Journalistic malpractice: CBC omits refugee claimant surge in Toronto homeless crisis stories
Two weeks ago CBC’s The National aired a report on the homeless crisis in Toronto, where the shelter system is currently overwhelmed with people needing a place to stay during the harsh winter nights, with many being turned away because of lack of beds at many locations. The CBC story failed to include any mention of the thousands of refugee claimants who have illegally entered Canada from the U.S. border and sought shelter in Toronto over the past few years that is the major factor in the system being overloaded.
The CBC then repackaged the story and published it on Boxing Day. The story with the major omission became the most popular story on CBC’s website by Thursday afternoon, misinforming the public.
“It’s early morning in Toronto—the biggest, richest city in the country. People go about their business. But there’s a crisis here that most people don’t really want to see. There are more homeless people in Toronto than ever before. And the thing is, do we even notice them anymore? Do we care?” asks CBC journalist Nick Purdon in the long eight-and-a-half-minute segment that doesn’t look at the added cost or demand of the homeless population in Toronto.
“People are dying. Eight homeless people have died in Toronto in the past two months, and winter is just getting started. And that’s why activists are here in front of City Hall demanding the City declare a state of emergency,” Purdon continues, not once mentioning throughout the story why there are more homeless people in Toronto—because there are tens of thousands of migrants coming across the border or entering Canadian airports and making refugee status claims over the past few years.
While doing investigative reporting for True North in the first part of 2019 on the Toronto homeless shelter system, I discovered that the many millions of dollars the City of Toronto spent on accommodations such as hotels, motels, other buildings and multimillion dollar tents were predominantly for refugee claimants, many of whom stay at these locations for six-month periods in order to be eligible for a housing allowance that lasts up to four years, even after finding a job. These types of accommodations are the better part of Toronto’s two-tier shelter system. Some of the older, rundown respite facilities (temporary homeless shelter buildings) and homeless shelters, like Seaton House, were scheduled to be decommissioned years ago but because of the in flux of migrants and the overall homeless population spiking in the past few years they’ve had their doors kept open indefinitely.
But none of this vital context to the homeless shelter system crisis is mentioned in the CBC reports that can only be described as journalistic negligence or malpractice.
“Kevin wants the City to create more shelter beds. The fact is, if you make minimum wage, or collect social assistance, it’s almost impossible to afford an apartment in Toronto nowadays. And so shelters are full,” CBC’s Purdon reported carelessly and unquestioningly.
Never mind that the City of Toronto has already spent tens of millions of more taxpayer dollars into expanding the shelter system over the past few years, or that Canada’s large immigration levels, the burgeoning Airbnb market, foreign homebuyers, government housing subsidies and the in flux of tens of thousands of refugee claimants all are affecting Toronto’s rising house and rent prices.
No, instead CBC journalists would rather show Canadian homeless people devoid of any of this context, say there’s a crisis, and then ask Canadians if they care, implying taxpayers should be doing more; Taxpayer-funded CBC journalist’s mission accomplished.
Credit, where credit is due, though. The CBC did take time to humanize several homeless men, people dehumanized daily by a public that often pretend they don’t exist. However, a journalist’s job is not to tell a story based solely upon emotions, devoid of the most pertinent facts,statistics and context on why this is happening.
Could it also be, despite CBC’s David Cochrane berating CPC MP Pierre Poilievre for suggesting it, that the Canadian economy isn’t all that healthy, so that’s also a partial contributing factor to the homelessness problem in Canada, too?
CBC’s own story on homelessness and the latest atrocious job numbers, despite massive deficit spending by Trudeau’s Liberals, are signs pointing to yes.
But CBC wants to have its poutine and eat it too.
In CBC’s world it’s rarely Liberal government incompetency that is the source of a problem, but stingy Canadians not paying enough money to fix said problem the Liberals did indeed cause.
“The thing is, when people talk about the homeless it’s often in terms of numbers and statistics like the ones above — but the issue really hits home when you meet the people,” wrote Purdon and another CBC journalist in Thursday’s viral piece.
I’ve met many of Toronto’s homeless, foreign and native, through my reporting. It’s definitely an eye-opening experience that is hard to report on because anyone with an ounce of a compassion ends up feeling for all of these people, but no problem is fixed without fully understanding the underlying context of an issue, which is a journalist’s job to understand and explain.
Euphemisms like “irregular border crossers” or CBC reports that gloss over the sources of a problem do nothing to inform the public or make things better. Instead, they allow for the disastrous status quo to go unchecked.
It’s a sad day for journalism when the top comments in the comment section (surprisingly not closed) explain the situation far better than the negligent reporters.
The CBC no longer has the rights to their highest rated program—Hockey Night in Canada. This is a big loss for CBC and will cost them over $2 billion throughout twelve years, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
The information was provided through an internal federal memo. Though the company’s ad revenues have been falling, in a confidential report, CBC noted that it continues to be “the cornerstone of culture and democracy.”
Last year, in a briefing note for Pablo Rodriguez, the previous Heritage Minister, CBC staff wrote, “CBC Television lost its long-standing flagship sports broadcast Hockey Night In Canada which had been part of the broadcaster’s programming lineup for fifty-five years.”
The contract was bought by Rogers Inc. in 2013 and cost the communications company $5.2 billion. The contract is good until 2026.
“The department estimated the corporation’s annual advertising revenues decreased by approximately $175 million” the briefing not continued, “as a result of losing the Hockey Night In Canada contract.”
The approximate decrease of $175 million in annual revenue adds to a loss of $2.1 billion over 12 years.
Hockey Night in Canada brought in over one million weekly viewers to CBC. In 2015, CBC’s president Hubert Lacroix noted, “We have not lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the hockey contract,” and added, “We lost a few dollars.”
“When you look at the broadcasting rights and the cost to produce hockey, and the revenues on the other side, and when you look at it over six years, we didn’t make money on this contract,” Lacroix testified to the Senate communications committee in 2015.
Senator Michael MacDonald responded, “If you can’t make money on hockey in Canada, I don’t know what you could make money on. This was very poor management.”
CBC’s previous executive vice president, Richard Stursberg noted, “The loss of hockey is going to have serious financial consequences. You not only lose the profits from hockey, you also lose your capacity to sell the rest of your advertising at reasonable prices.”
“The way you would do it is you’d say, ‘If you would like to have hockey, then you have to buy this dog over here that nobody wants.’ I would say, ‘But I don’t want the dog,’ and you would say: ‘I’m sorry, you have to take the dog if you want the hockey,’” Stursberg continued.
“So, hockey is not only important in its own right, it’s important because it props up the rest of the advertising sales.”
A parliamentary grant of $1.2 billion is CBC’s principal source of revenue. Last year, the network saw a decline of 37 percent in ad revenues.
The CBC has pulled its participation from an event featuring the convicted terrorist Omar Khadr at Dalhousie University in Halifax on Monday.
Nahlah Ayed, who hosts the CBC program Ideas, decided to opt out of the event, choosing to explore the subject “at another time in a different way.”
The event will also feature remarks from Dr. Shelly Whitman and author and Canadian hero Hon. Romeo Dallaire, who is well known for his work in Rwanda during the nation’s genocide.
Omar Khadr is a former child soldier who was involved in a firefight with US soldiers in 2002, leaving one US soldier dead. Khadr was wounded in the firefight and captured—being taken to Guantanamo Bay where he was held without charge.
In 2017, Justin Trudeau’s federal government awarded Khadr a $10.5 million settlement. Khadr went on to purchase a strip mall in Edmonton with some of the money.
Omar Khadr was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event at Dalhousie University that protests the use of child soldiers. The event is being hosted by Dalhousie University and the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.
Khadr’s invitation to speak at Dalhousie was met with considerable online backlash.
As of right now, the event is scheduled to go on despite the backlash from the Canadian public.
Playwright Yolanda Bonnell is a two-spirit, Ojibwe/South Asian performer who has written a new play entitled Bug, which is now playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. The aim of her play is to take a stand against colonialism. Bonnell has requested that the media only allow Indigenous, black or other people of colour to review her play.
“I do a lot of work in terms of decolonizing theatre… and for me this was one of those steps — taking away the colonial lens,” said Bonnell in an interview with Tom Power for CBC’s Q radio.
“There is an aspect to cultural work—or in our case, artistic ceremony— which does not align with current colonial reviewing practices,” Bonnell said in her official statement. “In order to encourage a deeper discussion of the work, we are inviting critiques or thoughts from IBPOC folks only. There is a specific lens that white settlers view cultural work through and at this time, we’re just not interested in bolstering that view, but rather the thoughts and views of fellow marginalized voices, and in particular Indigenous women.”
“You could hear perhaps a white critic, more likely someone on the internet, but a white critic say something like, ‘You know, I may be white but I don’t see things through that lens, what would you say?’” the CBC host asked Bonnell during the interview.
Bonnell laughed at the question and responded, “You can’t help but see things through that lens. We all have lenses that we see the world through and it directly correlates to our life experience. Unless you’re an Indigenous woman you don’t know what it’s like to be an Indigenous woman. Unless your a two-spirit individual or a trans, or non-binary you don’t know what that experience is like. So if somebody is writing a story about that, the lens that you’re viewing it through, its directly going to affect how you view that story, or how you write about it. There are going to be aspects that you don’t understand.”
However, Bonnell doesn’t feel the same is true from the other way around.
“We, as people of colour, understand whiteness to its core because we’ve grown up with it, especially people who’ve grown up here in Canada. My friend, a wonderful Indigenous playwright from the west coast Kim Senklip Harvey says she has her ‘ Ph.D. in whiteness’ and I feel very much similar.”
Bonnell’s play Bug will be performed at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto from now through Feb. 22.
Six adorable, daring puppies and their whiz kid leader, ten-year-old Ryder, rescue people in the community of Adventure Bay. You would have to be a fool to not love Paw Patrol. And that’s where the Canadian state broadcaster CBC comes in!
A new article by Rebecca Zandbergen explores the groundbreaking new theory by Canadian university professor Liam Kennedy that loveable Nickelodeon show Paw Patrol is an insidious tool of capitalism. Kennedy, from King’s University College, has penned a vital new piece of research called “Whenever there’s trouble. Just yelp for help”: Crime, Conservation and Corporatization in Paw Patrol” in the peer-reviewed journal Crime Media Culture. His child isn’t allowed to watch the show, but Kennedy spent countless hours watching it in his office.
In the show, Ryder is the ring-leader of the pups, each of whom has a job to do as part of their team. There’s Chase, the police dog, Marshall, the fire chief dog who can never quite get control of his hose, Rubble, the builder, Skye, who flies a plane for some reason and is the girl pup, Everest, the extreme outdoor adventuring pup, Rocky, the rescue dog, and Zuma, the pup who drives a boat.
Together, they are the Paw Patrol, and they even have a headquarters, because all kids love a home base. Inexplicably, the grown-ups in town depend on Ryder and the pups to help them when they’re in a jam. Probably because it’s a show for kids, so it’s kid-centric. Kids like that.
Kennedy posits that “Paw Patrol, as a private corporation, is used to help provide basic social services in the Adventure Bay community. That’s problematic in that the Paw Patrol creators are sending this message that we can’t depend on the state to provide these services.”
Kennedy was angry that elected officials are not portrayed as heroes: “Mayor Humdinger and Mayor Goodway—kind of the representatives of the state or the government—are portrayed negatively,” Kennedy argued.
Kennedy also pointed out that, at the age of ten, Ryder should be in school, not saving the world. CBC did not bother to ask Kennedy how he feels about real-life school-skipper and saviour Greta Thunberg. We guess some do-gooders are more equal than others.
He rails against the Paw Patrol’s message that “no job is too big, no pup is too small.” “To me that’s an individualist message,” Kennedy claimed. “Pull up your bootstraps, you can do it if you just try hard enough. That kind of message ignores structural barriers in our society and not everyone can do it.”
Since Kennedy teaches at a university level and not in early childhood education, he can be forgiven for not realizing that learning about the self is a primary developmental stage for very young children. They have to identify their own bodies and place in their family before they can organize their thoughts to encompass the broader electoral system and its responsibilities. Paw Patrol shows each characters’ differences, without judgement, and young children tend to relate to one over the other, clamouring for character-specific merch.
For Kennedy and the CBC, this is apparently serious business. We can’t have a children’s television show spreading messages that elected officials can be corrupt or incompetent; we can’t have a children’s show that suggests that you can take responsibility for your community instead of foisting it all off on the state; we can’t have a children’s show where individualism and positivity are promoted. This is the way Kennedy sees Paw Patrol through his Marxist goggles.
At its heart, Paw Patrol is about community, forging friendships and bonds that bring you together to tackle tough situations. It’s a show about a network of friends, some of them puppies, who can work as a team to solve local problems. Ryder, Chase, and the other pups, each of whom has their own civil service discipline and associated vehicle (which can be bought separately), have complementary strengths that help them figure out how to cooperatively find solutions. For kids, the lessons learned would be more about being able to velcro their own shoes, or pop the straw through their own juice box, than creating an independent fire brigade because they can’t rely on government help.
Many of the problems on Paw Patrol are the kind of problems that, should a person call emergency services for them, would never be sorted (cats up trees). The state is a large tool that is poorly suited to small problems, and where individuals can work together to sort out their troubles, they should. This leftist penchant for relying on the state for solutions, for assuming that you’re not the one responsible to help your neighbour because someone who has already been delegated for that job is better able to handle it, belies the very notion of community.
Paw Patrol was created by Keith Chapman, who was also the creator of Bob the Builder, another wildly popular children’s television show. His primary intentions were to entertain children, and to teach lessons about teamwork, confidence, and capability. The most important lessons we teach our kids are those that ensure they can take care of themselves and look out for the people they love when they grow up.
If anything, this ragtag collective of pups and a kid who looks after them is a statement on what you can do if you face your fears, count on your friends, and tackle life’s problems together. Chapman also created a show called Fifi and the Flowertots, and there’s no telling how problematic Kennedy would find that.
What stands out most (besides the complete batshittery that is Kennedy’s critical analysis of a harmless kids’ show) is the fact that this basically confirms the widely-held assumption that academia is dead. When a prof spends hours in his office watching pre-school television, there’s a problem with not only what’s being taught but what’s being thought about. Chapman wasn’t going into the writing room for Paw Patrol trying to figure out how to indoctrinate kids into conceiving of themselves as proponents of the capitalist hierarchy, and despite what Kennedy may believe about Chapman’s unconscious bias, this is a ridiculous place to create a system of study.
We’re sure that Kennedy’s woke colleagues applaud this kind of scholarship. After all, we need to dismantle these oppressive children’s shows if we ever hope to establish a brave new world of kids’ television featuring new, “progressive” shows like Bobby and Bureaucracy Buddies and The Snitch Squad.
Don’t do anything for yourself that the government can do for you. That’s the insidious message behind what seems to be, upon first glance, just a silly example of useless university research. It is indeed utterly stupid and laughable, but it is also quite scary when you take a moment to identify the authoritarian impulse behind it all.
We’re sure that Kennedy will have a long and fruitful career explaining to students and colleagues that Blue’s Clues is heterosexist metanarrative about the patriarchy and how Lunar Jim is thinly veiled advocacy for anthropocentric space colonialism. But for those of us who are not insane, it would be nice to see institutions like CBC and King’s College University stop their cultural regression and do much better.