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Sun Media's war against CBC Add to ...

According to a report in today's Toronto Sun, "The minister in charge of the CBC is calling on the state broadcaster to respect Canada's access to information laws. CBC is currently fighting the federal information commissioner in court to stop Suzanne Legault's office from reviewing files that have been requested under the access laws but either not delivered or delivered with much of the information removed."

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At first blush, it was not at all clear to me why James Moore, or any federal minister, would see it necessary to call on a Crown Corporation - or any Canadian for that matter - to respect the law. And you'd think that ministers in the Conservative government in particular - a government that has never shied away from appealing decisions of officers of Parliament - would understand that the CBC is within its rights and is not violating the law by asking the Court to rule on the matter. But after reading the full article, which includes a similar admonition from the Liberal's Heritage critic, it becomes clear that James Moore and Pablo Rodriguez are simply supplying quotes to curry favour with Sun Media's Parliament Hill bureau. Such are the ways of the world.

As a British Columbian, Heritage Minister James Moore may not understand - as do those of the Québécois nation - that Pierre Karl Péladeau has a propensity to use his Quebecor media properties to advance his economic interests. Which, in his case, include a television network that competes with Radio-Canada, and newspapers that compete with those owned by the Desmarais family. Quite successfully - to say the least - both in print and on the small screen.

However, Mr. Péladeau, and the journalists he employs see themselves as David battling Goliath, and the war now includes Anglo journalists who've been drafted in support of Quebecor's war against Radio-Canada. Which is where Mr. Moore entered the picture.

Here's something else that he may not understand: in that fight in French, though not in English, Mr. Péladeau's papers don't shy away from painting the Desmarais-owned papers, and the journalists they employ, as federalist dupes and virtual traitors to the Québécois nation. In these trenches, no one is spared, including journalists of the integrity of André Pratte. His paper, La Presse, is said to be in an alliance with Radio-Canada, which is portrayed as a hotbed of federalism - an absurd notion to anyone who watches or listens to the French arm of CBC.

In fairness, Mr. Péladeau is not the first mogul to use his media properties in this way. In fairness, too, he faces strong opponents in his native province, who've gone so far as to have had a ban placed on correspondents from Le Journal de Montréal joining the press gallery in Québec City - a move roundly condemned by Reporters without Borders, notwithstanding the labour dispute at the paper. Still, as Henry Kissinger observed about Iran versus Iraq in the 1980s, this is the kind of war you wish both sides could lose.

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