Toronto mayoral candidate and former Rebel Media contributor Faith Goldy has hired constitutional law and civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby to represent her in a suit she’s launching against Bell Media for refusing to run her election ads.
The ads were set to run on Bell-owned news channel CP24 during the last month of the election cycle until Goldy received a telephone call in late September from a Bell Media representative informing her the ads would not air and her cheque for more than $13,000 would be returned.
CRTC rules state “If a broadcaster sells advertising time to one candidate or party, other candidates and parties must also be given the opportunity to buy commercial airtime from that same broadcaster.”
If successful, the lawsuit could compel Bell Media to run Goldy’s ads. The controversial conservative commentator appeared at a morning press conference, alongside Ruby, who indicated they’re now awaiting an expedited court date, which could come as early as Thursday.
“This case is not merely a case of breach of contract. It’s about how a democracy functions. Without the oxygen of free speech it can’t have elections that are meaningful and free. And what we’ve got in this situation is a media conglomerate deciding to shut out a candidate and not take her voice and that’s incompatible with the kind of democracy we care about, so we’re going to court to challenge that,” said Ruby. “The law is very clear on this point.”
Ruby said they have not filed a complaint with the CRTC given the short period of time left in the election. He also points out that at no time did Bell Media suggest changes to the content of the 30-second ad, which Goldy would have been happy to make.
“It’s an ad to which no one would take objection,” said Ruby, who added that the station has not indicated the ad didn’t meet its standards.
“By shutting out marginal candidates from advertising and focusing news on major candidates…they skew the outcome of the election. It’s not what broadcasters are allowed to do, it’s inconsistent with the values of the CRTC and it’s inconsistent with Canadian values.”
In a video posted to her YouTube channel on Oct. 6 entitled “URGENT: I’M SUING THE MEDIA“, Goldy calls Bell’s refusal “an illegal abuse of power.”
“The laws regarding fair access to the media couldn’t be more clear. Candidates are entitled to equal access. Period. The idea that CP24 would be so brazen in their bias is an outrage. If you’ve ever worried the media are trying to control election outcomes, look no further than this case,” said Goldy.
The video also makes a donation appeal in an attempt to raise $50,000 to fund the suit.
“CP24 broke the law and I want to make them pay for it,” Goldy states in the video. She also alleges that the suit could uncover possible collusion between fellow candidate John Tory and Bell Media.
Before being elected Mayor of Toronto, Tory served as host of weekday drive home show The Live Drive on Bell Media radio station NewsTalk 1010 (CFRB-AM) from Sept. 2009 to Feb. 2014. Tory guest-hosted the morning show as recently as July.
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