Can I ask you a question? When’s the last time you took a private walk down a country lane with David Suzuki? I don’t mean when you’re filming b-roll for that big special you’re working on, but just you and David meandering in a private conversation. Have you been one of the lucky few?
If so, please raise your hand in the air and keep it up. Next, if your hand is still up and your personal brand is a household(ish) name (yeah, you Hanomansing), please put it down (Suzuki needs you). And finally, anyone who is personal friends with Suzuki, has worked for/with him, or has attended Hollyhock- please take down your hands (there are obviously other influences behind your luck).
Is there anybody left with their hands up?
Linda Solomon got the pleasure of Suzuki’s time last week, something many web-only journalists would give their right hand for- what a scoop! So, how did someone who misrepresented herself as a Pulitzer prize nominee pull this off? The first, and obvious reason, is that Solomon’s brother holds enormous influence over who gets money from foreign foundations (which goes to people like Suzuki). Another big reason is likely because the Observer doesn’t spend any time questioning Suzuki and other revolutionary activist’s misdeeds and/or misinformation. Solomon’s publication not only accepts everything the activist community says, they act as enthusiastic cheerleaders.
Take the example of Erin Flegg, an Observer and DeSmogBlog reporter who actively participates in the protests that she’s writing about. Flegg’s conflict of interest wasn’t disclosed until this week when she was filmed assaulting a Sun News reporter, and later being arrested on Burnaby Mountain (while locking her arms with other protesters).
Last December Flegg covered the story of a group of militant anarchists who breached security at Port Metro Vancouver- throwing pieces of coal at their staff. But instead of disclosing the protester’s calling themselves “Santas of anarchy”, and being honest to her readers about their use of violence- Flegg instead wrote a piece labelling the port’s staff as evil thugs who attacked Santa Claus! (Let’s hope their kids didn’t see this.)
Linda Solomon wrote a real whopper in September 2011. The infamous former Republican VP Dick Cheney was coming into town and a con-artist named Kevin Annett was helping to organize a protest in front of the Vancouver Club. Annett made the fantastical claim that the club was home to a “pedophile ring, which involves senior judges, church lawyers, businessmen and politicians”. He told Solomon that this information was determined by a “U.N.-affiliated IHRAAM Tribunal into Indian Residential Schools, obtained considerable evidence during its June, 1998 hearings in Vancouver concerning the Vancouver Club pedophile ring.”
That’s quite the story, isn’t it?
Of course, had Solomon bothered to call the IHRAAM, they would have told her that they walked out on Annett because they realized he was an indigenous abusing fraud. She could have also called Annett’s former employer at the United Church- they would have told her that he’s the only person in history they’ve ever defrocked. You see, he was making-up gruesome and divisive stories about Indian residential schools- claiming that churches and the government intentionally killed 50,000 kids and buried them in unmarked mass graves. No evidence was ever provided of this claim, but Solomon didn’t seem to care.
Annett was in Ontario a month later when he claimed to have discovered one of his mythical mass graves at the Six Nations reserve in Brantford. The Six is one of several hotspot First Nations where NGO/union affiliated “activists” have been trying to stir-up the next Oka (and have been somewhat successful at it). Annett’s horror story was just the type of catalyst they needed to encourage the community to start fighting again (I was once at a meeting where they considered using guns).
I first heard about the false mass grave in January 2012 after noticing Annett was being facilitated by two union/foundation funded activists at Occupy Toronto (Dave Vasey and Homeland Security person of interest Sakura Saunders). The guy pulled bones out of his pocket (yes, his pocket!), waved them around in the air and claimed they were from children who were murdered and chopped-up by the church’s clergy. It took me less than a half an hour to realize Annett’s credibility problems- the United Church published a history of his misdeeds on their website in 2009, Terry Glavin wrote a brilliant expose in The Tyee in 2008.
One doesn’t publish unconfirmed stories about judges and politicians raping children unless they’re either outrageously incompetent (perhaps Solomon is, but hard to believe she’s that dumb) or that there’s some benefit to perpetuating the myth. Annett’s stories gave activists the ability to draw-in new indigenous recruits, many people were seriously hurt- in some cases, entire communities. Despite even APTN covering Annett’s fraud (with some of my assistance), and the outrageousness of her unproven claims- Solomon has yet to take down the story.
If you want your heart broken, check out Willie Blackwater’s story– he was the first residential school victim to step-out and talk about being abused, only to have Annett take him down a new path of abuse. When Blackwater called him out on it, Annett subjected him to divisive smears and attacks that affected his relationships with people in his community.
It’s likely that things will continue to get interesting on Burnaby Mountain this week. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has announced he’s going to engage in civil disobedience theatre today, subjecting himself to arrest. Phillip works closely with activists in Harsha Walia’s circle of influence, if you’ve been around for long you’re probably already aware she openly promotes violence. This week, when David Suzuki’s family were doing their arrest theatre, Walia was organizing in the background.
Depending on how deeply you’ve investigated,you may also be aware of she and fellow activists in her (revolutionary) movement have been appropriating indigenous voices for many years. It’s got so transparent, that Walia was even featured in the book that wrapped-up Idle No More. The media has mostly ignored that this is happening- but there was a moment of hope during the Oppenheimer Park occupation (Walia was conducting in the background) when reports came out of First Nations denying the activists represented their communities.
The next time someone implies they represent a specific First Nation, make sure you confirm that!
Despite nations like the Musqueam’s public denials, Walia and Phillip are going to talk to you as if their movement represents the majority of indigenous people across the province. They’ll tell stories about protests like the Unist’ot’en camp and the “Klabona Keepers”- carefully choosing their words to leave you with the impression that the handful of indigenous people supporting them represent their communities at large. It’s highly likely they’ll roll-out familiar faces from Occupy, Idle No More and Oppenheimer Park.
Will you mention in your report that it’s always the same people at every protest you go to?
You may be tempted when you get back to the office to write a headline like “First Nations Reject Pipelines On Burnaby Mountain”. Many of your readers/viewers/listeners will interpret that to mean that the protesters are representing the views of entire communities (I used to). But like any community, First Nations have a wide spectrum of different opinions. Are you taking time to talk to indigenous people who support industry? It’s borderline racist not to, kind of like saying “the black guy said it, so people across Africa must agree!”.
I realize that you’re not racists, that your editors don’t give you enough time to dig into the truth, and that asking critical questions about indigenous issues can be a bit of a minefield. It’s certainly easier to lob softballs,but is that why you became a journalist? Or did you sign-up to make a difference, uncover the truth, and expose those who prey on vulnerable people like Willie Blackwater?
There are dangerous and violent people roaming around Burnaby Mountain. One of the media’s greatest failures is the almost complete lack of coverage of this fact. Some journalists are rationalizing this by saying that the violent people don’t represent the camp as a whole- that’s simply not true.
True, many if not most people on Burnaby Mountain have no intention to commit violence. But look into the histories of the organizers and you’ll see that many have accepted the dangerous doctrine of Diversity of Tactics. People who engage in Black Bloc or other protest violence can only get away with it when there are large crowds they can disappear into. You’re not doing the peaceful people a favour by ignoring and/or covering up the presence of those who want to commit violence. Many don’t have a clue about the Harsha Walias of the world (I didn’t when I joined Occupy Vancouver), it’s your job to inform them.
Anyhow, apologies for the rant, and thanks for taking the time to read this. Good luck on Burnaby Mountain, wish I could be there to see everything in real time. Like most Canadians, I’m counting on you to help keep me informed. Finally, if there’s anything about Burnaby Mountain I can help you to better understand (no credit to me necessary, confidentiality guaranteed, my motivation is only to bring more truth to the world), please don’t hesitate to contact me.