Canada’s state-funded national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), is fielding new allegations of printing fake news amidst plummeting ratings and a string of similar scandals while calls to defund the broadcaster grow.
On Jan. 19 the CBC published an article entitled, “Alberta premier’s office contacted Crown prosecution about Coutts cases: sources” which blasted the Alberta premier’s office for allegedly interfering in the judicial process concerning cases before the courts regarding individuals who contravened now abandoned COVID-19 measures.
From Jan. 29 to Feb. 14, 2022, protesters blocked the Canada-U.S. border crossing in Coutts Alberta as part of protests that erupted across Canada in early 2022 in defiance of COVID-19 measures implemented by both the provincial and federal governments of Canada.
The protests resulted in several charges being laid against individuals involved in the Coutt’s protest including weapons and mischief charges, however some of the charges have since been withdrawn.
Alberta’s recently elected premier, Daniel Smith, campaigned on a promise to seek to dismiss charges against individuals found in contravention of COVID-19 measures, a promise she has since walked back after exploring the option internally.
You are now signed up for our newsletter
Check your email to complete sign up
The CBC wrote in its Jan. 19 article, “A staffer in Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s office sent a series of emails to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, challenging prosecutors’ assessment and direction on cases stemming from the Coutts border blockades and protests, CBC News has learned.”
The article failed to state that no one at the CBC actually saw any emails, prompting the news org to post clarification on the original article.
“The original version of this story, published Jan. 19, neglected to note that CBC News has not seen the emails in question,” the broadcaster wrote.
Following the posting of the original article, Alberta Justice immediately conducted a probe to find the emails in question, however came up empty handed.
“No record of electronic communication between Premier Danielle Smith’s office and the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) has been found after allegations reported last week were probed, according to Alberta Justice,” Global News reported.
The probe prompted Premiere Smith on Jan. 25, to pen and post to twitter an open letter demanding the CBC retract the story and apologize.
“Last week, the CBC published a defamatory article containing baseless allegations that Premier’s Office staff had sent a series of emails to Alberta Crown Prosecutors concerning charges related to the Coutts protest and other pandemic related matters before the courts,” she wrote, adding that, “This article was then used and editorialized by the Official Opposition to smear the reputations of the Premier, her office staff, Alberta Crown Prosecutors and the Alberta Public Service.”
Ignoring the letter, the CBC fired back with an article headlined, “Premier pressured justice minister’s office to get rid of COVID charges, sources say” again failing to name any of the sources.
This is only the most recent incident where Canada’s national broadcaster has come under fire for alleged contraventions of journalistic integrity.
Judge awards $1.7M in defamation case
As recently as 2021, the CBC was ordered to pay nearly $1.7 million (US$1.27 million) to a Manitoba investment advisor after a judge found that the broadcaster broadcast stories about him that were defamatory.
The judgment was delivered on Dec. 15, 2021 by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Herbert Rempel who ruled that an online story and television segment negatively affected the adviser’s personal life and ability to earn an income.
“I am satisfied that Mr. Muzik was truthful in his evidence as to how his personal and professional life spiraled out of control and that all of this was caused by the defamatory expression in the news stories,” Justice Rempel said at the time according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
“I do not accept the arguments of CBC that there was no cause-and-effect relationship between the defamatory expression and the devastating deterioration of Mr. Muzik’s professional and personal life followed almost immediately after the first broadcast,” the Judge said, adding that, “It is far fetched and fanciful for the CBC to argue that Mr. Muzik was the author of his own misfortune.”
- Canada Aspires to Be Global Critical Mineral Supplier Alternative to China
- Canada’s Snowballing ‘MAID’ Euthanasia Trend
- Canada Contracts AI-Powered Firm to Surveil Vaccine Skeptics on Twitter
Freedom Convoy coverage
The CBC has also come under fire for its coverage of the 2022 Freedom Convoy protests that erupted across Canada early in the year, which inspired numerous other protests across the globe.
The CBCs coverage of the protests made international news with American news Outlet, Fox News, slamming the broadcaster for suggesting that Russia was behind the peaceful, organic protests.
“I do ask that because given Canada’s support of Ukraine, in this current crisis with Russia, I don’t know if it’s far-fetched to ask, but there is concern that Russian actors could be continuing to fuel things as this protest grows. But perhaps even instigating it from, from the outset,” CBC host Nil Koksal told Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino at the time.
Mendocino deflected the question replying, “Again, I’m gonna defer to our partners in the public safety of trained officials and experts in that area.”
Despite no evidence, the CBC ran multiple articles denouncing the protests and never once approached anyone who was participating, often providing a platform for sources that characterized the peaceful protesters as “ideologically motivated” extremists.
The CBC has run numerous articles featuring people falsely associating the peaceful protesters with white supremacy, racism and misogyny, with no or questionable evidence.
Dismal ratings and unfair competition
The CBC, which is funded in large part by an annual government grant worth upwards of $1.3 billion (US$970 million) and pays out millions in bonuses to some 143 executives, attracts few Canadian viewers.
In 2018-2019 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC) data revealed that Canadian viewership of CBC content was less than 3.9 percent, a drop of 25 percent compared to the previous year. The CBC attracts just five percent of the available English television audience in primetime however the CBC websites do attract millions of unique visitors per month.
With over a billion dollars in taxpayer money the CBC has long been considered to have an unfair advantage in Canada’s media landscape, competing directly with other Canadian media organizations who have to operate in a competitive market place.
These circumstances have eased somewhat after the Trudeau Liberal government took power, which is accused of influencing Canadian media organizations with large subsidies.
The CBC, in addition to government grants, competes for advertising dollars with other broadcasters.
“This dual reliance on public funding and private ad revenue has long given the CBC an unfair advantage against private-sector television stations, which are forced to compete for the same ad dollars but cannot rely on the state to pad their budgets,” wrote Jesse Kline of the National Post early last year.
- Foreign Homebuyer Ban to Draw Investors to Recreational Properties in Canada: Experts
- Canada’s Antitrust Tribunal Greenlights $20-Billion Rogers-Shaw Merger, Angering Many
- Confucius Institutes Rebrand on Canadian Soil Under New Name
‘Defund the CBC’
A series of scandals, questionable articles and its unfair advantage in the market place has prompted many to call for the defunding of the national broadcaster.
Newly elected leader of the official opposition in Canada, Pierre Poilievre of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), who regularly outperforms his counterpart, Justin Trudeau in the polls, included defunding the CBC in his recent leadership platform, even calling on Canadians to sign a petition to that effect.
“Whereas the CBC undercuts private sector and independent media and competes for advertising space while receiving more than $1 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies. And whereas the CBC mostly provides opinions and coverage that are widely available in a free and competitive marketplace. Therefore, be it resolved that we call on this Liberal government to defund the CBC to save taxpayer dollars and ensure a free and competitive press in the Canadian media landscape,” reads the petition.
Many Canadians agree with the sentiment.
“A recent poll found that 31 percent of Canadians strongly supported defunding the CBC, while 15 percent of Canadians said they ‘somewhat support’ it. On the other side, 24 percent of Canadians strongly oppose it, while 13 percent somewhat oppose it,” wrote Stuart Thomson of The Hub on Jan. 9 this year.
While defunding the CBC has been a conservative talking point for some time, Poilievre has made the issue more central and it’s more core to his identity than previous conservative leaders.
The CBC was first created in 1936. According to Brian Lilley, a journalist with Post Media, prior to this Canada “had a robust private system providing everything from news to variety shows, comedies and dramas right up to what would become Hockey Night in Canada,” and it could again.
Canada, without the CBC, is not impossible and should Poilievre manage to unseat Trudeau in an upcoming federal election it may very well come to fruition.