My Reaction to Sun News Network and the Ford Nation Broadcast

Sun News Network has just shown me that they are really not a strong journalistic organization.

I will admit that I was curious about the Ford’s show, “Ford Nation”. Since, Sun News Network is a part of my Shaw Cable package; I thought I would watch it. I must admit that I was not surprised by the complaints of a “conspiracy”. For, in the mind of the Ford brothers, it is easy to understand that the 41 out of 44 members of Toronto City Council could get together to agree on anything. For that is how many councillors voted to strip the mayor of his power to act on behalf of the city in the case of an emergency. In subsequent votes, the Mayor saw a minimum of 30 councillors stand against him. However, this is not the end for the Fords, Ezra Levant, Joe Warmington and other allies. They have indicated that more than 70% of councillors have gotten into cahoots with media – including but not limited to the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, the Globe & Mail and the National Post – and Toronto Police Force. While this thinking – in my mind – is fantastical, I had to watch this new show.

However, when Ezra Levant gave his editorial I was shocked. For, Mr. Levant said that the “left-wing, media party” had treated “left wing” politicians differently than conservatives. In this category, he threw a diverse bunch of people. Quebec Separatitsts found themselves lumped in with Social Democrats and Liberals. René Lévesque, Justin Trudeau, Ted Kennedy and Jack Layton found themselves in the same category. In Mr. Levant’s mind, they were all “lefties” who got away with it. These were “Left-Wing” Politicians that were never held accountable for their actions. Politicians that were not asked hard questions about their very public mistakes.

Besides the fact that Mr. Levant referred to actions that took place in 1969 (Ted Kennedy) and 1977 (René Lévesque), Mr. Levant did not do his research. Just take the example of Gordon Campbell. Premier Gordon Campbell in 2003 was arrested and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol while in Hawaii. Mr. Campbell paid a small fine and was forced to go through a substance abuse programme. While critics called for his resignation, he did not. In fact, he avoided many of the problems that Rob Ford has encountered because Mr. Campbell was open and honest from the outset. Premier Campbell did not go back and forth about whether he had committed a crime. Premier Campbell did not have to be dragged to the truth. Unlike Rob Ford, Premier Campbell did not make himself into a spectacle. In fact, Mr. Campbell came to the media, to his colleagues in the legislature and to the public to explain himself. After that explanation, he went back to governing.

Or put differently, Mr. Campbell was a conservative and he was treated in the same way that René Lévesque, Justin Trudeau and Jack Layton were treated. We know Mr. Campbell was a conservative because he headed the “free enterprise coalition” that is the British Columbia Liberal Party. Supporters of the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada have had to live in the BC Provincial Liberal Party since the 1980s because of the collapse of the right wing Social Credit Party.  Gordon Campbell – a conservative – ran this coalition in a conservative manner supporting many neoliberal policies. Consequently, the fair treatment of Mr. Campbell shows the falsehoods in Mr. Levant’s commentary.

There is also the case of Premier Ralph Klein. Another conservative, Premier Klein was well known for his heavy drinking. Mr. Klein has many famous stories surrounding his drinking. They include throwing coins at a homeless man in Edmonton while intoxicated and drinking with two members of the Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club (later to be patched over to the Hells Angels). Mr. Klein was also given a pass.

So to Ezra Levant and others, the media has been fair to Conservatives for years. The problem for Mr. Ford is simple: he is not Gordon Campbell or Ralph Klein. Instead of being graceful and media savvy, Mr. Ford is a clumsy and erratic. Mr. Ford has not sought the advice of professionals. Instead, he has leapt before looking and has landed himself into a lot of trouble. He asserted clear statements which could not hold up against the scrutiny of media and police investigations. So the problem is not a slanted media, the problems are with a troubled mayor who has created his own mess. A mess that has caused his own allies on council to turn against him; a mess that has done something I have never seen: unified Toronto City Council.

Consequently, by not doing simple research, the Sun News Network has shown me that they are really not a strong journalistic organization. Instead, it is a place for Conservatives to rejoice. For me, this is a sad thing because if Sun News Network had lived up to their hype, they could have been an interesting voice in Canadian Politics. Now, we see the Sun News Network is merely an apologist for the worst elements of the Canadian Conservatism.

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