The Yukon chapter of Idle No More is taking aim at the media and some local businesses.
Organizer Cherish Clarke is calling for a boycott of the Midnight Sun News and Arctic Star Printing, the company that prints the monthly publication. Clarke claims the paper is biased and intentionally spreading misinformation.
She levelled the charges during a rally of about 35 people in the lobby of the Elijah Smith federal government building in Whitehorse on Monday.
“Most recently Midnight Sun News published an article by B.C. conservative Dean Skoreyko filled with fictitious hyperbole against Idle No More and its supporters. The articles published on Midnight Sun News by self-proclaimed reporters have no journalistic merit and are notoriously partisan and biased. At times Midnight Sun News can even be considered offensive and prejudicial,” Clarke read.
The column in question can be found at www.midnightsunyukon.ca.
Clarke’s letter goes on to call Midnight Sun News a “pamphlet,” compares it to the controversial Sun News Network and encourages Yukoners to boycott not only the paper, but also any businesses that advertise in it.
Clarke also had harsh words for the Yukon News for an editorial it ran last week titled Cool the rhetoric on First Nations reform.
“I was upset with the editorial that was published because it shows only one side of the argument. I was also really offended because I felt like it was a direct attack on myself because I’m a female and I’m a young female to boot. There was a comment that Stephen Harper seemed like the only adult in the room that I was just being based off emotional appeal,” Clarke said.
After the rally, the group of protesters marched to the Arctic Star offices to deliver their letter.
When Clarke and her supporters crowded into the print-shop reception area, the owner and staff seemed surprised and taken aback.
“I’m a print shop in town. I print a magazine because I’m a business. If I don’t print that magazine, someone else will. What’s wrong with that? I’m a small business and I try to make some business,” said co-owner Stephane Thibeault.
Krysta Meekins, the publisher of Midnight Sun News and an Arctic Star employee, called the boycott an unfair intimidation tactic.
“It’s a bullying tactic, and I don’t think that serves anyone,” Meekins said.
“Every printer in town prints for a huge variety of organizations ranging from unions to political groups of all spectrum. It’s an incredible statement that she’s made here, and I think it’s a bad one,” she said.
“If anyone has read our previous editions they’ll know we wrote a very positive review of the Aboriginal People’s TV network. We’ve written profiles of an aboriginal MLA, Darius Elias. We have a First Nations contributor on our staff. We certainly respect and appreciate the contributions of First Nations people in the community,” Meekins said.
Meekins was emphatic that Arctic Star has no affiliation with the Midnight Sun News, despite her being an employee at the print shop.
“Arctic Star Printing in no way supports Midnight Sun News. They haven’t even advertised,” she said.
Yukon MP Ryan Leef said he was surprised that Idle No More would use boycotts to get their message across.
“It contradicts the letter to the editor that they put out in terms of their recognition of the importance of trade and business in Yukon. While they didn’t engage in physical blockades of any sort, this is just a form of a blockade,” Leef said.
“To try and hold hostage things by blocking Yukon businesses. I don’t think they’re furthering their cause at all, but that is their choice to make and I think people will respond accordingly,” he said.
At the protest, Clarke also read from a letter to Leef, accepting an offer from Leef’s office to meet with the protesters.
Leef said he has indeed made the offer, and would prefer face-to-face discussions over trading shots in the media.
“Just generally speaking, I’ve said right from the get go that my office is open and anyone who wants to arrange a meeting, they can do that. The fact of the matter is my time is taken up by Yukoners who have taken advantage of my open-door policy. My agenda and my schedule is set by those Yukoners who reach out first, and there’s a backlog of time,” Leef said.
Leef said he will be back in the territory on weekends, and could also look to schedule a meeting during breaks from the House in March and April.
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