Feature

The Fake News Fake-Out

Peter Shawn Taylor
February 26, 2021
The news business is at its least reliable when reporting on itself. Coverage of a media company’s own financial results, for example, is inevitably glowing and upbeat, whatever the actual figures might say. The same thing holds for concerns over “fake news”. Seizing on recent panic about the spread of misinformation, and thanks to a generous federal grant, Canada’s legacy newspapers have devised their own system for identifying fake news. But as Peter Shawn Taylor discovers, the criteria strangely celebrate their own product at the expense of their many online competitors. And much of it contradicts the basic rules of good journalism.
Feature
The news business is at its least reliable when reporting on itself. Coverage of a media company’s own financial results, for example, is inevitably glowing and upbeat, whatever the actual figures might say. The same thing holds for concerns over “fake news”. Seizing on recent panic about the spread of misinformation, and thanks to a generous federal grant, Canada’s legacy newspapers have devised their own system for identifying fake news. But as Peter Shawn Taylor discovers, the criteria strangely celebrate their own product at the expense of their many online competitors. And much of it contradicts the basic rules of good journalism.

Current News

Stories
Pandemic-rattled politicians and health officials would do well to recall the lesson of King Canute. The early 11th century Danish-English king had his throne carried to the seashore and commanded the tides to stop. They didn’t. It was meant as an exercise in humility; Canute was revealing that even absolute monarchs face limitations to their powers. Such self-awareness seems to elude Canada’s present-day rulers. Last spring, Brian Giesbrecht and George Koch write, our leaders simply got lucky when the Covid-19 tides receded. And having drawn exactly the wrong lesson about their powers, they set for themselves a political trap that has ensnared us all.
Stories
One might think that with Canada’s formidable array of pandemic restrictions, lockdowns, curfews, shuttered businesses and myriad other prohibited places and activities, the last thing Canadians need is another incentive to stay home and do nothing. And yet demands for paid sick days are now reaching a fevered pitch. Alongside labour and the political left, even some business groups claim to support the idea. As Peter Shawn Taylor finds, however, European-style sick-day benefits are no panacea. In fact, they threaten great harm to Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
test flair
Preston Manning, former Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, founder and leader of the Reform Party of Canada and, most recently, member of Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel, compares the many damaging consequences of Canada’s pandemic management to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and finds that governments have violated virtually every right it enumerates – repeatedly and egregiously. Furthermore, governments have refused even to attempt to show that such violations are “demonstrably justified” in a free and democratic society. Though retired from politics, Manning brings a stature that cannot be ignored, giving voice to millions of Canadians who believe that individual rights and freedoms need protection most especially during times of national crisis.

Global Newsstand

The Critic
The cancellation of celebrities who fall afoul of the Zeitgeist continues. From sex scandals to accusations of moral turpitude to political heresy, actors can find their careers ended in a flash. In The Critic, Alexander Larman suggests that fallen Hollywood idols still have one path to rehabilitation: big box-office receipts.
Spectator US
The Justin Trudeau government recently announced it will prioritize “racialized and marginalized communities” for receiving the current trickle of Covid-19 vaccinations. In Spectator US, Cockburn marvels at the irrationality of a clearly racist policy that will only raise the death rate for everyone.
The Guardian
Few American politicians have greater self-regard than the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo (and the competition is steep). Following shocking revelations of corruption and mismanagement in his state’s pandemic response, demands for his resignation are increasing. Writing in The Guardian, David Sirota documents a modern morality tale of pride going before a fall.

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September 2020 Issue

Page 1 | Thirteen Things That Can’t Be Said About Aboriginal Law And Policy In Canada
Page 7 | The WE Charity Scandal: One of Many
Page 14 | Escaping The Echo Chamber
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Page 1 | Thirteen Things That Can’t Be Said About Aboriginal Law And Policy In Canada
Page 7 | The WE Charity Scandal: One of Many
Page 14 | Escaping The Echo Chamber

Stories

Stories
The “Great Game” was a series of military and political manoeuvres and confrontations during the 19th and 20th centuries between Imperial Britain and Tsarist Russia over control of central Eurasia. Today that game continues, but with regional power Turkey having replaced Britain. A bloody war late last year between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the ancient battleground of Nagorno-Karabakh represents the latest episode of this ongoing powerplay. Arriving just weeks after the fighting ended, Fin dePencier offers an eyewitness account of the war’s chaotic aftermath, its terrible human cost and the role played by Canadian volunteers in helping Armenia recover from its devastating loss.
Stories
The rise of the educated middle class over the past 250 years is one of the great triumphs of Western civilization. But just as the middle class became ascendant, the intellectual left began figuring out how to tear it back down, an impulse that has since spread to virtually every privileged element in society. The elite’s war on the middle’s prosperity, social mobility and freedom has been accelerating. Where might it take us? Author David Solway is not alone in thinking it won’t end until we are reduced to a new serfdom that, though partially masked by the peons’ access to 21st century gadgetry and other technology, will be very similar in social structure and oppressiveness to the Middle Ages.
Stories
We have fallen a long way since the day, seemingly lifetimes ago, when “The End of History” and the global triumph of liberal democracy were considered plausible political predictions. Today a bellicose Russia is still tormenting its neighbours, China is on a global rampage and democracy itself is looking beaten-up. Why is this happening? Maria Krylova believes that totalitarianism derives much of its momentum and longevity from the human psyche itself. In this essay drawing on her understanding of Russian history and literature, her formal education and her burning belief in freedom, the adoptive Canadian issues an eloquent warning that no society is truly immune.
Saving the Economy
Canada’s economy was supposed to have been cruising along the road to recovery by late last year. Instead, the nation is once again shedding jobs, unemployment is high, companies continue to shrink or go under, entire industries are threatened and growth is almost nowhere to be seen. So why are governments seemingly doing everything in their power not only to hold back recovery but destroy much of what remains? Gwyn Morgan assesses several key areas of our nation’s battered economy and reviews the central role played by poorly thought-out, unneeded and avoidable government policies in each one.
Human Dignity
Ever since the mid-1990s when Sue Rodriguez and Robert Latimer forced euthanasia onto the Canadian landscape, debate has been passionate and polarizing. In recognition of this controversy, the federal Liberals’ 2016 assisted-suicide legislation set strict limits on the procedure and promised a full review after five years. Barely three years later, however, the Trudeau government changed its mind. Now, a new law removing nearly every existing restriction sits with the Senate awaiting final approval. Lynne Cohen lays bare the legislation’s deadly implications, the political machinations that brought us here, and how the entire concept of human rights has been stood on its head.
Defending Mobility Rights
Influence-peddling. Self-dealing. Nepotism. Junketeering. The ways politicians can betray the public trust are legion. But should this list include behaviour that not only abides by the law, but offers a welcome example of independent thought and self-care? Politicians from diverse parties across Canada have been excoriated and, in some instances, dramatically punished for going abroad for personal reasons during the holiday season. While this may contravene government “recommendations” to stay home, C2C Journal editor George Koch argues passionately that all Canadians – including those whom we elected – should be allowed to act as the law permits. And that includes international travel.
Attack on Free Trade
The mutual gains created by international trade have been well-established since 1817, when economist David Ricardo first explained why Portugal sold wine to Britain, and Britain traded cloth to Portugal. Capitalizing on each’s “comparative advantage,” Ricardo observed, raised overall incomes and left consumers better off in both countries. The same still holds today. Yet our current global pandemic has many claiming self-sufficiency in all things is not only a virtue, but a national necessity. With Canada’s future prosperity at risk from an outbreak of Covid-19 inspired protectionism, Peter Shawn Taylor explains just what’s at stake and offers a stout defence of classic free trade principles.
Neighbourhood Watch
Urban parks were once amenities local residents escaped to – welcome refuges from the noisy chaos of city life where one could exercise, meet neighbours or simply commune with nature. Lately, however, many of these parks have become something residents desperately want to escape from. With dangerous, drug-infested homeless camps now occupying once-beloved downtown green spaces in numerous Canadian cities, and with governments seemingly incapable of stopping this invasion, it is has fallen to a few brave locals to lead the resistance. Veteran journalist Doug Firby recently sat down with one reluctant warrior, a former overseas journalist and neighbourhood mom from Vancouver who’d simply had enough.
Collective Guilt
It is fair to say that nearly any Canadian feels empathy towards the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, is glad they are being compensated and wants justice visited upon the abusers. But who was actually at fault? Individual perpetrators? The churches that ran the schools? The government that ordered them established? Canadian officialdom has decided that, in fact it’s every one of us – even those who immigrated from overseas or were born 150 years after the schools were set up. With the deep empathy and unique authority of a survivor of abuse at the hands of people entrusted with his care and education, David J. MacKinnon issues a defence of the Canadian people and a denunciation of the doctrine of collective guilt.
Rescuing History
To a Canadian of good will and fair disposition, the hostility of “protesters” who vandalize or tear down statues commemorating Canada’s past is as mysterious as it is unnerving. Where does such anger come from? And short of unconditional surrender and abject self-abasement, what is to be done to satisfy these urges? Applying a veteran educator’s perspective, Patrick Keeney finds the problem rooted in progressive reforms that have gradually debased the education of four generations of North American children, leaving the youth of today not just willfully ignorant of their past but openly hostile towards it. With a necessary note of optimism, Keeney proposes the solution is to be found – and the battle must be joined – in the soil whence it sprang.
Pandemic Management
Remember those anxious days last January when news of a deadly new virus first appeared out of China and then, like an avalanche gathering speed, spread to Italy, Spain and France? Remember how no one seemed to know what to do as the contagion made its way to our shores? If only our governments had a plan – a plan to arrest the disease and protect us from the collateral damage of our own clumsy responses. Drawing on decades of high-level experience in military and civil emergency planning and preparation, David Redman explains what went wrong with Canada’s planning process, how the errors heightened a tidal wave of fear, and what it will take to rebuild confidence in government.
Saving the Planet
Carbon dioxide emissions are a globe-girdling phenomenon driven by industrialization, and atmospheric gases obviously don’t care about national boundaries. So it’s distinctly weird that some left-leaning governments, Canada’s Liberals among them, insist that recognized emissions reductions must take place right here at home! Isn’t the goal “saving the planet”? In fact Canada has a clean-burning energy resource that’s voluminously abundant and economically accessible with current technology – and which the world can’t get enough of. As Gwyn Morgan writes, jobs, wealth-creation, tax-revenue and environmental improvement on a global scale all await, if only governments dropped their ideological blinkers.
High Culture and Politics
Among 2020’s many unfortunate pandemic casualties was the Stratford Festival. Today it’s anybody’s guess how, when or whether the beloved cultural institution, held annually in the Ontario town named for the hometown of William Shakespeare, can restart. But, writes Grant A. Brown, serious wounds were already being inflicted upon the festival – from within. A Stratford resident and business owner, Brown brings a lifelong Shakespeare lover’s perspective to his dissection of the progressive degradation of the great playwright’s greatest works and the garbling of his eternally revealing insights into human nature.
Historical truth
Were he alive today, Sir John A. Macdonald would make short work of his many present-day critics through his legendarily quick wit, disarming personality and mastery of the facts. Unfortunately, he isn’t around to defend himself against horrifying claims he committed genocide against Canada’s Indigenous people. To take on this calumny, Greg Piasetzki goes back to the source. Using Macdonald’s own words and other contemporary voices, Piasetzki brings alive our Founding Father’s determination to save native lives and protect their interests throughout his time in office.
Truth vs. Ideology
Slavery is an outrage, pure and simple, truly one where it is accurate to say “even one is too many”. But even slavery requires context. Out of the more than 12 million Africans captured and shipped across the Atlantic, by the year 1700 precisely six were held in what would later become Quebec. So how and why did La Belle Province decide to upend the truth of its past? In this version of an essay that appeared originally in the Dorchester Review, Frédéric Bastien chronicles Quebec’s bizarre orgy of “historical correctness” and the damage it is doing to memory, truth and perspective.

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