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September 16, 2010

Harpervision for Canada?

The Canadian Charger

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Is right-wing extremism coming to a television near you? In Canada the conspiracy is in the works.

Sun TV is committed to starting up an all-“news” cable channel on January 1. Heading up this effort is Kory Teneycke, former director of communications–make that “propaganda”–for Stephen Harper and one-time advisor to Mike Harris and Preston Manning.

The proposed channel, which has been called “Fox News North,” reflects an electronic extension of A.J. Liebling’s famous comment that freedom of the press is granted only to those who own one—in this case, Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor Inc., Quebecor Media Inc., and Sun Media Corp. His Journal de Montréal has had its journalists locked out for over a year, and he operates with scab labour.

Liebling aside, how could one object to Péladeau’s desire to open a right-wing all-”news” channel?

After all, Conrad Black started up the National Post to give Canadians an alternative, more reactionary, extreme right-wing view of the world, and it has done nothing but bleed red ink. One could well expect the same fate for Fox News North. Except…

What Teneycke and Péladeau are angling for is a Category 1 status. That would mean all cable and satellite providers would have to include Fox North in all their bundle of channels.

They do not want to give the public the same right to ignore them that National Post did. They want to be imposed upon unwitting Canadian subscribers.

Unfortunately, for these gentlemen there is a fly in the ointment.

To pull off their scheme, they must get approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Konrad von Finckenstein, head of the CRTC, has stated that such a request will not even be considered before all new requests are heard in October 2011.

However, the Fox North boys have schemes up their sleeve. Quebecor’s corporate affairs vice president Serge Sasseville explained: “We’ll ask the CRTC exactly the same conditions we’ve been asking with a Category 1, and we’re pretty confident we’ll get it. You can ask for a must-offer even for other categories.” Meanwhile, Teneycke has been at work.

With a bow to the late Richard Nixon, we’ll call it Dirty Tricks North. He was caught in a lie, when he said: “We are not, nor have we ever asked, for mandatory carriage of this station where Canadians would have been obliged to pay.” On July 5, the CRTC turned down the request for just such a condition.

Then there’s the matter of an on-line petition. Avaaz is a group sponsoring a petition against the proposed channel. In September, Teneycke pointed out that illegitimate signatures had been added to the on-line petition. However, CBC blogger Kady O’Malley noted that Avaaz had not made the news of signers public, so how did he know?

According to Wikipedia, Teneycke admitted having a source. According to Toronto Star reporter Susan Delacourt: “Kory Teneycke seemed to have inside knowledge of the fake names on the petition, and thanks to some dogged inquiry by O’Malley and Avaaz, we learned that these fake names were submitted by one person–either known by Kory or Kory himself.” No doubt, the proposed all-news channel would grab and run with such a tidbit, no?

The possibility of the cloning of the vicious, reactionary, hatred-infested Fox News on Canadian soil has naturally raised Stephen Harper’s interest.

Back in March, according to Linda McQuaig, while in New York Harper lunched with Fox owner Rupert Murdock, Fox News president Roger Ailes, and Teneycke. One can only guess what was discussed, once they got past the pennant chances of the Yankees and Blue Jays.

But yet there is the von Finckenstein problem. Finding a way to get rid of him would certainly be in character for our gentle, blue-sweatered, piano-playing Prime Minister. Von Finckenstein’s term is not up till 2012, and he is said to have been offered a judgeship and an ambassadorial appointment to Chile.

Let’s list some of the annoying people to whom Harper has bid adieu:

Most recently, Veterans’ Affairs ombudsman Pat Stogran was shown the door. He is not leaving quietly.

Munir Sheikh, as a man of integrity, resigned from his position as head of Statistics Canada. Industry Minister Tony Clement said that he agreed with the government’s decision to eliminate the compulsory long-form census—a lie.

Monty Cheliak, head of the Canadian Firearms Program and outspoken supporter of the long-gun registry, was sent off to learn French.

Following the death of its last head, Rémy Beauregard, Rights and Democracy was cleansed of advocates of rights and democracy. The new head, Harper-appointee Gérard Latulippe told the Quebec Commission on Reasonable Accommodation that “the proper functioning of Quebec society” was undermined by the “geographic concentration of more and more immigrants from Muslim countries.”

Peter Tinsley, chairman of the Military Police Complaints Commission, did not have his appointment renewed. He was too effective in investigating Canadian responsibility for the torture of Afghan prisoners.

Also not renewed was RCMP Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy. As with Tinsley, he did his job too well.

Linda Keen was fired from her position as president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for finding safety risks at the Chalk River nuclear facility. Shortly afterwards leaks of heavy water caused an extended shutdown.

Will von Finckenstein’s name be added to this honor role?

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