EXCLUSIVE: Media giant blocks radio host from speaking at Canada’s March for Life

The March for Life is 'too divisive,' according to the media company.
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Lianne Laurence By Lianne Laurence

Lianne Laurence By Lianne Laurence

Update: After publication, Global News issued a response by email, now included in the story.

LONDON, Ontario, December 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A radio station owned by Canadian media giant Corus Entertainment told a popular radio host he can’t speak at the annual March for Life banquet because it would be “too divisive and polarizing” and not “on brand for the station,” LifeSiteNews has learned.

Andrew Lawton told Campaign Life Coalition in an email he was declining an invitation to be keynote speaker at the May 2018 March for Life’s Rose Dinner.

Lawton turned down the offer because his employer, Global Radio 980 CFPL, “has decided it would be ‘too divisive and polarizing’ for me to speak at a pro-life event, and not ‘on brand for the station’,” he wrote in the email obtained by LifeSiteNews.

Global Radio 980 CFPL is owned by Toronto-based media conglomerate Corus Entertainment, which acquired Global Television Network and affiliated radio stations when it bought Shaw Media in early 2016.

LifeSiteNews contacted Global Radio 980 CFPL program director Trudy Shaw, but did not hear back by deadline.

LifeSiteNews also contacted Corus Entertainment, and spoke to the assistant to Shaw’s manager Ward Smith, but did not hear back from Smith by deadline.

Rishma Govani, senior manager for Global News and Corus radio communications, told LifeSiteNews in an email she would look into the matter, but had sent no response by deadline.

After publication of this story, she issued the following quote:

As an organization that strives to reflect diverse voices and opinions, we discourage our employees from speaking at political events or conferences. Our talk show hosts may comment and report on divisive issues but it does not fall under the brand of Global News Radio to takes a side on these issues.

The March for Life is Canada’s largest annual pro-life event, and is organized by Campaign Life Coalition, the national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group.

Lawton says early in the email thread with Johanne Brownrigg, Campaign Life Coalition’s Ottawa lobbyist, he was “honoured” to be asked to be keynote speaker at the event’s Rose Dinner.

The two also discussed Lawton speaking at the youth conference on communication and freedom of the press, focusing on the silencing of pro-lifers, Brownrigg told LifeSiteNews.

When he turned down Campaign Life’s offer in Friday’s email, Lawton said he has “attempted to appeal” the decision, “but have yet to receive a response, so I understand that you must proceed with other arrangements.”

“I share this with you so you understand why I am declining after sounding so excited about the opportunity when we spoke last week,” he wrote.

“I do hope we'll have the opportunity to work together at some point in the future.”

Lawton wrote, “I’m so thrilled you liked my idea of putting together a presentation about the importance of fighting for freedom of speech surrounding the abortion issue, as well as my own experiences as a Christian in media.”

“It’s ironic that Andrew Lawton was going to talk about freedom of speech particularly as it relates to this issue and that a media conglomerate is preventing him from speaking on it,” Brownrigg told LifeSiteNews.

Lawton is an “ardent pro-lifer,” she added.

“Abortion is a topic that is very important him and has given him some unpopularity in media circles. He told me he thinks the conversation about abortion needs to continue.”

A radio broadcaster, columnist, and public speaker, Lawton hosts the Andrew Lawton Show, from noon to 3:00 Monday to Friday at the London, Ontario-based station.

According to 980 CFPL’s website, the Andrew Lawton Show has been “dubbed Canada’s most irreverent talk show, features stories, interviews and commentary you won’t find in the mainstream media.”

Lawton covers “politics, entertainment and the culture war,” and “has interviewed a diverse range of notable people, from Ann Coulter to the Backstreet Boys, the late Larry Hagman and Florence Henderson to Itzhak Perlman, prime ministers Justin Trudeau, Kim Campbell and Stephen Harper, and even Maya Angelou.”

He is occasionally a “guest host on Calgary’s News Talk 770, AM640 in Toronto, and nationally syndicated across the Corus Radio Network.”

Lawton has published columns in the Toronto Sun, the National Post, the Edmonton Sun and in the Washington Post, and other publications, the website notes.

“We’re very disappointed,” Brownrigg told LifeSiteNews. “He would have been an excellent keynote speaker at the Rose dinner, and I think the public needs to know."

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