Poilievre accuses Canadian Press of being CBC's 'biggest client,' maintains commitment to defund broadcaster

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre continues to wage his war of words with the CBC, calling on Twitter to label the public broadcaster as 'government-funded media.'

Poilievre accuses Canadian Press of being CBC's 'biggest client,' maintains commitment to defund broadcaster
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"We must protect Canadians against disinformation and manipulation by state media," Poilievre tweeted Tuesday. "Canadians deserve the facts."

The Tory leader penned a letter to Twitter acknowledging their policy on government-funded media, which labels outlets as such if they receive some or all of their funding from taxpayer subsidies and wherein the government might bear some editorial control. 

Last year, the public broadcaster received $1.24 billion from the government — 66% of CBC/Radio Canada's funding. In February, CBC President Catherine Tait claimed they have worked with the same budget as 30 years ago — "so in real dollars, a third less."

"As a result, and in the interest of transparency, I believe that Twitter should apply the Government-funded Media label to the CBC's various news-related accounts," wrote Poilievre, who accused Tait of coming after him because she wants to take more money from the Canadian government.

"They're not even pretending to be unbiased," he said.

"There's a lot of CBC bashing going on — somewhat stoked by the Leader of the Opposition," said Tait in February. She accused Poilievre of "inciting attacks" on the broadcaster.

On Thursday, a Canadian Press reporter asked Poilievre if he would change the Broadcasting Act to defund the English-language CBC. He alleged the Canadian Press is the public broadcaster's "biggest client." 

"I just want to be careful that we don't get you into a conflict of interest here," Poilievre said during a press conference from Edmonton. The Canadian Press is a wire service which prominent Canadian publications like the CBC and The Globe and Mail pay into. 

"Have you checked with the Ethics commissioner on whether you're in a conflict of interest in asking about CBC funding given that it's the principal source of money for [the Canadian Press]?"

The reporter said she would "check" with her editors about the potential conflict before repeating her question.

He responded that the CBC negatively impacts all media and is a "biased propaganda arm of the Liberal party." He said that, for example, the Canadian Press must favourably report on the CBC to keep its large, taxpayer-funded client happy.

"We need a neutral and free media — not a propaganda arm for the Liberal Party," he said.

"When I'm prime minister, we're going to have a free press, where everyday Canadians decide what they think, rather than having Liberal propaganda jammed down your throat."

During an interview with The Globe in February, Tait fired back at the Tories, claiming "there are a group of dissenters and detractors, and they have been given voice."

"They have a megaphone, and they're using it."

On Tait, the Tory leader claimed she is a "mouthpiece for Justin Trudeau." At the time, he promoted a fundraising drive linked to a petition on defunding the broadcaster.

Tait responded: "They have an online fundraising campaign, specifically saying, 'We'll save you a billion dollars. Please send in $20.'" 

Poilievre has pledged to "defund the CBC" while maintaining its French-language programming. 

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