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CJFE condemns MP's denouncement of media as 'fake news'

Image: Flickr/The Public Domain Review

CJFE condemns Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Member of Parliament (MP) Cheryl Gallant's use of the terms 'fake news,' 'elite-stream media' and ‘media-splaining’ to denounce Canadian media in a July 10 video posted on Facebook. In the video, she hosts a "news" broadcast for a fictional network Gallant Night News (GNN), claiming the broadcast is "live from Parliament." The graphics and screen text are obviously intended as a parody of the U.S.-based CNN.

Much of Gallant's on-screen commentary is hinged on an unfounded theory about a fictitious relationship between Canadian media and the Liberal Party, largely in reference to the court-mandated settlement with Canadian citizen, former child soldier and Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr. The settlement awarded Mr. Khadr $10 million dollars for abuses he suffered at the hands of his American captors and violations of his civil liberties.

Irrespective of the legal merits or political discourse around this settlement, Gallant's comments give grave cause for concern. Such comments by an elected official amount to an assault on the trusted institutions of Canadian media and displays an effort to undermine one of the pillars of a functioning and healthy democracy. Concerningly, her video mirrors a rising anti-democratic trend we have seen in politics and politicial discourse over recent months.

In the video, Gallant endorses the work of unnamed "rebel" outlets in the Canadian media whose narratives diverge from the "elite-stream media." Promoting propaganda, slandering politicians, denouncing media institutions and encouraging public mistrust for rigorous and ethical reporting are recognizable hallmarks of totalitarianism. There are disturbing precedents for this behavior in 1930s GermanyEgypt's military dictatorship and the contemporary United States.

CJFE calls on Ms. Gallant to acknowledge the pressing risk her statements make to Canadian democracy and to apologize to Canadians for her unabashed attack on democratic foundations. We further call on the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Geoff Regan, to review Ms. Gallant's purported use of her parliamentary office to produce this independent media endeavor as well as to work with the relevant bodies to determine whether funding for the production was procured in accordance with parliamentary ethics procedures. Finally, CJFE calls for the term 'fake news' to be added to the officially recognized list of unparliamentary language contained in Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms.

A copy of this protest letter was sent to the office of MP Cheryl Gallant and to Speaker of the House of Commons in Canada, the Honourable Geoff Regan.

Image: Flickr/The Public Domain Review

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