Common Sense Canadian
 

How Postmedia climbed in bed with the LNG lobby and a PR flack

7
Posted October 5, 2015 by Rafe Mair in Energy and Resources
Share
Screen capture of Brent Stafford and his Regulator Watch program from The Province website

Screen capture of Brent Stafford and his Regulator Watch program from The Province website

It was early last September, as near as I can remember.
While strolling down the lane in tipsy pride.

Not a word did I utter as I lay there in the gutter
When this pig walked up and laid down by my side.

Not a soul were we disturbing, as we lay there by the curbing,
When this high tone lady stopped and I heard her say,

“You can tell someone who boozes, by the company he chooses”
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.  (Traditional)

Today’s column is a riddle: Who is the pig? (Remember that the pig, according to Churchill, was the noblest of all animals.)

First prize is the Common Sense Canadian Political Perspicacity Prize.

The cast of characters

First is an outfit called Resource Works, which, as readers will know, is a business-oriented shill for LNG in general but specifically in Squamish.

Second is Postmedia, the organization which wholly owns and controls, amongst others, the Vancouver Sun, The Vancouver Province, and National Post. It is no longer a journalistic observer of the LNG issue but a full partner with Resource Works in advocating for LNG in general and Woodfibre LNG specifically!

Thirdly is a newcomer, Brent Strafford, who, with considerable license, bills himself as a journalist and has joined Postmedia posing as just that (The Province refers to him as a B.C.-based journalist since 1988 in a story introducing Stafford to their readers).

In fact, he is a consultant to big business and bills himself as:

…having extensive experience creating and executing innovative marketing campaigns and joint-promotions. He’s worked with over 50 tier-one brands on strategies and tactical programs which leverage the power of entertainment properties and brand assets to build consumer engagement and drive sales. He has created national & global joint-marketing campaigns and intellectual property agreements with companies such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Wal*Mart, Electronic Arts, New Line Cinema, Disney, NASCAR, Super Bowl, Hasbro, GRAMMYS and Lucas Films to name a few.

Stafford negotiated & executed the largest brand partnership for Disney’s “The Incredibles”​ bringing the studio 11 brands from P&G. He negotiated & executed a 4 country Pringles partnership & promotion with “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” and he delivered to P&G the Star Wars franchise for a 16 country theatricStafford negotiated & executed the largest brand partnership for Disney’s “The Incredibles”​ bringing the studio 11 brands from P&G. 

Stafford is also a nationally recognized expert on video games, delivering a $2MM anchor brand partnership to Comcast for the launch of the G4Tech-TV cable channel.

Lastly, there’s the poor sap left with only his newspaper to inform him; as the wag said “the game may be crooked but it’s the only game in town”.

The issue

Readers will recall my reporting on a video published by Resource Works, hosted by a young lady, which turned out to be a fraud. It was in fact hosted by a man, the answers given by scientist Dr. Michael Hightower twisted and distorted by Resource Works and the entire matter was exposed by Dr. Eoin Finn – a Howe Sound resident and retired KPMG partner with a PhD in chemistry.

The exposure

It came to my attention that the falsified video was done by the said Brent Strafford. I was referred to his new website – RegulatorWatch.com –  and there I saw him at work, quoting Dr. Finn out of context and then having those remarks commented upon by Captain Stephen Brown, who, far from being an independent observer, is president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, which represents “vessel owners, operators, shipping agencies, ports and a wide range of key stakeholders engaged in international and domestic trade through Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway.”

The Story

Brent Stafford is the face of a new online video series and website, Regulator Watch and has joined Postmedia – with his own video blog page on the Province’s website one presumes as an independent commentator. There is nothing there differentiating this as paid or “advertorial” content – in fact, Regulator Watch appears right below the masthead, next to other news categories and series like “Federal Election 2015” and “Pets and Animals”. 

A screen capture of the Province's online masthead - with RegulatorWatch highlighted

A screen capture of the Province’s online masthead – with Regulator Watch highlighted

Did Postmedia hire Stafford? Or is this an in-kind barter – free content for the Province in exchange for the paper’s journalistic credibility and a bigger platform for Stafford and his Resource Works client to spread the gospel of LNG? These are questions which it would only be fair for Postmedia to answer with a full disclosure its Regulator Watch page. To date, the only thing remotely approaching that was an introductory post that noted “This video was produced independently by Regulator Watch…It is being hosted on TheProvince.com for commercial purposes.” What exactly does that mean? And why is this disclosure nowhere to be found on the blog page today, which, incidentally, appears under the “news” section of the website?

What is Regulator Watch all about?

A quick look at RegulatorWatch.com will show that it’s a Reaganesque program dedicated to bashing any and all forms of regulation, especially of the extraction and transportation of resources. It is described as “a founder-funded start up with limited support from industry and other stakeholders impacted by the regulatory process in Canada.” Just who are these silent backers? Stafford doesn’t say – neither did the Province when introducing him.

Given this man’s record, including tampering with a video to benefit a client; given his highly unprofessional “interview” slagging the absent Dr. Eoin Finn; given Postmedia’s journalistic obligations to serve the public, why the hell would the Province bring Stafford into their fold?

Is it not fair in the extreme to look at Postmedia’s becoming a formal shill for Woodfibre LNG and the crook that owns it and the sleazy record of Brent Strafford and remember what your parents taught you – you’re judged by the company you keep?

We start the stroll down the lane

We now have a combo then with the new partnership of Postmedia and Brent Stafford, both of whom are financially partnered with and indistinguishable from International Business and might just as well be arms of the Conservative Party of Canada.

There is nothing illegal about this at all. What is wrong and so clearly wrong is that they pass themselves off as giving independent advice to readers who are led to believe that they are picking up journalism not propaganda. It is this horrific deception that is being played upon the Canadian public and thus far they are blissfully ignorant of what is happening!

This is understandable. Would one expect a Canadian, brought up in a society professing free-speech and journalistic integrity, to think for one second that their daily newspaper would be taking one side of an issue and not only propagandizing that side, but doing so in the subtlest of ways? Indeed to actually be a financial partner on that side?

Canadians are beginning to cotton onto what’s happening. Postmedia is in terminal trouble and so it ought to be.

To see what was once one of the noblest of professions descend into the obloquy of a yellow journalism is excruciatingly painful to watch. To see the traditions of the  London Times, the New York Times, and the Guardian used this way by cheap cheaters and sleazy publishers is too sad for words. Even worse, perhaps, is to see honourable journalists pulled into this sleaze without the ability to defend themselves.

And then there’s the trusting, decent Canadian who wants to read a reasonably fair and accurate summation of public affairs, and a bit of peace and quiet – a bit of a lie-down, you might say.

There we have the contest. Who will hear the wise words, look around him, arise and slowly walk away?

The winner of the Common Sense Canadian Political Perspicacity Prize will soon be presented at a formal dinner at the White House, time to be announced.

And the winner is?

Share

About the Author

Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

7 Comments


  1.  
    nonconfidencevote

    Lies, damn lies and the lieing liars that tell them….

    Another bought and paid for shill for the oil industry.
    Once one surrenders their morals, their integrity and their self respect…..its all good.
    I’m sure they sleep well at night on that matress full of cash.
    Karma.
    Hopefully there is a special place in an oil soaked Hell waiting for them.




  2.  
    Allen Seager

    Especially on a slow news day you can count on The Province for some flimsy piece on the entirely mythical LNG boom!




    •  
      Joan Mc Cullough

      Thank you, so much Rafe for all you do. You truly are my hero..What else can I do to help stop this proposed WoodFibre LNG madness in Howe Sound.
      jx





Leave a Response


(required)