Justin Ling, an Ottawa-based political reporter whose work appears on some of Canada’s largest national platforms, threatened the publisher of The Chronicle in a revealing email exchange Sunday evening. He threatened to use his access to The Globe and Mail to intentionally report ‘fake news’. We are unable to discern whether the communication was an attempt at political intimidation or extortion.
Ling is a supporter of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and has reported widely on transgender issues. A picture of Trudeau adorns his Twitter profile. Scrolling his social media pages will quickly reveal unabashedly left-leaning political biases.
In the federal government’s budget — expected to be tabled on Tuesday — Trudeau is planning to include a nearly $600 million bailout of Canada’s major media giants, including many left-leaning publications that employ Ling as a freelance writer. Among them, Ling’s work appears in Canadalandshow, Macleans, and The Ottawa Citizen.
That’s the backdrop when Ling placed a phone call to Matthew Ricchiazzi, our publisher, in the days approaching former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould‘s testimony to the House justice committee investigating SNC Lavalin‘s influence peddling.
During the call, Ling was livid and terse. He explained that he had access to several national media platforms, and made accusations against The Chronicle of poor reporting in a story that involved Micheal Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council and member of the Liberal government’s ‘election protection unit’ tasked with monitoring social media for ‘critical election incidents’.
Ricchiazzi asked Ling to email him the inaccuracies he alleged in the piece and ensured him that he would address it privately with the relevant journalist, whose name has not been publicly disclosed for fear of political retribution. Shortly thereafter, a largely inconsequential technical correction was made and appended to that article.
In the days that followed, Ling used his Twitter account to make defamatory characterizations of The Chronicle, which were subsequently cited by iPolitics reporter Charlie Pinkerton (a subsidiary of Frank Iacobucci‘s Torstar), to sweepingly disparage this platform as ‘fake news’.
Then on Sunday evening, Ling initiated this email exchange, in which he threatens to intentionally misreport his communication with Ricchiazzi, and plans to do so in The Globe and Mail:
The Chronicle takes corporate citizenship seriously. If in refusing to take The Globe & Mail’s interview we can meaningfully protest the increasing concentration of media power in the hands of the government, then Canada’s seemingly imperiled freedom of speech demands that we do so.
We also understand that journalists in the United States enjoy far more sweeping legal protections relating to political speech. We will continue to protect the names of journalists who fear the political retribution of any government, anywhere in the world — most especially when it is in defense of the rights and freedoms of our friends and neighbors.