Calgary Herald Retracts Licia Corbella’s Columns Promoting Jason Kenney’s 2017 UCP Leadership Bid
The Calgary Herald has removed at least a dozen columns following revelations Corbella was a card-carrying UCP member
The Calgary Herald has removed at least a dozen columns by right-wing columnist Licia Corbella from its website, a new analysis by PressProgress has found.
That includes one column explicitly endorsing Jason Kenney for leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party that was published during the three-day voting period of the 2017 UCP leadership race.
A new investigation by Canadaland published Monday said Postmedia, Canada’s biggest newspaper chain, is pushing a hard conservative line behind-the-scenes.
NEW: Postmedia has given a directive for all of its papers to shift to the political right, in an unprecedented, centralized fashion.
An inside look at the conservative overhaul of Canada’s biggest newspaper chain: https://t.co/ByqnGAu5mP
— CANADALAND (@CANADALAND) August 12, 2019
According to Canadaland, which interviewed 30 current Postmedia employees, the newspaper chain is currently planning to “double down on what management calls ‘reliable conservative voices’.”
And Alberta will reportedly play a central role in the media conglomerate’s project.
Postmedia has already hired Jason Kenney’s former campaign director to lobby the UCP government for a lucrative deal to publish anti-environmental advertorials in its newspapers while former Postmedia columnist Claudia Cattaneo was recently hired to lead Kenney’s $30 million war room to lead the attack on environmentalists.
That’s one reason it was a little awkward when it was revealed earlier this month that Calgary Herald columnist Licia Corbella was actually a card-carrying member of the United Conservative Party in 2017.
NEW: I learned that Calgary Herald columnist Licia Corbella, who has written in favour of Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party including during the 2019 Alberta election, was a member of the party and voted in its most recent leadership race. The Herald’s response: pic.twitter.com/ywZDEDnz4x
— Sean Craig (@sdbcraig) August 2, 2019
Despite claiming she was an impartial observer, Corbella published a number of columns sympathetic to Kenney during the 2017 UCP leadership race.
In fact, one day before the leadership vote, Corbella endorsed Kenney for leader. On October 27, 2017, she wrote Kenney is “quite simply, a force of nature — compelling, sharp, humorous, principled and articulate like few others.”
“He doesn’t have a stop button,” Corbella wrote. “Kenney sets and then gets goals done.”
— Licia Corbella (@LiciaCorbella) October 27, 2017
On August 5, 2017, Corbella also profiled Jeff Callaway in her column five days before he actually launched his UCP leadership campaign.
“I don’t want to let all of my tricks out of the bag yet,” Callaway told Corbella, “but I’ve got some pretty bold, visionary ideas.”
Today, Callaway is better known as Kenney’s “kamikaze candidate,” a campaign said to exist for the sole purpose of attacking Kenney’s main rival Brian Jean. To date, Callaway’s campaign has racked up $163,850 in fines over irregular donations.
“It’s no secret that Callaway has not been a big fan of Jean’s leadership for some time now,” Corbella remarked at the time.
Two years later, the Herald has retracted both columns — at least a dozen in total.
According to Canadaland:
“A Postmedia spokesperson said the company has now removed from the Herald’s website seven columns Corbella wrote about the UCP while holding a party membership.”
An analysis by PressProgress of cached copies of the Calgary Herald’s website reveals that at least
12 13 columns written by Corbella between May 2017 and May 2018 recently disappeared from the Herald’s website.
The columns appear related to the 2017 UCP leadership race, as well as topics generally relating to provincial or federal politics.
Calgary Herald editors directed PressProgress’ inquiries to Postmedia’s corporate head office in Toronto, but a Postmedia spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from PressProgress.
Corbella says she is currently on vacation and not responding to e-mails.
Below is a list of Licia Corbella’s retracted columns, along with links to copies of the original text:
May 8, 2017
“Nuance needed in GSA rules — binary is so last century”
Summary: Corbella suggests “outing” students in Gay-Straight Alliances could sometimes prevent teen suicides (Original text).
June 15, 2017
“Show Canada Alberta’s bottom line, Premier Notley”
Summary: Corbella reveals that she found something suspicious while she was crunching numbers on Statistics Canada’s website (Original text).
August 2, 2017
“Jason Kenney’s plan to leave UCP policy to members can lead to trap or treasure”
Summary: Corbella distills the wisdom of Jason Kenney’s “grassroots guarantee” (Original text).
August 5, 2017
“UCP leadership battle one of quality”
Summary: Corbella applauds all UCP leadership candidates, introduces Jeff “kamikaze candidate” Callaway as another possible challenger (Original text).
September 9, 2017
“Four-year-old boy stuck in legal limbo while thousands illegally cross the border”
Summary: Corbella claims “thousands of illegal immigrants pour across Canada’s border,” but notes Michelle Rempel may have found a solution (Original text).
October 28, 2017
“All UCP leadership hopefuls are great choices but Kenney is best”
Summary: Corbella thoughtfully explains why she thinks Jason Kenney should be the leader of the United Conservative Party (Original text).
November 25, 2017
“Alberta couple issues warning about GSA law”
Summary: Corbella returns to the question of Gay-Straight Alliances, warns GSAs could “lead to the death of children” (Original text).
January 17, 2018
“Omar Khadr’s rights more important than Canadian charities’ rights”
Summary: Corbella complains that Omar Khadr is treated more favourably than right-wing anti-abortion groups (Original text).
March 20, 2018
“What do women want? Don’t ask Morneau, he hasn’t got a clue”
Summary: “Most of my girlfriends would rather be stuck in a room with Harvey Weinstein for a week than get a job in technology,” Corbella writes (Original text).
March 24, 2018
“Trudeau’s troubling tendency to elbow his views into the minds of Canadians”
Summary: Corbella shares several loosely-connected thoughts about why she does not support Justin Trudeau (Original text).
April 29, 2018
“Trudeau’s cynicism over jobs grant funding is farcical but not funny”
Summary: Corbella explains why Jason Kenney “summed things up best” when it comes to giving anti-abortion groups taxpayer-funded subsidies (Original text).
May 11, 2018
“NDP MP has thankfully painted herself into a corner”
Summary: Corbella criticizes a female politician for coming forward with a sexual harassment complaint (Original text).
May 21, 2018“
The Calgary School has political reach far beyond the city and country”
Summary: Corbella says Barry Cooper, Tom Flanagan, Rainer Knopff and Ted Morton have had a major impact on society; notes one of Barry Cooper’s books was found by SEAL Team Six in Osama Bin Laden’s compound (Original text).
Update: Following publication of this story, sharp-eyed readers let us know they found additional columns scrubbed from the Calgary Herald’s website:
As some may recall, the story in both of these articles is eerily similar to one peddled by John Carpay’s JCCF (Carpay, remember, compared the pride flag to a swastika). This case was also a Kenney talking point during the AB provincial election https://t.co/QXXhM65fby
— Emma McIntosh (@EmmaMci) August 13, 2019
If you find anymore retracted Licia Corbella columns, drop us a line and we’ll be sure to update our story: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help us protect Canadians by holding the powerful accountable.
Journalism is an important public service. That’s why PressProgress is prioritizing stories aimed at keeping Canadians safe and holding the powerful accountable during the coronavirus pandemic.
Please consider supporting our award-winning non-profit news organization so we can keep making a positive impact for Canadians.
Support Our Journalism