Al-Jazeera English, the 24-hour English-language news service based in the Middle East, began broadcasting in Canada Tuesday.

Bell TV, Rogers and Vidéotron, three of Canada's largest cable providers, are carrying the digital channel, which got approval from the federal regulator last November.

It has taken four years from the creation of the network for it to clear all the hurdles to begin broadcasting in Canada.

AJE has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, including many Canadians. Tony Burman, former editor in chief of CBC News, is the current managing director of Al-Jazeera English. He said the network aims to bring independent, impartial news to a global audience.

"I believe that our cutting-edge reporting and programming will fill an important void by bringing another voice in international news to this important market," Burman said in a statement announcing the launch of the service.

AJE plans to open a Toronto bureau in June to begin its coverage of Canadian news.

Canadian-born journalist Imtiaz Tyab, who has worked for BBC in London and CBC News in Vancouver, and Jet Belgraver, a Canadian documentary and news producer, will be based in Toronto.

Among the issues AJE plans to cover are:

  • A look at what Canada's departure from Afghanistan in 2011 will mean for NATO.
  • In-depth features on Canada's oilsands, including reports from Alberta on life at Fort McMurray.
  • An examination of Canada's controversial climate change policy.
  • A report from Winnipeg on the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for residential school survivors.

AJE launched in 2006 and has diverse coverage of many parts of the world other news services have abandoned, including Africa, Central Asia and the Americas.

The parent network, based in Doha, Qatar, is controversial for its coverage of Middle Eastern issues, including the war in Iraq and the actions of al-Qaeda.