Ricken Patel, of Avaaz vs. Kory Teneycke, VP Development of Montreal-based Quebecor Media (15-second commercial before TV-debate)
. Quebecor's lawyer's are now threatening to sue Avaaz if they do not withdraw their online petition
to keep Sun Media (owned by Quebecor) from getting a "must-carry" license for a proposed news channel being referred to as "Fox News North"
, an international online activist group, is among a host of voices that allege that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been trying to use his position and influence to push the Canadian television regulator (the CRTC
) to grant a "Category 1" license to Quebecor for a new news channel. That would mean all Canadian broadcasters must carry the channel, and that the channel would receive government funding. This channel is expected to have a conservative stance and similar tone to that of Fox News - in March 2009, Harper and his then-Director of Communication Kory Teneycke had a private lunch
with Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, CEO and founder of News Corp., owner of Fox News. Shortly afterwards, Teneycke left his job to head Sun Media's political coverage. Quebecor has been denied the license.
Rumours are now flying that Harper is trying to install a more friendly leadership in the CRTC in order to get the Category 1. The current Vice-Chair will not be offered contract-renewal, and it is reported that Harper is trying to get the current CRTC Chair, Konrad von Finckenstein, to leave his job
by offering him plush jobs. In places like Chile. In the meantime, Quebecor are seeking a Category 2 license.
Upset over the perceived manipulation, Canadian Avaaz members then launched the online petition
, applauding the Category 1 rejection, and asking Harper to stop pressuring the CRTC on the matter. In 6 days, over 75,000 people have signed the petition, attracting Teneycke's attention.
Teneycke questioned the legitimacy of the online petition over his twitter account,
saying "Source emailed me to say they registered Boba Fett, D. Shroot, etc. Petition lacks basic controls. Not sure who signed me up."
But he later admitted that it was his source who added those names
. However, the names of several real people, including journalists, were also falsely added to the petition at about the same time - activity which Avaaz is calling "criminal sabotage", and which they believe may have been the work of Teneycke. Quebecor's lawyers are now threatening to sue Avaaz if they do not remove the petition, but Avaaz has no such plans and is seeking to investigate the fraudulent signups