Most people don’t give and take punches for a living.
Most people don’t become social media influencers for a living either.
Viddal Riley does both.
The professional boxer and internet sensation from Hackney, England has dominated life in and out of the ring. From his start as a boxer at the ripe old age of six to winning the European Junior Silver Medal in Anapa, Russia and representing Team Great Britain in the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics, he paved his amateur career with success as he went 41-8 (with 19 KOs). Currently sitting at 4-0 since his professional debut in the cruiserweight division, the undefeated 23-year-old, who’s signed with Mayweather Promotions, has taken his win streak inside of the ring and extended outside in his online endeavors. Riley currently has over 1.1 million subscribers on Youtube, 315K followers on Twitter, and 620K followers on Instagram. His content ranges from incisive and earnest commentary on professional and YouTube boxing to uniquely-crafted music videos. Riley has plenty to say about the current status of his boxing career, and what he plans to accomplish in the future on social media.
Frederick Daso: People tend to think that you’re a YouTuber first and boxer second, but that’s not right. You are a professional boxer first, and a social media sensation last. Tell me what initially got you into boxing.
Viddal Riley: He used to box and didn’t have the support to work through to the level he would have wanted and was working towards. Boxing for me was a journey started by my father. He used the box, and he didn’t have to support that work to see it through to the level that he would have desired and was working towards. And, we’ve heard that quite a lot. Historically, people have the talent, but they don’t have the back end, and they don’t have what you need to maximize your talent. He didn’t make the same mistake with me. He said to me to try it. He realized, ‘Okay, we’ve got a little talent, let’s hone it, harness it, and see how far you can go. That happened at the age of six, I would say, I started a bit earlier, but I mean, going into the gym for the first time was six years old. That’s when I first got in the ring or someone else my age and stuff like that.
The journey started at six years old. And yeah, it’s been very eventful. There’ve been many highlights, some of which I forget even, unless I go back and check the memories and photos. But it all started as a family thing, and now I’m just trying to take it to the next level. That’s really how boxing entered my lap. It’s just been a journey of 10 years as an amateur boxer. During that time, I won eight national titles, a European junior silver medal in Anapa, Russia and in 2014 became a Youth Olympian for Team Great Britain in Nanjing, China. I pushed myself as I was in charge and reached the elite levels. A lot of my skills and mindset stems from being in the gym from such a young age.
It brings us to the present day, where I’m now an undefeated professional with four wins, three of them being knockouts. I haven’t boxed in over a year, which is painful to say, but these things do happen. I look at it as a time to recoup and refresh cause once the ball starts running again, we can’t stop it. So I’m taking my time and appreciating it. As much as this is painful, I know that bigger things are to come in the future.
Daso: I love your mindset and, speaking of your accomplishments, when you’re an amateur, what was the turning point or was there a definitive moment when you were an amateur boxer where you knew that, ‘Hey, I could turn pro.’
Riley: I always wanted to be a professional, not an amateur boxer. I didn’t watch much amateur boxing since I wasn’t aware of that circuit. I just knew from watching on TV that I wanted to do that. I’ll be honest with you. It didn’t hit me at a certain stage until I decided to turn professional. I always wanted to be a professional. My successful amateur career made me realize that I would succeed as a pro with what I’m achieving because I always believed that I could be one. No moment really brought that home for me until it came into mind.
This is what I’ve been working towards and wanting to do since I was a kid. Now I’m finally at that stage where I can copy the guys and follow in the footsteps of the guys I watched on TV as a kid. So, no, there wasn’t one moment, but it was just, I looked at every moment as a stepping stone to become professional.
Daso: When I’ve seen you on YouTube, either alone or with other content creators, I always got the sense that you’re at least a couple of years older instead of being 23. You’ve got me where I think you’re 33 instead of 23. Tell me, what is it about boxing that has accelerated your maturity, or just, in general, the way that you carry yourself, right?
Riley: It’s just boxing is an honest sport, right? And we live in a world where very few are brave enough to be honest with themselves and with others. I think that stalls people’s progression because they’re in denial or they’re afraid of tackling issues that you cannot survive without addressing in the sport of boxing. People are looking to find your issues and win and get used to them. I thought that with my parents. Academically, my mom was more assigned to the role of making sure I have an education. My dad too, but more so it was boxing where he took that role and led the way. It’s just being honest, being truthful, telling you how to improve, and never allow me to see the world through the smokescreen of lies or false profits, which has never been the case.
Everything has been from this stark, cutthroat view: this is right, this is wrong. This is the truth. This isn’t. I think it just allows me to see through many things that go on because I just live in the truth. I think a lot of people don’t decide to do that until later years in their life. With me being this young, the maturity just comes from acknowledging the truth and acknowledging that to be improved and to increase your knowledge with, anything mentally, with his business relationship, anything is just to deal with the truth. I feel that’s the key behind my maturity.
Daso: Well said. Your maturity has been evolved through boxing because you have to be in an honest environment where someone finds out your flaws, you either correct it, or you’re going to get beaten because they were able to exploit that flaw. Taking that into your actual professional matches, now you’re 4-0 reigning undefeated. I hope you keep it that way. Most of your matches have ended up in KOs or TKOs. But I saw your fight with Austine Nnamdi in Dubai. That’s the one that went the distance. I want to know, what does that fight reveal about your boxing IQ and your strategy to win? Because it seemed like in the ring, you respected his ability and, because of that, it wasn’t just a straight-out slugfest. It was more intellectual.
Riley: Yeah. I only found out two days before I was fighting him. I prepared seven weeks for an opponent that pulled out two days before. The whole game plan was based on that style of fight. Austin was a completely different style to what we practice in the US for. I was kind of working out on the spot on what he’s going to do. That’s why I gave him that respect because I wasn’t aware of what threats he would bring to the ring. I only saw footage of him on the Monday before the fight. I didn’t know entirely what to expect. My approach was ‘don’t do anything stupid.’ Don’t allow this guy at short notice to catch you off guard and give you anything unexpected.
I would say that’s why that performance was a more reserved one because I feel like that’s how I had to be.
Daso: Absolutely. You got the job done, unanimous decision, and that’s okay. That’s so insightful because you only had two days. You were learning on the fly while you’re in the ring.
Riley: Yeah. You can say the same thing for him also. You can say he only found out two days before, but he was always scheduled as a backup. Though he knew confirmation two days before, he was already training to be in shape because he was aware that if anything goes wrong with the current opponent, he would have to step in. And respect to him for that. A lot of respect to him because he could have said, ‘No, you guys told me too late.’ For me to be part of an event with a star-studded audience such as KSI (Olijide “JJ” Olatunji) and Miniminter (Simon Minter) from the Sidemen (the group also includes Zerkaa (Josh Bradley), TBJZL (Tobi Brown), Behzinga (Ethan Payne), Vikkstar123 (Vikram Barn) and W2S (Harry Lewis)), Badou Jack, Naseem Hamed, MoVlogs and owner of the Five Palm Hotel, Jumeirah Dubai, was amazing.
It was great. It was a great audience to showcase my skills, and I would have gone into better performance, but the wind is what matters and how you win is important. I feel like I caught one without stretching myself too far and looking into the challenge. I’m happy with it for the time when that performance happened. When I watch it back now, I take those things into account, which was good for the time. But I’d expect more from myself now.
Daso: Through studying your overall career, both boxing and social media, I kind of boiled it down to kind of two key pivotal moments for your professional career. The first one being you signing for Mayweather Promotions. I saw the video covering it and KSI’s reaction, and then really also you becoming KSI’s trainer. I have two questions for you here. One, what did Jeff Mayweather see in you, as a potential top contender in the cruiserweight division that encouraged him and his team to bring you on under the Mayweather Promotions fold, and then second, what’s the real story behind when you first met KSI? It wasn’t just like you coming on to be his trainer.
Riley: To answer your first question, Jeff himself said I could listen to his instructions because he cornered me for a sparring session, and he did give various commands that I should follow that could help me in that spot. He said he used to work with many boxers who would be doing their own thing and not listening. He noticed that I took what he said and attempted to incorporate his feedback as he said it. He said to have the ability to try his and to listen to him at that level led him to believe that I could be a professional. It was also the level of the opponent that I was sparring with while trying to do what Jeff said.
Daso: If you don’t mind me interrupting, didn’t your sparring opponent at the time, Andrew Tabiti, go on to be a future champion in his division, or was he already one?
Riley: He fought for a world title. He’s the best cruiserweight in America. He fought for a world title when I was sparring with him, and I was trying these moves. Jeff was like, you’re an amateur at this point. And you’re fighting the best guy this country has to offer in your weight division, and you’re doing what you need to do. So, you can be a professional. I guess maybe that is a time when I knew I could be professional before was after that spring session, with testing myself against a high-level professional and proving that I wasn’t out of place. Once you can fit into the highest standard, you have no reason to doubt and second guess yourself. I feel like that’s why Jeff believed that could be a top cruiserweight.
In terms of KSI, JJ is the person who is. I’d say he’s the person who gave me that platform to showcase my talent and the only books in talent, but everything else as well. But it wasn’t just him. I trained a lot of other YouTubers before that. I trained many people who are friends with him, and they recommended that he train with me because of how the results went. And obviously, my credentials as well. So, it’s rare to see a guy at 19 years old be a head coach of somebody, but he believed that I had enough knowledge to pass on to him and allow him to have successes in his boxing. That’s what we saw, and that’s what’s happened.
Daso: That’s right. The results speak for themselves.
Riley: It was, it was a thing where it was mentioned a few times he’s going to come down to the gym, I’m going to talk to him, see if he wants to come down. And one day, he did. From that day, he said, yeah, cool. Yeah, this is where I need to be. And, we did a look back from that point. I mean, he’s still moving forward now. It was a big turning point in both of our lives. As much as he already had a bigger stage than myself still, I would say it was a life-changing experience for him. I mean, he learned something that changed his life. And, I learned things from him in terms of socializing, YouTube, how to maneuver our brand. I learned that from him. It was a really give-and-take relationship as it came to coaching.
Daso: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m so glad to see it blossom on both sides of the equation.
Riley: Me too. That’s normally the best situation in life. Both people can benefit from it and understand that, yeah, this is what we will bring to the table and elevate.
Daso: I want to try and dispel the notion because a lot of people may think that, ‘Hey, you’re only relevant because you train KSI,’ but after getting on his platform, you’ve shown yourself to be a top content creator on your own terms. I want to establish that then ask you, how has your relationship with KSI evolved from being his coach initally? You’re not as coach anymore but you’re still in his camp though, right?
Riley: I’m not. I’m now his friend. I don’t have involvement in his boxing as of now. If he called me and asked for help and asked me, ‘Can you help me out with this or whatever,’ I would, of course, help him, but I’m not in his training team. Our relationship has naturally progressed into being a friendship. So that’s enough for me. That means more to me than being a coach.
Daso: That’s beautiful. Now that’s the question, how have you and KSI evolved from trainer and boxer to a friend and social media collaborator?
Riley: Well, we experienced a lot together. I think we experienced a lot together, and it’s hard to make history with people and not have love for them and respect them. Because it’s hard to make history, and it’s hard to make meaningful history that people are aware of worldwide. I think we pioneered a big movement on YouTube, such as boxing and getting into the sport. Now, we see it grow to a level that I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect to see it grow that far, but for anyone to deny that KSI is a pioneer of the YouTube boxing thing is lying. He wouldn’t have done that alone. That’s the facts of the matter. He didn’t do that alone. I was the guy there, someone else, maybe they could have done it, but they didn’t. I was there.
With that, I would class myself as a pioneer within that field, in that industry, and the successes made people want to be involved. I would say that KSI learning the skills that I equipped with him led to his eventual success. And, yeah, it’s hard to not have respect forever for one another, or even bond with each other beyond just coaching, especially when you spend that much time together and you realize how much you guys have achieved in each other’s company.
Daso: Seeing you guys evolve from the first Logan fight to the second one showed your relationship was beyond just a coach and trainee; you two were a unit. It’s undeniably evident when you guys do have the time to collab that chemistry has always been there, and it has grown.
Riley: Yeah, for sure. For sure. I think it will always be a relationship that is kept because there’s no reason for either of us to turn on one another at all. It’s just not going to happen. We’re always going to be on good terms and supporting each other when in music, boxing or whatever field we decide to take up.
Daso: You mentioned the YouTube boxing scene as a whole, right. I’ve been keeping an eye on it. I’ve been watching the fights, especially the latest one, TikTok versus YouTube. I want your professional opinion because you are a professional boxer first and foremost. What do you think, does this mean for the sport of boxing as a whole, that you have personalities, internet personalities providing a larger microphone for boxing as a whole? Then I have a particular question for you.
It’s called the ‘Mayweather Question.’ From what I saw on the internet on the Mayweather-Paul fight contract, it turns out Mayweather got $10 million to show up just to put on his trunks and show up. For you as a professional boxer, who’s in the very early stages of your career versus him who’s past the twilight of his career, he made more money just putting on his trunks before fighting than he did, in 30 to 35 fights in terms of purses. How do you position yourself in both your social media and boxing career to where someone who’s going to pay you $10 million just to put on your trucks regardless of the fight outcome?
Riley: I think it’s all about how many people care that you put on your trunks. That’s the way it boils down to because people do that every day when everyone cares. Floyd has built a brand around money means built a brand around being the highest-grossing boxer forever. Another thing is consistency, which a lot of people seem to fail at noticing. A lot of people seem to fail to realize he’s very consistent. Yes, he’s the spins and the tools, this and that, but he’s never failed in the ring. That doesn’t happen because he buys Bentleys. It happens because of the work he puts into the gym. That’s what everyone has to remember at the bare minimum. You have to be good at your craft. There’s no point marketing yourself if you can’t fight because you will be exposed, and once you’re exposed, if you prove not to be anything, then people will switch off.
I’d say to put yourself in a position where you can make that money without having to guarantee yourself a win is to have enough people interested in watching you fight anyway. That’s the thing where you can make that money. Logan can make that money. All these guys can make that money because we want to see what happens, right regardless of results. That, and because we’re intrigued to see what happens, it equals money equals revenue, the attention equals revenue. We’re always focused on your craft first, but then close second, make sure you’re showcasing your skills and exposing yourself as much as you can to a wider audience. Because once that wider audience takes to you can then begin to dictate terms on how those people see you, who will be on your shorts when you decide to put them on, how much you can charge for people to see you put your shorts. These things are the privilege of those who have enough attention for people to care.
I’d say that the biggest thing is the attention: the traction and the reach. If you can reach millions, you can make millions. That’s the way that you got to look at it here.
Daso: If you can reach millions, you can make millions. Well said. That quote just segues into another perfect question. Going back to the YouTube versus TikTok match, the event was projected to be 500,000 pay-per-view (PPV) buys from what I saw online. It was revealed that there was only over a quarter of that 136,000. Here we are, they, these guys had a cumulative falling of over two hundred million, if you want to crunch the numbers. They failed to get even a tenth of that. What do you think that means for the viability of future influencer boxing?
Riley: Well, I don’t know how solid those numbers are. I don’t believe it was 136,000 buys total. I believe the total was more than that. But if it was that anyway, then many factors take place, such as illegal streaming. The platform is not being established as well as others is another factor. People don’t know really how or why, like where to find this show. We’re not going to search for some new platform to watch some fights that we can get on a stream link. Just on Twitter, it comes down to stuff like that will affect the pay-per-view, but it’s. I think it won’t be because their followers don’t want to see them fight because once you get followers and that community, they follow you regardless of what you do—also being part of a community based on the internet.
People are also smart enough to work their way around, getting what they want without being charged. That always has to be taken into consideration. I feel like many people try to dismiss the fact that streaming illegally on the side is a big thing. The person who normally watches boxing on TV isn’t thinking about a stream in the forefront of their mind. Right. However, the person who’s always on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram. Yeah. They’re going to see that link and go, well, here it is. So that’s treating them legit. That’s a big factor. I think a lot of people dismiss that.
Daso: I’m inclined to agree with you here. I think that’s a really good point you make about the platform through which the event occurs. If I had to sum up what you’re saying, the platform wasn’t established enough. It wasn’t secure enough to prevent those things. Now, I have a bonus question for you.
JJ just launched his promotion company. This is just speculation on my end, but could the next YouTube event be held under that and plot with a more mature and official platform such as DAZN?
Riley: KSI’s promotional deal is with people who work on Sky Sports. And that is a secure network. As you said, I was commentating on the Mayweather-Paul fight in the UK on Sky Sports. What you just said is valid because he’s signed with a promotional company, which has rights to Sky Sports for showing his events.
Daso: I couldn’t even watch the repeat because it’s blocked in America. That’s how secure it is.
Riley: Right. See, so in the UK, anyway, he will be secure since that’s already a country locked down to say, if you guys want to watch more shows, we’re going to, it’s going to be on sky school. It doesn’t mean it won’t be; people still won’t find that makes it a lot harder with a big network and a big company. I feel like these are the steps people are taking to avoid piracy.
Daso: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, if you get in the ring, you want to secure that bag.
Riley: Course it’s important. You must have given us a service and for a fee. You want people to pay the fee, and it will contribute to your pockets, as we know, but it’s only right. It’s only right. You’re going through pain. You’re going through war. You’re getting attacked for people’s entertainment. If you don’t feel like you don’t feel that guy is deserving of being paid right, then that’s a whole new discussion, but I think that can be out of order. That’s out of order because this person’s putting themselves through hell for your entertainment to argue for some. If the fight is worth it, that is fair.
Daso: Absolutely. I mean, hearing the fighters from that event not getting paid as far as we know up to this point, it’s very disappointing. Right. I think that might have negative consequences for future fights because I am so amazed to think I’m not going to get paid; my management will make sure that my payment is secure at the end of the day.
Riley: Yes. That’s what your team is for. No one can do anything alone, and you need people in your team that can make sure those risks and those possibilities are kept to a minimum. It won’t fully extinguish them because the internet is a place that is undefeated, but it will help. It will help.
Daso: Getting back to the social media side of things, right. You know, you’re a full-time boxer. I mean, you haven’t found the ring for over a year at this point due to injuries and also COVID. But you know, let’s say that before then, you were fighting, and you’re working on social media as well. How did you balance the two? How can you leverage your reach so that you command more eyes, more attention and therefore translate into more money when you keep on fighting?
Riley: Maybe I don’t give myself enough credit to bring in still the numbers that I do. And, like my last video was number two, trending in the world on YouTube. That’s crazy even to think, very creative in the world. There are some amazing creators that my video can be ranked second, only second to the European football or soccer as you guys call it is a big deal worldwide, soccer slash football, as I call it, is the biggest sport in the world. It’s a full second to the Euros when Spain and England and at least half of the teams are playing. I can’t complain about that. I’m not bigger than the euros. I’m the second. I was the second biggest thing for a while. I think I work within my means. I don’t do anything that I can’t keep up.
I think that’s my number one thing. There’s a lot of things I would like to do. I could offer a lot more, but it wouldn’t be consistent at this point. I think I’ve found the lane where I can make content and not fall off because of our content; I can manage this. I thought many people who have this big spike and then the decline are because they’ve chosen an angle that has got them their views, money, and attention, but they cannot keep it and maintain it.
That type of content drastically decreases the quality. That’s when people switch off. I’ve managed to keep a steady mood going. And, I think that’s allowed me to be out of the ring for over a year and still bring in the attention and numbers that I do. And I know what to talk about. I know where my opinion is valued, and I know where it isn’t, and I just don’t choose to create content in areas that I know people will not be interested in. It doesn’t make any sense. I know what people want from me, and I balance what people want from me with what I’m comfortable with doing and what I want them to see I can do. Right. And for that full process, I think it’s working out better than I thought it would.
I’m happy with the position I’m in. I know we’re move rapidly once I start acting in some other things, but for now, I’m content. I’ll keep moving steady until people see that big spike and change. Once that happens, there’s not going to be much room for others, because I know my mind is already ahead of maneuvering in the social world. I know what I’m going to do based on hanging around with the likes of KSI and many others. I know he’s the main one, but I do like to make sure people realize it’s not just him. Right. I’ve had influencers from multiple YouTube is with over a million subscribers and then watching how they move and take their advice. That allows me to know how to move forward with my own channel and with my own content.
Daso: You also create music videos and have a growing podcast series. How do you combine all of these endeavors into a coherent, unique narrative about your ultimate vision for you boxing and social media career?
Riley: I feel like with everything I do, I try my best to keep the branding as close to my true self as possible. These endeavours also would not be successful if I didn’t work within my means. I feel some of my ventures could be bigger than they are but for how long? Consistency is key and prioritising boxing is always No.1.That holds the key to everything.
Daso: Absolutely. What are those things that are going to be activated, then?
Riley: Listen, listen, right now, the way I feel is that I’ve been placed in this position to allow others to have more time. I think I’ve been placed in this position to allow others to have more time, allow me to learn more, and not just be content as a man, as a human being, to learn myself, and two, to be more knowledgeable, more confident. And, once those things are being checked off in the doc, you things have been checked off in the dark, and everyone in the world likes to see people came out. I know it’s like you come out of nowhere, and no one comes out of nowhere. You weren’t paying attention at that time.
Don’t get me wrong. I am getting the attention, but I know it’s going to skyrocket. The same people that say, ‘Oh, you only can make content about this. He hasn’t fought in this long.’ Once I’m back in the ring, there’ll be the same one singing the praises. I can’t worry about them too much. I just know what I want to do, if you care. If you don’t, whatever. I don’t live and die by public opinion. And I don’t care that much. I only care about the people that care about me genuinely care about me.
Daso: You’re playing the long game. It’s a long game. You might not be in the center of the spotlight right now, but you’re saying you understand that your season is coming.
Riley: I believe because I know I’m making moves. I’m putting things in place for that season to come. I’m not only waiting. It will come. Maybe one video is going to bang one day. If that video bangs, great. I’ll take it from there. But first, you got to put things in place. You have to plan for your explosion. You have to plan for that. Come up. That’s what I’m doing right now, wherever it’s harnessing my books and skills, wherever I’ve competed or not, whether it’s thinking of video ideas across more. I know that I have to be significantly smaller than my main. Still, I know with those channels as well, it will grow over time. You see who’s quality is everywhere. Anyone can have a hot moment when I was training JJ/KSI.
Those are hot moments because he was in the hot moment. Yeah. So, of course, I’m living off it. Of course, I’m getting some of the benefits of being hot, but being hot is only temporary. You come, you won’t be hot all the time. It’s just, it’s impossible. You’re not going to be hot all the time. If you play the long game, you continuously train and perfect your craft. No matter what you do, you will be appreciated, and you will also get rewards. And, I, being 23, as we mentioned at the beginning of the interview, where am I rushing to? I’m not rushing. I mean, I lived steady within my means across everything. When it’s time for things to propel, they will propel, but I’ll be ready for it because I’m not phased but prepared for things like that.
It’s a blessing to have been exposed to so much so early because most boxers don’t know what it feels like even to be famous or have any money or anything like that before reaching the highest level. I learned on the job and managed to watch someone I trained, see the press conferences, and see the big arenas travel the world. So when I’m doing it, I’m there. It will be the second time around for me in some sense. It’s not going to be anything new. There’s always something to learn. Based on it’s not going to be anything I haven’t seen before. That’s why I know it’s going to be amazing when this is me who’s in that position, because not only have I seen it, I can learn from those situations and then make sure it lands even better once I reach it.
This article was originally published by Pivot, an independent, non-profit francophone news outlet based in Québec — PressProgress and Pivot are working together to translate and republish each other’s stories.
Québec Nouvelles, the online media outlet, has links to individuals close to the Conservative Party of Québec (CPQ) and to Alberta’s pro-oil lobby groups.
Mysteriously, after Pivot asked a few questions, evidence of these links began to disappear on the Internet. Well, almost.
Québec Nouvelles, the news and opinion website, was launched in the fall of 2019.
Québec Nouvelles (Facebook)
Québec Nouvelles claims to be different from other media outlets. Unlike those that “demand taxpayers’ money in the form of subsidies, taxes, and other imposed measures,” this “alternative independent media outlet” survives solely thanks to donations made by its readers, according to its website.
It claims the media outlet owes its survival to the fact that it “speaks to the people and defends the people against political corruption and the dishonesty of certain elites.”
But the articles that have disappeared suggest a slightly different story.
In spring 2020, a similar news site, but published in English, The Westphalian Times, came into being. At first glance, aside from the editorial position, the connection between the two publications is not obvious.
However, the page devoted to donations on the respective websites makes it clear that the two entities are, in fact, linked to a single company, named Dominion Media, which has links to the CPQ and pro-oil lobby groups.
Very close ties with the Quebec Conservative Party
Headlines such as “I support Éric Duhaime, the only politician who can save Quebec,” leave little doubt as to Québec Nouvelles’s editorial position.
In fact, the website’s content shows that the media outlet maintains particularly close ties with Duhaime and his party.
Québec Nouvelles (Facebook)
For example, on November 22, 2020, the media outlet acquired exclusive access to the logo the former radio host was about to unveil during the launch of his Conservative Party leadership campaign.
More recently, Québec Nouvelles published an article announcing, in advance, the results of a poll on voting intentions in Quebec, even before they were released by Utica Resources, the oil and gas company that had commissioned the poll.
The results had also been given to the CPQ ahead of time, which raised questions about the possibility of a breach of the rules governing donations to political parties.
We asked Québec Nouvelles who — from Utica Resources or from the CPQ — gave the survey to the media outlet, but we did not get an answer.
Furthermore, the business registry indicates that Samuel Racine sits on the board of Dominion Media, which owns both Québec Nouvelles and The Westphalian Times.
He publishes under the pseudonym Samuel Rz in both media outlets. From his LinkedIn profile, we learn that at the Université de Montréal he was president of the Conservative Party of Canada’s campus association.
Samuel Racine, under the pseudonym “Sam Rz,” is also the moderator of a Facebook group in support of Éric Duhaime: “Appuyons Éric Duhaime, chef du PCQ.”
This group appears to have the party’s backing, since its administrators and moderators include such CPQ figures as Fred Têtu (Éric Duhaime’s friend and biographer), Donald Gagnon (national vice-president of the CPQ), André Valiquette (chair of the CPQ’s political commission) and Raffael Cavaliere (executive director of the CPQ).
Ties with the Québec Fier pressure group
Another administrator of the “Appuyons Éric Duhaime” Facebook group is Nicolas Gagnon. He’s also an active contributor to the Québec Nouvelles website in addition to being one of the people in charge of the Québec Fier pressure group.
Québec Fier is a pressure group that is part of an ecosystem of similar groups that belong to the Canada Strong and Proud network.
Nicolas Gagnon is also an administrator with the Proudly New Brunswick, West Coast Proud, NS Proud, and Québec Fier organizations. This network fights mainly for the development of the fossil fuel industry in Canada.
Québec Fier was co-founded by Maxime Hupé, the former director of communications for Maxime Bernier. According to a report in the Huffington Post, Éric Duhaime offered advice to Jean Philippe Fournier, one of the former hosts of Québec Fier’s Facebook page. Fournier was himself a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada and the CPQ. He no longer has ties with Québec Fier.
During the 2019 federal election, Québec Fier received $45,000 from the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, a conservative advocacy group that was recently renamed Canada Strong and Free Network. This organization has also contributed $240,500 to the Canada Strong and Proud network.
During the 2021 federal election, Québec Fier received close to $93,000 from Canada Strong and Proud and nearly $2,500 from the Modern Miracle Network, a fossil fuel advocacy group.
We asked Québec Nouvelles if the media outlet received any money from the Modern Miracle Network, from the Canada Strong and Free Network, or from the oil industry. All responses, which were written by a certain Michael Binnion, have also disappeared, without explanation, from the Québec Nouvelles website. Fortunately, a number of archived versions are still available.
Michael Binnion and the influence of Alberta oil
On April 1 of this year, an open letter published in The Westphalian Times defended “the moral imperative” of exploiting Canadian hydrocarbons within the context of the war in Ukraine. The author of this letter is Michael Binnion, an Alberta businessman.
On April 4, Québec Nouvelles published this letter in translation, but without naming its author.
Westphalian Times, Québec Nouvelles
Michael Binnion is the CEO of Questerre, an Alberta oil and gas producing company that has interests in the Saint Lawrence Valley.
This little detail is not mentioned by either The Westphalian Times or by Québec Nouvelles. Binnion is also the chairman of the Québec Oil and Gas Association.
Binnion also chairs the board of directors for the Canada Strong and Free Network (formerly the Manning Centre) and is the founder of the Modern Miracle Network.
In 2019, the Globe and Mail revealed that some conservative politicians and heads of oil companies held a meeting at the invitation of the Modern Miracle Network. The goal of the meeting: Come up with strategies for overturning Justin Trudeau’s government.
Québec Nouvelles claims, in all seriousness, that while several Québec media outlets have forsaken impartiality for ideology, it provides “quality information.”
This statement would be much easier to take seriously if Québec Nouvelles owned up to its political and financial ties and if articles didn’t disappear each time a reporter asked a question.
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The Justice Department subpoenas follow an ongoing probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether Digital World broke rules by having substantial talks about buying Trump’s company starting early last year before Digital World sold stock to the public for the first time in September, just weeks before its announcement that it would be buying Trump’s company.
Trump’s social media venture launched in February as he seeks a new digital stage to rally his supporters and fight Big Tech limits on speech, a year after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The Trump Media & Technology Group – which operates the Truth Social app and was in the process of being acquired by Digital World – said in a statement that it will cooperate with “oversight that supports the SEC’s important mission of protecting retail investors.”
The new probe could make it more difficult for Trump to finance his social media company. The company last year got promises from dozens of investors to pump $1 billion into the company, but it can’t get the cash until the Digital World acquisition is completed.
Stock in Digital World rocketed to more than $100 in October after its deal to buy Trump’s company was announced. The stock traded at just around $25 in morning trading Monday.
Digital World is a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, part of an investing phenomenon that exploded in popularity over the past two years.
2:24 U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election
U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election
Such “blank-check” companies are empty corporate entities with no operations, only offering investors the promise they will buy a business in the future. As such they are allowed to sell stock to the public quickly without the usual regulatory disclosures and delays, but only if they haven’t already lined up possible acquisition targets.
Digital World said in a regulatory filing Monday that each member of its board of directors has been subpoenaed by the grand jury in the Southern District of New York. Both the grand jury and the SEC are also seeking a number of documents tied to the company and others including a sponsor, ARC Global Investments, and Miami-based venture capital firm Rocket One Capital.
Some of the sought documents involve “due diligence” regarding Trump Media and other potential acquisition targets, as well as communications with Digital World’s underwriter and financial adviser in its initial public offering, according to the SEC disclosure.
Digital World also Monday announced the resignation of one of its board members, Bruce Garelick, a chief strategy officer at Rocket One.
Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.
It should be obvious I’m not a big fan of Michael “Mosquito Mike” Janz, the city councillor most responsible for ending the city’s mosquito-spraying program. The flying pests are noticeably worse this summer; I’ve got the bites to prove it.
Thanks, Mosquito Mike.
In general, I don’t care for Janz’s politics and especially his anti-police harangues. Check out his Twitter feed. He complains about police about once a month, sometimes even more often.
He accuses them of race and class double standards. He thinks they slough off investigations of alleged crimes against lower-income Edmontonians and routinely mislead the public to cover their own misdeeds.
I find it particularly detestable that he is alleged recently to have retweeted a post from a Calgary account referring to police as “pigs.”
(Calling the police “pigs” is not only detestable, but laughably archaic, too. Hey, Councillor, the late ’60s called. They want their tie-dyed shirt and peace medallion back. Groovy, man.)
Yet, so long as Janz must account to his voters, he should be free to tweet and retweet as he sees fit. The relationship is between the electors and their elected representative. If they disapprove of his online behaviour, they can vote him out of office.
Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.
It should be up to the voters who elected Janz to punish him, if they so desire, not some appointed adjudicator who doesn’t answer to voters directly.
A complaint has been filed with the integrity commissioner, Jamie Pytel, by sometimes local Liberal candidate, Thomas Deak. In the complaint, Deak says Janz retweeted the following post, “So this week a co-worker got a $409 ticket for failing to stop his bike at a stop sign. It was 7 a.m. in a residential area, the roads were empty, except for the pig hiding in the bushes.”
Get outraged. Compose an email to the Sun. Post your own tweet condemning Mosquito Mike for his retweeting of juvenile, anti-police name-calling.
But don’t go running to the censor asking her to clap Janz in irons just because you find his opinion (in this case his second-hand opinion) infuriating. Grow up. This is a democracy. We get to have opinions, even unpleasant ones, so long as we respect the right of others to opinions we vehemently disagree with.
Remember, that any government tool that can be used to hush-up your opponents will almost most certainly be turned on you one day, too.
I find it hilarious that Janz, in his own defence, insists there is a plot to “erroneously paint me as some sort of anti-police radical.” Nothing “could be further from the truth.”
Apparently, in his own mind, Janz is a big fan of police.
But remember, Janz was recently also hauled before the integrity commish for tweeting, liking or retweeting nearly two dozen anti-police posts near the end of last year.
Hmm, he certainly has an odd way of showing his love and respect for the Edmonton Police Service.
Own it, councillor. You don’t like the cops much.
But that is his right. He gets to have a seat on council and hold juvenile, archaic, anti-police opinions until the voters in his ward tire of his schtick and punt him from office.
Even after that, he still gets to hold his objectionable views, he just can’t do it as a councillor anymore.
In his run-in with Pytel earlier this year, Janz was not sanctioned by Edmonton’s in-house play-nice-children scold.
And he shouldn’t have been, just as he shouldn’t be reprimanded now.
The whole integrity commissioner ideal just gets in the way of democracy.
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