The politics of the elite

Several columnists have expressed surprise that Pierre Karl Péladeau – the proprietor of the conservative Sun News channel – would align himself with the generally assumed-to-be-left-wing Bloc Québecois.

Mark Kennedy treats the matter as an open question: “But some wonder if Peladeau ever really was a rock-solid conservative.

Was conservatism in his bones? Or did he merely establish a TV network with high-profile conservative commentators such as Ezra Levant to cosy up to Harper’s government so it would grant the regulatory TV licence Sun News needed to thrive?”

That seems unlikely. Having a Conservative government in power doesn’t make the CRTC hand out licenses on partisan grounds, does it? More plausibly, Péladeau knows an opening when he sees it. Somewhere around 30% of the electorate reliably votes for a conservative party of some sort, yet many of those 30% know when they watch the CBC, and to a lesser extent Global and CTV, the people delivering the news can be counted on to frame contentious issues in a way more sympathetic to the left than not. In that environment it was inevitable that some media mogul, following the example of Rogers Ailes in the US, would attempt to corner the right wing of the media market.

This is more in line with the suggestion of Andrew Coyne: “Mr. Péladeau is in the cheap emotion end of things, peddling different brands of phoney outrage to different brands of rube.” Harsh, the sort of rhetoric that gets Mr. Coyne branded a lefty by his detractors on Twitter, but probably a reasonably summation of Péladeau’s aspirations.

Until now though Sun TV has been losing money, so I’m not sure how that’s working out.

So what does Péladeau believe? It probably doesn’t matter. As Noah Millman writes: “Economic elites may lean to one or the other side on any cultural question (they can be found on both sides), but they can maintain their privileges no matter which side wins any particular battle.”

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