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Paul Godfrey (Photo: Samja Frkovic / Flickr – Victoria Rose)

Paul Godfrey (Photo: Samja Frkovic / Flickr – Victoria Rose)

In the news recently was an item about Paul V. Godfrey, C.M., the President of Postmedia, the largest newspaper chain in the country, owning some 15 papers in major centres plus a slew of community papers across the land. M. Godfrey has been admitted to the Canadian News Hall of Fame.

I have one or two questions for Mr. Godfrey, arising out of investigations I’ve been doing in recent months.

Mr. Godfrey, can we agree that Postmedia wholly owns the Vancouver Province, the Vancouver Sun, and the National Post, which circulate in Vancouver?

A question has occurred to me, Mr. Godfrey: Does Postmedia have some sort of deal with the Fraser Institute whereby you give that organization a great deal of coverage on almost every issue that deals with fossil fuels and the environment?

Now, a couple of years ago I would have been scared stiff to ask that question for fear of being sued for the inferences likely to be drawn from it. However, after the stranger deals of yours I have uncovered in the last few months, I realize that you are in no position to get too excited about questions along this line.

Nothing to worry about, says Fraser Institute

What piqued my interest recently was an article in the Vancouver Sun by the Fraser Institute assuring us that we had no need to worry about LNG tankers on our coast. The writer advised that the only major oil spill in the last 20 years was from a Ferry, not a Tanker so relax everybody.

I’ll not devote too much time to this absurd declaration but simply ask why the Fraser Institute doesn’t tell the whole truth and, secondly, avoids examining places where there’s a lot of tanker traffic, unlike BC where there is very little?

The fatal flaw in the Fraser Institute’s presentation comes in a few little words in one paragraph which talks about “The oil spills at sea”. This is similar language to what Woodfibre LNG uses, as does the self-declared expert – from the industry, I might add – Captain Stephen Brown.

The problem with this and similar pious declarations is obvious: Howe Sound, the Fraser River, Saanich Inlet, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Douglas Channel, Hecate Strait and so on are not at sea, or the high seas, in the words of WLNG’s Byng Giraud, and I would direct the learned gentleman to such places as the Bosphorous and the Dardanelles – to name but two places which more replicate what tanker traffic will face on the BC coast. Indeed, if the Fraser Institute would just subscribe to gCaptain (free) and read of regular tanker mishaps all over the world they might not spout such tendentious shit.

The question I ask Mr. Godfrey is:

Does Postmedia or any of its papers have a deal with the Fraser Institute similar to its one with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers? Or the formal partnership with Resource Works, the less than truthful advocate for Woodfibre LNG?

Postmedia partnered with LNG lobby

My interest in this matter arose out of the partnership deal between the Vancouver Province and Resource Works. I admit my involvement – I, along with most citizens of the area, am vigorously opposed to WLNG.

When I read Resource Works’ mission statement and saw that the Province was a partner in their nefarious venture, I was horrified. This was so unethical and so contrary to the formal and informal principles that have always guided the newspaper industry that I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I must tell you, Mr. Godfrey, that when my findings were I printed here, the publisher Damien Gillis and I were concerned that it was some sort of strange mistake, even a hoax, and that we’d be sued. We took the chance – nobody else in the media was prepared to – and when no denial came from Postmedia or the Province, we had to assume we had struck paydirt.

 Composite of Resource Works “Partnerships” page

Composite of Resource Works “Partnerships” page

In following through on this revelation, I discovered that the National Post, through its publisher, Douglas Kelly, had pledged its troth, in truly loving terms, to the fossil fuel industry!

Being a curious sort of bugger, I followed through and, lo and behold, came across the two agreements between Postmedia and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), certified by documents. The first came by way of a Powerpoint-style presentation pitching Postmedia’s offer to CAPP for a nationwide editorial and ad campaign.  The presentation was leaked online, picked up by Greenpeace, then published by The Vancouver Observer last year. The other is a deal between the Financial Post and CAPP – freely available on parent Postmedia’s website.

I have repeatedly made these findings public – or as public as one can when no newspaper will print them – and in the absence of a denial from Postmedia concluded, hard as it was to believe, that these agreements were for real even though they demonstrate that Postmedia are little more than humble shills for the fossil fuel industry.

Bearing in mind that the Sun, Province and National Post, and a dozen other daily papers in Canada, belong to Postmedia and take their marching orders from you, Mr. Godfrey, it must surely be fair to ask: How can you defend managing your papers so as to burnish the image of the fossil fuel industry, of all groups?

This obviously includes avoiding stories which would be harmful to your partners in that filthy industry. When the fix is in, what the media does not report is even more important than what it does.

Special treatment for Fraser Institute

Perhaps there is no deal or nudge, nudge, wink, wink, understanding with the Fraser Institute. If that’s so, the question is obvious: Why do they get so much coverage in your newspapers and why don’t less right-wing think tanks get any, or at best very little? I guess you’d be pretty hypocritical to agree to brown-nose industry no matter how destructive they are and at the same time give equal time to those who care about sentimental things like the environment, the atmosphere and global warming.

Forgive a final question, Mr. Godfrey:

Considering your lovey dovey relationship with Resource Works and, even worse, with CAPP, and the journalist’s duty to report to the public free of any interest in conflict with that duty, aren’t you just a tad embarrassed at entering The Canadian News Hall of Fame?

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