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Remembering 8 stories we broke that made headlines all across Canada in 2016

Here are eight very newsworthy stories PressProgress was first to report on that made headlines around Canada in 2016.


2016 is winding down, so why don’t we all take a trip down memory lane?

Here are eight newsworthy stories PressProgress was first to report on that ended up making headlines around Canada in 2016:

1. Remember when the Clerk of the Privy Council compared Carleton University students to nazis and communists?


In January, PressProgress drew attention to hyperbolic comments by Michael Wernick, Trudeau’s pick for Privy Council Clerk, comparing Carleton University students protesting tuition increases to “brownshirts” and “maoists”:

Noting that “Wernick’s remarks were the focus of a report this past weekend by PressProgress,” here’s how the National Post reported on our story:

“In the email, Wernick continued: ‘It has no place in a lawful and democratic society – it is the tactics of brownshirts and Maoists. It has no place in a university – it is the antithesis of free speech and open debate’.


Brownshirts were the paramilitary wing of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party and played a key role in his rise to power in the 1930s, often disrupting the meetings of opposing parties. Maoists were followers of Communist China’s revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.”

PressProgress’ reporting even forced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to awkwardly reply that he “looked forward to working” with his new PCO Clerk.


2. Remember how Brad Trost ran a Facebook ad bashing same-sex marriage?


In September, PressProgress was first to report on a Facebook ad run by Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trost featuring an image of two fingers that declares: “marriage is the union of one man, one woman.”

Trost’s spokesperson told PressProgress that “Mr. Trost has been pretty clear and in no way supports the idea of gay marriage.”

“Progressive online publication PressProgress published a screenshot of a Facebook ad sponsored by Trost Wednesday,” iPolitics later noted – the story was also followed by CBC NewsCTV News, Global News and the National Observer



3. Remember the time an Alberta Tory executive resigned because he accused Earls Restaurants of supporting terrorism?


And PressProgress was the first outlet to report on Alberta PC executive Craig Chandler’s accusation that Earls Restaurants supports terrorists back in April:


Chandler later announced he would be resigning from the party’s executive board: 


4. Remember that thing about “the sinful nature of homosexual practice”?  


In November, PressProgress was first to report on 19-year-old Ontario MPP Samuel Oosterhoff’s history of posting articles that variously describe “homosexuality” as a “sin” and criticize Christians who take a moderate view on the subject. 

Here’s how the Toronto Star followed-up on it:

“Press Progress … dug up articles he’s posted on social media that denounce homosexuality and criticize Christians who do not disapprove of it. Oosterhoff also wrote a supportive note on Twitter about the activities of the Association for Reformed Political Action, a group affiliated with his church that has held anti-abortion rallies and argued same-sex marriage sets society on ‘the slippery slope to polygamy’.”

During Oosterhoff’s first scrum as an MPP at Queen’s Park, Oosterhoff repeatedly refused to clarify his personal views on the subject or elaborate on how his views will shape how he votes on public policy.

5. Remember how the Justice Minister supported a dam she previously said was a violation of treaty rights?


Over the summer, PressProgress pointed out inconsistencies in Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s position on the controversial Site C dam:

Although she previously said the project runs “roughshod” over “Aboriginal title and rights, including treaty rights,” after taking office, Wilson-Raybould didn’t object to her government’s support for the project.

Here’s how the Vancouver Sun reported on it:

“The 2012 video interview, being circulated by the organization Press Progress, shows Wilson-Raybould attending a Site C protest in her previous role with the Assembly of First Nations.

‘The country’s reputation is at stake with approval of these projects like Site C, like the Enbridge pipeline,’ Wilson-Raybould says in an interview apparently conducted at the protest. ‘Our reputation as a caring and considerate, environmentally friendly nation internationally is going to be questioned, and running roughshod over aboriginal title rights, including treaty rights, is not the way to improve that reputation.”


6. Remember when Maxime Bernier admired China’s basic dictatorship?


Back in 2013, Conservatives were outraged when then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau expressed his “admiration” for China’s “basic dictatorship.”

Flash forward to 2016 – where was their outrage when Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier praised China’s single-party communist regime for its “less government and more freedom” approach?

“They have a government that gives freedom to people, a government like we used to have here in Canada before Trudeau’s been elected,” the former Foreign Affairs Minister explained.

Issuing a seven tweet response, Bernier blasted PressProgress as a “left-wing publication” that “bizarrely claims I admire Chinese dictatorship,” before reiterating his original controversial point praising freedom in communist China:

Here’s how iPolitics reported on the fallout:

“China gives its people freedom. A Conservative said that.

On the same day Maxime Bernier officially announced he’s running for the Conservative leadership, clumsy comments he made about China a few weeks ago in Barrie, Ontario again made the rounds on social media. More bafflement ensued…

The snippet of Bernier’s speech was posted on March 29 by Press Progress — a Broadbent Institute project that has, over the years, embarrassed plenty of Conservatives.”


7. Remember that time a Conservative MP compared poor people to wild animals?


Then there was Conservative MP Larry Miller.

In 2015, PressProgress was first to report on Miller’s anti-niqab commentary telling Muslim women to “stay the hell where you came from.” 

In 2016, the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP shared an meme on Twitter comparing poor people to wild animals, stating that “please do not feed the animals” signs in national parks should be the same approach to “46 million people” on “food stamps”:

As the Owen Sound Sun-Times later reported, many members of a drop-in centre in Miller’s riding weren’t happy with his out-of-touch comments: 

“Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller’s Twitter account included a tweet that outraged local people in a drop-in centre for the poor by implying that programs for feeding needy people will make them as dependent as park animals fed by visitors…

The same image on Miller’s site was posted on U.S. Senate hopeful Annette Bosworth’s Facebook site in 2014, which was reported online by MSNBC. That story was linked to in a May 16 PressProgress blog post about the Miller Twitter controversy.”


8. Remember when Rebel Media bashed “queer” immigrants? 


And in July, Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media made local headlines when the alt-right outlet smeared a former Progressive Conservative MLA who said he doesn’t support Jason Kenney’s leadership bid.

In fact, Rebel Media’s Sheila Gunn-Reid taunted ex-PC MLA Dave Quest for losing to a “gender-queer Colombian immigrant” during the last election.

Here’s how the Sherwood Park News, Gunn-Reid’s hometown newspaper, reported on it:

“Sheila Gunn-Reid, a resident of Strathcona County and a Rebel Media personality, took to her YouTube page to call Quest out, denouncing him as a Liberal, and saying that he was beaten in the May 2015 provincial election by a ‘gender-queer Colombian immigrant’, making reference to current NDP Strathcona MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas…

The incident was picked up by the website pressprogress.ca, which has often held the Rebel Media to the fire.”

After that meltdown, Gunn-Reid read scripted lines into a webcam describing our coverage of Jason Kenney as an “epic, cry baby, left wing freakout” and suggested she wouldn’t be surprised if we were also “lying underneath Jason Kenney’s car or rummaging through his garbage like an errant bear.”

Here’s a quick sample of our work that got Gunn-Reid so defensive: 

 Jason Kenney’s campaign manager is a self-proclaimed ‘climate change skeptic’.

 Anti-abortion group tells supporters to buy PC memberships and help Jason Kenney take over party.

 Jason Kenney claims Canadian schools “hard-wire” youths with anti-conservative beliefs.

 Jason Kenney scolds “bohemian” youths for making communism look “fashionable”.

 Jason Kenney is fear mongering about ‘radical social engineering’ in Alberta schools.

 Stephen Harper’s ex-PMO lawyer questions Jason Kenney’s murky fundraising activities.

 Conservative talk radio host calls for Jason Kenney’s resignation.

 Jason Kenney’s website features fake photo of Kenney speaking to a photoshopped crowd of supporters.

If you’re happy our work upsets this kind of person, then please consider making an important donation – help us continue our work:


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