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Police in Quebec Sue CBC Radio-Canada for Defamation After Sexual Abuse Report

A year after CBC Radio-Canada reported allegations of police sexually and physically abusing Aboriginal women in Val-d’Or, Quebec, the broadcaster is getting sued for $2.3 million. As first reported by La Presse, forty police officers have filed the defamation lawsuit claiming their reputations have been tainted by the reporting.
According to the La Presse article, the police are arguing the CBC Radio-Canada reporting upset their relationship with the community and tainted the reputation of the officers who do not have sexual abuse allegations against them. They also call Radio-Canada’s reporting biased, inaccurate, and incomplete. The Provincial Police Association of Quebec, who’s funding the lawsuit, did not have an English-speaking spokesperson immediately available for comment. If they become available, this story will be updated.
For its part, Radio-Canada stands by the reporting. In a statement, the broadcaster says they reject the claims made by Val-d’Or police and intend to fight them in court.
“Winner of the Michener Award, the most prestigious award in Canadian journalism, and produced in accordance with CBC/Radio-Canada’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, the report Abus de la SQ: les femmes brisent le silence was of undeniable public interest and Radio-Canada committed no fault in airing it on its investigative news program Enquête. It therefore rejects all claims made by police at the Sûreté du Québec’s Val-d’Or detachment in the civil suit filed against the Corporation.” says the Radio-Canada statement.
The report uncovered two decades of alleged sexual abuse against Aboriginal women in the Quebec community. The women said police officers would trade drugs or alcohol for sex and paid the women to keep quiet. Other women said they were beaten and raped by the officers. After the revelations, the Montreal Police opened an investigation the allegations.
“The Sûreté du Québec has never officially denied the allegations made in the report,” says the Radio-Canada statement. 
Correction: A previous version of this story said Val-d’Or is a small community outside Montreal. It’s not. It’s a six-hour drive away from Montreal. We regret the error.  

Vancouver Talk Radio Host Fired After Trainwreck Interview On Race

After a disastrous interview with the Globe and Mail’s Denise Balkissoon on race in Canada, Vancouver radio station CKNW host Ian Power has been fired, according to Balkissoon herself.

Hi everyone. Ian Power has been let go from CKNW. We’ll be doing an episode of #ColourCode about this incident in a few weeks.
— Denise Balkissoon (@balkissoon) October 13, 2016

It was last week that Power hosted Balkissoon on his show. The conversation quickly devolved into an argument, for which CKNW has apologized.
The interview in full:

I was on @CKNW Vancouver last night, discussing the CBC-Angus Reid survey on assimilation. Things got…intense
— Denise Balkissoon (@balkissoon) October 4, 2016

Thank you. Program director Larry Gifford called me as well and he was very sincere. He said that Ian Power plans to call me too.
— Denise Balkissoon (@balkissoon) October 5, 2016

Now, it looks like Power was taken off the air. CANADALAND reached out to CKNW program director Larry Gifford and Ian Power, but has not immediately heard back. We will update the story if they get back to us.
Balkissoon said her information came from both the station and Power himself. Pudget Sound Radio also reported that Ian Power is gone, and his contact page on the CKNW website was shut down.

Balkissoon told CANADALAND she will save her thoughts on the ordeal for the next episode of the Globe and Mail podcast Colour Code, which she co-hosts with Hannah Sung. But she has also written a column after the interview, in which she examined the idea of “white fragility.”

Email Challenges Narrative of Raveena Aulakh’s Death

An email sent by Toronto Star reporter Raveena Aulakh to her estranged romantic partner Jon Filson, then a senior Star editor, suggests that workplace issues were a major concern for her in the weeks leading up to her suicide.
On May 2, Aulakh sent senior editor Jon Filson an email in which she suggested that, years prior, he sabotaged the hiring of an intern he had a sexual relationship with. In 2007, the young woman was interviewed for a permanent position at the paper.
This is what Raveena Aulakh wrote to Filson about her:
“For all this time, I protected you. I never told anyone about us. I never told anyone that you had also been sleeping with [REDACTED] when she was an intern and she told people about it. You then nudged Lynn McAuley into not hiring [REDACTED]. Remember how you freaked out when you found last fall that Michael Cooke wanted to hire her?”
The email also mentions that Aulakh was willing to take her claims to Paul Woods, a senior editor at the Star. Aulakh wrote that because Filson has allegedly sabotaged another woman, she had a reason to be afraid: “Yes, I don’t feel safe at work. Especially knowing how you treated [the former intern].”
Speaking with the Financial Post, the former intern said she didn’t tell management about the affair, but she felt “bullied and trapped” by Filson. Here’s what the Post reported:
“I was a 22-year-old employed through the Star’s internship program, and (Filson) had direct oversight over me and my work. I broke off the relationship while I was still an intern,” she said in an emailed statement.
The woman left the Star when her contract expired in 2007. She never informed management of the alleged affair.
“I felt bullied and trapped in a bad situation and, looking back, lacked the personal experience and professional resources to know how to handle it at the time,” she said.
CANADALAND has reached out to Jon Filson as well as his lawyer and brother Ryan Filson in an attempt to get comment. We have not heard back. Michael Cooke and Lynn McAuley did not respond to detailed requests for comment. Should we hear back from anyone, this story will be updated.

Here’s the Anti-BDS Editorial the Vancouver Sun Published and Then Removed

Last week, Postmedia’s Vancouver Sun published an editorial called, “May must renounce anti-Israel resolutions.” It was then promptly removed, after a group called Independent Jewish Voices Canada sent Postmedia a legal letter claiming the editorial defamed IJV, according to their blog post.
UPDATE: Postmedia posted an apology and retraction to Sun website for running the editorial last week. The apology also appears in the Ottawa Citizen, and the Calgary Herald, where it ran online. The full text of the apology can be found below.
Here is the removed editorial, in full:
Canada’s Green Party can thank Elizabeth May for slowing its descent into a sinkhole of irrelevance and disrepute. By choosing to remain as leader, May, who represents the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands and is the party’s only elected member of Parliament, provides a patina of purpose over a caucus that has lost its way.
Two resolutions supported by a majority of Green delegates at the party’s biennial convention this month singled out the only liberal democracy in the Middle East — and a century-old Jewish organization — for abuse and opprobrium. Members passed a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that seeks to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel in the hope that its activities will bring about, not peace, but the country’s demise.
Another resolution calls on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund, an organization founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Palestine, which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire from 1517 to 1917 and under the British Mandate from 1918 to 1948. The JNF invests in research in forestry, watershed management, carbon sequestration, alternative energy sources, animal and plant reintroduction and arid land management problems. Of all organizations for the Green Party to attack, this seems an odd choice.
Although May says she opposed the BDS resolution, she is listed as one of 29 co-sponsors of the JNF resolution.  She said the resolution was brought forward by Corey Levine, a member of Independent Jewish Voices, an anti-Israel group that uses the fig leaf of Jewishness to lend support to Iran, deny the Holocaust, participate in anti-Semitic Al-Quds protests, encourage terrorism against Israelis and promulgate lies about Israel’s history, society and policies.
That a majority of Greens have bought into IJV’s false narrative is disturbing but perhaps not surprising. May welcomed anti-Israel activists Paul Manly and Dimitri Lascaris into her shadow cabinet knowing both support the BDS movement.
And May herself voted against a parliamentary motion in February that condemned the BDS movement, citing free speech concerns. It passed with a 229 to 51 vote.
It seems clear that the Green Party has drawn marginalized groups expounding extreme anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views. Notwithstanding her own ambiguous position, May must insist that such views have no place in Green Party policy. Otherwise, she risks leading a fringe party into oblivion.
The apology:
A Vancouver Sun editorial published on Aug. 25 titled “Green Party Lost Its Way” made certain statements about Independent Jewish Voices and, by association, Corey Levine, based on reports from other media and advocacy groups. In particular, based on new information provided by IJV, the Vancouver Sun retracts its statements that IJV denies the Holocaust, supports Iran or encourages terrorism against Israelis. The Vancouver Sun apologizes for not providing proper attribution and to IJV and Corey Levine for the unsubstantiated statements.

CBC’s Adrian Harewood on Why He Talked to CANADALAND About Diversity

This week, CANADALAND published an article by Farnia Fekri outlining how diverse the CBC is compared to the Canadian population. One of Fekri’s sources was Adrian Harewood, a long-time anchor at CBC Ottawa. Fekri contacted many CBC employees, but Harewood was the only one who agreed to speak on the record.

Absolutely awed by the brilliance and bravery of @AdrianHarewood , who’s quoted in the piece. (2/7)
— Farnia Fekri (@f_fekri) August 17, 2016

I contacted dozens of PoC at the CBC, and while many were nice, it shocked me how many didn’t want to talk (anonymously). (3/7)
— Farnia Fekri (@f_fekri) August 17, 201

Today, Harewood explained on Twitter why he decided to speak out and why many others can’t. This is his Twitter essay.

1. I get why many of my friends & colleagues at CBC were reluctant to speak to @Canadaland about race & diversity issues at the corporation.
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

2. I think there are questions,whether justified or not, as to whether @Canadaland has a particular animus towards the CBC -an axe to grind.
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

3. But I think what is more troubling is that some folks at CBC are reluctant to talk about “race matters” at the corp. out of fear.
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

4. That fear is real. Whenever one talks about race in a professional context in Canada there is always concern about the repercussions.
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

5. The fear is that one will be labeled or pigeonholed as a whiner;a troublemaker; as an amateur or incompetent who “uses the race card.”
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

6. Whoever you are regardless of the environment in which you work no one wants to be labeled or deemed “unprofessional.”
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

7. The fear then is that to discuss race matters which may be real to you,is to court career suicide & be regarded as an unfit & unserious
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

8. I realize that as someone who has worked as a host @ CBC for a decade that I occupy a position of relative power & privilege.
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

9. That power & privilege is not unlimited but it is real & it means that I can utter things that others may not feel powerful enough to say
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

10. It doesn’t mean I don’t have fear. I too don’t want to be labeled. I want to be seen as the complex individual that I know myself to be
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

11. Media organizations demand accountability from national institutions, as they should. It’s their job to ask tough probing questions.
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016

12. But media organizations like CBC also need to be scrutinized. They need to be held accountable for their actions & inaction.
— Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH) August 19, 2016


Toronto Star Lays off 52 From Newsroom and IT, “Invests” in “Digital Focus”

UPDATE: Michael Cooke, the Toronto Star editor-in-chief, issues a memo to staff saying the newsroom will be reorganized and maintains the tablet edition “succeeded” in its goal of increasing reader engagement. He also said the company’s digital revenues are growing. 
Here’s how the newsroom with change. (Full memo below)
The old city and national departments have already morphed into what they are today led by Wendy Metcalfe (Beats/Bureaus/Columns). We will move shortly to separate areas for Breaking News/Digital and for Projects/Features, and, after discussions, redeploy staff. As our numbers are reduced, we will focus even more on our key content areas: Toronto news, breaking news, investigations, co-pro projects, and accountability journalism.  
For now, departments such as Business, Sports, Photo, Entertainment, Life, Special Sections will remain outside these three groups.
Torstar, the parent company of the Toronto Star, laid off 52 people from their newsroom and IT departments today. According to a memo sent by current publisher David Holland, the layoffs include newsroom reporters and “temporary staff.” This comes after the Star already laid off 15 staff in January and shut down its printing plant.

The Toronto Star laid off 60 people today & I’m one of them. (:tada: journalism :tada:) Any tips on places hiring front-end/UX appreciated!
— Lee Richardson (@leerichardson) August 9, 2016

As far as I know re: Toronto Star layoffs: 60 people from Torstar, including Metro. I’m guessing a lot from the Startouch team. #cdnmedia
— Lee Richardson (@leerichardson) August 9, 2016

The memo says, “These changes are another important step in the Star’s strategic evolution along a path towards the multi-platform news media organization of the future,” and takes an optimistic tone about the Star’s “digital focus.”
An employee at the Toronto Star, who doesn’t know whether he has been laid off or not, says there’s a quiet atmosphere in the newsroom right now. “I am—I don’t think anybody is really sure who is and isn’t gone. There was a lot of red faces and handshaking.”
“The memo says that they are still going forward with Star Touch and that’s bullshit,” he said. “Everyone knows they aren’t making a profit off it. This is openly discussed. It feels like a slap in the face that they would sell this as something necessary rather than stubborn. The company does not want to find a way to monetize itself because it’s too rooted in the idea of doing God’s work constantly.”

Memo just sent to staff. 22 employees (19 editorial), 26 temp, mostly in tablet. Not sure about rest of the reported 60. Terrible news.
— Rosemary Westwood (@rosiewestwood) August 9, 2016

CANADALAND wasn’t able to reach Torstar media relations for comment. We will update the story if we hear back. 
This is the full memo sent to staff announcing the layoffs from publisher David Holland: 

August 9, 2016
To All Star Media Group Staff
Star Media Group is facing an unprecedented pace of change as the news industry evolves and pressures on print advertising revenue continue.   In the face of this change, we are committed to continuing to adapt our operations, while at the same time making the necessary investments to position ourselves as a multi-platform and increasingly digitally-focused organization.
In this context, we have continued to undertake a range of cost-reduction initiatives in 2016, including outsourcing of printing as well as staff reductions in Circulation, IT and other areas.   We are today announcing further staff reductions affecting 22 regular employees, including 19 in the Toronto Star newsroom.  In addition, 26 temporary staff will depart over the next couple of months, mostly in the Star’s tablet operations.
These changes are another important step in the Star’s strategic evolution along a path towards the multi-platform news media organization of the future.   Along with these staff reductions, the Star newsroom is also evolving its structure to place greater emphasis on key content areas such as breaking news, investigations and special projects.
As we move forward with these changes, I want to re-affirm our continued commitment to Star Touch as an integral part of the Star’s multi-platform future.  While our current audience size is not yet what we had initially anticipated, we are pleased that Star Touch has developed a highly engaged and loyal audience of committed readers.  Continuing to grow from this core audience base is a key priority.   As we move past the initial launch year for Star Touch, we are embarking on the next phase of refinements to the offering and the related internal resources that publish Star Touch each day.  These product refinements will further enhance the reading experience and ensure that we continue to build on Star Touch as an innovative and engaging advertising vehicle for our valued clients.
We take this opportunity to thank those affected by these staffing changes for their contributions.  While change is never easy, it is essential that we continue to adapt, including evolving the organization and investing in those areas critical to our future.
David Holland
Acting Publisher, Toronto Star
Acting President, Star Media Group

This is the full memo sent by editor-in-chief Michael Cooke:

By now you will have read David Holland’s email.  
This is a very difficult day for our newsroom.
Star Touch is evolving, based on our experiences and informed by the research in the first year of publication. Sadly, more than 26 of our colleagues hired as temporary employees to launch Touch will see their temporary employment end.
Also, declining print advertising means as many as 19 permanent staff hired in the traditional newsroom are being laid off.  
On every level – professional and human – the loss of these people hurts.  
These are hard decisions. 
Hardest, of course, on those whose jobs are being eliminated, and it is those people who are first in our thoughts.  
They have done great work for Touch and for the Star more broadly, and what is happening today is not their fault. They have done everything we have asked – making Touch in particular a splendid new platform for Star journalism.  
I have today met with as many of these journalists as possible to give them this bad news. And I know you join me in saluting them.  
Consistent with the union collective agreement, staff layoffs are based primarily on seniority. There are basically two groups of people affected. Some employees working on term-limit employment (in tablet, digital and video) will be leaving earlier than planned. Some phasing in of this is required and these individuals will be notified directly about departure dates.  
There is also a group of permanent employees being issued layoff notices. Most of these are Journalists and Team Editors hired over the past 18 months. For this group, a 90-day notice period is required.
A layoff notice triggers a right for others with greater seniority in the same classification to voluntarily resign and receive severance, potentially saving the job of someone named for layoff. This may give longer-term employees the opportunity to consider whether the time is right for them to retire or resign, based on their personal considerations and the direction of the newsroom and the business.
We have contacted union leaders with the intent of starting such discussions quickly, to provide greater certainty to all newsroom staff.  
What do I mean by the direction of the business? You all read the industry news that I read, and just a couple of weeks ago Torstar announced its latest financial results. There is continuing pressure on print advertising revenue … across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Our print audience remains relatively stable and loyal, but advertisers continue to put more and more of their money into digital … mostly Facebook and Google.  
What do I mean by direction of the newsroom? We have to keep rethinking everything we do and how we do it. We have to, and will, keep trying new things. Everyone here agrees with that.  
We launched Touch in September of last year with the aim of building a new digital platform. Following on the success of LaPresse+, from which we borrowed heavily, we sought to offer something that is neither web nor newspaper, rich in interactive content that encourages deep reader engagement.  
We succeeded.  
After a year of running the operation we have a better sense of the resources and revenues required to run Touch and to do so in a financially viable way. Unfortunately, this means we have to reduce the costs. The Star remains committed to Touch.  
Better news:  our digital revenues are growing. Our new mobile site recently doubled its audience, and advertisers are coming to our web, tablet and mobile platforms.  
While the old warhorse of print continues to provide the largest portion of our revenue (this is true of every newspaper I know), digital is clearly our future, and our newsroom will continue to reshape and reorganize around that future.  
The old city and national departments have already morphed into what they are today led by Wendy Metcalfe (Beats/Bureaus/Columns). We will move shortly to separate areas for Breaking News/Digital and for Projects/Features, and, after discussions, redeploy staff. As our numbers are reduced, we will focus even more on our key content areas: Toronto news, breaking news, investigations, co-pro projects, and accountability journalism.  
For now, departments such as Business, Sports, Photo, Entertainment, Life, Special Sections will remain outside these three groups.  
Everyone should understand that most, if not all, core newsroom jobs will be affected by these changes. Everyone will be invited to participate in the re-shaping.   
Where does this leave us? Well, a newspaper-watcher commenting on the hollowing-out of many newsrooms wrote recently about “churnalism” and the procurement of “oven-ready copy”…  
“… space in newspapers can be filled. The end result … lacks any real value. It is not journalism. It is pointless material without any public benefit.”  
We’re not going there. We will keep to the Star’s conviction and direction.  
Several disciplines link together to produce Star journalism, but our reporters are the tip of the spear. 
The Star has had a long and noble presence in Toronto. It has always had a large staff of reporters whose talent matched the paper’s ambition — that staff brought honour and success to our paper, and continues to do so.  
Yes, gaps have appeared from those dozens of reporters who took the various buyouts. We’re a smaller team now.  
But yes, we still have big journalistic ambition … and we still have plenty of talent to fulfil that.  
Torstar Chair John Honderich said during deliberations on these latest changes:   “Nothing can be the way it was. Nothing, that is, but our firm and forever commitment to great journalism and the Atkinson principles.”  
Thank you for the work and the belief that has brought us to where we are today and that will keep Star journalism alive and vibrant. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of journalists were in this newsroom before us, building and shaping the Star’s great journalism. If they could see you today, they’d be proud.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the Toronto Star laid off 60 people. That was an early estimate. The official number of laid off employees is 52. 
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Former Toronto Star Editor “Forced” to Pen Self-Defence On Newsroom Tragedy

Former Toronto Star editor Jon Filson broke his silence today on the suicide of Star reporter Raveena Aulakh.
The end of Filson’s relationship with Aulakh was cited in her note, and an article by Toronto Star’s public editor Kathy English said Aulakh was “clearly heartbroken” because the relationship had “ended recently.” English also wrote that Aulakh alleged an “improper relationship between Filson and his boss, managing editor Jane Davenport.”
After Raveena Aulakh’s death, the Toronto Star’s union called for an external investigation. But, in a memo to its staff, the paper resisted, saying they have conducted two of their own investigations. According to the memo, the second investigation found that “Raveena’s immediate manager provided  outstanding and exceptional levels of support and assistance to Raveena”
Filson’s response came in the form of a personal essay titled Private Lives, posted on the Walrus‘s website, which previously ran a piece on Aulakh’s death by editor Jon Kay titled Show Us The Suicide Note.
In the essay, Filson said he was “forced” to write the explanation to clear up misconceptions. He also said two reporters contacted him for comment. CANADALAND is among the two but we have not heard back.
In clearing up perceived misconceptions about Aulakh’s death. Filson makes a number of points which arguably shift the blame from his shoulders. These include:
* Filson wrote that while he was married when the relationship began, so was Raveena Aulakh.
* In an apparent reference to the notion that Filson was the one to end his relationship with Aulakh, Filson wrote that she “dropped” him many times.
 * Filson said he was never Aulakh’s boss and twice mentioned that they were close to each other in age.
* Filson rejected that there is a “simple explanation” to Aulakh’s death, writing that he doubts any mental health expert would say it’s as simple as “an admittedly terrible break-up.”
* Filson pointed to the death of Aulakh’s grandparents and to her mental health.
* Filson wrote that he helped Aulakh find a therapist and urged her to keep seeing him.
* Filson acknowledged that Aulakh, in her note, asked not to be written about following her death, but didn’t say why he chose to go against her wishes.
In his concluding paragraph, Filson wrote that “these have been the worst days of my life” and said, “I don’t know what I will do now.”
The piece ends with a link to his LinkedIn profile, which contains his resume.
Earlier in the piece, Filson wrote, “Raveena deserved better.”

After ElbowGate, PMO Offers Undisclosed “Spokesperson” to Media

A radio producer at a newstalk station sent CANADALAND an email yesterday about a strange occurrence. We agreed to protect his name.

The Wente Plagiarism Bot

One of our intrepid readers, who asked to stay anonymous, is happy to let us to take credit for his work. He built us a Wente bot.

Yet More Instances Of Plagiarism From Margaret Wente

Margaret Wente appears to have plagiarized at least four times from three different publications in her recent columns in addition to the two cases of plagiarism outlined in BuzzFeed Canada on Sunday and Monday, CANADALAND has learned.