Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who Were Peter and Lou? (revised with added clip of Peter and Lou in Wisconsin)

Way back when, a pretty much unknown couple were immortalized in song by the Canadian folksinger Valdy, in his song, 'Peter and Lou'.

So who the heck were Peter and Lou, frozen in time "skating on winter's frozen lake"?

They were Peter and Lou Berryman, a young couple from Wisconsin who were folk singers... and anti-war protesters who came to Canada as many young Americans did during the Vietnam War.

Someone who knew them, Craig Wood, was so inspired by their "joie de vivre" as to pen the song that became a  successul single for Valdy in Canada in 1976.

Eventually Peter and Lou returned to the U.S. but this spring returned to the protest scene. Now married to other spouses, they still perform together but were back on the protest lines again at the state capitol as the Wisconsin government went on the attack against workers rights.

"Canada should be a refuge from militarism"

-Pierre Trudeau, who opened the door to some 50,000 young American pacifists, draft dodgers and war protesters

Does this Canada still exist?

Apparently, or perhaps, yes. Below is Valdy singing the song a few weeks ago...

And here are Peter and Lou Berryman today, now some 35 years after Valdy first sang about them.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ruefrontenac Shuts Down Print Weekly

Searching for Honest Journalism:

A rather unique model of alternative journalism, is the creation of the 253 members of the Syndicat des travailleurs de l'information du Journal de Montréal who were thrown out of work when Quebecor locked them out over two years ago.

The lock-out was finally ended this Feb 26, when 64.1% of the workers voted to accept a mediator's recommendation that they take an offer that would restore jobs for 62 of the workers and pay out $20 million in severance to the others. All pending a back to work protocol, which isn't germane to today's topic.

Meanwhile, had been steadily building its online edition and had started publishing a print edition, which ran for 25 issues before announcing its closure yesterday.

In yesterday's article, ruefrontenac's Richard Bousquet writes that the demise of the print edition, despite growing support, is a result of media concentration and the preference of large advertisers to deal with agencies that can place their ads across the country, rather than deal with individual publishers.

It also goes on to say in the article that the future directions of ruefrontenac are still in development and that it continues to grow in popularity.

It is hard to imagine that Quebecor, i.e. Sun Media, would be super excited to have precipitated a 25-month lock-out ostensibly to shore up one end of its business, only to set up most of the locked out workers in competition against them. It is very easy to imagine that the everyday Quebec reader would gladly pledge allegiance to ruefrontenac, who would appear to be holding plenty of cards, so it will be very interesting to see how the whole thing unfolds.

One thing for sure is that has already developed a significant brand and a fairly professional product. They call their enterprise a little adventure. It has been a small but valuable gift to the people of Quebec.

Unfortunately, as someone said in the comments of yesterday's article, even a small Gaulish village that stands up heroically for what is right, eventually becomes Romanized.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"You guys are hypnotized, no?" Blogger'' Charles Leblanc Discovers Explanation for Conservative Win

Searching for Honest Journalism

The NB blogger Charles Leblanc, known as simply "Blogger", may be the most honest journalist in the country.

He may also have discovered the real reason for the Conservative win on Monday.

You guys are hypnotized, no?

That was a pretty good line.

How does it compare when held up against "the essence of middlebrow"? Read today on Simpleposie.

Strange, after analysis, these two phrases contain not one single common point of comparison. However they do appear to be identical.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 3: World Press Freedom Day a Dark Day for Canadian Journalism - Canada's Free Press in Intensive Care?

The one most obvious outstanding fact after yesterday's election in Canada is that some sort of media/press reform is absolutely necessary in this country.

There is an overwhelming body of evidence to suggest that there is not a free press in Canada.

A few facts from #elxn41:

* 31 newspapers in Canada endorsed the Conservative Party
* 0 newspapers endorsed the Liberal Party
* 2 newspapers endorsed the NDP
* 1 newspaper endorsed the Bloc Quebecois
* 0 newspapers endorsed the Green Party
* 2 newspapers endorsed multiple parties

* Coverage in the newspapers was perhaps not biased to the extent of the lopsided and disgraceful endorsement record (which followed a similar pattern in 2006 and 2008) however there was still an obvious slant of favouritism towards the Conservatives in much of the coverage.

A few examples:

* The Edmonton Conservative candidate, Ryan Hastman, who was in an uphill battle against the NDP's Linda Duncan, was able to put out an appeal for campaign volunteer help in an Edmonton Journal news story!
* The Journal de Montreal (Sun Media) on May 1, ran two prominent pieces about how the NDP was running candidates in Quebec who couldn't speak French. It also buried Ignatieff coverage completely on the same day and gave way more prominence to an "optimistic" article about Conservative Larry Smith's race in Lac St-Louis.
* The Calgary Herald made a huge deal about how only a couple of students showed up for a "vote bus" that someone organized during advance polling 
* The Globe and Mail was a huge disappointment throughout the campaign, featuring such articles as this perplexing and ridiculous column fished out of the sky right when Stephen Harper needed it to appear, calling for abolishment of corporate tax as a "worldwide failure"

* Coverage on the network news television was similarly slanted in favour of the Tories. Early in the campaign, it was noticed that the opposition's criticisms of Harper and the Conservatives were rarely presented without the Conservative counter-argument quickly thrown in at the same time. However, when negative news came out about the NDP and Liberals, it was less frequently given with the counterargument.

* With the limited time available on the major newscasts, it was disappointing to see the Nanos segment eating up time every day, while CTV skimped on actual news on issues from the campaign. Although Nanos polling came close in some ways, the Leadership Index was terribly skewed in favour of Harper. One just has to believe that the daily repetition of this inaccurate Leadership Index in the Globe and Mail, on CTV and online, had some influence on the overall outcome of the election.

* Why did Peter Mansbridge play hardball with Ignatieff and slo-pitch with Harper?

* Why did the media fail to demand release of the auditor general's report on the G20 debacle?

* The whole "Ignatieff planned the Iraq war" scam

* Of course the dirtiest trick of all, the Layton Smear goes without saying

Unfortunately, time does not permit a more thorough analysis of all the media coverage of this election.

The picture is plenty bleak enough just looking at the newspaper endorsement line-up. Toss in the arrival onstage of Sun News on TV, with no counterweight of any kind in sight. Without forgetting that millions of Canadians are already unduly influenced by the rhetoric, attitude and coverage produced by Fox News.

The inescapable conclusion is that the objectivity of the Canadian news media is in condition critical in intensive care.

Young up and coming journalists are not blind. It is easy to see to see that the best way to increase your earnings is by working for an outfit that has the cash to spend and is willing to spend it on publishing news that sings to a certain ideological tune.

Is there a way for honest journalism to be profitable?

It is fairly easy to imagine a huge well-funded wave of further-right journalism arriving on the scene in Canada. Where the funding comes from can be left to your imagination. It is not easy to see what can be done to counter this problem. There is a certain amount that blogs and individual online efforts can achieve. Realistically, however, it must be assumed that these efforts will be matched by similar efforts on the right fringe of things. Same for the Tyees and Rabbles of the world. And don't look now but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for the internet to be completely swamped by astroturfing. Even worse than that, a two tier internet could effectively tilt anything resembling the level playing field internet we have now, such as it is.

Even if a Bill Gates or a Jeff Skoll or someone else with world-saving wherewithal were to step up, how much of an impact could one project really have?

Is there a way in this day and age for honest journalism to be profitable?

If there is a positive answer to that question, someone ought to find it quickly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ignorance Run Amuck - Conservative Candidate Says Autism Not a Disability, But a Special Interest Group

Conservative James Moore, the candidate in the  Port Moody–Westwood–Port Coquitlam riding, said that autism is not a disability - it is a special interest group, at an all candidates meeting.

In response to a question about whether he would support legislation to amend the Canada Health Act to include autism treatment (ABA/IBI) under Medicaree, he said,  "No, autism is not a disability and The Canada Health Act is not for Special interest Groups."

Now we see precisely why Conservative candidates all across the country during this election were either not allowed, or were afraid, to attend all-candidates forums.

Because they, and their campaign managers, know that the views of many Conservative candidates will not stand up to public scrutiny.

Following is the verbatim report taken from the Medicare for Autism Now website:

Asked at Riverside Secondary All Candidates Meeting today in School Gym for RIDING:
Port Moody–Westwood–Port Coquitlam

Incumbent JAMES MOORE was present. He has missed one meeting and was scorned in the local newspaper for his absence when caught tweeting about the hockey game.
* Kevin Kim Green Party of Canada – absent
* Mark Ireland New Democratic Party- answer YES
* Stewart McGillivray Liberal Party of Canada -answer YES
* James Moore Conservative Party of Canada – answer NO – autism is not a disability and The Canada Health Act is not for Special interest Groups.
* Paul Geddes Libertarian – definitely not – medicare should be privatized – the night before his reply to creating laws to Civil Rights for disabled people received the answer that minorities can’t expect handouts.

On the same website there are reports that several Liberal and NDP candidates responded positively to this question.

Thank-you to Facing Autism in New Brunswick for bringing this issue to the forefront.