Thursday, November 01, 2007

Vue Covers My CBC Campaign

Got an email from a reporter from Vue Weekly last week and did a phone interview with him about my Hey CBC Ezra Does Not Speak For Me campaign. Let a thousand flowers bloom as they say.

And in this week's edition they published this;



Recall campaigns, in use in some US states, British Columbia and once in Alberta, are usually aimed at removing politicians from office between elections.
But one local activist has started a similar type of campaign online to get rid of a conservative pundit from a CBC Newsworld show.

Eugene Plawiuk told Vue it’s “extremely disrespectful” that Ezra Levant is used as Alberta’s representative by veteran broadcaster Don Newman for a cross-Canada regional panel on his afternoon Politics show.

“There’s a constant use of Ezra, as if he knows anything,” charged Plawiuk, a self-described “unabashed left-winger.”
“He doesn’t deserve to be on as a pundit from Alberta. It makes us look like right-wing nut bars.”

Levant, who has been a lawyer, columnist and an activist in conservative groups and parties, made the news recently when he stopped publishing his Western Standard magazine in favour of an online format.

Plawiuk said that Levant, who didn’t return repeated interview requests for this story, wrongfully believes that Albertans are “genetically” disposed against Liberals and for the Conservatives.

“Levant also deliberately refuses to make any reference to the NDP in this province, which happens to have four sitting MLAs, and has been a force in provincial and federal politics since the founding of the CCF in Calgary,” Plawiuk’s website charges.

In a past entry, he charged that the “Conservative Broadcasting Corporation,” when “reporting on news from Alberta for political comments ... is sucking up to the right wing rump of the right wing with Levant.

He “is not a journalist, but a public-relations flack for the right,” Plawiuk added.

In September, Plawiuk wrote to CBC ombudsman Vince Carlin that he’s “tired of the right-wing bias shown by Ezra Levant,” who he says does not reflect the reality of politics in Alberta.

“Get someone else to comment on Alberta politics, or at least balance him out with someone who is not part of the extreme right.”

Carlin replied that he forwarded Plawiuk’s concerns to the producer of Politics, but the activist answered back that nobody on the show was listening to him, as Levant kept on appearing as a talking head.

CBC spokesman Jeff Keay didn’t respond directly to Plawiuk’s campaign, but said generally “Don [Newman] has a broad range of people on the show.”

Jim Thompson of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting said his group hasn’t done any content analysis to determine whether the CBC is providing a diversity of voices. He said Alberta MPs, who are all Conservative, would likely say the CBC is left-wing, but he wouldn’t comment on whether the CBC was using Levant to battle this perspective.

Plawiuk said he “wouldn’t be as ticked” if Levant was appearing on a non-public network that wasn’t supported by tax dollars, an arrangement he noted the conservative pundit dislikes despite appearing regularly on the CBC.

The activist started his anti-Levant campaign in late October by sending out emails on the listservs of the NDP and other progressive groups, while his blog is linked to several other leftist and non-ideological websites.

He doesn’t know how many in cyberspace have heeded his request to email the CBC and ask for Levant’s removal as Newman’s only Alberta voice, but a number of people have told him they’ve done so, including one who created an online logo stating “Hey CBC, Ezra Levant does not speak for me!” for use in the campaign.

The activist denied that he’s advocating censorship, and said his campaign speaks to a bigger issue that goes beyond cyberspace.

Alberta is changing politically, said Plawiuk, citing the thousands of newcomers coming into the province, the decline of the Reform movement and the departure of conservative standard-bearer Ralph Klein from the premier’s chair.
“Nobody talks about the Ralph revolution anymore,” he said. “They talk about the Ralph failure.”

Plawiuk suggested in one email to the CBC that “there are other more ‘expert’ folks you could use, or at least to give balance and have on along with Ezra,” citing as examples local blogger Ken Chapman and the Parkland Institute’s Ricardo Acuña.

The activist told Vue that Edmonton Journal legislature reporter Graham Thompson or someone from the Calgary Herald or that city’s CBC would be acceptable in place of Levant, who he charged “blusters on with half-facts and innuendo.”

He said even Edmonton Sun columnist Neil Waugh would be a more insightful voice on the right, as would Link Byfield of the defunct Alberta Report magazine, given his long experience with the conservative cause..

Associating Levant with a “small voice from Calgary,” Plawiuk said there was a regional dimension to his campaign, charging that Newman’s show was turning down Edmonton voices in favour of what he called Canada’s most Americanized city.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting spokesman Thompson said CBC cutbacks have gutted regional programming, which has “certainly affected the diversity of perspective that the CBC has been able to offer its audience” in his mind. V

Interesting that Friends of Canadian Broadcasting doesn't do content analysis. That's not what they say on their web site. And their actions say otherwise. However I guess what they don't do is look at specific programs. Though Don's show has slipped in some American spin which should concern them.

FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting is an independent, Canada-wide, non-partisan voluntary organization whose mission is to defend and enhance the quality and quantity of Canadian programming in the Canadian audio-visual system. FRIENDS is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.

FRIENDS relies upon individuals for donations to finance its watchdog role, public policy initiatives, public opinion leadership and research activities directed at our priorities.

Looks like CBC's top-ranked managers, specifically president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch and CBC-TV executive vice-president Richard Stursberg, have been stung by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

A fundraising letter sent recently to Friends' members – who number 66,000 dues-paying households – attacks the duo for their "incompetence, neglect and recklessness" and "appallingly deficient vision."

The spokesperson for CBC says Don has a broad representation from Alberta which of course is a lie. His regular, as in frequent, guest commentator on things Albertan is Ezra.

Keep sending those cards, letters, and emails to CBC. And please cc me at


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Kuri said...

Great news - good on Murray for writing about it.

Although I don't know about your assessment of Calgary. There's more diversity there than Ezra and his types, too.

eugene plawiuk said...

True Calgary has political diversity too. However it is home to the Calgary School and the base for the neo-con right in Alberta.