• Behold the brand new but far from brave new world of Canadian journalism revealed in a presentation Postmedia Network Inc. delivered to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. In that presentation, which was first reported by the Vancouver Observer’s Jenny Ulechi and Matthew Millar, the media company was trying to convince the oil and gas lobby group to sponsor energy “channels” on it’s newspaper Websites and purchase other advertising.
One of the slides quoted National Post publisher Douglas Kelly describing his daily, which is part of Postmedia, as being “one of the country’s leading voices on the importance of energy to Canada’s business competitiveness international and our economic well being in general.”
“We will work with CAPP to amplify our energy mandate and to be part of the solution to keep Canada competitive in the global marketplace. The National Post will undertake to leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively to further this critical conversation.”
• Canada has less freedom of information than many other countries. And Alberta is tied with New Brunswick for having less freedom of information than any other province. So you’d think journalists would be unanimous in their support for the Alberta government’s proactive release of the salaries for well-paid bureaucrats — something six other provinces already do, according to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation. But apparently not.
In the Edmonton Journal, columnist Paula Simons writes that “discussing our pay is one of the last social taboos.” As a result, she argues, “We have to ask the cost of shaming individual public servants for being good at their jobs. We have to ask whether this data will help make better decisions or simply incite our envious voyeurism. We have to ask whether Tories are presenting this data in a punitive — rather than accountable — way to intimidate the public sector in a time of budget stress.”
• A little independence can go a long way — at least in the United Kingdom, which has weaker party discipline than Canada. The Times’s Tim Montgomerie writes that without Tory rebel MPs the country would “be at war — and have dearer petrol.” Meanwhile, the BBC’s Gary Connor reports Crossbenchers — members of the House of Lords who have no party affiliation — have “been crucial in defeating the coalition [government] in the vast majority of cases” involving votes in that chamber.
• Ryerson Review of Journalism senior editor Luc Rinaldi has given a thumbs down to the Nova Scotia government’s decision to suddenly — and without explanation — terminate its freedom of information watchdog Dulcie McCallum. A spokesperson for the province’s justice minister simply advised the Globe and Mail that decision was a personnel matter. But, for Rinaldi, it’s also “a reminder that progress on the FOI front is fleeting. We can’t sit back and hope things will get better. Otherwise, next time a freedom-of-information commissioner gets canned, we may not even hear about it.”
Have a news tip about about the state of democracy, openness and accountability in Canada? You can email me at this address.