This article originally appeared in the Epoch Times.
By Peter Menzies, May 9, 2023
Canada has become a country that harbours a higher level of tolerance for Chinese communism than it does for American conservatism.
That’s a conclusion that’s easy to draw from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) May 3 decision to act swiftly on a complaint from the LGBTQ2 advocacy group, Egale, which has asked that Fox News be removed from a list of foreign broadcasters approved for carriage on cable.
If the CRTC—which regulates broadcasting and the internet—agrees, Canadians will no longer be able to subscribe to Fox News through their cable provider.
Egale, a government-funded group which describes itself as “Canada’s leading organization for 2SLGBTQI people and issues,” claims that Tucker Carlson (now departed from Fox) “aimed to provoke hatred and violence against 2SLGBTQI communities, particularly those who are Two Spirit, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming (2STNBGN).”
In the broadcast, Carlson was critical of recent acts of violence such as the Nashville Christian school shooting committed by an individual identifying as trans, and the movement’s “Day of Vengeance.”
By airing the segment, Egale claims, Fox was “in clear violation of Canadian broadcasting standards and has no place on Canadian broadcasting networks.”
Carlson “made false and horrifying claims” and painted 2STNBGN people as “violent and dangerous,” according to Egale, and “made the inflammatory and false claim that trans people are ‘targeting’ Christians. To position trans people in existential opposition to Christianity is an incitement of violence against trans people that is plain to any viewer.”
The CRTC, Egale said, “has established that non-Canadian broadcasters must be held to the same standards as Canadian channels” that forbid the highly subjective “abusive comment.”
There’s plenty more where that came from, but I leave it to you to decide for yourselves and offer your feedback to the CRTC if you wish at its All Proceedings Open for Comment webpage (crtc.gc.ca).
Free speech aside, there are two other deeply troubling aspects to the CRTC’s decision.
First, it proves once again that those who argued that free speech advocates had nothing to worry about when Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez gave the CRTC control over the internet were at best misguided and at worst lying.
The defenders of Bill C-11 said the regulator doesn’t censor content. And they continued to say that even while they knew the CRTC was about to sanction Radio-Canada—in a 2022 decision that came out just after Bill C-11 cleared the House of Commons—for allowing the use of the N-word in a discussion concerning Pierre Vallieres’ seminal 1968 book.
Because as that decision showed and as was argued by those of us who saw Bill C-11 for what it is—a threat to free expression—the CRTC does act as a censor and is compelled to do so by the wording of the Broadcasting Act.
It does so when, as in the case of Carlson and Fox, it wants to.
And it does so when it is told to, as was the case last year when Rodriguez asked it to “consider” de-listing Russian propaganda outlet RT.
As I noted at the time, the manner in which the RT issue was managed opened doors the CRTC and Rodriguez shouldn’t have opened. But they did and here we are.
Meanwhile, the CRTC and its government appointees have apparently granted themselves the authority to not involve themselves in the censorship of foreign broadcasters when it doesn’t want to or—if you are deeply cynical—when it is quietly told not to.
Just ask Peter Dahlin of the human rights groups Safeguard Defenders. He was arrested and jailed by the Chinese regime and his forced confession was broadcast on CCTV-4, one of several Chinese networks available via cable in Canada.
Writing in the Ottawa Citizen two years ago, an exasperated Dahlin said he asked the CRTC to de-list CCTV-4, which is “under direct Communist Party control” due to its long-standing practice of airing confessions forced through physical/psychological coercion and torture.
The victims, Dahlin wrote, are imprisoned at secret locations and “kept incommunicado in isolation cells for up to half a year” in the same fashion Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were held.
“The victims speak of months and months of torture to force them to record — on video — ‘confessions,’” Dahlin wrote.
Dahlin filed his original complaint in December of 2019 and the CRTC hasn’t done a thing with it. For three and a half years.
That’s right. The “independent” regulator can snap to attention when the heritage minister “asks,” and it can respond with—by CRTC standards—unrivalled urgency when a right-leaning American conservative network is the subject of a complaint regarding strong words and hurt feelings.
But for 42 months Canada’s regulator has stood, trembling like a deer in the lights of an oncoming Peterbilt, when faced with the prospect of earning the disapproval of the Communist Party of China.
Remember that when they sanction Fox News.
Peter Menzies is a Senior Fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a former newspaper executive, and past vice chair of the CRTC.