Mainstream media in Canada is owned by a collection of billionaires, and serves the interests of the few, not the many. But independent, progressive media outlets exist — and in increasing numbers. I’ve compiled some of these below.
Media outlets are divided up by content type and then organized in alphabetical order, with Canada-wide outlets first and locally-focused ones following. This list is non-exhaustive and designed to be everchanging; please get in touch if you feel we missed something.
Please note that inclusion in this list is not an endorsement by Passage of all editorial stances that these publications take or political views that they publish.
Websites and Newsletters
The Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) launched in 1999 as the first national Indigenous broadcaster in the world. Their online news website covers Indigenous stories from an anti-colonial perspective.
The Breach launched this year, relying on donations and paid memberships. They publish political stories, news, opinion, columns and, rarely for a left news site, video content.
The Canada Files is a foreign policy and anti-imperialist site that has been running since 2019. Their content is primarily in English, with some articles translated into French.
Canadian Dimension was founded in 1963, and ran as a print magazine for 56 years before moving online in 2019. Articles can be a little denser and more policy-focused, and there’s frequent discussions on how the NDP are doing.
Cell Count is a newsletter for prisoners, ex-prisoners and their loved ones, and explores issues of health and imprisonment. It publishes original writing from incarcerated people (and republishes relevant news stories), and is produced by PASAN, a community-based health and harm reduction organization.
Climate & Capitalism
Edited by long-time ecosocialist Ian Angus, Climate & Capitalism publishes a lot of climate-focused stories, alongside book reviews and critiques of capitalism. It updates irregularly.
The Maple produces a daily reported newsletter, covering stories the mainstream media doesn’t. It runs on a subscription model, with more newsletters being available if you subscribe monthly or annually. It was set up by Passage’s co-founders, and used to be known as North99.
The Media Co-Op
The Media Co-Op publishes grassroots journalism and has been running online since 2006. The site’s editorial policy prioritizes “people directly affected by the policies or activities in question.”
Midnight Sun is a new online magazine that publishes news features, literary non-fiction and reflections. It describes itself as “a magazine of socialist strategy, analysis, and culture.” While currently fairly small, it has plans to expand as it gains more Patreon supporters.
Founded in 2018, the Narwhal provides in-depth climate crisis coverage with bureaus in B.C., the Prairies and Ontario. The site is a non-profit that is supported by members, but also accepts “gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations.”
Penal Press documents and digitizes prison newsletters from Canada and around the world. The archive is currently run by Okanagan College professor, Melissa Munn.
Styling itself as “Canada’s leading socialist newspaper,” People’s Voice publishes a mixture of reported pieces, analysis and opinion. The publication was launched by the Communist Party of Canada, but is entirely reader-funded.
PressProgress was founded by the Broadbent Institute in 2013, and receives funding through the institute and small donors. PressProgress publishes fact-checking, explainers and political analysis.
Rabble has been producing progressive journalism about national politics and social movements for more than 20 years. The site is probably best known for their regular columnists, including environmentalist David Suzuki and journalist Joyce Nelson.
Rank and File
Rankandfile.ca has been around since 2012, and originally started as a weekly radio program focused on labour. It’s almost entirely run by editor Doug Nesbitt, and publishes podcasts alongside sporadic written content.
The Resolve is designed to be a new, independent media outlet centring Black, Indigenous and racialized voices and stories. It is hoping to launch sometime in 2021.
Ricochet produces “public-interest journalism.” The site runs distinct English and French editions, and often focuses on climate and Indigenous stories. Investigative journalist Christopher Curtis runs his newsletter, The Rover, in association with the site.
The Socialist Project is a Toronto-based organization that shares leftist news and thought. They run a sporadically updated video channel (LeftStreamed), a podcast called the Scarlet Standard and a variety of events and workshops. They also keep their own list of progressive media.
Published by the Spring Socialist Network, Spring is a site of leftist opinion, analysis and features. Spring also hosts a podcast and runs events such as a regular reading group.
Xtra was founded in 1984 by Pink Triangle Press, and bills itself as “Canada’s leading LGBTQ2S+ media organization.” The site covers politics, pop culture and society from a queer and trans lens, and its political coverage is broadly progressive.
Cape Breton Spectator (Nova Scotia)
Cape Breton Spectator describes itself as “an independent news source for Cape Breton Island,” and has been running since 2016. It’s edited and run by Mary Campbell, who has familial connections to both legacy and independent media. The Spectator is entirely reader-funded.
City Hall Watcher (Toronto)
City Hall Watcher covers Toronto’s City Hall, keeping track of lobbyists, votes and processes. There’s a lot of charts. Like many substacks, it is reader-funded.
David Climenhaga’s Alberta Politics Blog
Long-time journalist, author and trade union communicator David Climenhaga has been critiquing Alberta’s often right-wing governments for years on his blog. Pieces are regularly reshared by Rabble and the Tyee, among others.
Founded by investigative journalist Tim Bousquet, the Halifax Examiner bills itself as an “independent, adversarial news site.” There’s a daily morning file, a Halifax-focused podcast and an ongoing series looking at housing unaffordability.
The Hoser (Greater Toronto Area)
The Hoser creates hyper-local news about the GTA. It’s funded by readers, and has a small team behind it. Previous stories have looked at renters rights, union strikes and coverage of protests and celebrations.
The Independent (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Affectionately known as The Indy, this outlet started publishing online in 2011 as a successor to the print publication. It covers local issues, and is funded by grants, fundraisers, and subscribers.
IndigiNews (Okanagan and Vancouver Island, B.C.)
IndigiNews is committed to writing trauma-informed, anti-racist, decolonizing stories that serve Indigenous communities. Currently the site covers Okanagan and Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It’s supported by APTN and Discourse Media, as well as public donations.
Ku’ku’kwes News (Atlantic Provinces)
Run by award-winning Mi’kmaq journalist Mauren Googoo, Ku’ku’kwes is based in so-called Nova Scotia and covers Indigenous news across Atlantic Canada. The site has a Patreon to support its reporting.
The Mainlander (Lower Mainland, B.C.)
The Mainlander publishes news, analysis, essays and investigative features covering politics and society in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. It has been running for more than a decade, though updates have been more sporadic in recent years.
The Orchard (Calgary)
Former Passage Daily writer Jeremy Appel runs a newsletter covering news in Calgary, as well as Canada at large. Calgary or Alberta-focused newsletters come out on Wednesdays, and Canadian or international newsletters come out on Fridays.
Passage staff writer Robert Hiltz also runs a free local newsletter, Ottawa Lookout, that comes out three times a week with local news, events and stories about the city.
The Progress Report (Alberta)
Progress Alberta runs the Progress Report, which consists of a podcast (part of the Harbinger Media Network) and regular digital stories and newsletters. It’s funded by foundations, unions, members and individual donations.
School Magazine (Toronto)
Run by Education Action Toronto, this site publishes occasional critique and analysis of education policy in Toronto and beyond. The site wants “human purposes, not ‘human capital,’ to be the guiding spirit of our schools.”
The Sprawl (Calgary)
Founded by Jeremy Klaszus, The Sprawl has been running since 2017. It has received funding from the Facebook Journalism Project and the Canada Periodical Fund, and has around 2,000 paying members. The site mostly covers local and municipal news in Calgary, with some Edmonton content on occasion.
The Tyee (British Columbia and Alberta)
Originally focused on Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, the Tyee’s success over the last few years has seen its coverage grow to include Northern B.C., Alberta and sometimes Canada-wide news.
Adbusters is a non-profit, reader-funded, Vancouver-based magazine that has been publishing since 1989. It publishes every other month and is known for its spoof ads — a precursor to meme culture.
Founded in 1973, Briarpatch creates “original reporting, insight, and analysis from a grassroots perspective.” The magazine comes out every other month, and has occasional online-only articles too. Briarpatch is primarily reader-funded, with some support from the federal government’s Canada Periodical Fund.
Maisonneuve was founded in 2002 and publishes physical editions four times a year. It contains “arts, opinion and ideas,” and is a registered not-for-profit funded by subscriptions, donations and advertising.
The Monitor is run by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which releases the magazine every other month. There are also semi-regular online-only articles, with a focus on policy and government.
Our Times was founded in 1981 and bills itself as “an independent, pro-union Canadian labour magazine” that’s dedicated to stories by and about frontline workers in Canada. The magazine comes out four times per year and is funded by readers, advertisers, donors and various governmental or organizational funds.
This has been kicking around since 1966, making it one of Canada’s oldest alt mags. It publishes every other month and is supported by subscriptions as well as various federal and Ontario-based funds. This also runs regular events, titled “We Need To Talk About This.”
Published by the same team behind Briarpatch, Sask Dispatch is headquartered in Regina, and publishes stories every other month. It focuses explicitly on including Saskatchewan residents who are excluded from mainstream media coverage.
The Watershed Sentinel (Vancouver Island, B.C.)
The Watershed Sentinel publishes five editions a year, focused on “environmental issues and their broader social implications.” The magazine is funded by sponsors, patrons and subscribers, and has been running since 1991.
The Anti-Empire Project
York University professor Justin Podur runs the Anti-Empire Project, which focuses on better understanding imperialism in order to oppose it. The site is home to the long-running AEP podcast, special series like the Scramble for Africa and also an alternative World History syllabus.
Big Shiny Takes
As “the world’s first and only anti-free speech podcast,” Big Shiny Takes spend their time analyzing and mocking Canadian columnists and thought leaders. It’s media critique wrapped up with a knowing wink.
Promising “a little bit of maple poison” every week, The Bottlemen provide a sideways look at Canadian politics and culture. Recent topics include Chrystia Freeland, the Two Michaels and the PPC.
Crackdown is an inside look at the drug poisoning crisis, produced by a team in Vancouver but with insights that are nationally relevant. Episodes come out monthly. There is a Patreon to support the program.
Harbinger Media Network
The Harbinger Media Network is a community of progressive podcast creators across Canada. Passage is a founding partner of the site. Big Shiny Takes, Alberta Advantage and Progress Report are all here, as are a frankly huge number of other shows, including Tech Won’t Save Us, Gender Troubles, 49th Parahell and The Anti-Girlboss Socialist Club.
Media Indigena aims to “originate and celebrate a wealth of distinct, Indigenous-led experiences both on-line and off.” The weekly podcast features a roundtable of commentators, and is entirely funded by listeners. They also have a newsletter.
Open to Debate
Best-known for being the Washington Post’s progressive Canadian politics columnist, David Moscrop is also the host of Open To Debate. Described as “a space for agreeable disagreement,” Moscrop speaks to people with varying political views to try and better unpack complex topics.
Sandy and Nora Talk Politics
Hosted by Passage columnist Nora Loreto, and activist and writer Sandy Hudson, Sandy and Nora is a political podcast that pulls no punches. Recent topics include abolishing the military, fascism and the status quo, and ineffectual provincial governments.
Alberta Advantage is based out of Calgary. They release episodes twice a month, usually focusing on provincial issues such as pipelines, farming and the oil economy, along with some lighter-hearted topics.
Another Ruined Dinner Party
Formerly a management professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Judy Haiven is now a writer and activist. Her blog broadly looks at misogyny, labour rights and provincial politics.
This is Mi’kmaq lawyer, professor and activist Pam Palmater’s blog. She updates it semi-regularly, often in response to policy reports or audits.
John Riddell has been active in socialist movements since 1960 and currently lives in Toronto. His website promises “Marxist essays and commentary,” and is mostly fairly dense, informative, pieces on various communist movements and histories.
Mexie is a leftist post-doc in Toronto who makes anti-capitalist and environmentalist YouTube videos. She produces videos roughly monthly, though has been publishing less frequently recently.
Thought Slime started off as a Canadian political YouTuber and now produces self-described weird comedy with a political bent. They are an anarcho-communist, and their videos often dabble in games and internet culture.
The personal blog of journalist and author Desmond Cole, the name is a reference to the question “must it always be about race?” It launched this May.