The National Post’s Campaign Against Anti-poverty Advocates: A War in Words with Real Casualties

Robert Harding

Abstract


Using methods of critical discourse analysis, I studied all opinion pieces and editorials about poverty published in the National Post during the first three months of 2014. The dominant discourse that emerged was one of war on anti-poverty advocates. In support of this discourse, discursive rhetorical strategies were mobilized, including oppositions such as deserving vs. undeserving poor, differential treatment of sources and credentials, over-lexicalization, and derogation. As the flagship publication of Postmedia Network Canada, the country’s largest English-language newspaper chain, the National Post not only sets the tone for its sister publications, it is also strongly positioned to influence public discourse about poverty and how to alleviate it. The prescription to poverty promoted in the op-ed pages of this national newspaper—that governments slash services and programs for the poor and allow market forces to run their course—is targeted at politicians, policy makers, and the general public. During the first quarter of 2014, National Post op-ed pieces consistently vilified anti-poverty advocates and discredited the initiatives they promoted, such as implementing guaranteed annual income programs, raising tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations, and increasing minimum wages and welfare rates.


Keywords


critical discourse analysis, poverty, National Post, opinion-editorial pieces, anti-poverty advocates

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