By The Canadian Press - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Richard Garneau, a veteran Quebec sports journalist and voice of the Montreal…
MONTREAL – Richard Garneau, a veteran Quebec sports journalist and voice of the Montreal Canadiens, has died at age 82.
Garneau was best known for his broadcast coverage of NHL hockey and the Olympics, mostly for Radio-Canada, during a lengthy, award-winning career.
He died early Sunday at Montreal’s Royal Victoria hospital following complications from heart surgery.
Born in Quebec City in 1930, Garneau began his life-long passion for the Olympics after getting a job with Radio-Canada in 1957.
He covered the 1960 Summer Games in Rome and worked at 23 Olympics in all.
Known for his mastery of the French language and encyclopedic knowledge of sports, he was the winner of five Gemini Awards, including one for lifetime achievement. He also wrote five books.
During the 2012 London Games, he worked on RDS, the French language sports station, alongside broadcaster Pierre Houde and was as energetic as ever.
“He could make you break out in laughter without ever losing his eloquence, the quality of his French, and his diction,” Houde said Sunday.
“We’re remembering him today and our emotions are going in every direction — we’re crying and smiling at the same time.”
The Montreal Canadiens issued a statement mourning his death, calling him a “legendary voice” of the Habs on La Soiree du hockey, the French equivalent of Hockey Night in Canada.
“It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the passing of Richard Garneau,” the statement said.
“The entire Canadiens organization wishes to extend its deepest sympathies to the Garneau family.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also weighed in, saying in French on Twitter that the sports world had lost one of its greats.
By John Geddes - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
CBC has an interesting story (from its French service Radio-Canada) on the Imperial Oil Foundation’s involvement in the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s current exhibition “Energy: Power to Choose.”
Last month, here at Maclean’s we published an exclusive related piece, touching on the foundation’s sponsorship of the show, but focusing more on Access to Information documents detailing how the museum courted industry support, and how the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers influenced the museum’s portrayal of the oil sands. Over at Le Devoir, Helene Buzzetti has also done original reporting on this issue.
UPDATE: And, this morning, the Ottawa Citizen wades in with a follow that adds comments from the museum’s former vice-president, confirming what I called “pervasive inﬂuence from the energy sector in shaping the exhibition’s content.”
By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 11:50 AM - 0 Comments
In letters obtained under access laws, Quebecor’s CEO scolds the CBC, even as he pleads for advertising dollars
In its home province, at least, Quebecor is very much the incarnation of its name. The company’s myriad media properties are populated by old-time separatists and fleur-de-lys blue nationalists for whom the Canadian flag is a nuisance at best and an incursion at worst. Le Journal de Montréal, the scrappy populist tabloid founded in 1964, remains the organ grinder of choice for Quebec’s long-standing language debates, and it is clear on which side the paper falls. “Soon [the English] are going to call us frogs and pea soup in the street, just like when I was young!” opined Gilles Proulx recently. Quebecor’s news agency regularly publishes the words of former FLQ member Jacques Lanctôt, whose kidnapping of British diplomat James Cross touched off the October Crisis of 1970.
Beyond Quebec’s borders, though, Quebecor’s message is decidedly different. “Coast to coast and as Canadian as you are,” intones the promotional baritone over scenes of flowing rivers and snow-capped mountains, during a commercial for Sun News Network. Far from disparaging it, the network uses the Canadian flag extensively in its branding.
You might call it Canada’s two-faced media empire. Yet while Quebecor’s French and English divisions may be firmly ensconced in their respective linguistic and cultural solitudes, they share the overriding editorial bent of the company itself—and that of its president and CEO, Pierre Karl Péladeau. The reclusive and often contradictory Péladeau has a well-known disdain for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and has used his media holdings to attack the publicly funded Quebecor competitor—attacks that have taken on a new level of intensity over the last two years. Quebecor’s lawyers recently scored a victory against the CBC, when the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the CBC must make public certain financial records.
The CBC, wrote Sun News host and columnist Ezra Levant recently in a typical broadside, is “a mega-corporation that demands a yearly $1.1-billion bailout from taxpayers, violates transparency laws and doesn’t register its secretive lobbying.” Yet Péladeau has been personally petitioning the CBC for a chunk of those taxpayer dollars while his media properties deride the CBC’s very existence. Over a period of 15 months, the Quebecor president, who oversees in excess of 16,000 employees, sent 12 personal letters and one handwritten fax to CBC president Hubert Lacroix requesting (and at times demanding) the CBC print its advertisements and promotions in Quebecor publications.
The letters, obtained through an Access to Information request and posted at the bottom of this article, reflect Péladeau’s combative nature—as well as his belief, however unsubstantiated, that the CBC has a long-running boycott of Quebecor. “[The CBC’s] total absence from [Quebecor daily] 24 Heures and but a small presence in Le Journal de Québec is flabbergasting, while both our competitors Metro and Le Soleil received the lion’s share,” Péladeau wrote in a letter dated Aug. 31, 2009. The Quebecor CEO further admonished Lacroix for what he called the CBC’s “frankly disproportionate coverage” of the labour strife at Le Journal de Montréal at the time. Two months later, Péladeau wrote that it “was unacceptable to democracy” that the CBC hadn’t advertised its municipal election coverage in Quebecor-owned media.
“Dear Hubert, I know that advertising choices interest you, so I include pages from Samedi Magazine,” Péladeau wrote in a handwritten note on Nov. 23, 2009. “Don’t worry, it’s not Quebecor Media that publishes it.” The note included two CBC advertisements that Péladeau had apparently clipped from Quebecor’s dishy (and since defunct) competitor; in his note, Péladeau makes light of Samedi’s low circulation numbers. Another of his missives decries the lack of CBC advertising dollars despite “a rather favourable article” written about a CBC personality in a Quebecor paper. Others still include graphs, pie charts and demographic data supporting Péladeau’s argument against what he calls CBC’s “totally unjustifiable boycott.”
“The CBC continues to ignore our daily newspapers, which are the biggest in Quebec,” Péladeau wrote in his final letter to Lacroix last December. “I can but protest once more this discriminatory attitude toward the group I have the privilege of overseeing, and it is equally detrimental to state television that it deprives itself of reaching an important part of the population.”
While he admits the CBC has never officially boycotted its media, Quebecor spokesperson Serge Sasseville says the facts speak for themselves: “There have simply been no CBC/Radio-Canada ads (except, ironically, in November 2010, when CBC/Radio-Canada went on a campaign to boast about its access to information record) in Quebecor Media since the beginning of 2009, a date which coincides with the beginning of the Journal de Montréal lockout,” Sasseville told Maclean’s via email. As well, “our sales staffs have been informed by media placement agencies working on behalf of CBC/Radio-Canada that they had received explicit orders from CBC/Radio-Canada not to advertise in our publications.” Not advertising in Quebecor publications, Sasseville adds, is akin to “depriving many of the very people that fund the state broadcaster of valuable information about CBC/Radio-Canada programming and coverage initiatives.”
For its part, the CBC says it has “over the years purchased advertising in [Péladeau’s] papers,” Lacroix told Maclean’s via email. “As we have said to Mr. Péladeau in our replies to his letters, we run our campaigns according to our objectives and choose the most appropriate media to ensure their success. That is our business and our expertise. In the same way, we do not suggest to Mr. Péladeau how to build his marketing, promotion or advertising campaigns or launch his programs . . . We would note that Radio-Canada does not receive advertising from Quebecor.”
Doubtless, Péladeau’s anti-CBC campaign is at least partly ideological. What unites the differing editorial stances of his English and French properties, apart from their visceral dislike of the public broadcaster, is a populist, free-market ideology of lower taxes and less regulation. Though it has its own public sector connection: roughly 45 per cent of Quebecor Media Inc., Quebecor’s media group, is owned by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the province’s pension manager funded in large part by taxpayer dollars.
Then there is the matter of Quebec City’s arena. Quebecor recently inked a deal that would give the company naming rights to the future home of Les Nordiques, should the city land an NHL franchise. The deal, finalized in September, will see some $400 million taxpayer dollars put toward a new stadium, which would then be rented to Quebecor. The deal, which wasn’t put to tender, required legislation to circumvent the government’s own laws against using public funds for a private company.
Like his English and French newspapers, Péladeau’s own political bent is conflicted. His father, Pierre, was in favour of Quebec’s separation from Canada; today, his son owns a cable news channel that peddles the very flag-draped brand of Canadian patriotism Pierre Sr. disdained. Yet Pierre Karl Péladeau remains strongly attached to the Québécois identity. In 2009, after losing a bidding war for ownership of the Montreal Canadiens, Péladeau implied that he didn’t like how the deal was strictly financial; it would have been better, he said, had the team owners better reflected Quebec’s identity. (The team was bought by the decidedly English Montreal Molson family.)
Perhaps there is method in all of Quebecor’s seeming contractions. “He’s a businessman above all else,” says Jean-Martin Aussant, a former Péquiste MNA who has since launched Option nationale, a splinter separatist party. “I think Pierre Karl found a niche and exploited it.” And, in the case of the CBC at least, he’s doing what any good businessman would do, contradictions be damned: trying to hobble the competition.
By Andrew Coyne - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 119 Comments
Whatever their motives might be, the CBC’s antagonists are, on the whole, right
There is an undeniably sinister quality to the apparently coordinated campaign of harassment currently under way against the CBC. Were it just occasional sniping from the Tory backbench, were it simply the Quebecor/Sun Media empire beating its favourite hobby horse, were the National Citizens Coalition merely on one of its crusades—were it even all three together—you might call it business as usual.
But when you consider the links between these different organizations—the Prime Minister’s former communications director Kory Teneycke is vice-president of Sun News Network, while the director of the NCC is the former Conservative candidate and online maven Stephen Taylor—the whole thing takes on a different cast. At what point do we conclude that this relentless public mauling at the hands of government MPs and their private sector proxies is intended not merely to expose the CBC to proper scrutiny as a public agency, but to intimidate it in its function as a news organization?
The problem the CBC faces is that whatever their motives might be, its antagonists are, on the whole, right (you should pardon the expression). They are right in terms of the immediate controversy, i.e., whether the corporation is obliged to comply with access to information requests, even from its competitors: clearly, under the law, it must. While the law makes exception for certain types of documents, it cannot be up to the CBC alone to decide which documents qualify for this exception, as a court has lately ruled.
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 2:40 PM - 1 Comment
Paula Adbul, Wayne Gretzky and others that “bowed” out this year.
Go to the light, a voice said, and, after 72 years on the air, it did. Guiding Light, the longest-running scripted program in broadcast history, had declined to an average of just 2.1 million viewers an episode, making it the least-watched of the remaining soaps. So CBS executives extinguished the town of Springfield and its denizens—Reva, Josh, Lizzie and all—forever.
Stoned, drunk or flaky? It’s always been hard to tell with Abdul. So when she announced she was leaving the judge’s table on American Idol, the question became whether she was quitting or just playing hardball. Fox ended the speculation by tapping Ellen DeGeneres; Abdul’s subsequent TV impersonation of Ellen—less straight up than a strange variation on drag—closed the deal.
A casualty of the Phoenix Coyotes’ financial ill-fortune, Gretzky stepped down as coach in September, even as Jim Balsillie and Gary Bettman competed for the team’s future. Later, a dispute over millions in salary Gretzky says is still owed him caused some to wonder whether he’d attend the Hockey Hall of Fame inductions of former teammates Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman. Always the gentleman, Gretzky did come. “The game is bigger than any individual or any person,” he said.
Not by garlic or a stake in the heart, but by scheduling conflict, Montreal actress Rachelle Lefevre last summer found herself exterminated from the role of creepy Twilight vampire Victoria in the second sequel, Eclipse. Filming for the adaptation of the Mordecai Richler novel Barney’s Version, in which she’ll appear as Barney’s first wife, Clara, was slated to overlap with Eclipse, so producers dropped Lefevre in favour of Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of director Ron Howard.
View-Master scenic reels
Slipped into that plastic viewer, with its distinctive fire-engine red colour and a side-trigger to move between images, the 3-D scenic reel was the next best thing to being there. The Grand Canyon threatened real vertigo, the glacial cools of the Rockies actual hypothermia. But citing long-diminished sales, Fisher-Price has stopped making the scenic reels (it will continue with TV and movie-related discs). Meaning our children will no longer gaze at the View-Master’s astonishing verisimilitude with the pock-marked moon or red Mars.
Oscar De La Hoya
Dubbed “the Golden Boy,” he was a throwback to the classic Hollywood pugilist. A Mexican-American raised in hardscrabble east L.A., De La Hoya promised his dying mother he’d win gold in the 1992 Olympics; he did, then went on to become one of history’s most successful pro boxers. Good looks and scrappiness made him widely popular, but he was an outright hero to America’s Hispanic population. After his last bout in May before retirement at 36—he lost to Filipino Manny Pacquiao—De La Hoya approached his old trainer, Freddie Roach. “You were right, Freddie. I don’t have it anymore.”
‘High School Musical’ cast
Four years after its television debut in 2006, the cast of High School Musical—the Disney franchise so at home in sterile Salt Lake City, where it is filmed—has graduated, never to return. What to do? Replace Zac, Vanessa and Ashley with a new crew of post-pubescent vocalists, who will also no doubt be outfitted with the Antares Auto-Tune pitch-correction software, for High School Musical 4: East Meets West (which sounds exotic, but likely goes no farther east than Minneapolis).
Monthly beer allotments
For years, Molson retirees enjoyed a benefits package that could surely only exist in the booze-fuelled fantasy lives of Bob and Doug McKenzie: lots of free beer. Retirees in St. John’s got six dozen bottles a month. But in June, Molson said it would cut the quota of complimentary beer it allots its retirees to a monthly dozen in St. John’s. Five years from now, retirees across Canada will get no beer at all. Current workers will see their allowance slashed to 52 dozen bottles a year. Union grievances and protests are expected to go flat.
Radio-Canada’s ‘Bye Bye’
Once a very funny way for francophones to call in the New Year, Radio-Canada’s year-end television event had in recent years devolved into an offensive, unfunny caricature of Québécois humour. Indeed, last year’s review, which featured controversial sketches mocking Barack Obama and singer and child-abuse survivor Nathalie Simard, drew tough criticisms from the CRTC. Adieu, adieu, Bye Bye.
For its 18 km of unspoiled 18th- and 19th-century riverside landscape and its historic old town, UNESCO named Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley a UN World Heritage Site in 2004. Last summer, it took the rare step of rescinding the distinction—just the second time it’s done so—after “the Florence of northern Europe” went ahead with plans to build a modern bridge in the middle of the heritage zone. Dresden had rejected a tunnel alternative and the structure was backed by a local referendum, creating an unbridgeable gap between locals and UNESCO.
The former arms dealer and self-styled international man of mystery avoided extradition from Canada for a decade. This to the obvious horror of Brian Mulroney, who describes taking cash from Schreiber as “my second-biggest mistake in life,” the first being ever agreeing to meet him. There’s no chance they’ll bump into each other at the ATM these days—the Mounties escorted Schreiber to Germany in August.
Almost 10 years after Europe restricted their use and close to six months after the U.S. said it would do likewise, Canada placed a partial ban on phthalates, a family of compounds better known as “rubber duck chemicals” for their frequent use in softening plastics in toys. The chemicals are believed to impede the production of testosterone, particularly during fetal development, when high phthalate levels may feminize males.
Best polka album
Despite protestations by some that polka remains a vibrant musical form, the Grammy Awards have discontinued their award for best polka album. This vastly reduces the chances that Canada’s polka king, Walter Ostanek of St. Catharines, Ont., who has been nominated for 21 Grammys and won three, will ever be nominated again.
The Lockerbie bomber
Three Canadians were among the 270 victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. In August the Scottish government agreed to repatriate the ill Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the terrorist act, on compassionate grounds. Back in Libya, he got a hero’s welcome. Terminal prostate cancer was the bomber’s ticket home; we’re still awaiting his final exit.
Chinese Uighur detainees
The odyssey continues for a group of Chinese Muslims captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan after 9/11 and sent to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay. Quickly identiﬁed as non-combatants, the Uighurs could not be returned to China for fear of persecution, and no other big power would have them. In November, six landed in the Paciﬁc island nation of Palau, a former U.S.-run trust territory that will be their refuge until another country—possibly Australia—agrees to take them permanently. Meanwhile, they may learn to love fruit bat cooked in coconut, a local delicacy.
It was the film used to capture the image of the beautiful green-eyed Afghan girl for National Geographic and the basis for the infamous Zapruder reel that caught the murder of president John F. Kennedy, sparking a thousand conspiracy theories. It could only be thus: Kodachrome, introduced 74 years ago but discontinued in June, was at once too real and too vivid. Singer Paul Simon recognized in its bright hues a promise reality could not keep: “Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day,” he sang. Digital photography, which offers a starker reality, led to the end of its colourful optimism.
By Andrew Potter - Monday, June 22, 2009 at 10:19 AM - 4 Comments
Alongside ads for crappy bands and gutsplitting posters for the french-language version of Year…
Alongside ads for crappy bands and gutsplitting posters for the french-language version of Year One, downtown Montreal has been plastered with these pretty little ads:
I love the heartified CBC logo. The URL is for real – it’s a website devoted to lobbying for “quality public broadcasting”, i.e. demanding more money from the feds for the CBC. And while it’s nominally dedicated to both the english- and french-language services, the anglo side of the website is relatively underfunded. If you actually want to find out who is behind the campaign, you need to click on the francophone part of the site, where — no surprise — it’s the SRC union’s handiwork.
Anyone seen this campaign anywhere except on posters? I’d love to know the size of the media buy for this.