Campaign Life has issued a second formal complaint against the Globe and Mail. It has also complained about the conduct of Council secretary, Fraser MacDougall, whose personal intervention affected the Globe’s publication of the recent adjudication in Campaign Life’s facour.
As a member of the Press Council the Globe was required to publish the Council’s adjudication of Campaign Life’s complaint about a front-page article (April 28, 1986). The Council upheld the major complaint that the article, reporting a home picket of abortionist Nikki Colodny, falsely accusing Campaign Life of having a “tactic” of recruiting children to talk to abortuary staff.
The manner in which the Globe published the adjuducation disappointed Campaign Life. Stephen Jalsevac, the person who initiated the original complaint, said that the Globe’s November 13 report [for the Globe] was “difficult to follow.” “To add to the confusion” he noted, “the report included Mr. MacDougall’s critical comments about Campaign Life’s telephone hotline announcement of the ruling.” Jalsevac said that he received calls from supporters who said that they couldn’t understand from the article what the actual complaint was and whether or not Campaign Life had won the case.
The day after the adjudication article, the Globe attacked Campaign Life again in an editorial entitled, “Truth is another victim.” The editorial included further critical comments from Fraser MacDougall, contained in a letter sent to Mr. Jalsevac two days before.
At issue for Mr. MacDougall was the Campaign Life hotline message, put on before the release date of the Press Council decision due to a mix-up in communications at the Campaign Life office. The message was discontinued as soon as it was realized that it was put on prematurely, Jalsevac notes that the Globe printed Mr. MacDougall’s allegations on the contents of the message, without asking for Campaign Life’s comments – or checking what the message actually said. In a letter to Mr. MacDougall, Jalsevac pointed out serious errors in MacDougall’s specific charges and added that his “response to the hotline message was out of all proportion to the effect of the message.”
The Press Council has been asked to respond to Campaign Life’s formal complaint that Mr. MacDougall caused damage to the organization by “unjustly interfering with the adjudication publication and has in the process undermined the work of the Press Council.”
In addition, Campaign Life has asked the Press Council to rule on further complaints against the Globe and Mail. The complaints concern the manner in which the Globe published the adjudication and the propriety of including Mr. MacDougall’s unsubstantiated criticisms in the adjudication publication and subsequent editorial.
Campaign Life wrote to the Press Council that “in the future, complaints [to the press council] will have good reason to be concerned about whether their adjudication will be fairly published or whether the Press Council will make further unexpected comments.”
Jalsevac has been notified that the new complaints will probably be discussed at the next Press Council meeting. He says that he was pleased with the original Press Council hearing and subsequent adjudication. “But it is unfortunate,” he adds “that those who oppose us have been allowed to undermine another organization in their persistent request to discredit the pro-life movement.”