Canada,  media bias

O Canadia!

By Harry Storm


To get a sense of just how politicized and biased Canadian media have become, you need look no further than the non-coverage by the media of a hilarious gaffe by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

During a briefing with reporters on the Chinese balloon saga, Jean-Pierre struggled to explain what NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) was (she called it a “coalition”), and then said that the U.S. had shot down the balloon “clearly in step with Canadia.” [sic]

This would be funny no matter who said it, but from the White House press secretary, it’s both hilarious and shocking at the same time. After all, Canada and the U.S. are each other’s largest trading partners. We have the world’s longest undefended border. We mostly speak the same language. Canada and the U.S. share the Great Lakes (except Lake Michigan), Canada is a member of NATO and NORAD, and there are strong family links between Canadians and Americans.

Also bear in mind that for Canadians, this sort of thing is grist for the mill. Because if there’s one thing that unites English Canadians regardless of region or politics, it’s mocking Americans for their ignorance about the world beyond their borders, especially Canada. (French Canadians prefer to mock English Canadians.) Everyone has a story about the Americans who came to Montreal in summer with skis on the roof of their car, and Canadians snickered knowingly when comedian Rick Mercer pranked then-president George W. Bush, asking him what he thought of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Poutine’s endorsement. (Bush answered “He understands I want to make sure our relationship with our most important neighbour to the north of us is strong and we’ll work closely together.” Of course there was never a prime minister Poutine, which is a famous Quebecois fast food consisting of fries, gravy and cheese curds.)

At the time, Bush’s pranking was well reported in Canadian media. In those days, the Canadian media happily presented any good story that would inform or entertain Canadians, regardless of politics. But that was then.

In the here and now, however, one searches in vain for even a slight reference to “Canadia” by any major Canadian newspaper or TV station, even though Jean- Pierre’s gaffe would be of significant interest, if only for entertainment purposes, for many if not most English Canadians. Surprisingly, searches revealed that even the conservative National Post didn’t cover the story (though likely not for the same reasons as the “liberal” media). In fact, the only Canadian coverage I was able to find was from very right-wing online and print sources, which most Canadians don’t access. And I would bet the farm that the reason for this isn’t because editors believed it was a non-story, though I expect that is how it would be justified,


Because, like much of the current media in the Anglosphere, informing and entertaining the public matters far less than pushing a distinctly left agenda/narrative that favours left-leaning parties like the Liberals and NDP in Canada and the Democrats in the U.S. And since Jean-Pierre is Joe Biden’s press secretary, her gaffe, like so many of Biden’s, mustn’t be covered because “activist” editors perceive it to be damaging to the cause and providing possible talking points for the political right.

Had former president Trump’s press secretary made such a gaffe, it’s impossible to imagine the same media outlets behaving similarly. That story would have had enough legs to win a marathon.

When I was a journalism instructor at a community college in Ottawa many decades ago, I told a class that they had a choice between becoming a journalist, or an activist; one couldn’t be both. Now it’s the opposite, irrespective of one’s personal opinions about politics or journalism (which is why so many top journalists have abandoned the media in favour of independent reporting on online media such as Youtube, Substack, and Quillette).

Journalistic tenets such as “informing the public” and being “fair and balanced” are considered passe at best, or pillars of white supremacy and cisheteronormativity at worst. Sadly, what has been entirely forgotten is the importance of an informed public to a functioning democracy.