Tuesday, 1 March 2011

What's at Stake in the 'Peg

Like many Winnipeggers, I am aghast to see the direction my hometown has taken over the last several years. Increasingly, the core is hollowing out and inequality is growing. Urban sprawl has stretched our frost-bitten infrastructure to its limits. Violence and racial discrimination continues to affect members of the underclass in the North End. The Sam Katz administration has seen important public services partially sold off in the form of inefficient "Public-Private Partnerships" or P3s (corporate handouts, really). Federal and municipal conservatives have cut funding to effective anti-Gang programs, aboriginal organizations, and a murdered womens' database with one hand, while diverting millions to faith-based evangelists like Youth For Christ with the other. Times have changed quite a bit in Winnipeg, and mainly not for the better.

But much of my horror is at realizing how much worse things could get. As someone with an interest in American politics I have watched with amazement as "issues" like whether the President looks into a teleprompter have taken centre stage while self-conscious charlatans like Glenn Beck are paraded around as prophets by the far-Right. This horrible state of affairs came to The States through one vehicle - a massive, rightwing corporate media machine that distills 24 hour manufactroversies. To my horror, I see a similar vehicle developing in Winnipeg in particular and Canada in general.

In Winnipeg one has only to listen to Charles Adler rattle on about some triviality on CJOB, pick up a copy of the Winnipeg Sun, or read the latest press release from a hard Right "independent" Think Tank like the Frontier Centre for Public Policy to get a taste of this. Rightwing media outlets and corporate funded propaganda mills like the Cato Institute have misinformed Americans for decades and the model has been transplanted to Canada.

Sun Media's national editor, Mark Bonokoski,  even said "[Bill] O’Reilly represents the fearless tone Sun News Network should emulate"*. Conrad Black created a media empire that was firmly to the Right, Izzy Asper created an ultra-blue Liberal media, and David Asper has turned the inheritance of his father's empire into a blue Conservative media machine. 17 out of Canada's 18 national dailies endorsed the Conservative Party of Canada, a political party that currently only has just over a third of the Canadian electorate on its side.

With the excessively centrist NDP provincial government expiring shortly (the PCs will almost certainly win the 2011 Provincial election), there is no time more urgent to combat the swaths of Rightwing disinformation in this city.

With all these stakes in mind, I decided to make a place where Rightwing, Absolute Garbage (RAG) articles and statements get thoroughly trashed. Hope you enjoy the fun.

*In wake of accusations that the commentator should "tone it down" after the Arizona shootings.

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