Mass-media elites seek not to tell Canadians about North American Union agenda
by Meera Karunananthan [Excerpted]
It has become the "great North American non-issue."
At the end of 2006, the Canadian Press compiled a list of the year's major news events. The March meeting in Cancun between Stephen Harper, Vicente Fox and George Bush, where the three leaders furthered the goals of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), did not make the cut.
When it comes to the SPP, the Canadian (and American) mass-media organizations seem to have adopted a "see no evil, report no evil" strategy. Every major Canadian daily newspaper is the property of a parent owner with interests that extend far beyond publishing.
As the media officer for the Council of Canadians, it's my job to get journalists interested in social justice issues. I figured that the SPP had all the makings of a great news item. It's full of what journalists refer to as "news values" - characteristics that would make a story newsworthy. After all, the SPP will have a significant impact on a large number of people. It involves prominent and powerful government and business leaders.
But the public is being left in the dark.
In March, it will be two years since the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico launched the Security and Prosperity Partnership in Waco, Texas. By now, if the media had done its job, the SPP would be a household name like NAFTA and the WTO. Yet most Canadians remain blissfully unaware of this powerful new agreement.
So, you may ask, why has such a contentious issue drawn so little media attention? And what does this say about the state of the Canadian news industry?
According to Christopher Dornan, "by 2002, with only a handful of exceptions, every major Canadian daily newspaper was the property of a parent owner with interests that extend far beyond publishing."
Daily newspapers in Canada are owned for the most part by large media conglomerates that also own broadcasting and/or telecommunications outlets. CanWest, for example, owns dailies, including the National Post, the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen and television networks across the country. The Globe and Mail, Canada's largest national daily, is owned by Bell Canada Enterprise, a corporation with both broadcast and telecommunication interests.
Large broadcast and telecommunications corporations in Canada like CanWest have been pushing for the relaxation of foreign ownership rules in order to attract U.S. investors and gain access to U.S. markets. The harmonization of broadcast and telecommunications regulation across North America would help serve this goal.
In fact, both Power Corporation of Canada (owner of La Presse) and Bell Canada Enterprise (owner of The Globe and Mail and CTV) sit on the North American Competitiveness Council, the business advisory body created at the Cancun leaders' summit to counsel governments on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (which in turn are protagonists of the North American Union agenda).
No wonder it's so hard for groups like the Council of Canadians to get stories critical of the SPP published in the mainstream press. The Council's opposition to deep integration directly challenges the big media corporations that are fighting for the deregulation of broadcast and telecommunications policies across the continent.
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