regulator to support the far-right vanity broadcaster’s application.

“Sun News is the strongest voice for the pro-life cause on television in Canada. Bar none,” said Sun News commentator Brian Lilley in an interview with an anti-choice website called as part of the so-called news network’s plea to get letters written to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on its behalf.

“No one on television in this country gives as much airtime to pro-lifers,” Mr. Lilley told the website, which seems to be opposed to all forms of female reproductive choice as well as having a clearly homophobic agenda. “We shouldn’t let that voice be silenced.”

Mr. Lilley also claimed Sun News Network is fair to the “other side of the debate,” a risible assertion given the offensive and bullying interview style routinely adopted by the broadcaster’s commentators when dealing with people whose views they oppose.

Kory Teneycke, the former senior spokesperson in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office who now serves as a vice-president of the extremist broadcaster, told the anti-choice site that “we need to demonstrate a groundswell of support for Sun News, and the readers of LifeSiteNews can help.”

The site noted that one Sun News Network commentator, Michael Coren, hosts a weekly program with leaders of the so-called Campaign Life Coalition and referred favourably to commentaries on abortion by program host Ezra Levant, who is better known for his hateful rants against groups like people of Roma origin and supporters of the Idle No More movement.

The LifeSiteNews story repeats the Sun News Network’s questionable claim its desire for a public subsidy to cover its start-up loss of $17 million this year is a life or death proposition for its operations.

The subsidy Sun News Network is seeking now would add up to about $4 a year from all cable subscribers, or about $18 million a year initially.

Sun News and corporate owner Quebecor Inc. want the CRTC to grant it “mandatory carriage,” which means you couldn’t keep it off your TV dial no matter how many times Mr. Levant insults your mother’s virtue because it would be included in basic cable coverage everywhere in Canada.

The LifeSiteNews story does contain useful information, however, advising readers who wish to make a submission to the national broadcast regulator about the Sun News Network application to send it by Feb. 20 in a letter citing reference number 2012-0687-1 to CRTC, Ottawa, Ont., K1A 0N2. The letter should start or end with either “I request to appear at the public hearing” or “I do not want to appear at the public hearing.”

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With no market for hate and right-wing drivel, Sun News comes cap in hand for public subsidy

More gruel, sir? The face of Sun News Network that Sun News Network would like you to see as they beg for public subsidies. Below: The real face of Sun News Network.

Sun News Network, that fearless foe of state subsidies for the CBC, wants you, Dear Television Viewer, to directly subsidize it to the tune of $18 million a year.

Have no doubt, that’s just the beginning, but it would nicely cover losses the company says now amount to a modest $17 million a year – hardly a corporate killer, one would think, but apparently enough to get Sun News queuing up at the public trough.

It turns out, as others have discovered before them (Ted Byfield, c’mon down!) that there’s not much of a market in Canada for the kind of market fundamentalist pap Sun News peddles – at least when consumers have the choice not to pay for it.

There’s even less of a market, by the sound of it, for the filthy language and outright hate-mongering indulged in by some of the network’s so-called commentators.

Given the opportunity to choose to watch Sun TV, viewers run away in droves. And who can blame them with boring drivel like Ezra Levant’s regular venomous rants about the Roma, Idle No More protesters, Hispanic business executives, environmentalists and anyone else who provokes his ill-managed anger to fill the seemingly interminable 24-hour broadcast day?

Now the so-called news channel, which disseminates anything but news, has gone with its grubby cap in hand to one of Mr. Levant’s targets, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, to beg for the right to inject its poison directly into almost every Canadian home because it desperately needs the wholesale revenue that would then automatically flow back into its coffers.

To put this in broadcast-speak, Sun News and its separatist bosses at Quebecor Inc. want the CRTC to grant it “mandatory carriage,” which means you can’t keep it off your TV dial because it would be included in basic cable coverage everywhere in Canada. That way, I guess, it’ll be easier for them to campaign against opposition parties led by committed federalists from Quebec, of which there will soon be two.

In the normal course of events, a broadcast regulatory agency like the CRTC is the sort of group that would provoke one of Mr. Levant’s trademark jeremiads, complete with accusations it is staffed by civil servants itching to help out “union bosses” by “censoring” his harangues.

But for the moment, Mr. Levant and the chorus of right-wing hysterics employed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s semi-official and ideologically approved state broadcaster are silent on the topic of the CRTC while they direct their supplications to it for a flow of public subsidies to be directed their way.

You see, Sun News Network is going deeper into the hole every day, with erstwhile Harper Government spokesthingy Kory Teneycke, now a vice-president of his former boss’s favourite network, pleading that opening the money tap “is live or die for us.”

For its part, the company claims it has market research that shows viewers would watch its programs if only they knew where to find them. But this is highly suspect, since cable companies push packages that include the network and viewers aren’t biting.

The fact is, if you wish, you can get a well-run focus group to endorse a ham sandwich for prime minister – which, come to think of it, is pretty much what Sun News Network spends its days doing right now to the minuscule audience of angry white gun-owning males and zitty-faced Internet trolls it has managed to attract so far.

The subsidy Sun News Network is seeking now would add up to about $4 a year from all cable subscribers to directly subsidize hate and propaganda, but you can count on it that, in the manner of all their ilk, the corporation will soon be back at the well for more.

So tell me, with Sun News imploring a federal agency for a quick infusion of cash from hard-pressed taxpayers, granted in the form of a bogus “user fee,” where’s the always noisy Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation? They’re like the proverbial cop, I guess, never around when you actually need them.

Regardless, according to the Globe and Mail, Sun News faces “stiff odds” in this effort, seeing as there are lots of other more credible and creditable broadcasters vying for the 10 channels that must be carried by all cable companies.

But Harper cronies and sympathizers are now deeply embedded in key positions at the CRTC and it has a proven track record of backing down and running away from confrontation with Sun News, as when the broadcast regulator hastily dropped its investigation of Mr. Levant’s on-air obscenities last fall after the network issued a vague and insincere apology.

Given all that, I don’t think we can count on the CRTC not to agree to put the Tory back into regulatory.

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Question for regulators: Can Sun News Network be trusted to keep inconvenient agreements?

Promises, promises: It’s not a musical, and it’s not funny. What confidence can Canadian broadcast regulators have that Sun News Network will abide by the agreements it makes? Below: Broadcaster Ezra Levant.

Whatever one may think of the value of obscenity to public discourse, the debate over the use on the air of an obscene Spanish phrase by Sun News Network commentator Ezra Levant established an unrelated but important fact about the broadcaster that employs him.

Sun News Network cannot be depended on to keep all its agreements.

This is an important consideration for Canadian broadcast regulators because Sun News Network is sure to be back at the well seeking improvements, extensions and changes to its licence.

As is normally the case in such matters, as the steward of a resource owned by all Canadians, the Canadian government or its agency the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission may ask Sun News Network for certain undertakings in return for the privileges it wishes granted. This is, after all, the nature of negotiating an agreement.

But as we can clearly see from Sun News Network’s pivotal role in the “Chinga Tu Madre Affair” – which is about more than merely a childish outburst by a foul-mouthed broadcaster – undertakings of this nature don’t appear to mean much to Sun News Network.

This should concern the CRTC, and it will certainly be of interest to Canadians opposed to any future Sun News Network applications for whatever reasons – be they other broadcasters, opponents of the company’s highly biased far-right “news” coverage or even wild-eyed radicals bent on “censoring” Mr. Levant’s desire to inappropriately criticize people he disagrees with under cover of the Canadian Constitution.

It will also be of interest to garden variety Members of Parliament, including many Conservatives, who presumably unlike Mr. Levant’s close friends at the heart of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s inner circle, share their constituents’ attitudes about the kind of discourse that is appropriate on Canadian public broadcasts.

Sun News Network itself appears to have been essentially silent on this matter, ceding the ground to Mr. Levant as its employee and de facto spokesperson.

For his part, Mr. Levant dealt with this question in one of his broadcasts and his conclusions are not promising from the point of view of a regulator or a government that wishes assurances agreements it makes with private corporations will be honoured.

As is well known by those who have been following this imbroglio, on June 13 a broadcast industry self-regulation agency called the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled against Sun News Network for Mr. Levant’s use of an obscenity in what the CBSC referred to an on-air “tirade” in December 2011.

Mr. Levant responded the same day by reading the required CBSC statement rolled into a bombastic and immature attack on virtually everyone publicly identified as being involved in the complaint or the CBSC ruling. He closed the episode of his program by repeating the phrase originally complained of.

During his long polemic, Mr. Levant stated of the CBSC:

“On paper, they’re a private voluntary club. No TV or radio stations have to join them or submit to them. That’s the theory. But in practice, they do have the power of the state behind them, because in order to get a license, a TV license, from the Government of Canada, we’re required to join this ‘voluntary’ organization. Paragraph 6 of our TV license requires it. Talk about Orwellian. Did you get that? It’s a ‘voluntary’ organization. You’re forced to join by the government. …” (Emphasis added.)

In other words, by the sound of it, Sun News Network regretted the agreement it had made, and therefore decided simply to ignore it.

Well, they wouldn’t be the first to do something like that, would they? This is a bit like someone saying: “…in order to get a license, a marriage license, from a government in Canada, you’re required to join this ‘voluntary’ partnership!” Yes indeed, talk about Orwellian! And how inconvenient!

Returning to Mr. Levant, in the background of the TV station’s news set as he carried on a passage from a document appeared. It read: “The commission notes that the applicant stated that it would accept the standard conditions of licence for competitive mainstream national news services set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2009-562-1 including the conditions requiring a licensee to adhere to various industry codes relating to broadcast standards. The commission also notes that the applicant will be subject to various industry codes, including the RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics and the Journalistic Independence Code, as a member of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.”

So there you go. As Mr. Levant himself conceded, Sun News Network agreed with the CRTC that it would abide by certain conditions in order to get its licence, then ignored those conditions when it became inconvenient.

Doubtless every one of us has made a deal that, upon consideration, we wish we hadn’t. But honour, if not contract law, requires us to abide by these agreements.

Buy something you don’t like? You still have to pay. Marry someone you regret? You still ought to behave yourself, at least until the divorce. Sign a collective agreement you can’t stand? You nevertheless must live with the management-rights clause.

And thus do broadcasters sometimes agree to live by rules of conduct they may wish they didn’t have to in order to get their license. Saw offs are how deals get done – you give up a little, I give up a little and we both get a bargain we can live with. That’s why it’s called bargaining.

Society’s view of people who don’t keep their bargains is a low one, and rightfully so. It’s all about integrity.

What confidence can Canadians now have that Sun News Network will abide by the agreements it makes?

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