GUELPH POLITICAST #59 - Bill Hulet, Guelph Back-Grounder

9Dec

Hard to believe, but it's been almost a year since the Guelph Mercury went out of business, and it's a void that has still yet to be completely filled, even in spite of the best efforts of some people. But forget breaking news, and forget about the play-by-play at city council meetings just for a minute. News doesn't happen in a void, and not every story - even most stories - is self-contained with a beginning, middle and end. Context. News is useless without it, but where can we now get it? 

Bill Hulet, a man with a lengthy and accomplished history of political engagement in the city, is trying to bring context back with his new site, the Guelph Back-grounder. Using old-fashioned tools like time, and research, Hulet's resurrecting long form journalism online in the hopes that it might provide Guelphites with some background on hot button issues that may have recent developments, but are rooted in a past that may have been forgotten.

With his new website launched, Hulet's trying to raise awareness for it, and the work he's doing. I know from my own experiences how time consuming and complicated exploring ongoing issues can be, and sometimes there's just not enough hours on the clock to dig into an issue properly, especially if it goes back years. So with the appreciation for the work that Hulet is trying to do, I invited him to do an episode of the Guelph Politicast.

Although the point of the podcast is to talk about the Guelph Back-grounder, Hulet and I wandered off into area in the general topic area of media in Guelph, what we've lost with the closure of the Mercury, and what we hope to gain in the open range of the web as we move forward without our daily paper.

You can check out the Guelph Back-Grounder at its website, or on Facebook. You can get in touch with Hulet at thecloudwalkingowl [at] gmail [dot] com, or on Twitter @CloudwalkingOwl.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

Stay tuned for future editions of the Guelph Politicast!

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Open Sources Guelph - December 1, 2016

5Dec

This week on Open Sources Guelph, we say goodbye to a dictator. Or maybe that's goodbye to a working class hero. There's a lot of controversy there as the prime minister knows, and we'll keep serving up the controversy as Justin Trudeu's Liberals seem to be hedging on that electoral reform he so vehemently promised last fall. Speaking of flip-flops, we'll head to Toronto where the mayor there now thinks that tolls aren't so bad, and we'll round up the week by talking about everyone's favourite President-Elect whose wrath we expect to feel on Twitter any day.

This Thursday, December 1, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Bye Fidel-ity. It seems that time has done what numerous CIA operations could not, Fidel Castro is no more. One of the last cold warriors, Castro had an iron grip on the small island nation of Cuba for nearly 60 years, and even though its his brother that's been doing the gripping lately, it's hard to separate Fidel from the communist revolution that's still alive and well there. We'll talk about Castro's complicated history, from being a hero in Central and South America to being the boogeyman of the Western Hemisphere in the eyes of America. We'll also talk about the so-called controversy of Justin Trudeau's reaction to Castro's passing.

2) Election Re-Norm. After their 2015 election victory, the Liberal government said in 18 months there would be a new electoral system in place to assure that more Canadian voices are heard at the ballot box. That deadline is now just five months away, but reform seems as illusive as ever with the Democratic Reform minister saying there's been no consensus around what kind of system that Canadians want to replace first-past-the-post with. That's weird considering most of the people that took part in townhalls on the subject said overwhelmingly that they want some form of proportional representation. Are the Liberals trying to back away from their promise, and how apoplectic are people going to be?

3) The Toll Shebang. Last week, John Tory did a bold thing, he flip-flopped for the greater good. Several years ago, he more or less said that toll roads would be opened in Toronto over his dead body, but now, half way through his term as mayor, Tory sees tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway as a necessity to fund vital infrastructure and transit. It's a controversial move, but one that Tory seems dedicated to make despite the visceral reaction to the idea of taxing a road millions of people use every day. But can the gambit pay off? And if you don't like the idea of tolls, then what other ways are there for Canada's largest city to make extra money to assure smooth growth?

4) Trumpdate. The President-Elect has been a busy man, choosing people to fill his cabinet, skipping security briefings, dodging questions about conflicts of interest in regards to his businesses, starting Twitter fights with Broadway shows, watching a lot of CNN and complaining about it, postulating about further electoral conspiracy theories... Well, you get the picture. From distractions like flag burning to serious questions about the qualifications of many in his new cabinet, it's been a mad, mad, mad presidential transfer of power so far, and it's far from over. We'll bring you the latest from Trump Tower, the happiest place on Earth.

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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GUELPH POLITICAST #58 - Real Estate in Guelph

2Dec

It's been big news in Canada the last couple of years, the record high housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto that have people concerned that home ownership is becoming increasingly out of reach for more and more Canadians. Those trends seem to be coming our way now, and people are literally lining up for whatever deal they can find, so it seems the time is right to take a closer look at the state or our real estate.

Those hot housing prices in Toronto are now spreading as far out as Kitchener, Cambridge, and Guelph; home buyers are looking to get more bang for their buck while still staying relatively close to the city. But in this quest for bigger yards at lower prices, Guelph is being squeezed. People that love Guelph and are looking to lay down roots here are being edged out by those looking for a deal, or looking to make a shrewd investment. On top of that, Guelph already has a very low vacancy rate. We have more interest than ever, but we also have less to offer.

So considering all this, I reached out to some experts: Tyson Hinschberger of Planet Realty, and Kelly Caldwell and Kimberley McKee from Trillium West. They're the ones trying to find people homes, and while it seems like this would be boom times for people in real estate, they too have concerns about the market. This triad is struggling to help their clients find a nice home for a fair price, and that's not as easy as it used to be. So what can perspective home buyers expect? What are they having to deal with? And what does the housing market in the Royal City look like from the realtor side of the business? Their insights may surprise you.

So we're talking about homes, selling homes, and buying homes on this week's Guelph Politicast.

If you're interested in buying or selling a home, you can get in touch with Tyson Hinschberger 519-573-2191 or planetrealty.ca, while you can reach Kelly Caldwell and Kimberley McKee through their office at 226-314-1600 or at trilliumwest.com.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

Stay tuned for future editions of the Guelph Politicast!

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Open Sources Guelph - November 24, 2016

28Nov

Here on Open Sources Guelph, we can't guarantee that we'll always get them right, but also promise not to intentionally mislead you. It's an important distinction this week as we dig into the phenomenon of fake news, and whether or not it had an effect on the U.S. Presidential election. Also this week, we'll talk about how if you can walk and talk, you can go to Brock, and get elected to Queen's Park as we look at the Ontario by-elections. We'll also look ahead to the 2017 British Columbia provincial election, and how in another 13 years, Santa won't be able to leave coal in your stocking anymore.

This Thursday, November 17, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Fake/Off. In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election was the revelation that when it came down between fake news and real news, the fake news was getting more eyeballs and clicks. Stories made out of whole cloth, like Pope Francis endorsing Trump, got more likes and shares on Facebook versus a legitimate news story with facts and evidence, like the New York Times' investigation of Trump's tax returns that revealed he hadn't paid any in 20 years. Dozens of young people have gone into business for themselves in Macedonia, cranking out fake news for thousands of dollars a day, and the vital question of our time, more than what to do about Trump Nation, is what to do about a country being fed fake news?

2) Home Schooled! The big news last Thursday was that Tim Hudak's old riding in Niagara West-Glanbrook was held by the Progressive Conservatives, but the bigger news was that it was held by a 19-year-old university student named Sam Oosterhoff. But while PC leader Patrick Brown could claim victory over the news cycle with "Teen MPP", he could not sweep the by-elections as "Ontario's safest Liberal seat" stayed Liberal by electing Nathalie Des Rosier in Ottawa-Vanier. So with a split decision, what are we to make of this by-election cycle? Well, Premier Kathleen Wynne is now talking about actually cutting hydro rates so something drastic must have changed...

3) Clark Shadows. Although it's still a few months away, the gears are already turning for the general election in British Columbia next year, but this Christmas it's BC NDP leader John Horgan that's talking like Santa Claus with promises of $15 per hour minimum wage, and $10 per day childcare. Horgan feels like he has a shot as voters seem to be tiring of the ruling Liberal Party and Christy Clark, who are being chased by scandals involving cuts to healthcare and education, not to mention the ever growing housing crisis that seems to have been hurt more by the Liberals' measures than helped. As BCers count down to May and their provincial election, what are the issues that are going to make or break the campaign, and what can the parties do about them?

4) Coal Miner’s Swatter.Environmentalists haven't had much to celebrate lately, but this week federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced that the country will phase out coal power by the year 2030. Many provinces have initiated that goal on their own, and interestingly the areas that will be most affected are the Prairies, where oil and gas are supposed to be king. Many are welcoming the move, pundits say that there's not much in the way of political risk for Justin Trudeau and the Federal Liberals, but on the other hand, this could cost Trudeau points in places he's trying to make inroads by dragging his feet on pipelines. There's also blowback from the coal industry workers themselves, who recently showed south of the border that they won't take job losses lying down...

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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GUELPH POLITICAST #57 - Ted Pritchard, Fair Tax Campaign

25Nov

Condo living is a growing market in Guelph, and that wasn't just a high-rise joke. With Places to Grow breathing down our neck, the demand on the Royal City is to get higher and tighter, so the issues of condos should be of particular concern, and Ted Pritchard tries to make that case every year at budget time as he reminds council that not all homeowners in Guelph, it seems, are created equal.

As Pritchard points out, some condos in Guelph are able to take advantage of city services, but a great many of them are not. Condo owners are charged the same amount in property taxes as a single-detached home owner, but there are some condos that don't get garbage or other services, so to get those services, they must be contracted privately, which comes out of condo fees. In essence, some condo owners are paying twice for the same service.

That's what Pritchard is advocating to change. To him, his campaign is not about fair tax, but about fair treatment. Every budget time, he goes down to city council and he makes the point, but it's tough to do that a couple of times a year, and five minutes at a time. Fascinated by the disparity, I invited Pritchard to take part in this edition of the Guelph Politcast to talk about fairness, city services, and why discussion about taxation at budget time isn't always about too much or too little.

If you would like to hear more about the Fair Tax Campaign, or get involved, you can get in touch with Ted Pritchard at tpritcha@rogers.com.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

Stay tuned for future editions of the Guelph Politicast!

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Open Sources Guelph - November 17, 2016

21Nov

We’re pleased to take a break from the live-feed of the Washington circus this week on Open Sources Guelph to deal with more present matters here in Canada. Yes, there are plenty of leadership-related predicaments here in the Great White North, and they need to be given some air time too. For instance, did you know that no one’s running for the federal NDP leadership yet? Meanwhile, things are getting a little off the rails in the Federal and Alberta Conservative leadership campaigns, and if you’re a journalist in Montreal, you better check your phone, because your phone might be listening to you.

This Thursday, November 17, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Brinksman-Dip. While the Conservative race has nine people representing various individual points of view, the race for the New Democratic leadership seems stalled at the starting line. Steve Paikin is already calling this the beginning of the end for the Orange Wave, and while that may be a little premature, one can’t help but get the impression that there’s something wrong when it comes to who could lead the left of the left in this country. To get some insight, we’ll talk to local NDP supporter Shayne Douglas Ward about where his party is, where he’d like to see it go, and where all the future leaders of his party might be.

2) Kellie’s Zeroes. Unfortunately for a party looking to rebrand itself in the wake of an embarrassing loss last fall, the brand that’s getting the most press is that of an orange-coloured populist south of the border that flirts with racism. As the federal Conservatives get closer to naming their new leader, the debate - both actual, and metaphorical - has come down to immigration and Canadian values, two things that the party should have learned from after the disastrous 2015 campaign. It’s enough to make you wonder if the Conservatives really want to be a viable force in defeating Justin Trudeau in three years. We’d ask Kellie Leitch herself, but she skipped out on the last press availability of the leadership candidates, so...

3) Kenney Dreadful. Meanwhile in Alberta, there’s another Conservative leadership competition taking place, and its one where the stakes are higher because Alberta PCs are trying to get their party back on the dynasty track with the rival Wildrose Party nipping at their heels. It seems like this is Jason Kenney’s race to lose, he’s even got the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper out there campaigning on his behalf, so what could possibly go wrong? How about allegations that his supporters harassed fellow candidate Sandra Jansen out of the race? In the spirit of growing disenfranchisement with the establishment, is Kenney now too big to succeed now?

4) Spy Blame. Freedom of the press took a hit last week that had nothing to do with He Who Must Not Be Named, as seven Montreal journalists learned that their phones were being tapped by Quebec’s provincial police. The revelation, which came from “sources” and not from the police themselves, caused such an uproar that an emergency debate in the Quebec legislature was called to discuss the matter. But here’s a question: why were the police more concerned about the reputation of someone accused of corruption in the Carbonneau Commission investigations than protecting the press from intrusive police surveillance? What’s the deal?

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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Open Sources Guelph - November 10, 2016

14Nov

It’s a mad house! A mad house! How many you felt like George Taylor realizing that he was on Earth along after experiencing the ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency this week? Open Sources Guelph does. We may not be on the Planet of the Apes, but you’d have a tough time convincing us that we’re not on a planet of deplorables. We will talk for the last time about the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election before starting the countdown to the first days of the Trump presidency, and then we’ll consider more local matters with out latest guest from city council, and he’ll tell us what he thinks of Trump (just kidding).

This Thursday, November 10, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) That Happened. As you may have heard, the 45th President of the United States is going to be a man who just entered the political field 17 months ago. He’s been elected to nothing, he’s held no appointed government office, and when he was asked to serve by his nation’s military, he declined because he had an owie on his foot. Yes, this is now Donald J. Trump’s world, and we now have to endure it. What does the future look like, how did we get here, and why should Canadians not be so smug about Americans and their electoral insanity? There are many, many more questions we’ll be looking at too, so we’ll be dedicated the first half of the show to the American election and President-Elect *sigh* Trump.

2) Urban Karl. Continuing in our seemingly never-ending quest to get all members of city council on to the show for a chat, we’re pleased to welcome Ward 6 Councillor Karl Wettstein to Open Sources. Wettstein is a veteran councillor of Guelph’s southern most ward, and has been on several key committees at city hall. Recently, Wettstein was swept up in the controversy over Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc, and took responsibility for the missteps on behalf of himself and Mayor Cam Guthrie, to which the Mayor strenuously disagreed. We’ll ask Councillor Wettstein about the blame game and the controversy around GMHI and District Energy, and we’ll also ask about his thoughts on the 2017 budget process so far, the development on Dublin St, and other pressing issues before council. Plus, we’ll have listener questions as well.

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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Open Sources Guelph - November 3, 2016

10Nov

This is almost over, folks. Not Open Sources Guelph, of course! The show will go on for the forceable future, but when it comes to our first topic of the week, it will, mercifully, be almost over. We'll look at the last days of the 2016 presidential election, which had at least one last good twist for the final week of campaigning. We'll also catch up with all the latest from Guelph City Hall as things have been heated lately and look to get even more heated over the next several weeks. From there, we'll consider the federal scene and whether our government is acting inappropriately in raising political funds, and then it's off to North Dakota where there's no end in sight for the protests there.

This Thursday, November 3, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) The Final Countdown. To the relief of people across the planet, the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election will be over on Tuesday. That relief will be short-lived if Donald Trump ends up the 45th President of the United States, but the polls seem to to indicate with less than a week to go that Secretary Hillary Clinton still has a comfortable lead in many of the key states. Only one thing stands in her way now: Email. And FBI Director James Comey. And a constituency that's terminally convinced that Hillary likes to hide things. Unfortunately for everyone with a stake in this thing, we have no idea what the FBI is investigating or who, but one thing's for certain, in a couple of days this will all be over. Probably.

2) Gyrings and Firings. Last week was a contentious one at City Hall as a shareholders meeting about Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. devolved into an airing of grievances about which councillors supported actions that resulted in millions of lost investment and when. On top of that, Transit General Manager Phil Meagher was fired under suspicious circumstances, or at least down low circumstances. Considering that the annual budget deliberations are beginning, a time of year that always wears on intrer-council and staff relations, it seems like an odd time to start sewing new resentments. We'll take a look at all the recent doings at City Hall, and look ahead to just how raucous the budget deliberations this year will be.

3) Angle and Cash. The Justin Trudeau Liberals are in trouble again, and the issue is cash-for-access fundraising. Once again, the press and opposition are looking at fundraisers for cabinet ministers with top-level (read: rich) donors with a critical eye. Trudeau says there's nothing to see here because the donation limits are so small that its not nearly enough for people to buy influence, but many people are not so easily convinced, especially since this is the second time this year that this very issue has come up. If donors with deep pockets aren't getting preferential access, they why hold the fundraisers, and even if they are getting preferred access, hasn't this the way politics has always been run?

4) Standing Rocked. When you've got the Avengers and the Justice League working against you, you've got to wonder what side you're on... This is the state of the protest of the Standing Rock Sioux and allies, and those constructing the North Dakota Access Pipeline they're so dead set against. On Friday, private security started assaulting protestors in a move that immediately garnered widespread condemnation, and then the U.N. stepped in and said that the U.S. Government should stop all construction until the matter can be resolved. Monday revealed the possibility that the local police were using Facebook to identify protestors, which started a wave of people checking into the protest sight to start skewering the alleged surveillance. We'll talk about the latest goings on, and whether this situation is any closer to reaching an end.

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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GUELPH POLITICAST #56 - Ed Butts, Local Historian and Author

4Nov

Every November 11, wreaths are laid and poppies are left at the Cenotaph at the corner of Woolwich and Eramosa. On this corner, in the centre of town, there's a wall of names memorializing those Guelphites that fought and died in the two World Wars and the Korean War, but how often does the average Guelphite in 2016 read those names? How often do we think about those lives lost, or who those people even were when they died in the killing fields of Europe and Asia?

Well Ed Butts is someone that started thinking about those people, and more than that, he decided to dig into who they were, and what their lives were like before they died and ended up memorialized forever on the Cenotaph. Butts is a local historian and author, and he went to the Guelph Mercury with an idea for a column series: let's look at the names on the Cenotaph and profile them. Who were they? What were their lives like before they went to war? Who did they leave behind?

Despite the end of the Mercury, Butts has continued his research into the names on the Cenotaph, and has even found a few mistakes along the way. On the Cenotaph there are names that are misspelled, names that are missing, and as his research efforts continued the family members and decedents of those on the wall have contributed to that effort in unexpected ways. On this week's Politicast, I pretty much give it over to Butts and some of his greatest hits of the people who went to war and died for us, yet we barely know anything about them.

Learning about those we remember every Remembrance Day is the topic of discussion on this week's Guelph Politicast.

Butts will be giving an historical talk on Guelph's World War I dead called "History Lives Here: Guelph's Cenotaph and the Great War" at the Main Library, 100 Norfolk St, at 2 pm on Sunday November 13.

The theme music for the Guelph Politicast is from the KPM Klassics collection by Syd Dale.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday's episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

Stay tuned for future editions of the Guelph Politicast!

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Open Sources Guelph - October 27, 2016

31Oct

On Wednesday, Donald Trump took a break from the campaign trail to open his new hotel in Washington D.C., so if the Republican nominee for President doesn’t care about the election this week, then why should Open Sources Guelph? Instead, we’ll focus on other concerns, like why Justin Trudeau might not be a man of his word on electoral reform. We’ll also talk about another First Nations protest against another energy project closer to home, whether or not this European trade deal will go through in spite of one little place in Belgium, and if Ezra Levant is good enough to be recognized by the U.N. as a journalist running a journalistic organization. 

This Thursday, October 27, at 5 pm, Scotty Hertz and Adam A. Donaldson will discuss:

1) Reform Bodies. When Justin Trudeau won with a huge majority last fall, many people wondered if the mandate might slake the Prime Minister's thirst for electoral reform. It turns out now that they maybe right. In an interview with Le Devoir, Trudeau suspected that the reason Canadians were so high on reform a year ago was because they were tired of the previous ruling party. Many have read that as a flip-flop, but the more pressing matter is whether or not the special Commons committee will come back with a consensus decision on exactly how Canadian elections will be reformed. Should pro-reform advocates by concerned that the dream might not happen?

2) Muskrat Stalls. In another one of those environmental protests that are overlooked till they’re too big to ignore, all eyes turned to Lake Melville where the Inuit community is concerned about a dam project that may have long-term negative health consequences for the nearly 2,000 residents in the area who depend on local fish and seal for their food and livelihoods. Some members of the community were protesting locally, and a few went to Ottawa and participated in a hunger strike to get their point across. For now it seems victory has been achieved by the protesters as Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball has promised an “independent expert advisory committee” made up of various stakeholders to monitor the project, but can they be trusted to look out for the First Nations’ best interests if they had to be shamed into doing it in the first place?

3) La Mayhem CETA. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement once seemed like a slamdunk, but that was before some place in Belgium called Wallonia decided that they didn’t like the deal they were getting. Wallonia’s socialist Premier Paul Magnette didn’t like the assurances concerning the protection against an unstoppable tide of agricultural imports, or assurances that the invest court system being established could be impartial (or at least not openly in favour of the mega-corps). The whole affair left Federal Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland exhausted from trying to negotiate a trade deal being sunk by one small region of one small country. But is there a silver lining to this cloud? Might the Canadian government be about to get out of a trade deal that’s fairly unpopular with a trade weary public while not looking the ones at fault?

4) Better Than Ezra. The United Nations has drawn the line, at it is in front of Ezra Levant's The Rebel. Levant tried to get members of his team press credentials for the upcoming COP 22 climate change conference in Marrakech, but the UN said they only give creds to genuine media rather than advocacy groups or non-governmental organizations pretending they're media. Ouch. The situation's so bad that Levant has even turned to his other arch-nemesis  Justin Trudeau for help. It's been a tough year for Levant, who's also had to battle the Government of Alberta for press credentials, it's almost as if people don't like Ezra Levant and his deeply personal and acerbic approach to politics. But should they just let The Rebel  have its credentials, and should outlets be scrutinized and judged before giving out press passes?

Open Sources is live on CFRU 93.3 fm and cfru.ca at 5 pm on Thursday.

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