Poilievre accosts reporter from The Canadian Press for 'heckling, spreading PMO falsehoods'

'You're a tax-funded mouthpiece to the PMO — that's the reality,' said Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre about a reporter from The Canadian Press. Over the past year, the Tory leader has repeatedly questioned the independence of the taxpayer-funded mainstream media.

Poilievre accosts reporter from The Canadian Press for 'heckling, spreading PMO falsehoods'
Facebook/ Mizrachi Canada
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Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the Media Party Monday for funding 'journalists' who allegedly receive directives from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

A reporter asked the Tory MP to explain why his party introduced an amendment to lift fees for Canadian broadcasters.

“Do you regret granting $100 million in regulatory relief to the mainstream media?” he asked. “Your question is false,” replied Poilievre.

“We don't want to give any tax dollars to the mainstream media,” he said on Monday. “Our belief is that the … media is bought and paid for.”

A back-and-forth ensued, during which Poilievre accused The Canadian Press of "spreading Justin Trudeau's message" on the taxpayer dime.

“Canadian conservatives do not believe in giving tax dollars to media outlets,” he reiterated.

The verbal altercation prompted Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge to condemn the exchange, calling Poilievre “thin-skinned.”

“So, I just want to get back to the altercation between Pierre Poilievre yesterday and a journalist from Canadian Press,” she said on Tuesday.

“First of all, I want to say that he's pretty thin skin,” claimed St-Onge. “It's our job to answer questions from journalists; we're accountable to the Canadian population.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland earlier claimed that any reporter could ask her any question "without fear of retaliation."

"Canada will always defend this right," she said in 2019. Her remarks follow a 2018 acknowledgement that the media is "essential" in "defending and advancing the truth."

“All journalists … contribute to the democratic process,” reads a 2015 Ministerial Mandate letter to Freeland.

“Some questions are difficult. Some questions are easy. Yesterday's question was pretty easy,” claims St-Onge. However, The Canadian Press reporter heckled the Tory MP repeatedly.

“You're a tax-funded mouthpiece to the PMO — that's the reality,” said Poilievre. “If you don't want me to answer the question, I'll move on to someone else.”

Over the past year, the Tory leader has repeatedly questioned the independence of mainstream media outlets from their federal government backers.

Last November 23, Poilievre accosted The Canadian Press for posing a misleading question concerning the recent Niagara border explosion.

“You cited media reports,” said the reporter. “That’s what I said in the House — there are media reports,” replied Poilievre.

“And you think that’s the responsible thing to [reference] in your statement [...] calling something terrorism,” she countered. “But I didn’t. I said there were media reports,” replied Poilievre.

Last April 13, The Canadian Press asked Poilievre if he would alter the Broadcasting Act to defund CBC News. He alleged the outlet is the public broadcaster's "biggest client." 

The Canadian Press is a wire service which prominent Canadian publications like CBC News and The Globe and Mail pay into. 

Poilievre alleged that they report favorably on the state broadcaster to keep its taxpayer-funded client happy. Last year, CBC News received $1.24 billion from the federal government — 66% of its annual funding.

"We need a neutral and free media — not a propaganda arm for the Liberal Party," he added. "When I'm prime minister, we're going to have a free press."

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  • By Sheila Gunn Reid

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