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KAY: The CBC’s woke bias has been a problem for decades

“In her letter, Henley accuses the CBC of having gone from being “a trusted source of news” to “churning out clickbait that reads like a parody of the student press.”




Canada’s journalism world was rattled recently when Tara Henley — previously unknown to me — a now-former CBC radio and TV producer, as well as on-air columnist, not only called it quits on her eight-year stint at the CBC, but wrote a rather damning open letter explaining why, published on her new Substack page: “Lean Out with Tara Henley.” (Henley had published a book in 2020, Lean Out: A Meditation on the Madness of Modern Life).

In her letter, Henley accuses the CBC of having gone from being “a trusted source of news” to “churning out clickbait that reads like a parody of the student press.” She writes in the last 18 months alone, she went from sometimes being “the one furthest to the left” in the newsroom to “the most conservative,” simply because in that time frame identity politics — usually framed as “woke” — became the prevailing obsession. Henley describes herself as still faithful to now-neglected traditional leftist concerns like housing shortages and the opioid crisis.

The CBC’s shift from left-leaning to far-left didn’t happen overnight. It’s been many years in the making. An IPSOS/Reid poll from September 2010 indicated while Canadian consumers “envisage themselves as being essentially balanced in terms of ideology,” they see the CBC as ideologically well to the “left” of themselves and almost every other news source. The survey looked at public perceptions of the CBC, BBC, Global, MSNBC, CTV, The Globe and Mail, CNN, the National Post, and Fox News. The CBC was viewed as the farthest to the left, with the BBC ranked second.

Henley’s apologia is an intelligent, hard-hitting piece, and worth the attention it is getting. In fact, immediately upon reading it, I subscribed to her Substack page and very much enjoyed her first podcast with Batya Unger-Sargon, deputy opinion editor of Newsweek, who expanded on the meaning of woke and its effect on the media.

However, I must gently take issue with one of Henley’s assertions. She writes: “When I started at the national public broadcaster in 2013, the network produced some of the best journalism in the country.” I suppose that view depends somewhat on where you are coming from personally. If you were a leftist to begin with — like Henley — you might not notice in one quarter — and on one hot topic — the CBC had long been considered to be the most unbalanced, and the most predictably biased news source in Canada. Namely, Middle East reporting. And not for want of money or staffing; in personnel and resources, the CBC surpassed other Canadian outlets. It was always ideology behind the bias.

But as I say, whether you adhere to old-school leftism — as Henley does — or the newer-school progressivism embraced by the CBC, your views on the Middle East would likely be similar. Before 1967 and the Six-Day War in which Israel miraculously defeated four Arab countries supported by four other Arab countries massed to finish her off, Israel’s image on the left shifted from underdog David to oppressor Goliath, and the now-dispossessed Palestinians became the oppressed: That’s the simplistic narrative the left in all its incarnations has clung to ever since.

Some leftist media consider Israel and the disputed territories it controls such an important story that every single other story of conflict in the region may be given short shrift in order to harp on this one. So I don’t blame Henley that the CBC’s longstanding bias on this topic escaped her notice. It may well be that she has no views on the Middle East at all. Still, I am moved to set the record straight on her assertion that 2013 was the bright line in the CBC’s fall-off from reporting integrity.

Honest Reporting is an independent non-profit created “to ensure truth, integrity and fairness, and to combat ideological prejudice in journalism and the media, as it impacts Israel.”  It’s shocking how many misconceptions and downright lies are peddled in the media in general about Israel, but some more than others, and of those some through lazy ignorance, others through calculated choice. (American-Israeli journalist Matti Friedman explains why in his 2014 Atlantic article, “What the Media Gets Wrong about Israel.” For those interested in the subject, his article makes for an illuminating detour.)

Honest Reporting fact-checks, points out misleading commentary, and supplies correct information to flesh out purposeful lacunae in reportage.

According to Honest Reporting Canada (HRC) CEO Mike Fegelman, CBC is by far the most culpable in unbalanced reporting of all Canadian news outlets. “In our close to two decades of existence, we have issued approximately 1,750 complaints sent to the CBC due to its (mis)reportage of Israel,” Fegelman told me in an e-mail exchange. (I have written about the CBC’s bias against Israel on several occasions.)

To their credit, he said, CBC remedied their errors 70% of the time. I take a more cynical view. The fact that in 2021 alone HRC felt bound to issue some 50 corrections to CBC — both English and French divisions — tells me the network would rather keep issuing corrections (that they know few people see) than review and reform the systemic bias on that file that produces the errors so frequently. (Any reader who wants to see the list of complaints for 2021 can consult the HR website, or e-mail me.)

The CBC’s chief correspondent in Israel for many years, Neil Macdonald, was overtly and compulsively anti-Israel on-air, and remained so in his writing even after removal from that post. Members of Honest Reporting vote every year on their choice for winner of HR’s “dishonest-reporting-award.” Canadians nominated Macdonald in 2002 for his effort to disprove documented comments made by Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, in which Nasrallah promised to export “martyrdom operations” worldwide. The comments — reported by British journalist Paul Martin — sparked a Canadian ban on Hezbollah. Macdonald suggested that Martin fabricated the comments, prompting Martin to file a defamation suit against CBC, and the equally culpable, also systemically anti-Israel Toronto Star.

More recently, during last year’s conflict between Israel and Hamas, more than 30 CBC contributors, along with several hundred people also claiming to be journalists (including from Al Jazeera), penned an open letter condemning Canadian media’s insufficiently critical “coverage of forced expulsions and indiscriminate airstrikes” in the Gaza Strip. This is activism, not journalism.

As a National Post editorial observed, “the letter is about what you would expect from the wokest activists working in journalism today: nods to diversity, the ‘impact of colonialism,’ and the obligatory Newspeak.”

The CBC signatories were irate that even the CBC “recognize[d] that the journalists took ‘a public stand’ that ‘has created the perception of a conflict of interest among some members of our audience.’ No kidding.” (Though chastised, the signatories were not punished, and some reportedly continue to report on Gaza to this day.)

Tara Henley’s dramatic departure from the CBC reminded me of New York Times opinion editor and columnist Bari Weiss, who exited the NYT over its intellectually stultifying, staff-driven wokeness, which she too explained in a widely-distributed open letter. Weiss has made a great success of her Substack, “Common Sense,” which is directed toward those “tens of millions of Americans who aren’t on the hard left or the hard right who feel that the world has gone mad.”

As it happens, the NYT’s well-documented bias against Israel, so similar in tone and tactics to the CBC’s, figured large in Weiss’s decision to leave. Indeed, as one of the NYT’s few pro-Israel voices, she was a target of vicious, antisemitic-coloured enmity by several colleagues. Lacking support from her superiors, the frosty environment rendered her continued presence untenable.

Weiss and Henley have so much else in common I would love to listen to a podcast featuring their common newsroom war stories. As Henley will now be looked to as an authority on CBC bias, and given Weiss’s depth of knowledge on the Israel file, such an exchange could be a fine opportunity for Henley to amplify her cognitive command over “Lean Out with Tara Henley’s” freshly staked-out homesteading terrain.

Barbara Kay is a senior columnist for the Western Standard.


Twitter: @BarbaraRKay

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  1. Darlene Belford

    January 11, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    Great article Barbara; thank you for sharing so many links.

  2. Left Coast

    January 10, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    Ms Henley became and Thinking Adult while working at the CBC and she saw Canada’s Pravda for what it was. One might wonder why something similar did happen to say ole Peter Lowbridge or any of the other far-left delusional hacks who work at the CBC. Obviously they either never grew up, were not bright enough to notice, were dedicated marxists, or ALL Three.

    I remember my coming out back in the 70s . . . I was attending an NDP gathering and after about an hour, I looked at my wife and asked her “What are we doing here? These people are all delusional & uninformed. They have no idea what they are talking about”.
    We grabbed our coats and headed for the door . . . .

  3. Boris Hall

    January 10, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    CBC is an anti white anti West hate group

  4. Mervin

    January 10, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    I was a regular CBC news listener for decades, starting in the 1970s. While their reporting was obviously selective and biased, I presumed that they at least had their facts right. It was only after some firsthand experience that I realized that the CBC also misrepresents the facts. I was politically involved in federal constituency politics and would regularly attend local political events. The conservative oriented events where 300 people attended were depicted on the CBC TV and radio news as attended by 30 weirdos. The CBC crew would go out of their way to find some weirdo in the crowd to interview and show on their news. On the other hand, Liberal oriented events where only 30 Liberal insiders attended, were depicted as mass rallies in support of the Liberal cause. Those interviewed were always the best looking and most articulate Liberal spokespersons. This happened consistently during the many years that I was involved.

  5. Jack of all Trades

    January 10, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Check out the latest Candice Malcolm Show where Candice speaks with Lorrie Goldstein. She hits the nail on the head when she says Trudeau’s and the CBC’ rhetoric is leading to the balkanization of Canada.

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Krahnicle’s Cartoon: January 18, 2022




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KAY: Why is Prince Andrew the only one being held accountable?

“All I am saying is that the price he is paying — a royal castaway, shunned for the sake of The Firm’s continued good health, and relegated to a social Devil’s island — is very, very high, much higher than would have been the case for an ordinary man.”




It was with a pang that I was informed by People.com that “Queen Elizabeth strips Prince Andrew of [his eight] military titles and patronages amid sexual assault lawsuit,” as the headline read. A day after a judge rejected Prince Andrew’s attempt to have a civil lawsuit quashed, alleging sexual misconduct against him in 2001 by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, the axe fell.

Thursday, the royal palace announced, “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.” Although still nominally a prince, Andrew will no longer have the right to be addressed as His Royal Highness (HRH). No more public duties for the dozens of charities for whom he has been a patron. “The Duke of York is defending this case,” the statement informed us, “as a private citizen.”

Why do I shudder slightly at those words, “private citizen,” and greet the news in general with a “pang,” though? Prince Andrew is nothing to me personally. He got himself into a very tawdry mess through his own appallingly bad judgment. The allegations surfaced in 2019, so this was no surprise. And it is not the first occasion in which bad judgment and a sense of entitlement has led “Randy Andy” into temptation of one kind or another, and thence onward to, at best, unethical behaviour, and at worst — oh dear, oh dear.

Let us not, though, count the ways that make this ultimate disgrace a deserved punishment for Andrew’s sins. Or rather, let other commentators — those who experience an uprush of joy or schadenfreude in their hearts when white males of extreme privilege are brought low, instead of a pang — do that.

When I unpack my pang a bit, what comes to mind is I know this had to be done; I know he deserved it; I know he is a wastrel. But oh, the mortification! And not for love, like Harry’s for Meghan or his great-uncle, Edward VIII’s for Wallis. At least they got to ride off to the colonies believing at the time they made the decision, anyway, their lives as royals were well lost for the glittering prize that had chosen them.

Even though he was of weak character — a suspected Nazi sympathizer, amongst other cases of bad judgment — Edward, Duke of Windsor was still a duke in exile. He was given royal sinecures to keep him busy. He was still a social asset outside Britain. Harry isn’t technically a Royal; he gave up his title voluntarily, but he’s good enough for Hollywood. So he has all the perks of royalty — money-making sinecures, constant attention, lots of social adulation — and none of the tedium. And when he comes home to visit, he still gets to mingle with the family. He has disappointed his family by quitting The Firm, and embarrassed them by foolishly airing private laundry, but he has not brought shame on the House of Windsor. He was not cast out. He left.

But for Andrew it’s the opposite. He cannot leave, but he has been “effectively banished.” There is no corner of the English-speaking world in which he can relax and just be himself. Himself? What would “himself” look like, stripped of what has defined him as a human being for all his 61 years? A turtle without a shell to retreat into. And no natural habitat. His gorgeous military uniforms will hang lifeless in his closets. Forever. I am trying to imagine what a future social life might look like. But I can’t.

Of course, there’s the saving grace of ex-wife Fergie to keep him company. Nobody is less likely to be judgmental, or more likely to empathize with the results of bad judgment in a buddy than Sarah Ferguson. I suspect she will eventually be remembered for her loyalty to Andrew in exile. He will have company watching Netflix. (Do you remember the scene in The Crown where the Duke — played by the wonderful actor Michael Kitchen — and Duchess of Windsor are watching Elizabeth’s televised coronation from their home in France? Oh, the suffering etched on Kitchen’s face.)

Andrew is often referred to as his mother’s favourite child, and that is how he was portrayed in The Crown as a boy on the cusp of manhood. He was buoyant, confident and ready for adventures of all kinds, military (at which he excelled) and prankish — even then, a bit of a wild card, but endearing to his mother on that account. In Philip’s general mold, but without Philip’s maturity, intellect and sense of duty.

But back to my pang. Consider: Stupid as he was, the woman accusing him of being party to her sex trafficking was 17 at the time of the alleged encounter. The age of consent in the U.K. as well as in 32 U.S. states is 16. A lot of other rich and famous men palled around with Epstein and made use of his private plane and visited his island home(s). How come their names didn’t come up in Maxwell’s trial? So maybe my pang has something to do with the murkiness surrounding the alleged encounter, and the fact that Andrew seems to have been cut from the herd to keep all eyes on him and all eyes off the American guys.

The only other man Giuffre publicly charged with sexual assault was celebrated lawyer Alan Dershowitz in 2019, who had defended Epstein in his 2005 sex-trafficking charges. Dershowitz immediately counter-attacked Giuffre in his typical take-no-prisoners style, and that turned into a nightmare of a legal circus that is apparently still unresolved. I imagine Giuffre took a lesson from her challenge to a lion. Next to Dershowitz, Andrew must look a lot like a sacrificial lamb.

Andrew is what he is, and I am not making the case he shouldn’t have paid an appropriate price for his bad behaviour — bad whether he slept with Giuffre or didn’t. All I am saying is that the price he is paying — a royal castaway, shunned for the sake of The Firm’s continued good health, and relegated to a social Devil’s island — is very, very high, much higher than would have been the case for an ordinary man. There is no court of appeal for this lifetime sentence.

Barbara Kay is a senior columnist for the Western Standard.
Twitter: @BarbaraRKay

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THOMAS: Gondek’s legacy could very well be an empty parking lot

“There can be no doubt that more than a few Calgarians, who are against using public money to help build the Event Centre, have benefited from the owners’ largess.”




Most of the people who have held the office of mayor of Calgary probably hoped to leave a legacy that people recognize as a positive contribution to the city.

Some did. Some didn’t. A couple of ‘dids’ come to mind. 

As mayor from 1980 to 1989, Ralph Klein’s legacy is as being part of the team that brought the 1988 Winter Olympics to Calgary, which resulted in the Saddledome being built, which brought the Calgary Flames to the city.

Dave Bronconnier, mayor from 2001 to 2010, also left a legacy near the Saddledome.

East Village: It’s the area directly east of city hall, stretching to Fort Calgary, with the Bow River on the north and 9 Ave. southeast on the south side.

When ‘Bronco’ took over the mayor’s chair, East Village was the most dangerous area of the city. Totally run down, it was a centre of illegal drug activity and the ‘office’ for sex workers. In earlier years, it served as the Calgary dump. It was not an area you wanted to be in, especially after dark.

Bronco, vowing to clean it up, approached the development community to gauge any interest in participating. 

There was no interest. Developers told him the cost to remediate the area was too high, but if the city undertook the task, there would be interest in building condo-apartment buildings. 

So, the mayor introduced the Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) program, with the blessing of the Alberta government. The way a TIF works is, an area for redevelopment is identified and for 20 years, all taxes collected in that area are used to pay infrastructure costs incurred by the city to get the job done. 

No tax money comes out of the city’s general revenues. Only money from taxes collected in the designated area. 

It obviously worked. The TIF helped pay for, among other things, the new central library, and East Village is now an urban oasis of apartments and retailers.

The TIF worked so well, city council decided to expand the area it financed, calling it the Rivers District, which runs from the banks of the Bow River south to 25 Ave. S.W., with Macleod Tr. as its western border. Eventually, the Bow Building was added to the Rivers District because of the high taxes it would pay, which would contribute greatly to the TIF, now renamed the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL).

Here, from the City’s website, its (abbreviated) definition of the CRL. 

“(The) Community Revitalization Levy substantially funds the delivery of the Rivers District Revitalization Plan. The levy provides a means to segregate increased property tax revenues in the Rivers District, which result from redevelopment into a fund that will be used to pay for the new infrastructure required. The end result is improvements in the Rivers District are self-funded without any additional tax burden on the balance of the city, and at the end of the CRL period, the amounts that were charged under the CRL would become general property tax revenues and flow into the general revenues of the city and the province.”

There’s a lot of work going on in the East Victoria Park area within the Rivers District, including the RoundUp Centre upgrade, the demolition of the Corral and a lot more to come. Plans include homes for 8,000 new residents in the community, with approximately four million square feet of absorbable mixed-use development, a Stampede Trail retail street and the LRT Green Line extension. All of this development might even give some justification to converting the empty downtown office buildings into residences. 

Up until about a month ago, the plans included a new Event Centre, to be built on a couple of mostly empty parking lots north of Stampede Park. The cost of the centre would have been shared by the Calgary Flames organization and the City of Calgary. 

That deal is dead.

How vital was/is the Event Centre to the success of the Rivers District? 

If the district was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Event Centre would be Tom Brady.

The Event Centre would be home to more than the Calgary Flames. It would put Calgary in the big leagues in attracting major concerts and other events (hence the name). Under the dead deal with the Flames, the City of Calgary would have received a percentage of ticket sales to every event. There are other opportunities for revenue generation for the city that are now in jeopardy.

However, without the Flames as a partner in some fashion, there isn’t likely to be an event centre.

The Flames ownership group is first and foremost a collection of very successful and astute business people. They are not the billionaire robber barons some Calgarians claim them to be. 

Bringing NHL hockey to Calgary was a great contribution, but their greatest contribution is the millions and millions of dollars they have donated to charities, to build major medical facilities and more. There can be no doubt more than a few Calgarians who are against using public money to help build the Event Centre have benefited from the owners’ largess. 

Without a new, reasonable deal would the ownership group move the Flames out of the city? 

They absolutely would.

That would be Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s legacy.

Myke Thomas is a Western Standard contributor. He started in radio as a child voice actor, also working in television and as the real estate columnist, reporter and editor at the Calgary Sun for 22 years.

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