Western Alienation: CBC Fails its National Mandate

If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would have been quite laughable: watching the CBC descend on Alberta after the election … “national” reporters landing like astronauts on a foreign planet, reporting back to Central Canada on the sudden discovery of strange new world.

A world populated by aliens who call themselves “Westerners” … living in a society featuring empty stores, closed companies, rising unemployment, declining construction, sagging house sales, increasing demand on food banks, and, extraordinary numbers of the population mourning the suicides of their own relatives, friends and neighbours.

Much of it fomented by burgeoning federal corporate taxes, increased environmental requirements and developmental regulations, the shut down of northern pipeline projects, a coastal tanker shipping ban, BC’s political obstructionism and costly Court challenges, anti-development activism and First Nations’ roadblocks.

How could anyone … especially Canada’s “national” PUBLICLY-funded news network … be surprised that the locals, after YEARS of this, are now showing signs of malignant ALIENATION: spouting anger; spewing out frustration; distrustful of outsiders; struggling with economic stresses; and many stricken with poverty!

A strange festering world, mostly unseen and largely under-reported on by the CBC … our supposed official “national” public network.

Even though these “Westerners” have been right there, within sight of Central Canada, trying to draw attention to their growing ills for a decade.

Why were they so ignored?

Under Canada’s Broadcasting Act, the FIRST mandate of the CBC is “reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions.”

I submit that, vis a vis, Western Canada, the CBC has FAILED that mandate.

The mandate also requires the CBC “to contribute to shared national consciousness and identity”.

I submit that, vis-à-vis, Western Canada, the CBC has also FAILED that mandate.

Here’s how …

The CBC’s prime reflector and reporter of “national” news is, appropriately, called The National.

But have you watched it lately?

I have … and here’s what I’ve seen:

A nightly “NATIONAL” broadcast that has three major components: the first segment, Canadian and world news, all of it from what I would describe as a left-of-center biased point of view; the final section, human interest features/promotions/discussions … often quite interesting, but most often composed of panels and panelists offering a definite Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal perspective and bias … Western, British Columbian and Maritime views are few and far between.

But it’s what comes BETWEEN those two segments that is most dangerous and, I believe, consistently violates CBC’s mandate … and contributes regularly to Western alienation.

These are the “advocacy” journal-type features (I’d call them propaganda pieces) … often exploring social contemporary issues … but pushing what I would again describe as a distinctly left-of-center agenda on: the environment, climate change, anti-pipeline views, refugees, immigration, women’s issues, LGBTQ rights, and First Nations’ problems, complaints, demands and protests.

How did we get to this?

The CBC’s own Journalistic Mission and Principles states “We are committed to reflecting accurately the range of experiences and points of view of all citizens.”

I dare say that, amongst a population of 37 million Canadians, there MUST be opinions on every one of these important subjects, reflecting conservative and right-of-center points of view on these same issues.

After all, 6,115,000 Canadians voted Conservative … including sweeping 71 seats in Alberta, Saskatchewan and most of Manitoba!

Have YOU seen their views on the issues EQUALLY reported on by the CBC?

I have not.

I believe conservative and right-of-center views … just like whatever else happens in the West … doesn’t receive equal coverage from the CBC. In fact, little or none, unless it involves one of the CBC’s favorite categories outlined above … and can fit their left-of-center coverage bias.

That’s why, in my view, it’s MUCH easier for anti-pipeline campaigners, climate change advocates, First Nations activists, and other minority issue voices to get air time than pro-life, pro-business, pro-pipeline, pro-development, pro-conservative family values types.

That’s how Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba’s massive economic decline, social distresses, poverty and growing number of suicides (unless they happen among First Nations or other vulnerable minority ) have gone unreported or severely under-reported by Canada’s “national” broadcaster.

Is it any wonder that people and politicians in Ontario and further East had little or no idea of the width and breadth of the Western alienation that has been festering and spreading throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for years!

Until the votes were counted.

Out of sight on Canada’s “national” broadcaster leads to out of mind in Ottawa and the rest of the country.

Seriously tackling Western alienation requires real action … so the rest of Canada can come to understand the West’s feelings/problems/complaints … just as as it does those of Quebec.

And a good place to start would be with the CBC … and having it live up to its own “national” mandate.

Harv Oberfeld

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Posted in British Columbia, National | 38 Comments

Shhh! Don’t Tell the Bloc … OUR Block is Bigger than Theirs!

Quebeckers were very clear with their votes Monday: many of them don’t see Canada as ONE country from coast to coast to coast, represented by Canada’s political parties with differing ideologies … but only Quebec as a regional Bloc that can demand, push, pressure and yes, even blackmail the federal government to get things THEIR way … or else!

Well, if that’s the way Quebeckers want to play the game … the WEST has news for them: OUR BLOCK is bigger than their Bloc!

In Alberta alone, the Conservatives hold 33 seats … all but one seat in the entire province … more seats than the Bloc Quebecois!

In Saskatchewan, another 14 Conservative seats; in BC, another 17 Conservative seats; and, in Manitoba another 7 Conservative seats!

Now, THAT is 71 Conservative seats … ALL out West …. SOME VOTING BLOCK … if that’s the way Quebeckers wants the federal government to work!!!

C’est domage! Too bad!

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be well advised … and warned … that if he intends to placate and pander to buy off the BLOC in Quebec to prop up his government, he’ll face a backlash from even a large BLOCK out West that will not take such preferential treatment and provocation lightly.

And the long-term consequences for Trudeau/Liberals … and Canada’s nation-wide political system … will be much more serious than the pressure-politics plans of the Bloc.

That’s because everyone knows the votes for the Bloc in Quebec had ZERO to do with separatism or sovereignty: it was a push for even more regional power … beyond Quebec’s already-existing preferential treatment … nothing more.

How ironic!

Many Canadians already see Quebec as the spoiled child of Confederation, pulling way above its FAIR weight in terms of federal power, Cabinet seats, contract spending, billions in equalization grants and even extreme tolerance for its “pure laine”-based racism and discriminatory laws and practices.

And the West is fed up!

Western Canadians feel: Underpowered in Cabinet; under-appointed in top bureaucratic positions; under-involved in policy development; under-listened to in federal decision-making; under protected in trade deals (softwood lumber!!!); and under-represented on federal boards, committees, agencies, federal power structures.

There is a danger now facing Canada … but it is NOT about “Wexit” or any silly talk about the West leaving Canada: that will NOT happen.

But it IS about the risk of Canada fragmenting into “block”-based regions, each pushing parochial agendas, rather than a cohesive but compassionate country … looking out for one another.

Quebec has started this … again.

But this time, Westerners are not in such a nice, magnanimous mood to soothe, spoil and bribe.

Trudeau Wednesday acknowledged there are serious issues simmering among Westerners.

“I will be reaching out specifically to westerners to hear from them … to talk about how we can make sure that the concerns, the very real concerns of Albertans, are being addressed and reflected by this government,” Trudeau said.

Talk is cheap.

If the government gives in and panders to Quebec’s isolationists and separatists … represented by the Bloc … it will send the WRONG message to the rest of the country about what it will take from now on to succeed in Canada.

And Trudeau/Liberals should remember: OUR BLOCK is BIGGER than THEIR Bloc.

Harv Oberfeld

PS. For those interested, I was interviewed on this topic on the following Podcast: https://www.howestreet.com/2019/10/28/will-trudeau-listen-to-a-conservative-west/

(Reminder: Comments and discussions are welcome … edited if off topic or for length. And to receive FREE First Alerts to all new postings on this BC -based Blog, just follow @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No SPAM, just First Alerts of new topics.)

Posted in British Columbia, Media, National | 44 Comments