As always, Daphne Bramham is right on the mark and captures the big picture about the CRTC's impact to allow 9 Communist channels to air their abusive stuff in Canada. They usually target the Falun Gong, the Japanese and the Taiwanese. More on this debacle. And, it's no accident that Jason Kenney was recently appointed minister of state for multiculturalism and Canadian values. Let morality become top priority best described here by CBC Larry Zolf.
Vancouver Sun - January 12, 2007: Why is Canada opening door to Chinese propaganda against the group?
'We have to stand against Falun Gong and thoroughly cleanse such non-religious and anti-humanity cults from our society." Chinese government-controlled CCTV-4 aired that comment by a Chinese citizen on Jan. 31, 2001.
It is just one of many hate-filled rants against the Falun Gong broadcast in China by the tightly controlled Chinese media to support the government's policy of exterminating the group, which practises meditation and exercise based on the ancient form of qigong -- a Chinese healing art.
There are many other examples of Falun Gong practitioners described in news reports as "mentally ill," "anti-humanity, anti-science and anti-social;" Falun Gong as "an evil cult" that is "extending its demon claw"; and Falun Gong's founder Li Hongzhi as "trustworthy of our hatred."
The Chinese government banned the Falun Gong in 1999, calling it a religious cult. It has since been accused of harvesting organs for sale and transplant from Falun Gong practitioners who have been rounded up and imprisoned.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said many of the above comments broadcast between 1999 and 2001 were "clearly abusive . . . expressions of extreme ill will against Falun Gong and its founder, Li Hongzhi."
It went on to say: "The derision, hostility and abuse encouraged by such comments could expose the targeted group or individual to hatred or contempt and . . . could incite violence and threaten the physical security of Falun Gong practitioners."
THE COMMISSIONERS NOTED:
"Comments such as these in news programming are not consistent with the Canadian public's expectation that news programming will provide factual and credible information and informed commentary on pertinent social, economic and cultural issues."
Yet on the last real working day of 2006 -- Friday, Dec. 22 -- the CRTC agreed Rogers Communications Inc. could broadcast all nine Chinese channels digitally and uncensored into Canadian homes.
Commissioners concluded that the hate-filled examples were old. They said no concrete evidence was presented that they were typical of what is broadcast. They ignored the fact that Chinese broadcasters refused opponents' requests for tapes of more recent broadcasts, which they said contain similar material.
And they did more than just clear the way for Chinese government propaganda to be beamed into Canada. Commissioners gave Rogers a pass on taking responsibility for the content, even though that decision runs contrary to a 2004 ruling on Al-Jazeera.
In that ruling, the CRTC concluded that the so-called CNN of the Arab world had aired comments that might incite hatred against Jews and it was likely to do it again. Hate speech is illegal in Canada and runs contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
So the CRTC ruled that Canadian distributors would have to take responsibility for Al-Jazeera's content. Rather than just flipping a switch and letting the programs roll, distributors would have to monitor and edit programs before they aired in Canada
If offensive content was aired, distributors could be reprimanded and even have their broadcast licenses revoked.
Rogers, among others, declared the conditions too onerous.
This sheer inanity of the CRTC not only approving the Chinese channels but also concluding that Chinese inciting violence against Falun Gong members isn't as bad as Arabs invoking hatred against Jews has gone largely unnoticed in the media and, therefore, the public.
No doubt that's exactly what the CRTC hoped by releasing the controversial decision on Dec. 22.
The commissioners -- all Liberal appointees -- may reflect the previous government's appeasement policy regarding China. But their decision runs counter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's criticism of China's human rights abuses and the outspoken criticism of Jason Kenney, who just last week was appointed minister of state for multiculturalism and Canadian values -- a junior minister in the heritage department to which the CRTC reports.
Cabinet can overturn the CRTC decision, as it did twice last year, stepping in to force further deregulation of local phone service.
But the question is, is Harper willing to do that now?
Here's what's in the balance. On one side are intangibles like Canadian values, equality rights, freedom from religious/ethnic persecution, freedom of association.
On the other is Canada's diplomatic and trade relationship with China.
There is the prospect that China could make it more difficult for Canadian companies -- among them the country's biggest, richest and most powerful -- to get access to its market.
The on-again, off-again meeting last fall with President Hu Jintao after the prime minister's comments about China's human rights' record provoked enough fear in Canada that Harper is dispatching Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Industry Minister David Emerson and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to shore up trade relations.
Further provocation of China could also endanger the Tories' relationship with big business. Having heavily invested in China with still no real payoff, companies like Power Corp., Bombardier, SNC-Lavalin, BCE, the banks, insurance companies and others could abandon the Conservatives on the cusp of a national election and return to the comfortable embrace of the Liberals.
Still, the prime minister has vowed he won't sacrifice Canadian values for the "almighty dollar."
This is a chance to prove it.