A group of Central Okanagan residents are trying to bring to light the pressing issues surrounding massive media conglomerates and the effect they have on community journalism.
Carol Kergan feels strongly about Canadian media democracy, which she said is being eroded by large corporations like Facebook and Amazon.
“It’s deeply part of who I am,” she said, adding her father was Dallas Smythe, a political researcher focused on communication.
“We want to keep Canada aware of Canada and (without sustaining and supporting Canadian media), we’re going to be invaded more and more from these platforms that other countries are working on (regulating),” she said.
Kergan was one of roughly 10 residents who gathered on Cadder Avenue Tuesday to kickstart the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting We Choose lawn sign campaign to advocate for the taxation and regulation of large digital corporations. Roughly 2,300 members of Friends live in the Central Okanagan.
“Those companies are allowed to operate without having to follow any of the rules the rest of us have to follow. They don’t collect HST so they can change 13 per cent less than the Canadian competitors… There are tax rules that are not applied to digital media,” said Jim Thompson, communications officer with Friends.
“Our government let’s them operate in Canada, following their own rules and letting them do whatever they want.”
Daniel Bernhard, executive director with Friends, said the movement encapsulates all forms of journalism, not just the CBC.
Publishers like Facebook are not accountable and allow the publications of fake news, he said.
“They’re already censoring our speech, but they don’t have our values. They’re not accountable to anyone, and there are no standards of quality they have to abide by with standards of professionalism,” he said.
“We are launching our national land sign campaign here in Kelowna… and we’ll be setting up campaigns just like us throughout B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec,” Bernhard said.
Kelowna was chosen as it’s considered a close riding, where politicians will actually listen to constituents, Bernhard said, and there’s enough support to actually launch a campaign.
The film Digital Disconnect will be presented as part of the campaign, Tuesday night at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna, starting at 6:30 p.m. Bernhard will also be conducting a meet and greet.