Brian Lilley: The Brave New Face of Canadian TV Journalism

Posted on March 11, 2011

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You may have heard that Canada is about to get its very own version of Fox News. The new Fair and Balanced news channel of the Great White North will be called Sun TV, and be run by the national newspaper conglomerate of the same name. From their own description:

“Sun News is Canada’s future home for hard news and straight talk.”

In my experience, “straight talk” usually means offensive bullshit that ignorant suburbanites like to believe is universally true about people they’ve never met. I was snooping around the internet to find out more about the channel, and I happened to find Brian Lilley’s Blog. Brian Lilley, who will be hosting Sun TV’s politics show (and will therefore be Canada’s Glenn Beck), is one of the straightest talkers of them all:

“Brian has built a following from coast to coast as a columnist who offers average Canadians a voice in the news media,” said Luc Lavoie, Head of development for Sun News. “His show will cut to the heart of the issues that impact everyday working people and their families. He is a perfect fit in our growing prime time line-up.”

The self-appointed experts don’t know it all and neither do they speak for all of us. On Byline, we’ll bring you the stories you won’t hear anywhere else while exploring points of view that are all too often ignored,” said Brian Lilley.”

Classic populist anti-intellectualism. You’ve heard it all before. Here’s something you may not have heard before: Lilley actually stood up to defend Bev Oda’s actions in the KAIROS case. Well, sort of. He defended her decision to rescind Kairos’ funding, but thought that her decision to cover up the means by which she did so was a simple case of bad politics. The reason? Kairos engages in ‘lefty politics’.

“I’ve been on the record supporting the decision to dump Kairos since shortly after the decision was made.

Let’s be clear here though, Kairos did not get their funding cut, they were turned down on a proposal they submitted.

What is fascinating to watch though is all of the media outlets that normally denounce any mingling of church and state, that blast the Conservatives for having members that might go to church, defend Kairos.

Why would they do that if they believe religion and politics shouldn’t mix?

It’s simple Kairos is a left-wing group and journalists are mainly left-wing people pushing for left-wing causes.”

I suppose that proper sentence structure is also elitist. That being said, let’s ignore this national print journalist’s abysmal use of punctuation and focus on his argument: Kairos is a religious organization, and therefore liberals, who tend to like separation between church and state, would oppose it if they were being consistent. Lilley completely misses the point of separation between church and state. Motivation is not important. Kairos does its work because its members feel a religious obligation to help the less fortunate, but so long as the actual work is not religious, there is no conflict. If Lilley or Oda can come up with some evidence that this motivation leads to preferential treatment to Christians abroad, homophobic policies, or some other Christian supremacist behaviour, then I will join them in inserting ^NOT into the grant application*. Absent such evidence, I’d be happy to give government money to cthulu worshippers if they were using it to do the following nice things:

  • Research and advocacy on debt and trade issues
  • Training citizens to understand their role in economic policy-making
  • Conflict mediation efforts
  • Human rights monitoring and training
  • Defending ecological integrity
  • Building social movements to further the work of peace and justice

Why is that formatted as a quote? Because it’s from Lilley’s article! Here’s the original context:

“Canadians are a generous people and support helping those in need around the world. What they don’t support is tax dollars being used to pay for political activism of any stripe in other countries.

That’s exactly what Kairos is doing and you can find the description on their own website:

    • Research and advocacy on debt and trade issues
    • Training citizens to understand their role in economic policy-making
    • Conflict mediation efforts
    • Human rights monitoring and training
    • Defending ecological integrity
    • Building social movements to further the work of peace and justice

Is that what we want to be funding?”

Brian Lilley sees conflict mediation and human rights monitoring as damning evidence of taxpayer political meddling. I see it as the basic ethical responsibilities of any developed nation that cares the least bit about its role in making the world a better place. Potato, potahto. But never mind, gas costs are high and Lilley would presumably rather see government revenue be put aside for a gas tax cut so that he can fill up his car for cheap.

I guess I should finish up with some kind of philosophical point, so here it is: This kind of morally bankrupt nonsense that will soon pollute our national political discourse is exactly why elitism is a good thing. When people have spent a long time studying issues, it is safe to say that their opinion is more valid than Sun TV correspondents who have not. Everyday people do not have any special expertise on political issues, and ‘common sense’ is neither common nor particularly sensible. The real world is complicated and requires nuance to understand and respond to. Brian Lilley’s form of unreflective punditry has nothing meaningful to contribute to the national discourse, and should be treated with ridicule and contempt.

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