Canada’s newspapers are being plundered by monopoly capitalism by Patricia W. Elliott · For CBC Opinion
by Patricia W. Elliott
In the morning dark, before the coffee is made and cats are stirring, you’ll find me awkwardly leaning out my front door, one arm reaching for the mailbox and the comforting touch of newsprint.
In truth, I’ve already spent at least an hour awake in bed, phone-scrolling through a cacophony of news stories from around the globe, along with their trails of deranged comments. Algorithms have tagged a few of my interests, meaning I’ll know what happened in Southeast Asia overnight along with a thin smattering of Ukraine news, but precious little about my hometown.
Those hometown stories are now spread out on my kitchen table: births, deaths, celebrations, laneway closures, tax arrears notices, city hall shenanigans, the latest provincial gossip, and the triumphs and tragedies of ordinary citizens, finished off with a brain-sharpening crossword.
Tweets and broadcast spot news are fleshed out in print with more voices, and more history. A human editor has arranged stories front to back not in order of my personal tastes, but in order of public significance, arrived at through a combination of experience, reader feedback and heated newsroom discussions.
Sometimes I read the online edition or follow the paper on social media. The physical form matters not. What matters is its purpose — providing accurate information to help an informed citizenry make decisions, hold power to account, know each other and ensure the wellbeing of their city.
Frustratingly, this purpose is being steadily dismantled by the paper’s own masters.
Last week’s announcement of Postmedia staff cuts and property fire-sales is but the latest outrage in a scenario foretold by decades of federal commission testimonials: if you allow our newspapers to fall into the hands of a few debt-ridden would-be tycoons fronting for foreign hedge funds, the failures will be catastrophic.
Canada’s Competition Bureau has miserably failed to avoid this path, greenlighting monopolistic newspaper purchases against all public interest and common sense. Meanwhile, federal officials tasked with guarding Canadian ownership stood by as the fate of more than 100 Canadian newsrooms was handed off to foreign shareholders.
The true owner of my local newspaper is Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund in New Jersey.
The second-largest shareholder, Allianz Global Investment, has offices from Shanghai to Frankfurt. Its main U.S. fund was shut down over securities fraud and ordered to pay back billions to bilked investors.
The third-largest investor, Leon G. Cooperman, survived insider trading allegations by taking the Fifth Amendment in court and handing a $5-million settlement to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission.
I wonder how much of my local paper’s revenues helps pay for such peccadillos.
People still crave news. In-depth storytelling from diverse perspectives has grown large audiences.– Patricia W. Elliott
Locally owned papers tend to do comparatively well in the media market. However, as demonstrated by the sorrowful history of media concentration, press barons will shutter newspapers rather than offer them to local buyers. At best, they’ll sell the whole chain to another sprawling, indebted corporation.
Sadly, we’ve reached a point where even if one link were broken off the chain, its physical assets will have been stripped and swallowed into the maw of CEO bonuses and company debt. All that’s left to buy is a once-proud banner and a payroll liability.
The public suffers.
As a journalism instructor, I’ve often shown students The Paper, a 1994 film in which journalists frantically track down a rumour that two young black men arrested for murder were set up. It ends in a late-night fist fight to stop the presses and get the story right.
Last Tuesday, Postmedia announced Saskatchewan’s two major urban dailies will henceforth be printed in Estevan. Not a big stretch for Regina, which lost its press to Saskatoon in 2016, but for the now-homeless Saskatoon Star Phoenix, it will be 470 km away. As production deadlines become ever-tighter and physically distant, and reporters are separated from each other in home-based pods, it inevitably becomes harder to get the story right.
While I peruse my morning paper, I know my students are waking and reading many of the same stories, albeit through social media, where it’s free. Their eyeballs are drawn to ads that generate revenue not for the papers that produced the stories, but for behemoths like Facebook and Google.
This demonstrates another regulatory gap, one that has left Ottawa trying to herd online revenue back to Canadian newsrooms while the money stampedes south, leaving Bill C-18 in the dust.
Some fine reporting has been generated through Heritage Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), but the systemic problem of media concentration remains unabated. For Postmedia, getting public dollars to replace journalists who were laid off to increase company profits is a sweet deal.
A smart move broadened LJI funds to local nonprofit community television. But again, this is happening in an environment dominated by huge corporations — Bell, Telus, Rogers and Shaw. Since the mid-1990s, Big Cable has shuttered more than 200 community access stations, leaving an estimated 90 per cent of the Canadian public without access to genuinely local community TV.
The beast grows larger. The Competition Bureau seems powerless to stop a Rogers-Shaw merger.
Meanwhile, people still crave news. In-depth storytelling from diverse perspectives has grown large audiences. Newspapers that still control their own budgets are responding with large-scale investigations, essays and podcasts.
Journalism teachers can equip students with technical skills and knowledge to navigate these shifts. What we can’t do is equip them for the ravages of monopoly capitalism. Federal regulators must step up, and step hard, to break the chains.
This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.
Interested in writing for us? We accept pitches for opinion and point-of-view pieces from Saskatchewan residents who want to share their thoughts on the news of the day, issues affecting their community or who have a compelling personal story to share. No need to be a professional writer!
Read more about what we’re looking for here, then email firstname.lastname@example.org with your
Two families found dead trying to enter US from Canada: Police – Al Jazeera English
Authorities have launched an investigation following the discovery of eight bodies in a marshy area of the St Lawrence River in Quebec near Canada’s border with the United States.
The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service said six bodies were found about 5pm (21:00 GMT) on Thursday in the marsh in Tsi Snaihne, Akwesasne. Two more were discovered on Friday.
At a news conference on Friday, deputy police chief Lee-Ann O’Brien said the dead belonged to two families — one of Romanian descent with Canadian passports, the other Indian. One child under the age of three was among the fatalities, she said.
“All are believed to have been attempting illegal entry into the US from Canada,” O’Brien said at the press conference.
Later that day, the chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, Shawn Dulude, said that one of the two additional bodies recovered was that of an infant from the Romanian family.
The deaths came one week after the United States and Canada announced the expansion of a border agreement granting them the authority to expel asylum seekers who cross the nations’ shared border at unofficial points of entry.
O’Brien said the bodies were found near a capsized boat belonging to a missing man from the Akwesasne Mohawk community, which stretches along both sides of the St Lawrence River, with land in Ontario and Quebec on the Canadian side, and in New York state.
Authorities were awaiting the results of post-mortem and toxicology tests to determine the cause of death.
Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of public safety, said the Canadian Coast Guard and the Quebec provincial police force were assisting Akwesasne police in their investigation.
“The news coming out of Akwesasne is heartbreaking,” the minister wrote on Twitter. “I’ve reached out to Grand Chief Abram Benedict to express our condolences. As we await more details, my thoughts are with the loved ones of those lost.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his condolences to the families. “This is a heartbreaking situation, particularly given the young child that was among them,” he told reporters.
“We need to understand properly what happened, how this happened and do whatever we can to ensure that we’re minimising the chances of it happening again.”
Last month, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police reported a recent increase in undocumented entries through their lands and waterways. The statement said some people required hospitalisation.
In January, the police force noted that people involved in human smuggling had attempted to use shorelines along the Saint Lawrence River in the area.
‘Put human lives at risk’
Trudeau unveiled the expanded border deal, known as the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), last week during US President Joe Biden’s first official visit to Canada since taking office.
Since 2004, the STCA has forced asylum seekers to make claims for protection in the first country they arrive in — either the US or Canada, but not both.
That has meant that people already in the US could not make an asylum claim at an official port of entry into Canada, or vice versa, and allowed border authorities to uniformly turn people back at official land crossings.
The expanded agreement unveiled on March 24 closed a loophole in the STCA that previously allowed asylum seekers who crossed into Canada at unofficial points along the border to have their protection claims assessed once they were on Canadian soil.
The White House said last week that the restrictions would now also be applied “to migrants who cross between the ports of entry”.
Advocates slammed the move, saying applying the STCA to the entire 6,416km (3,987-mile) land border between the US and Canada would not prevent people from seeking to cross, but would only force them to take more dangerous routes.
The news coming out of Akwesasne is heartbreaking.
I’ve reached out to Grand Chief Abram Benedict to express our condolences.
As we await more details, my thoughts are with the loved ones of those lost.
— Marco Mendicino (@marcomendicino) March 31, 2023
Migrant justice advocates laid the blame for the most recent deaths on policymakers.
“The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) and other immigration laws are meant to deter migration from the global south by making border crossing deadly,” Nazila Bettache, a member of the Caring for Social Justice Collective, said in a statement on Friday.
“Let’s be clear, these deaths were predictable and predicted — and in that sense they are intentional.”
Samira Jasmin, spokesperson for the Solidarity Across Borders advocacy group, added that “these immigration policies put human lives at risk! We cross borders for a better world and instead face death”.
Local authorities disputed the idea that the closure played a role in the most recent deaths.
“Right now what I can tell you is this has nothing to do with that closure,” O’Brien said. “These people were believed to be gaining entry into the US. It’s completely opposite.”
The STCA applies in both directions, however, and US Border Patrol processed 3,577 people who crossed into the US irregularly from Canada last year, CBS News recently reported, citing government data.
Earlier this year, a family of four from India — including two children — were found frozen to death in the central Canadian province of Manitoba near the border with the US.
Authorities said they had attempted to cross over the border by foot on January 19 during severe winter weather and died from exposure.
A Haitian asylum seeker who came to Quebec via a popular, informal border crossing known as Roxham Road was also found dead at the frontier in late 2022 after attempting to go back to the US to rejoin his family.
Terrible – and just days after the US/Canada deal.
Again and again, we see punitive + deterrence-based asylum policies have horrifying and tragic consequences.
Consequences borne by migrants fleeing persecution. Consequences that are getting harder to describe as unintentional. https://t.co/mouezQ6cRF
— Danilo Zak (@DaniloZak) March 31, 2023
Police recover 2 more bodies from St. Lawrence River near Ontario-Quebec border – CBC.ca
Eight people are dead after they tried on Thursday to cross the St. Lawrence River into the United States near Akwesasne — a community which straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state — according to officials. One other person is still missing.
Police recovered two more bodies from the river Friday, after discovering six bodies and an overturned boat during a missing person search Thursday afternoon.
The bodies are those of six adults and two children: one under the age of three who had a Canadian passport, the other an infant who was also a Canadian citizen, according to Shawn Dulude, the police chief for the nearby Kanien’kehá:ka community of Akwesasne. Dulude spoke to reporters at a Friday news conference.
They were found in a marsh on the riverbank.
They are believed to have been an Indian family and a Romanian family who were attempting to cross into the U.S., according to police.
Casey Oakes, 30, an Akwesasne resident, remains missing, police said. Oakes was last seen on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. ET boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island. He was dressed in black, wearing a black face mask and a black tuque.
He was later reported missing, leading to the search efforts that found the bodies. Oakes is a person of interest in the case, said Dulude.
Police located Oakes’s vessel near the bodies, Lee-Ann O’Brien, the deputy chief of police for the Akwesasne Mohawk police service, said on Friday morning. Akwesasne is about 120 kilometres west of Montreal.
The IDs of the victims have not yet been released, pending notification of their next of kin.
A storm brought high winds and sleet into the area on Wednesday night. “It was not a good time to be out on the water,” O’Brien said.
“It could have been anything that caused this tragedy,” he said. “It could have been a faulty boat, it could have been human error and that the investigation will determine.”
Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwasasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday after Oakes’s family reported him missing. Another dozen or so volunteers from other stations in the community joined the effort.
The firefighters recovered the boat, its hull dented on the bottom as if it had hit ice or a rock, Lazore said.
He and O’Brien said the boat was small, and wouldn’t have been able to safely carry seven or eight people.
“What that boat could handle and the amount of people in it, it doesn’t make a pretty picture,” Lazore said, standing by the fire department dock on the water.
Friday morning, the water was calm and mirror-like. “It can change in the blink of an eye,” Lazore said, noting waves were more than a metre high Wednesday night.
“The river is always the major concern…. Our elders tell us, always be careful, especially in the spring, with the runoff, the current is stronger and the water is freezing.”
Other attempted crossings
The volunteer firefighters were only searching for one person when they discovered the first six bodies.
“It’s hitting them now,” Lazore said, adding they had begun a debrief Thursday evening to process what they had seen, but were interrupted by a call for a structure fire.
Thursday wasn’t the first time Lazore’s team has been called on to search for missing people who have tried to cross the border.
He said they rescue people attempting to enter the U.S. or Canada over the river and its tributaries about three or four times a year.
“It gets hard. It wears the guys down.”
Almost exactly a year ago, they rescued a group of six Indian nationals who had just made it into the United States on the river when the boat they were in hit a shallow bank and got stuck.
They were able to stand up in the boat and were rescued by the volunteers and Akwasasne Police Department — which received $6.5 million from the Quebec government last year to help it deal with the increased flow of human smuggling in the area.
“They were lucky. It could have been a lot worse,” Lazore said.
The fire station is next to a recreation centre where community members gathered Friday afternoon. They sit across a road from the Tsi’Snaihne River.
A police helicopter circled above.
Next to the fire station, a group of men lit a sacred fire early that morning and kept it going throughout the day. Lazore said the fire was to honour the families and Oakes.
Smuggling on the rise
O’Brien, the deputy police chief, said the community has seen an uptick in human smuggling into the U.S. There have been 48 incidents so far this year, she said.
But the recent deaths had nothing to do with the closure of the Roxham Road illegal border crossing, she added.
“That closure was people seeking refuge, leaving the U.S. to Canada. These people were believed to be gaining entry into the U.S. It’s completely the opposite.”
Most of those who try to enter the U.S. through the area are Indian and Romanian families, she said, but she said she “had no idea” why that was the case.
Ryan Brissette, a public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, says the agency had seen a “massive uptick in encounters and apprehensions” at the border.
The agency saw more than eight times as many people try to cross from Canada into the U.S. in 2022 compared to previous years, he said. Many of them — more than 64,000 — came through Quebec or Ontario into New York.
“Comparing this area in the past, this is a significant number,” Brissette said.
“There’s a lot of different reasons as to why this is happening, why folks are coming all of a sudden through the northern border. I think a lot of them think it’s easier, an easy opportunity and they just don’t know the danger that it poses, especially in the winter months.”
Eight bodies found in St Lawrence River near US-Canada border – BBC
Authorities say they have recovered the bodies of eight migrants, including two children, who died trying to cross illegally from Canada into the US.
A police helicopter spotted two more bodies in the St Lawrence River on Friday. Two families from Romania and India are among the dead.
It is unclear if there is any link between Mr Oakes and the families.
Police said the first body was found around 17:00 local time (21:00 GMT) in a marsh in Tsi Snaihne in Akwesasne, a Mohawk territory right between the US-Canada border.
The other bodies were discovered nearby. Their identities have not yet been released by police.
The dead were six adults and two children.
One child was under the age of three and had a Canadian passport. The other infant was also a Canadian citizen, a local police chief told reporters at a Friday news conference.
The bodies are believed to be from two families, one of Romanian descent and one of Indian descent, Lee-Ann O’Brien, deputy chief of Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, told reporters.
“All are believed to have been attempting illegal entry into the US from Canada,” Ms O’Brien said. She added that weather conditions were rough in the area on Wednesday night.
The bodies were found in the Quebec area of Akwesasne, a Mohawk community whose territory includes parts of Ontario, Quebec and New York State. It is located about 120km west of Montreal.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “This is a heartbreaking situation.
“We need to understand properly what happened, how it happened and do whatever we can to minimize the chances of this ever happening again.”
Bodies of people attempting to cross into the US from Canada have been discovered at other locations in recent months.
In January, police in Canada found the bodies of four people, including an infant, in a snow field near Emerson, Manitoba, by the US-Canada border. The dead are believed to be a family from India, US officials said.
A Montreal man was also found dead near the US-Canada border in December. Fritznel Richard, 44, was trying to cross into the US to reunite with his wife and child.
US border agents have noted an uptick of people crossing back from Canada.
In January, US Border Patrol apprehended 367 people attempting to cross north to south – more than the number of such crossings in the last 12 years combined.
The video game industry’s annual trade show E3 is canceled again as organizers say they will ‘re-evaluate the future’ – Fortune
Pakistan's political heavyweights take their street battles to the courts — as a weary nation looks on – CNN
Raptors' Nick Nurse 'Gonna Take a Few Weeks to See Where I'm at' After Season Ends – Bleacher Report
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Search for life on Mars accelerates as new bodies of water found below planet’s surface
Sports17 hours ago
Edmonton Oilers deliver a statement performance in a 2-0 shutout of L.A.: Cult of Hockey Player Grade
Art17 hours ago
The art of picking the perfect colour
Economy13 hours ago
UK economy avoids recession but businesses still wary
Real eState17 hours ago
For resort town workers, housing scarcity is worsening
Health16 hours ago
High-risk places affected by respiratory outbreaks
Business15 hours ago
Why it matters that Canadian banks have dodged the deposit exodus plaguing some U.S. banks
News21 hours ago
Canada’s Climate Crisis: An In-Depth Look at the Current State and What’s Being Done to Combat It
Business17 hours ago
Rogers takeover of Shaw approved, with conditions