No surprises here

OTTAWA, Nov. 27 /CNW/ – Canadian stars including Wendy Crewson, Sonja Smits, Fiona Reid, and R.H. Thomson spoke out today about the Canadian TV drama crisis during the first day of CRTC public hearings. ACTRA has been sounding the alarm about the crisis in Canadian television drama for years, and demands that the CRTC fix its disastrous 1999 Television Policy.

“Our culture defines us as a nation yet we can’t hear or see ourselves when regulations encourage Canadian broadcasters to show American drama series and movies,” said ReGenesis star Wendy Crewson. “Canadian broadcasters are filling their prime-time slots with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of U.S.-made drama programs. We’ve been shut out of our own home.”

The CRTC commenced its review of the regulatory framework for Canadian over-the-air television on November 27, 2006. ACTRA formally presents before the CRTC on December 4, 2006.

Stakeholders of the state complaining about their stake? No news here.

However, to say that our very culture is at stake? Canadians indeed have a culture of frontier survival, competition and innovation don’t we? Wouldn’t a freer market not only improve Canadian television, but maybe also help me identify names listed as “Canadian stars”?

This reminds me of daycare unions claiming that their interests in the childcare funding debate are founded primarily in “the children” instead of their own benefit.

Government stakeholders will always decry the optimization of services and label it a threat to either children, sunshine or Canadian culture.

NCC article

Gerry Nichols, who heads up the National Citizens Coalition invited me to write an article about freedom/liberty issues and I agreed. What else to write about than blogging and its role in spreading liberty in Canada. The article will appear in next month’s newsletter and I’ve been given the go-ahead to give my readers a sneak peak here.

Beware The Blog!

The Internet is changing the way the world communicates and that’s good news for those of us who value freedom.

On an international level this new technology is breaking down barriers of communication and linking citizens in emergent democracies to ideologies and philosophies of freedom that were otherwise denied to them by their governments.

And here in Canada, blogging, podcasting and online communities are radically changing how information is handled, reported and interpreted.

The advent of blogging, in particular, has enabled every person to easily make their opinions available to a global audience. It has also provided Canadians with an alternative to the often biased mainstream news media.

Indeed it was to counter this bias that we started BloggingTories.ca, an online community of approximately 200 conservative-minded bloggers including several Conservative party MPs and candidates, journalists and authors.

These BloggingTories interpret Canadian news and events as they unfold free from the biased filter of the media.

And BloggingTories just don’t interpret the news. They also investigate and publicize facts and information the mainstream media either ignores or fails to uncover.

For instance, Blogging Tories have uncovered a variety of government-related concerns from the limited mandate of Justice John Gomery to the preponderance of Liberal donors on the boards of Crown corporations.

In fact, print and broadcast media have actually taken to publishing and broadcasting the opinions and findings of Blogging Tories.

All this has made our group a real thorn in the side of the ruling Liberal party.

But the value of blogging and the Internet goes beyond just making life difficult for Liberal politicians.

These new technologies, I believe, will also make it possible to sidestep the Liberal governmentÂ’s notorious election gag laws.

Of course, supporters of the National Citizens Coalition know all about the gag law and how it stifles freedom of expression.

You know how it makes it a crime for citizens to freely and effectively communicate political opinions during elections and how the NCC bravely battled against them in the courts for more than 20 years.

You also know how last year the Supreme Court of Canada endorsed this horrible law as constitutional.

What you might not know, however, is that the gag law is designed to zero in on election expenditures.

Once you spend more than $500 on election advertising you must register with Elections Canada; you are not permitted to spend more than $150,000 on a national campaign; you can’t spend more than $3000 on a local campaign.

But blogging is virtually free. So the costs of getting your message out on the Internet falls far below the gag law imposed limits.

This opens the possibility of running an election ad campaign on the Internet. Why not? Certainly the value and widespread ease of dissemination of a blogger’s message can match or surpass any of the Liberal government’s paid propaganda.

My point is that citizens with a message for change are enabled by blogging; they can use it to weaken the grip of incumbents who craft anti-speech laws to protect their positions.

Of course, the government may yet move to control the Internet. The Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) is perhaps one of the most significant spoilers of free expression in this country and it likely has its eyes set on regulating cyberspace.

The CRTC may argue for instance that to be granted the right to broadcast information, one must apply for a license and must fall within the ideological mission of the government body.

At the present time however, the CRTC has not put up a significant challenge to the free expression of otherwise legal political opinion on the Internet. Time will reveal whether or not they will try.

In the meantime, the BloggingTories will continue to provide a grassroots voice for change.

And in the process these conservative-minded bloggers will reshape how we receive political news and commentary.

They are changing the concept of democracy.

Freedom-Government crossroads

freedom-crossroads.jpgI’d like to pose a simple question: “Could the Canadian government censor the Internet?”

Now, depending on your political leanings you might respond, “you Conservative wacko conspiracy theorist, the government wouldn’t do that!”

However, consider that the government already regulates the content of television and radio through the CRTC. The government body has the power to pull a station’s licence if they don’t play enough Canadian content or if they happen to be quite outspoken against the government in Quebec (see: ChoiFM). The Canadian government has incredible power over magazine publishers and think-tanks as well as these groups receive millions of dollars of government grants and support. Many Conservative think-tanks (e.g. Fraser Institute) and magazines (e.g. the Western Standard) are proudly independent of government subsidy and thus do not have to worry about publishing contrarian opinion and getting their funding cut.

In a discussion with Gerry Nicholls of the NCC over the weekend, we discussed the gag laws and the dissemination of Liberal-harmful news and message over the internet. Considering Jean Brault’s publication ban failure and the eventual NCC election gag law loss in the Supreme Court of Canada, Gerry mused that the Internet technology may have caught up with political censorship and thus gag laws have become pointless.

It is actually possible to censor the internet in Canada. The government would merely require that Rogers/Cogeco/Telus/Bell include a couple of lines of code within their global settings on their networks. The government can require that these companies ban connections to certain IPs or even ban pages automatically with certain keywords.

“But they only censor the internet in repressive third world countries”, you might say. However, consider that I, along with several Blogging Tories, and Brian Neale of Nealenews were facing potential charges for breaking the Jean Brault publication ban and consider that this very ban on Internet linking (!) is a circumvention of our right to free speech. Now consider that the Internet is the only unregulated medium in Canada (satellite television signals, that float through the air, are also regulated for CRTC-approved content). Also consider that more and more people get election news from the internet and that blogs will be front-row-centre(-right) during the next election. Furthermore, trends such as these mean that the government will either make a globally embarrassing move to regulate “the great democratizer” that is the Internet, or it will make no move at all. If the latter is true, government pressure on broadcast TV, radio, satellite, thinktanks and magazines will become less relevant as the Internet provides more freedom of information for all Canadians.