BY ANDREA HOUSTON - Perhaps the best way to fight the Toronto Sun is to hit them where it hurts: their income.
Toronto activist Justin Beach thinks so. That's why he has launched Operation Sunset, a new campaign aimed at shining some light on the Sun's role in helping spread hate.
Beach is asking people to send a message to The Sun by not supporting its advertisers. Consider shopping at stores other than The Bay or HMV this holiday season. Go to Mr. Sub instead of Subway.
Over the next few weeks, Beach will be periodically publishing the names of Sun advertisers on the website. The first batch includes The Bay, Porter Airlines, Subway, HMV and Ontario Energy Group.
"Advertising is where The Sun earns its money," he says. "Also, The Sun supports the Ford administration that is trying to close libraries, parks, reduce service on the TTC and lay-off public workers.
"It seems irresponsible for Toronto companies to continue to support a paper that wants to seriously damage the standard of living."
The campaign is targeted at the Toronto Sun, which Beach describes as a "a right-wing propaganda machine," as opposed to the Sun News Network, which everyone everywhere describes as a right-wing propaganda machine.
Toronto Sun publisher Mike Power could not be reached for comment.
The Sun pulled out of the Ontario Press Council in July. At the time, John Honderich — a former publisher of the Star and the current chair of Torstar's board of directors — called the decision “most disturbing,” adding “Sun Media will abide by its own standards of journalism and not be accountable to anyone.”
In October, the Toronto Sun refused to apologize for running an ad in its Oct 2 edition that activists have called transphobic.
The ad, from the Institute for Canadian Values, is a slightly modified version of a full-page ad that ran in the National Post on Sept 24 and Sept 28. Following a social media outcry, the National Post issued an apology and stated that the proceeds from the ad sale would be donated to a queer charitable organization.
A version of the advertisement subsequently ran for weeks on Sun TV.
Then this month, Chris Bolton, the chair of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) announced he plans to file a formal complaint against Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party and Sun Media over homophobic campaign flyers that were distributed during the provincial election and a transphobic television ad campaign that aired for three weeks following it.
Media companies should realize there are consequences for what they do, says Beach. "It's important for people to realize that where you choose to do business is a form of democracy."
Follow Xtra reporter Andrea Houston on Twitter at @dreahouston.