Poilievre has doubled down on his attack on CBC recently asking Elon Musk to label it government funded. I believe this was totally inappropriate to ask a foreign company to interfere in our domestic politics (yes I know Elon Musk has Canadian citizenship, but twitter is foreign owned). More I see Poilievre more I have come to believe he doesn’t have the maturity or character to be PM. And likewise I believe CBC needs a radical restructure but I oppose defunding or privatizing it.
I have never been a fan of Poilievre. As someone who follows politics closely, I have been aware of him since as far back as 2004 and he has always struck me as an immature pugnacious type. Yes I get all parties have pit bulls, but they should not be leaders of the party. His first website was labeled http://www.fightingforyou.ca and he was always known for being a brat and bully in House of commons. Calling him a frat boy type with politics is a very apt label. And it appears in his high school years was this way too. At same time I understand people mature as they age. I certainly have but I feel he has not and the pugnacious frat boy attitude he had in his earlier years, he still carries. But more importantly reason I cannot support Poilievre is he introduced the so called Fair elections act back in 2013. Despite its innocuous sounding name, it was anything but. Instead it was a GOP inspired voter suppression technique with whole goal of attacking Elections Canada which like CBC is a reputable and valuable institution. It was designed to suppress vote of groups unlikely to vote Conservative. Thankfully backlash was so strong it was watered down and Trudeau Liberals repealed it entirely. His attacks on Elections Canada then not too different than CBC today. This shows he is a guy who has no respect for our institutions. Our institutions are not above rapproche but maligning them by claiming they are partisan when not is beyond pale. Free and fair elections are fundamentals of a democracy and once you lose that, you lose everything else. So someone who goes after that for partisan purposes is clearly someone unfit to lead country.
I believe CBC despite its flaws still is useful. One thing I do when looking at policies is I look abroad to the 30-50 or so high income liberal democracies. And fact is virtually of them have public broadcasters. In fact part of the reason I oppose scrapping ours is same reason I favour a parallel private health system; I look at what works elsewhere and go on that. Now just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean we should too. But if we are going to be an outlier, then there should be a good reason for it. At least being only one should give one pause as to whether a good idea or not and if still think a good idea make sure they have a strong case as to why. When I was in my 20s, my view on CBC was similar to Poilievre’s as I saw being involved in media as beyond a core government duty. But that was before I started visiting Europe once to twice a year. While travelling there, I would usually watch BBC and was very impressed by their coverage. It is my favourite news channel and beats anything we have in North America. So my question was if Brits can create a public broadcaster of this high quality, why can’t we as Canadians do same? So rather than defund it, lets try and make it a world class one like BBC is. Not only that, after living in Toronto for 10 years, I got to visit Quebec regularly unlike living in Vancouver and saw first hand the importance of the French speaking population in Canada which you don’t notice when living on West Coast. And fact is private sector will do a good job providing English media in large centres; but when it comes to providing service in French and service in either language in remote communities, that is where CBC comes into play. CBC also helps develop our culture and I still believe Canada deserves to have its own unique distinct culture. We live right next to US which has many positives, but one risk is that of our culture being swallowed up. Having a public broadcaster helps avoid that. And for those who say makes no difference, maybe should research on the British invasion in rock and roll music. BBC played a huge role in allowing groups like Beatles and Rolling Stones to succeed and their success opened the door for many more British musicians to succeed globally. For Canada, CBC has done same and many of our finest including even those who eventually go onto work in US started with CBC. It can also help preserve indigenous languages many which are endangered. One thing I noticed travelling in Europe is in countries where English TV programs used sub-titles (Netherlands and Nordic Countries) most spoke much better English than countries where dubbed (Germany, France, Spain, and Italy) so this is one of the best ways to help preserve minority languages and First Nation languages. It is not profitable thus why public broadcasting matters. When it comes to protecting Welsh language in Wales and Irish in Ireland, it is BBC and RTE that offer programs in both languages which is key to their survival. So point here is CBC even if it seems irrelevant to some of us does still have a role. Biggest problem I have with CBC is like most government agencies, they are very slow and unable to adapt to a fast changing world. But lets fix that, not throw baby out of bath water.
However, I do understand there is a legitimate argument to say CBC has outlived its usefulness. And if one wants to argue that, that is fine. I may not agree but recognize it is a legitimate one. But calling CBC a liberal propaganda network is both false and dangerous. Broadcasting act specifically forbids government of the day from intervening. Most professional journalists go to great lengths to not be biased. And by and large I don’t think CBC is biased at all. When Roe vs. Wade got struck down, they had pro-life panelist on while on private health care, they interviewed Brian Day. Both were strongly condemned by many on left on twitter thus showing they are not a left wing biased organization. It is probably true most who work at CBC don’t vote Conservative (why would you vote for a party that wants to shut you down?) but most still do professional duty to cover all parties fairly. My concern is what Poilievre is doing is a more cynical approach many right wing populists do which is try and delegitimize media like Trump, Orban and others have. This is very dangerous for democracy and those that value a free press need to speak up. Right wing rags like True North, Post Millennial, and Rebel media have right to exist but if they become norm for news, I very much fear for our country. Calling it government propaganda is comparing it to ones like Russia Today and Xinhua of China which are actual state propaganda. For ignorant types, some may buy into that and that is very worrisome. We already have too many, especially on right who live in alternative universe and leaders need to steer them away from that, not pander to them like Poilievre. Even if it is politically advantageous to pander to such types, being a leader means putting country first and not engaging in demagoguery. I still remain a fiscal conservative who strongly dislikes Trudeau government, but that does not mean I will turn a blind eye to a Conservative leader that engages in dangerous tactics. Bad fiscal policy can easily be fixed by a future government. Attacking free press is much harder to fix. As for reasons above it is why I cannot in good conscious support Poilievre. I believe party made a huge mistake in choosing him and will pay for that. I will not vote Liberal either as I believe both Poilievre & Trudeau have shown their unqualified to be PM.
One thought on “Poilievre and attack on CBC”
I think this is as balanced an analysis as I have ever read of why partisan efforts to sabotage the CBC need to be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. As an independent voter who has never subscribed life long loyalty to any party, the CBC in my experience provides more balanced political coverage than its critics seem to want us to think. As important, it provides a rich, diverse portrait of Canada and its history, a picture we would otherwise not hear about on any consistent or in depth basis. For my tax dollars, it is a vital source of so much excellent news and cultural programing that nurtures us as citizens of this amazing country we cannot afford to take for granted.