The CBC Rant: Avi Lewis and The Canadian Media In The Never-Ending Black Era of Conrad

I was just listening to a great 30-minute interview with Avi Lewis on CBC radio a little earlier and it reminded me of just what we've been missing with him no longer on Canadian TV, with him no longer entertaining and informing us with his progressive ideas, provocative interviews and passionate insistence on justice. It also reminded me of the letter I sent to the CBC last month:


Ever since I returned to Canada in 2005, after having lived abroad for a number of years, I've been watching The National just about every night and there's one thing that has consistently amazed me. How is it that week in and week out you can use a panel of right- or center-right-wingers on your At Issue panel, without ever having someone from the left come on and challenge all these conservative assumptions?

Case in point, the most heated disagreement I've seen in ages on At Issue happened last week when former National Post columnist Andrew Coyne and present National Post columnist Don Martin had a few things they just couldn't agree on. Is that really what passes for debate across the political spectrum on The National these days? Really great stuff for all those who cherish some good ol' fashioned right on right action, but what about the rest of us?

And then, of course, each week the At Issue panel is followed by one of right-winger Rex Murphy's diatribes, though, I have to admit, he is quite entertaining at times.

What's happened to the CBC anyway?

I mean, that At Issue panel is so right-wing that the Toronto Star's Chantal Hebert has to fill the role of the "centrist".

Now if you had any genuine interest in a real debate you'd have people like Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein on the panel each week together with people like Andrew Coyne. Then we'd see some real discussion.

Who exactly at the CBC decided that having 3 panelists with almost identical ideas would make for great political debates?
Mike Cowie

I, of course, never heard back from them.

The sad reality is that political debate in this country's media has slowly but consistently moved further and further to the right over the past couple of decades, in no small part due to the influence of Conrad Black and all his disciples - and not just those at his former mouthpiece, The National Post. He may be locked away in prison somewhere in Florida right now, but it's hard not to think that, insofar as transforming the Canadian political landscape, Conrad has actually won. A sad thought, but hard to dispute when you look at all the right-wing papers, the rabid conservative - at times reactionary - slant of Macleans, our only truly national news magazine, and the entire CTV news bureau.

And then, of course, there's been the gradual slide to the right at the CBC. Even with The Right being handed the reins to the political discourse on The National, CBC's most popular news program, there still seems to be no room for a show by the likes of Avi on our so-called "National Network". Yeah, they gave him a month last year for his show "On The Map", but that, apparently, was enough to satisfy their notions of a fair and balanced network. And, hey, I'm not against the right-wingers having their say, in fact I'm all for an open and equal debate, but that's exactly what we're not being offered anymore in this country.

So, way to go CBC news editors and heads of programming, you guys complete us, represent us, define, refine, and put a shine on us. Screw all those who say Conrad's is not the only acceptable viewpoint in this country. Why shouldn't it be? And, besides, I know for a fact that it is, I saw it on the CBC.

Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008



Anyone who wasn't quite convinced by what I was arguing in this CBC Rant should check out last night's At Issue panel here. Instead of the usual grouping of three right-wingers we got an extra special dose of 4 of them: Andrew Coyne, Don Martin, Chantal Hebert and Allan Gregg.

Gregg comes across at times as relatively moderate when surrounded by this bunch, but it's best to remember that he was a close aide to Brian Mulroney and that he eventually became the Conservatives' top strategist and communications manager, or spin doctor.

Perhaps, I should make that 5 conservatives at this debate, considering that the fifth man at the table seems to effortlessly blend right in. As all the snide, sarcastic snickering goes on about Liberal Leader Stephane Dion it's hard not to notice that At Issue host and CBC "Chief Correspondent" Peter Mansbridge is snickering right along with everyone else. I don't actually know Peter's politics, but it's not hard to assume, after having watched him joke and snigger with his right-wing buddies on this panel week after week, that he's most likely a conservative - and a Conservative - himself. How else could he tolerate moderating these ridiculously one-sided "debates" with this ridiculously one-sided panel of similar-minded political pundits week after week? He certainly seems comfortable with the concept of having 4 right-wingers representing "all sides" of the debate. And, hey, what can you expect, really, this is a guy who spent the Summer of Love serving in the military. Peace, love and understanding, it would seem, are all sides of a debate he never participated in.

I'm not even a Liberal supporter, but it really is a bit insane to see 5 people ridiculing, laughing at and mocking the Leader of The Opposition on the CBC's main newscast each week while pretty much giving the Prime Minister a free ride. It actually feels a lot like watching the "Fair and Balanced" coverage offered by FOX News down in the States.

Check it out: At Issue Panel: "Big Decisions", April 10th, 2008

Mike Cowie
Friday, April 11th, 2008



For more on Conrad Black read this: The Black Hole of Arrogance Rant 'n' Rave


For more on Avi Lewis read this: Avi Lewis' Funny Fundamentalists


or this: The No Brainer Rant (Avi Lewis' Show On The Environment)


or this: The Asinine Situation Rant (Ten Thousand Palestinians Rotting Away In Israeli Jails)


MikesAndDislikes Home


Clouded by Bias in arguement?

Mike, Love your rants but you are getting tunnel vision here on this one. I actually came on-line looking for information on the panel to investigate my feelings of the opposite. CBC is definately more left leaning than neutral if anything. Check out the lastest at The case you show above was a situation any reporter or commentator would have to agree upon as the Liberal leader was vulnerable and being attacked by his own party. Giving any party chance to speak should be a goal of a national broadcaster. Hence Elizabeth May being allowed in a national debate (to that extent any public citizen with a point of view should be allowed in). I noticed you posted this almost a year ago so I think you should be happy with the "At Issue" panel now. If you would like more programming that you could put in your "Likes" column try any CBC Radio programs such as "the current" or "Ideas". Also on Sirus Sattelitte Radio (which would be good for your travels) there is a channel called the "Left". I prefer BBC World News but I'm just trying to find something with a balanced view out there.

CBC sheeplike behaviour

Mike, You are correct. Politically I call myself a "progressive centrist". I do not think Mansbridge et al are fervently right wing, but I do think they are rather content with themselves and how the they see Canada and the world. They are sheep-like and seem to fall lock-step into the prevailing political landscape of the day. Chances are in the heyday of 1990's Liberal federal dominance, the Mansbridge "social club" was made up of a group of chummy Liberal cheerleaders and the occasional Red Tory or moderate NDP for a little spice. You could call Mansbridge a member of the "we are the current status quo, are we not just the greatest and most popular people around?". Certainly not a hotbed of original thinking. As a "progressive centrist, I almost always see the left as being the source of progressive and forward looking ideas. However, I don't swallow leftist dogma hook, line and sinker; but their ideas are often worth serious consideration. The centrist part is due to my fairly stoic, small "c" conservative personality, that does like to get carried away with things and likes to be responsible with money and does not take poorly thought out risks. Personally I like many leftwingers (they are earnest and open minded generally), while I personally dislike a large number on the far right. Eric Williams

CBC rant

OMG, are you ever right about this! I've watched that segment before, pretty much in a trance, and no wonder -- I was absolutely bored to stupor. Like the piece you attached shows, THAT is NOT a debate, nor is it even an exploration of an "issue," as the title implies. That is a bunch of white men essentially saying the same thing.

media bitches

gawd these super sensitve academics make me want to hurl. 'your last speaker was center center right whilst the one before was only center left'. say your ironical, over-wrought hand wringing piece and get the off bloody screen so we can watch the simpsons, or south park if simpsons are too center left. DaveR

really too bad

Mike, Cant disagree with you at all on this one. When I first saw "On the map" I was genuinely excited about a news show for the first time in, well basically forever. Avi Lewis truly broke through all those nasty filters you so often see on your news and gave me a greater understanding of the world I live in. Sadly, I believe thats why the show isnt around anymore. It is very sad to see that even our national broadcaster cant seem to remain truly objective, or at least balanced. Avi's show was awesome, and bringing it back might even tempt me to resubscribe to cable tv. Until then I will sorely miss it as it was just about the only place I could find right up to the minute info, I know youre website is great and I use it too, but you being only one man limits your ability to be as current as "On the map" was. Cheers, Derek