Alberta Politics
Members of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery in their offices in Ottawa in 1916 (Photo: City of Toronto Archives, Public Domain).

If Press Gallery membership for the Rebel is so important, why are Postmedia reporters still in the gallery in Ottawa?

Posted on August 19, 2020, 2:43 am
6 mins

What are we to make of the peculiar fact that Postmedia reporters still occupy their comfortable chairs in the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa?

A quick scroll through the national Press Gallery’s comparatively informative website reveals at least 10 journalists employed by Postmedia Network Canada Corp. are members of the venerable Ottawa institution — two from the Ottawa Citizen, six from the National Post in Toronto, and two designated as Postmedia employees.

Members of the Alberta Legislature Press Gallery at work in the provincial Legislature Building in 2016 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

This is a far cry from the halcyon days when some of Postmedia’s corporate predecessors like Southam Inc. and CanWest Global Communications Corp. permitted every one of the chain’s metropolitan dailies send a body to the nation’s capital to cover Parliament, but it’s still a fairly significant presence.

You may ask: Why is this a big deal? Wouldn’t we expect English Canada’s largest newspaper chain to occupy a few seats in Parliament’s Press Gallery?

Of course we would. If these were normal times, that is. But, of course, they are not.

I speak not of COVID-19 or the parlous state of the Canadian economy, but of the recent difficulties experienced by the employees of Rebel News Network Ltd., which Postmedia recently referred to in an editorial as an organization that has been “home to a succession of cranks and bigots since its inception.” It is hard to disagree with this assessment.

Nevertheless, Postmedia’s problem was not that Rebel News is “obnoxious,” as the editorial put it, but because obnoxious or not its staffers are not allowed to be members of the Alberta Legislature Press Gallery in Edmonton.

While the rejection letter from Alberta Legislature Press Gallery Association President Tyler Dawson (a journalist employed by the National Post) did not explicitly state the reason — widely assumed to be that in the opinion of gallery members Rebel News employees work as political advocates, not journalists — it was quite clear in its intention. The applications of a couple of Rebel staffers had been rejected by the gallery’s members, Mr. Dawson said on July 27. End of story.

Postmedia was so outraged by this situation it vowed to pull all its reporters from the Alberta gallery until the situation was satisfactorily remedied and the right-wing video blog site’s reporters were ensconced in one of the gallery’s small but publicly subsidized offices in the Legislature Building in Edmonton.

The Alberta Press Gallery in 1949 (Photo: Alberta Legislature Press Gallery).

Postmedia reporters in Edmonton may not have been happy with that decision, which emanated from the corporation’s Toronto headquarters, but it was effective immediately.

We believe that ‘journalist’ must be defined as broadly as possible,” the editorial run in the National Post, the Edmonton Journal and some other Postmedia dailies, piously huffed.

Not everyone is comfortable with this. Just yesterday, the Canadian Association of Journalists gingerly argued press galleries are recognized by Canadian legislatures’ speakers “to oversee the press accreditation process and other rules for legislative journalists.”

“Press galleries have a right and responsibility to admit as members only those who meet their standards and definitions for journalism, so long as the process is transparent and fair,” asserted the association, which does not represent all Canadian journalists.

Whether the Alberta Legislature Press Gallery’s process is fair is a matter of opinion. No one can accuse it of being transparent.

Regardless, this brings us back to the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, which it is no secret has long rejected the membership of Rebel News employees on grounds the CAJ would most certainly approve.

But if membership for Rebel News is a principle important enough for Postmedia to pull out of the Press Gallery in Edmonton, why isn’t it important enough for the company to quit the Press Galley in Ottawa too?

I asked Kevin Libin, Postmedia’s executive editor for national political coverage, about this.

In light of the decision by the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa not to admit Rebel News, I wondered, is Postmedia considering withdrawing from the Parliamentary Press Gallery as well? In the event the corporation is not contemplating such a move, I said I’d sure be grateful if he could explain the reasoning.

Alas, Mr. Libin, who describes has job as being “to build out the strongest political coverage in the country, leveraging our talent and assets across the Postmedia chain,” told me all media inquiries must go through Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia’s vice-president of communications.

I asked Ms. Gelfand the same questions and did not receive a response.

So why do Postmedia’s principles apply in Edmonton but not in Ottawa? It remains a mystery.

17 Comments to: If Press Gallery membership for the Rebel is so important, why are Postmedia reporters still in the gallery in Ottawa?

  1. Dave

    August 19th, 2020

    Perhaps post mortal media is still a large enough company that the people in different offices do not communicate with each other. However, I doubt that is the real reason.

    I suspect the actual reason goes something like this – suppose you wanted to help out an unsteady provincial government prone to goofing up and alienating people and you were in the media, what could you do? I suspect the best gift for them would be as little coverage or scutiny as possible. Of course, you would need to come up with a pretext slightly more noble sounding than just saving a few dollars.

    Now, say you also had an embattled government in Ottawa you wanted to help bring down. Well, of course you would cover ever problem and error with a great deal of scutiny 24 hours a day/seven days a week, or as close to it as you could manage with diminishing resources.

    Hopefully in the interest of job security those now under utilized or nearly redundant reporters in Edmonton can at least find work in Ottawa. Although, in these days of never ending cut backs in maintream media that is probably too much to ask for.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    August 19th, 2020

    First of all, Rebel News is not a credible news outlet. Calling it a news outlet, (it used to be called Rebel Media, before it was called Rebel News), is an exaggeration at best. Their news reports are full of holes, contradictions and errors. Second, their so called journalists, would not even pass the test for ethics that are required for journalists. This includes, past journalists from The Rebel, and current journalists. This would include Faith Goldy, Kate Hopkins, and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the pseudonym Tommy. Do journalists and news reporters show up at the Alberta Legislature wearing anti NDP T-shirts, and bring items with anti NDP slogans on them? Do journalists and reporters call female MPs names, like one reporter from Rebel News did, by calling Liberal MP, and Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna Climate Bar***? Those at Postmedia are speaking out of both sides of their mouth, when they don’t agree with how Rebel News conducts itself, and then state Rebel News should be allowed in the Press Gallery of the Alberta Legislature. As for Postmedia, it is fully aligned with the Conservative parties, including the UCP. They have little to no decent columnists, especially in The Sun, and the columnists that are there, are just mouthpieces for the UCP, and the Conservative parties. Any criticisms of the UCP are weak, for what little there are. The UCP’s dubious election victory in 2019, was likely aided and abetted by Postmedia, because why else would they envelope the major newspapers in Alberta, with images of Jason Kenney on them, prior to the provincial election, that year. Who is Rosa Ambrose? Even the so called reporters from Rebel News were saying with certainty that Jason Kenney would be Alberta’s next premier, in advance of the 2019 provincial election. It’s quite disheartening to see how the media has become, when things like this are happening. One more thing. I have heard that Jason Kenney is now disciplining anyone who speaks out against him, because someone in Calgary, I believe, found that out. She was in some high profile position of employment. Some other blog site, or media site, mentioned that yesterday.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      August 19th, 2020

      Your last point may be a reference to the removal of Dr. Sandip Lalli as CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce after she made comments critical of some of Premier Kenney’s favourite policies — for example, that recommendations of the so-called “Fair deal” Panel such as taking over the Canada Pension Plan do nothing to help Calgary’s economy recover. Clearly she was skidded, although the local Postmedia daily simply reheated the Chamber’s press release, describing the change as a “repositining.” Dr. Lalli seems to be playing along — she may feel she has no choice — and has accepted another, lesser position as a “strategic advisor” with the Chamber. The National Observer, the only major media outlet to cover the matter, said “her departure shows that there’s a high cost attached to speaking truth to power in Alberta right now.” DJC

      Reply
      • Athabascan

        August 19th, 2020

        Dear Mr Climenhaga,

        Please don’t publish Murhpy’s bullshit about Covid -19 being a hoax. A family member got it and is fighting for his life on a ventilator.

        First, his BS is not relevant to the article, and second, it is disinformation that runs counter to public safety. Covid is real, and anyone who says different shouldn’t be given a soapbox.

        I recognize that this is your blog and not mine.

        Reply
        • David Climenhaga

          August 19th, 2020

          Athabascan: Like you and many other readers, I have grown very tired of Murphy’s persistent repetition of the same points about COVID-19. I am in particular irritated by his apparent view that it’s really OK if octogenarians kick the bucket because, well, they’re old. Since it’s my policy to read every comment for defamatory or inappropriate material, it’s exhausting at times, too. I do try to delete comments (not just by Murphy) when I feel they are not relevant to the matter at hand. I have cut this commenter some slack because I feel that readers, no matter how wrong headed, should be allowed to respond to my views, unkindly if they wish. Moreover, when commenters are attacked by other commenters, I think they deserve an opportunity to respond, although this does tend to set off a back-and-forth I am not wild about. I am starting to feel, though, as if I may be driving away readers I would like to keep to suit some I could do without. I will continue to do my best to strike a reasonable balance. DJC

          when responding to earlier comments about his views

          Reply
          • karl roth

            August 19th, 2020

            murphy’s comments at times can be quite fascinating to wade through though often exhausting fersure

            whatever your editorial choices are this blog will remain my 1st choice for information about Alberta politics

            postmedia papers in Alberta are more or less a supine propaganda arm of AB conservatives. criKey !
            stopped reading them a long time ago, particularly the Calgary Herald

          • jerrymacgp

            August 20th, 2020

            I think we all admire your commitment to freedom of expression and free exchange of ideas on what is, after all, your personal blog. In the many years that I have been reading it, it has been my experience that the line between accepting & moderating off a comment, went far beyond simply being wrong or even wrongheaded. It usually has to reach the threshold of being abusive, vulgar, potentially defamatory, or ad hominem personal attacks, either on the author or another commentor.

            It is also true that permitting the gentleman’s comments to be seen by your other readers simply proves the verity of the old adage, “it is better to remain silent & be thought a fool, than to speak up & remove all doubt“.

            As for me, as a health care professional with some knowledge of the facts around this issue — although I do not by any means claim to be an expert — I have at times been tempted to challenge his assertions on this topic. However, I have been restrained by the general rule of online discussions that goes back to the original dial-up bulletin boards & Usenet news groups: do not nourish those diminutive, ugly, mythical creatures that allegedly live under bridges, lest they be encouraged.

      • pogo

        August 19th, 2020

        I almost straightened out after following up on the detail driven pogrom that is my old home’s politics! Yikes!

        Reply
  3. Bruce Turton

    August 19th, 2020

    Sorry, but this is not on topic. Dr. Hinshaw says that things on the Covid-2 front in Alberta, Edmonton in particular, is not as bad as in the Excited States. How does comparison to the worst case become reassuring? And Donnie the Sociopath has declared that a “huge” outbreak has occurred in New Zealand that discredits their efforts to curb the the coronavirus contagion – 13 cases among 5 million would fetch glee and thanksgiving across Alberta and pretty well anywhere in the Orange Julius’ nation.
    As for the issue of the ‘press’, that bastion of free and fair, factually based information offered to the public so that we can properly assess what we might favour or dislike in decisions about our lives, even a free subscription to the Edmonton papers is easily rejected.

    Reply
  4. Murphy

    August 19th, 2020

    Mass media is literally garbage. The denizens of any of these press galleries should be put to work making wallets.
    CBC has been sued by Rocco Galatti, as has the Federal Government and the Ontario Government, over the management of Covid propaganda. The sad thing is that the only people able to get their act together in response to Covidmania are anti-vaccine advocates.
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/coronavirus-charter-challenge-1.5680988

    I put this post on CBC today in response to their dystopian sci-fi daily “What you need to know about Covid” and it was deleted, as have been many previous posts I put up using only data from WHO, Alberta Health or other “official” organizations:
    “What do you need to know? Perhaps some of this information:
    In Alberta
    Covid hospitalization case rate: 5
    2017-18 influenza hospitalization case rate: 34
    Covid ICU case rate: 1
    2015-16 influenza ICU case rate: 5.2
    Covid death case rate: 1.8
    2014-15 influenza death case rate: 2.3*
    *Covid deaths include dozens of people over age 70 who were never admitted to hospital. Influenza deaths only include those deaths that occurred in hospital.
    Covid ICU admissions age 0-4: 0
    2018-19 influenza ICU admission age 0-4: 10.4 per 100 000
    Portion of Covid deaths with no serious comorbidity: 2.8
    Portion of Covid deaths with 3 or more serious comorbidities: 73.3
    Average age for Covid hospitalization: 62
    Average age for Covid ICU admission: 62
    Average age for Covid “death”: 83
    https://www.alberta.ca/stats/covid-19-alberta-statistics.htm
    https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/9044e65d-a97e-43cb-8357-9c890422f069/resource/dcd1cc27-57c2-4cf4-8078-3869f19b6390/download/health-influenza-summary-report-2018-2019.pdf
    “As described above, the wide use of masks by healthy
    people in the community setting is not supported by current
    evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks.”
    https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/331693/WHO-2019-nCov-IPC_Masks-2020.3-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
    “‘But in Alberta, COVID deaths only explain about 25 per cent of the excess deaths, so there are other factors.”
    Regardless, the excess mortality is thought to be a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Statistics Canada also raising delayed medical procedures as a possible explanation for the additional deaths.”
    https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/alberta-had-hundreds-of-excess-deaths-as-covid-19-struck-province-stats-canada

    I always like to ask, “what’s the tipping point where people will acknowledge a massive fraud in the form of a panic perpetrated on them?” Certainly, such acknowledgement is not about to come from “the press” any time soon.

    Reply
    • Hawk

      August 26th, 2020

      100% nails it! Good job!!

      . As Wayne Dyer wrote, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Just because we’ve always thought something, doesn’t mean it’s true.

      . “all truths go through three stages, first it is ridiculed, then it is violently opposed and finally it is accepted as self evident”. [unknown]

      James Corbett lays out the hidden agenda to aforementioned.
      https://www.corbettreport.com/

      Reply
  5. Murphy

    August 19th, 2020

    Here’s some insightful info from AHS:
    “COVID-19 does not appear to transmit as efficiently as influenza. Only those with symptoms seem to be mainly spreading the disease.
    COVID-19 causes severe disease in a higher percentage of cases than seasonal influenza.”
    https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/page16997.aspx

    Apparently, when it comes to Covid, less is more, in light of the data provided by Alberta Health. Don’t hold your breath until “the press” addresses any of these curiosities. Some subjects are simply taboo.

    Reply
  6. Athabascan

    August 19th, 2020

    Question: Why do Postmedia’s principles apply in Edmonton but not in Ottawa?

    Answer: kenney’s fascist party. He wants them in so Rebel can spew more hateful propaganda that supports the fascist UPC.

    Reply
  7. Abs

    August 19th, 2020

    Don’t you know there:s a double standard here in Alberta? What should be well-covered events, or “scandals,’ committed almost every single day by the UCP, go ignored by Postmedia. They don’t seem to want to pay attention here. So walking away suits them just fine.

    Reply
  8. Jim

    August 19th, 2020

    Might as well just let them all in the idea that we have an independent press is a joke anyway. Ezra and his band of merry men and woman provide some much needed entertainment when contrasted with the sycophants currently at the CBC. Besides who will stand up to the Marxist hordes?

    Reply
  9. Mike in Edmonton

    August 19th, 2020

    I find it significant that the guys in the gallery — I assume Tyler Dawson did not simply flip a coin to decide to bounce Rebel Media out — chose to exclude Ezra’s crowd. (Maybe they just don’t like ’em.) Even more so, Postmedia’s head office got all shirty about it. Why? Toastmedia fears Ezra’s lawyers? Maybe. The Edmonton Journal isn’t sycophantic enough but Toronto didn’t dare pull just ONE guy? That’s a stretch (they still have to sell subscriptions, after all.)

    Somebody in head office was having a bad day, so he committed a random act of management? NOW we’re talkin’!

    Reply
  10. Evolution is a Hoax

    September 5th, 2020

    All I expect from the Media is that they be witnesses of events and then report those to us. So they are our eyes and ears.
    The commentary is an extra, but I wish they did homework and provided background rather than partisan politics.
    Rebel has its flavour and I am OK with that.
    What I have a problem with is Post media owning both new outlets in Alberta. who could let such a thing happen. Our Gov’t should work on our behalf to stop Monopolies. If one company holds the overwhelming power, there is a problem. They should be forced to sell it off. I would even go as far as to say, it was a crime against Canadians. Rebel is not a crime against Canadians. Rebel is a cheeky in your face witness to events and commentary.

    Reply

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