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CBC’s unprecedented decision to sue Conservative Party raises concerns about reprisals

CBC’s unprecedented decision to sue Conservative Party raises concerns about reprisals

October 11th, 2019

Toronto – CBC’s decision to sue the Conservative Party for allegedly misusing its copyrighted material for deceptive purposes raises serious concerns about the risk of political interference in the CBC’s operations and editorial decisions, according to the watchdog group FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.

“Will Andrew Scheer retaliate against the CBC if he becomes Prime Minister? Under the Broadcasting Act, Scheer could soon have the power to cut funding, replace the board with yes-men, and even fire CBC President Catherine Tait on trumped up charges. Will he promise not to misuse this power if elected? It’s a legitimate question and one that concerns FRIENDS a great deal,” says FRIENDS’ Executive Director Daniel Bernhard.

In a Notice of Application to the Federal Court filed on October 10th, the CBC alleges that the Conservative Party selectively edited various CBC news items together in a way that may leave viewers with the impression that CBCis biased and unprofessional. CBC claims that this undermines its reputation and that of its journalists at a time when trust in credible journalism is under attack world-wide.

FRIENDS has long called on governments of all stripes to reform the rules governing the CBC so that the board, not the Prime Minister, has sole authority to hire and fire the CBC President. FRIENDS also calls for the establishment of CBC funding mechanisms that operate independently of Parliament. The aim of such reforms is to empower CBC to take on powerful political interests without fear of reprisal.

“This highlights the absurdity of the current governance regime” Bernhard said. “When the government of the day controls the purse strings and the CBC President owes their job to the PM, CBC becomes vulnerable to political manipulation and retribution. We’re calling on Mr. Scheer and all parties to promise to reform the governance process to ensure this kind of interference can never take place.” Bernhard said.

None of the CBC’s allegations have been proven in court.

According to its own ad library, Facebook pocketed up to $50,000 to display this ad. It was viewed up to 3.45 million times on Facebook alone, and countless more times on Twitter and YouTube. It is not yet known whether Twitter and YouTube were paid to promote the ad. Facebook recently announced a policy that exempts political parties from telling the truth in paid advertisements. By contrast, The Broadcasting Act mandates that Canadian broadcasters air programming of high quality.


For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

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