This complaint concerns statements made about Mr. Glen Kealey, a well-known political
activist in the Ottawa area, on The Lowell Green Show on CFRA-AM (Ottawa). According
to the complaint, on September 12, 1995, Mr. Green spoke of Kealey's belief in the
existence of an international conspiracy to create a “New World Order” and his potential
connection to the stand-off by a group of natives at Gustafsen Lake, B.C. This led Kealey
to send a fax to Green demanding to be allowed on air to rebut Green's statements. Mr.
Green reported on this fax in the following way:
I'm in trouble. Glen Kealey is after me. Got a fax this morning. Here is what it says: Urgent
Memorandum from Glen E.P. Kealey, President and Co-Chair, Canadian Institute for
Political Integrity, yeah, “Dear Lowell, when you are ready to have me on as a guest, rather
than propagandizing for the elitist side on your own, I will be happy to oblige. Arrange it.
P.S. Contrary to your on air statements, I am in Ottawa, awaiting your invitation.”
Well, for those of you who are not aware, Kealey is the man who stood outside the Peace
Tower for a couple of years protesting against Brian Mullooney [sic], um, I got it right the
first time, you know who I mean. Because he was protesting against Mulroney, he elicited
a fair amount of support, but Kealey's gone on to some other things since then obviously.
Yesterday the Toronto Globe & Mail in a front page story said that those now holed up in
Gustafsen Lake in B.C. espoused Kealey's belief that there is a giant international
conspiracy to take over the world. Apparently this group got its inspiration after Kealey
spoke to them a few months ago.
Now, I am going to tell you something else. That is that, yesterday, we were subjected, on
this program, to a very concerted attempt to interrupt the phone lines. Many, many people
phoned, or perhaps it was just a smaller number who were phoning repeatedly to block the
phone lines. And they did so with some success. And there were at least two threats made
against me. And I am not saying, because I can't, I'm not saying that any particular group
was responsible. But it is worth noting that it was obviously a concerted attempt and the
Canadian Institute for Political Integrity, headed by Mr. Kealey, is just across the river here
in Hull. So I'm going to try and get ahold of Mr. Kealey this morning. I'm going to see if he
will admit that his group was responsible in any way for that and find out just exactly what
his role is in this situation on the West Coast.
Mr. Green did succeed in reaching Mr. Kealey by phone later in the show. The following
are excerpts from the ensuing discussion.
Lowell Green: Well we have Glen Kealey with us. Glen is President & Co-Chair of the
Canadian Institute for Political Integrity. Good morning, Mr. Kealey.
Glen Kealey: Good morning, Lowell.
Lowell Green: Did you have anything to do with the attempt yesterday to blockade our
phone lines, Glen, or did any of your people?
Glen Kealey: Will you believe me if I deny it?
Lowell Green: I will believe you.
Glen Kealey: I deny it.
Lowell Green: Many others wouldn't, but I will believe you. So you don't have a Tim or
a Lucy with you?
Glen Kealey: I beg your pardon.
Lowell Green: Do you have a Tim or a Lucy that belong to your association?
Glen Kealey: Not that I know of, but we have 3,000 people from coast to coast, so there
might be a Tim and a Lucy in there…
Lowell Green: You are saying publicly that you are not aware of the attempt yesterday to
sabotage this radio program.
Glen Kealey: Sounds to me that you have accepted the fact that conspiracies exist, Lowell.
Lowell Green: Oh, conspiracies exist, but they are not large and they are not international.
Glen Kealey: To be fair, however, because you have explained to your audience who I am,
we should tell your audience that you are a former Liberal candidate.
Lowell Green: Oh I think that's quite well known…
Lowell Green: Glen, let's get onto this issue. I am very concerned as I'm sure many
Canadians are, over the role that the Globe & Mail says you have played and may still be
playing in this standoff at Gustafsen Lake. Let's go back. When did you speak to these
Glen Kealey: Well, first of all, let's be clear here. Every day that I spent talking to these
people is on videotape. So that's available. Anyone who wants to look at the truth, the
evidence is available.
Lowell Green: Yeah but when? When did this happen, Glen?
Glen Kealey: I began my conversations with natives not in B.C. but in Quebec in 1993
when they approached me. I met the natives who are known as the Defenders of the
Shuswap Nation for the first time in 1994 in Alberta.
Lowell Green: Did you go out there to meet them?
Glen Kealey: I was sent tickets as a matter of fact, by them, to fly out to meet them.
Lowell Green: When you say them, this is a very small group of radicals.
Glen Kealey: They may be a very small group of radicals to your mind. In their mind and
in our mind, the native community is split in two just like the non-native community. There
are the defenders of Mulroney and the system and the non-native community… and the rest
of us who didn't vote for Meech…
Lowell Green: Wait a minute, hold it, Glen, let's stick to the issues here. … Mulroney's got
nothing to do with what is going on here.
Glen Kealey: Mulroney spent nine years appointing judges…
Lowell Green: I want to know what these people in Gustafsen Lake are protesting. I do
not believe that they are protesting that this is sacred land. They seem to have a different
agenda which seems to be a legacy of yours. You have convinced them, this small group
of people, apparently, that there is some sort of international conspiracy headed by whom?
Glen Kealey: All of the information that I shared with them is on videotape.
Lowell Green: But tell us now, we have an international audience now.
Glen Kealey: I said… that there is a New World Order. If the people don't believe it they
should call the Department of External Affairs and ask about the new branch on Globalism
which was created in April to deal with New World Order affairs.
Lowell Green: Glen, it sounds awful kooky to me, but obviously…
Glen Kealey: A lot of things sound kooky to you, Lowell.
On the broadcast of September 21, Green did continue to discuss and take calls
concerning the “New World Order”. While Green was explicit in his view that this
conspiracy theory is silly, often breaking into a chant of the “Mickey Mouse” song, he did
have extensive discussions with callers who stated their belief in the New World Order.
The Letter of Complaint
In a letter dated September 20, 1995, Mr. Kealey wrote:
As a result of being contacted by numerous people on September 12, 1995 and informed
that Mr. Green had maligned my good reputation as a non-violent activist against political
corruption on air that day I contacted Mr. Green by fax and demanded that I be allowed, on
air, to rebut any of his inaccurate statements.
On the morning of September 13, 1995 I was contacted by CFRA and asked to remain on
the line while Mr. Green introduced me. While waiting I could hear the feed from the station
and how Mr. Green and another announcer were disparaging my person when Mr. Green
stated that I may have been involved in tying up his telephone lines and making two death
threats against him. I believe these accusations were repeated, on air, at least three times.
During his “formal” introduction of me and the Institute Mr. Green proceed to ridicule the
word Integrity in our Institution's name, by adding the slur …yeah. Later, when I denied any
involvement in the conspiracy against him, Green stated that he accepted my denial but
promptly added “many others would not”. I personally doubt such a conspiracy had really
existed, but rather that it was a marketing tool used by Green to increase his own
importance. As most of his audience must by now agree, Green is a legend only in his own
Green proceeded to speak over each of my answers so that only the message he personally
intended to communicate to his audience would be heard. When he did not agree with my
views he would ridicule, link them to anti-semitism or tell me to stick to the topic – his views.
“I'm God on this show” Green stated, as he threatened to cut me off for having personally
observed and come to a different understanding of world events than his own.
Then he proceeded to call me “sweetheart” and, when I objected, he called upon his staff,
or the audience at large, with these spoken and broadcast words – “can we have a little kiss
Without ever referring to the word “alleged” Green often accused the “Defenders of the
Shuswap Nation” of being criminals. He also suggested to his “international audience” that,
earlier, I had suggested the use of armed force, at the Gustafsen B.C. standoff.
During the days that followed I received phone calls from as far as Winnipeg, Manitoba,
each deploring the fact that such behaviour is being tolerated on air, in Canada. Some
suggested that criminal charges be laid against Mr. Green under Canada's new “hate laws”,
for having incited hatred against traditional aboriginal natives.
It is my hope that some kind of sanity can be returned to our airwaves, where citizens can
differ and debate opinions freely, without being subjected to abuse from the like of Mr.
On September 22, 1995, Mr. Kealey re-submitted his letter of complaint adding the
It has been reported to me that Mr. Green continued his verbal attack on my person, by
lying to his radio audience about my finances etc., between the hours of 11:00 and 12:00,
on the morning of Thursday September 21, 1995.
The Broadcaster's Response
In his letter of October 23, 1995, CFRA's General Manager responded to the issues raised
by the complainant
Your letter states your concerns about comments allegedly made about you on September
12th. You also have concerns about what was said about you and to you when you appeared
on CFRA September 13th, 1995. You accuse Lowell Green, a host on CFRA, of inciting
hatred against you.
We have reviewed the programs in question and have the following conclusions.
The broadcasts in question do not in any way, shape or form incite hatred against you or any
other person. The comments made by Lowell Green reflect opinions based on published
reports, statements made by you and listener comments.
Lowell Green hosts an opinion-based program. His comments on September 12th, 1995
may have bordered on strong sarcasm, not hatred. You, yourself, admit to “…demanded
I be allowed on the air to rebut any of his inaccurate statements.” You wanted to go on the
Lowell Green program, knowing full well what type of program it was. Mr. Green rarely has
guests. In your case he made a rare exception.
Mr. Green and CFRA are aware of your efforts. Many of them are very worthy and we
salute you. We are also aware that you and the Canadian Institute For Political Integrity are
quite savvy at getting media attention as you did September 13th, 1995.
Mr. Green was simply trying to engage you in conversation about a particular issue, an issue
you demanded to be heard on. When you insisted on moving into different issues, which
were not part of this day's programs, Mr. Green made attempts to stop it.
Mr. Kealey, if we inadvertently offended you or your organization, please accept our
wholehearted apology. No offense was intended.
The complainant was unsatisfied with this response and requested, on October 26, 1995,
that the CBSC refer the matter to the appropriate Regional Council for adjudication.
The CBSC's Ontario Regional Council considered the complaint under Clause 6 of the
CAB Code of Ethics, which reads as follows:
CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 6 (News)
It shall be the responsibility of member stations to ensure that news shall be represented
with accuracy and without bias. The member station shall satisfy itself that the
arrangements made for obtaining news ensure this result. It shall also ensure that news
broadcasts are not editorial. News shall not be selected for the purpose of furthering or
hindering either side of any controversial public issue, nor shall it be designed by the beliefs
or opinions or desires of the station management, the editor or others engaged in its
preparation or delivery. The fundamental purpose of news dissemination in a democracy
is to enable people to know what is happening, and to understand events so that they may
form their own conclusions.
Therefore, nothing in the foregoing shall be understood as preventing news broadcasters
from analyzing and elucidating news so long as such analysis or comment is clearly labelled
as such and kept distinct from regular news presentations. Member stations will, insofar as
practical, endeavour to provide editorial opinion which shall be clearly labelled as such and
kept entirely distinct from regular broadcasts of news or analysis and opinion.
It is recognized that the full, fair and proper presentation of news, opinion, comment and
editorial is the prime and fundamental responsibility of the broadcast publisher.
The Regional Council members listened to a tape of the program in question and reviewed
all of the correspondence. The Council considers that the program in question does not
violate the CAB Code of Ethics.
The Nature of Open-Line Programs
Given the broadcaster's reference to the Lowell Green Show as an “opinion-based
program”, it is opportune for the CBSC to discuss the range or nature of open line
programming. It is of the essence of open line, or talk, shows that they perform the role
of ancient Athenian democracy. They are potentially as close as society can come in the
late 20th century to that notion of pure political interactivity for the masses. In the CBSC's
decision in CKTB-AM re the John Michael Show (CBSC Decision 92/93-0170, February
15, 1994), the Ontario Regional Council referred to the Proposed Guidelines for Open
Line Programs, Public Notice CRTC 1988-121, the ultimate Policy Regarding Open-Line Programming, Public Notice CRTC 1988-213, and the Canadian Association of
Broadcasters' Submission to the CRTC in the Matter of Public Notice CRTC 1988-121 and had the following generalized comments regarding open line shows.
Paraphrasing the CRTC's introductory words in Public Notice CRTC 1988-121, open line
programs are a vital part of Canadian broadcasting. They present an opportunity for lively
public discussion. They are timely. They are, one might justifiably observe, an essential
home of public debate in a free democracy. They are also a locus for the expression of
conflicting passions, which make for exciting radio. As stated in the Canadian Association
of Broadcasters' Submission to the CRTC in the Matter of Public Notice CRTC 1988-121,
[O]pen line programs have evolved as the most instantaneous forum for
free flowing expressions of views on matters of public concern. In our view
they represent an important expression and reinforcement of true
democracy and as such are characteristic of only the most secure and
mature democratic societies.
While the CBSC neither underestimates nor discounts the importance of all of the foregoing,
it is acutely conscious of the fact that open line radio does not come to the public without
certain countervailing impediments and restrictions. Freedom of expression in Canada, as
guaranteed in Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not without
limitations (see Section 1 of the Charter). Freedom of expression in “the use of radio
frequencies, which are public property and limited in number by the radio spectrum [is]
subject to the requirement for programming of high standard.” (See Decision CRTC 90-772,
at p.6.) It is that delicate role of weighing freedom and restriction, lively debate and
imperturbable responsibility, which the host must play and which, when offence is declared
by a listener, the CBSC must judge.
Talk shows do not, however, come in a single flavour. They may indeed not be easily
pigeon-holed into a small number of categories, although they may be said to range from
the type in which the audience plays the largest role (and the host the smallest) to that in
which the host plays the largest role (and the audience the smallest). Generally speaking,
the goal of the host of the former type will be to define the subject and encourage callers
to address that theme as articulately and effectively as possible. The host will in a sense
be more of a moderator and, while undoubtedly provocative from time to time, is not likely
to be argumentative. It is a “public forum” in the best sense of the term.
In programs of the latter type, the host is less of a moderator and more of a participant. He
or she is likelier to be argumentative. The views and opinions of the host become or are
the focal point of the program; the callers merely provide a launch pad for more theatrical
or aggressive antics on the part of the host. It is less “public forum” than “public theatre”.
In the Council's view, wherever the open line program falls on the spectrum, it remains the
broadcaster's responsibility to guarantee the “full, fair and proper presentation of news,
opinion, editorial and comment” as provided in paragraph 3 of Clause 6 of the CAB Code
of Ethics. No one style of host has more licence than another to abuse guests or callers.
No one type of host is entitled to ignore the broadcaster's duty to ensure “full, fair and
proper presentation”. Examples of previous CBSC decisions on these points follow. In
CFRA-AM re the Lowell Green Show (CBSC Decision 93/94-0276, June 4,1994), the
Council found that the host's aggressive manner constituted discrimination against one of
the callers to his show, contrary to Clause 2 of the CAB's Code of Ethics.
The members of the CBSC's Ontario Regional Council noted that the female caller was not
even allowed to engage in a dialogue with the host. Once she had identified herself as a
Christian, she was immediately cut off, as though her religion made her unqualified to speak
on the subject at hand. The Regional Council unanimously decided that the host's treatment
of the caller, as well as his comments after cutting her off did, indeed, constitute a breach
of clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics, regarding “…abusive or discriminatory material or
comment… based on matters of religion.”
The Council further stated that
the Regional Council recognize[s] the requirement of broadcasters to balance freedom of
expression against abuses of that freedom. In Canada, the freedom of expression as
guaranteed in Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not without
limitations (see Section 1 of the Charter). As the CBSC affirmed in its April 15, 1994
decision concerning CKTB-AM, “it is that delicate weighing of freedom and restriction which
the host must accomplish and which, in the event of a listener complaint, the CBSC must
With respect to the program under consideration, the Regional Council members agreed
that the host had been rude and aggressive with the caller. This was a function not only of
the rapidity with which he had cut her off, but also his derisive tone: “Get lost. Get lost. A
preacher again… She doesn't count.” After she had identified herself as “a practising
Christian”, she had only been able to utter ten words before being unceremoniously cut off.
Her prefatory words “We in this country have turned our backs on God” were quietly stated
and were not, in the view of the Council, a statement of an irresponsible nature which would
have entitled a responsible, even if somewhat theatrical, host to cut her off.
The Regional Council considered that, by cutting her off on such flimsy and discriminatory
grounds, the host had not only infringed her freedom of expression, but had also precluded
the “free flowing expression of views of public concern” deemed essential to this type of
programming. The host of the program had clearly insulted the female caller and silenced
her because he believed that she had a point of view different from his. The Regional
Council unanimously agreed that, by limiting debate in this manner and for this reason, the
station breached clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics.
In CFTM-TV re Mongrain (CBSC Decision 93/94-0100, 93/94-0101, and 93/94-0102,
December 6, 1995), the Quebec Regional Council dealt with the related question of the
treatment of in-studio guests on a talk-type show.
There were, however, some important differences between the CFRA host and the
Mongrain's conduct during his interviews with Raël and Chabot. It is, for example, clear to
the Regional Council members that Mongrain made a number of contentious statements
(“travellers from afar can lie with impunity”, “the bigger the lie, the more likely people are
to believe it”) and posed several provocative questions to Raël and Chabot (“In any case,
you at supper with Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Allah and so on. That's pretty heavy, isn't it?”,
“Conferences 25 bucks a head, to go and hear about the wonders of cosmic ejaculation”).
At the same time, however, and in stark contrast to the Lowell Green complaint, Mongrain
afforded his guests ample opportunity to respond to his contentions and present their points
of view during the 24-minute segment. Indeed, the Regional Council members note that the
guests were in a position to refute certain of the host's statements and did provide some
clarification, as for example regarding the discussion of the costs of membership in the
movement, or the complaint filed by Chabot with the Human Rights Commission. Thus,
unlike the Lowell Green complaint, where debate was limited, indeed curtailed, Mongrain's
provocative statements encouraged debate and enabled clarification of the position of the
Raëliens. As a result, the Regional Council concludes that there was no breach of clause
6(3) of the CAB Code of Ethics.
Furthermore, Council recognizes that the program (with its host's often provocative public
statements) is well-known in the Quebec market and airs on the most-watched television
station in Montreal. Both guests and viewers of the program would therefore be familiar with
the host's approach, his challenges of his interviewees and his aggressive interviewing style.
Raël as much as admitted this at one point during the interview. Council affirms that, in this
context, Raël and Chabot were “informed” guests and, as such, should have been prepared
for both the tone and the nature of the assertions presented by Mongrain.
More recently, in CKAC-AM re the Gilles Proulx Show (CBSC Decision 94/95-0136,
December 6, 1995), the Council commented on the public nature of the airwaves.
While the Regional Council recognizes that the Gilles Proulx Show is essentially one of
provocative discussion and debate regarding issues of public importance, it equally
recognizes that this does not accord the host unlimited freedom of speech. If such an
untrammelled right exists in the host's own living room or, to a lesser extent, in the middle
of Parc Lafontaine, it does not exist on the Canadian airwaves. Indeed, radio and television
stations in Canada are granted the privilege of using broadcasting frequencies with a view
to providing, as stated in section 3(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act, “a public service essential
to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty [emphasis
added]”. In this instance, however, the host's extensive, excessive and abusive
commentary on the complainant's letters to the station in no way furthered public debate or
discussion on issues of public importance. Rather, the host used the airwaves to exact a
form of private vengeance on an individual listener. This behaviour in no way constituted
“informed analysis, comment and opinion on public events and issues” as provided in Article
7 of the RTNDA Code of Ethics.
The Content of the Program
In this case, the Council finds that Lowell Green provided ample opportunity to the
complainant and other listeners to express their points of view and did not arbitrarily cut
them off or otherwise treat them with disrespect. The Council notes that the host heeded
the complainant's faxed request to be given an opportunity to rebut Green's on-air
statements by calling him (an unusual step for Green, according to the broadcaster) that
same day. While the complainant may not have been able to say all that he wanted to say,
the Council finds that he was given fair opportunity to rebut Green's statements. In this
regard, the Council finds that this situation is similar to the situation faced by the Ontario
Regional Council regarding a complaint by a guest on the Shirley Show. In that decision,
CTV re an episode of The Shirley Show (CBSC Decision 93/94-0261, August 18, 1995),
the Council stated that it
… does not believe that it is generally practical or even possible to give every guest … the
opportunity to express fully his or her point of view on the subject treated. If any such
show's producers are doing their job, they will be gathering in their studio individuals who
have an expertise and perspective on a subject which would, in an ideal (but unrealistic)
world (from a broadcasting point of view), entitle each of them to occupy a considerable
quantity of time in exposition of their knowledge. That goal can rarely be met in a non-print
media environment and even print publishers have their own spatial constraints. And so,
it must almost be a given that persons choosing to be guests on such shows must be
satisfied that they will not have the opportunity to say everything they wish to say. Their
failure to meet their personal goals in this respect will not, in the absence of some otherevidence of breach, constitute a breach of the Controversial Issues provision of the CAB
Code of Ethics.
The Council listened carefully to the tape in order to determine whether the host did “speak
over each of my answers so that only the message he personally intended to communicate
to his audience would be heard”, as contended by the complainant. The Council's
conclusion is that this did not occur. In any talk show context, there is host-caller
interaction which may occasionally leave such a sense but nothing of this nature occurred
here. While the Council notes that Green did threaten to cut off Kealey if he didn't stick
to the topic, it does not find that this was intended to limit the expression of views to only
those in accordance with his own. Rather, the Council considers that Mr. Kealey was
attempting to digress from the topic which Green sought to discuss and Green, as host of
the program, was entitled to redirect the discussion or end the call. The complainant
alleged that Mr. Green has referred to his power as host of his show as being “God on this
program”. While the Council considers that this may be more than a slight overstatement,
there is no denying a host's entitlement and responsibility to control the discussion on his
or her show.
The complainant also took issue with being called “sweetheart” by Green. The Council
finds that this was not meant as a particular sign of disrespect towards Mr. Kealey, nor
would a frequent listener to the Lowell Green Show interpret it in such a way. The Council
notes that throughout the three-hour shows of September 13 and 21, Mr. Green called
many callers, both male and female, “sweetheart”. The “kiss” sound effect is also well-known to the frequent listener.
In light of the above, the Regional Council is of the view that the station has not
contravened clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics.
The CBSC always recognizes the broadcaster's obligation, as a CBSC member, to be
responsive to complainants. In this case, the Regional Council considers that the
response from the broadcaster dealt fairly with the issues raised by the complainant.
Nothing more is required.
This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards
Council. It may be reported, announced or read by the station against which the complaint
had originally been made; however, in the case of a favourable decision, the station is
under no obligation to announce the result.