The issue of fair and objective news coverage of Onkwehonwe issues in the mainstream media has always been a subject of controversy throughout Turtle Island. If you ask most Onkwehonwe people the response would usually be that the coverage over the years has been unfair and uneducated.
One of the things that was mentioned, (but not made a recommendation) in the Ipperwash Inquiry was the reporting by the media during the Ipperwash land rights dispute. A formal media study about Ipperwash pointed out a few causes for concern. Only three of ninety-two opinion pieces were written by journalists who actually visited Ipperwash. Most of the news stories immediately after the shooting gave priority to the OPP account of the incident. Nine stories before the shooting and forty-two after it reported that the occupiers had guns. The objective truth was a whole different reality from what was reported. Dudley George was found to be unarmed and no weapons were ever found among any of the land defenders.
In recent weeks we have seen some very negative and controversial stories appear about the CBC. Prominent news commentator Rex Murphy has been placed under the microscope and has the CBC reviewing its employee ethics policies. Rex has been an openly staunch supporter of the Alberta tar sands oil development and has spoken out against the nations that are negatively impacted by it and environmentalists who are also fighting to shut it down. The controversy lies in the fact that since 2009 Rex has done 25 paid speaking engagements for oil and gas industry companies, some paying as high as $30,000 an event. This puts his journalistic integrity in a tainted light and his professional credentials on the line.
The Harper government is appearing to be taking direct unethical control of the CBC through the passage of Bill C-60. Within it there is a clause that allows the Prime Minister’s cabinet to approve salaries, working conditions and collective bargaining positions for the CBC. Harper’s party has an overwhelming influence on the CBC’s board (8 of the 11 board members of the CBC have donated to the Conservative party). The current board members started serving in 2006 when the Harper government took power. This is a cause for concern for anyone who expects journalistic integrity and the objective truth from the CBC in its future reporting. People will be wondering if the news dispensed by the CBC is objective or seen as a platform for Conservative Party propaganda.
The CBC has the branch of CBC Aboriginal which raises many questions about its future because of the Harpers governments unethical actions; and its ongoing dismissive attitude towards Onkwehonwe people and their resources. Canada is still a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Under article 16-1, indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination; but like everything else Harper will ignore everyone and bully his way through.