Be­ware politi­cians who try to muz­zle the me­dia

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Ed Healy Marys­town

How sim­ple it seems to be, to spread the anti-demo­cratic, or Trumpian, phi­los­o­phy! On­tario is wit­ness­ing a home­grown at­tempt to di­vert the demo­cratic process by turn­ing against the Fourth Es­tate. The press in Canada has a long and proud his­tory of hold­ing govern­ments to ac­count, but Premier Doug Ford is try­ing to limit their ac­cess, and their free­dom.

We tend to take as a given that the press is free to ex­am­ine and com­ment on the gov­ern­ment, and it is even en­shrined in our Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms. Our repa­tri­ated Con­sti­tu­tion is quite clear on Free­dom of the Press.

Con­trol­ling the nar­ra­tive has been found use­ful in pro­tect­ing lead­ers like Don­ald Trump, and now Ford, from the truth. They don’t like be­ing watched as they go about their busi­ness of dis­man­tling of demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, and they cer­tainly don’t like be­ing crit­i­cized. Ford’s On­tario News Now chan­nel is set up to tai­lor the news to suit his own self-im­age, rather than to dis­sem­i­nate a true pic­ture of On­tario’s po­lit­i­cal and so­cial sit­u­a­tion. To em­pha­size his fear of the press, Ford is re­fus­ing to talk di­rectly with re­porters, un­less it’s to con­demn them.

Any at­tempt to come be­tween the press and the gen­eral pub­lic is es­sen­tially a fas­cist ini­tia­tive, and must be re­sisted at all cost. There are doubtlessly many On­tar­i­ans who are de­lighted to see the press side­tracked like this, but they should bear in mind that dic­ta­tor­ships be­gin by muz­zling the free press and con­vinc­ing cit­i­zens that it’s for their own ben­e­fit, rather than for the pur­pose of cir­cum­vent­ing the demo­cratic process. The U.S., and now On­tario, are be­ing taken over by right-wing ex­trem­ists, and who will be next? Ev­ery prov­ince’s demo­cratic gov­ern­ment is vul­ner­a­ble to the same sort of sub­ver­sive ac­tion. We should all be pre­pared to re­sist any fas­cists tyle at­tack on our rights and free­doms, and one good way to do that is to sup­port the free press.

It’s a sad com­men­tary on our so­ci­ety, that we have so quickly for­got­ten the lessons of the 1930s. Fas­cism can ap­pear to a politi­cian as a way to get his plat­form into law, to “cut the Gor­dian knot” of op­po­si­tion, or clar­ity, or the truth. Our fathers and grand­fa­thers fought and many died to com­bat the rise of Fas­cism, and we re­ally should try to hon­our their mem­ory by re­sist­ing the same fas­cist con­trol in our own coun­try. “An­tifa” doesn’t have to be vi­o­lent, but it does have to be strong.

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