The CBC wrote Poilievre last fall to dismiss calls for defunding broadcaster, received no response from Tories

According to Blacklock's Reporter, CBC President and CEO Catherine Tait wrote to Poilievre last September to dismiss a Conservative 'fundraising ploy' to defund the state broadcaster.

The CBC wrote Poilievre last fall to dismiss calls for defunding broadcaster, received no response from Tories
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld (Image Left) and Prashanth Bala - (Image Right)
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Poilievre and CBC President and CEO Catherine Tait began their tit-for-tat in February after the former accused the public broadcaster of launching a partisan attack on him in a Globe and Mail interview. He said Tait is "not even pretending to be unbiased."

"There's a lot of CBC bashing going on — somewhat stoked by the Leader of the Opposition," said Tait.

She accused Poilievre of "inciting attacks" on the broadcaster.

According to Blacklock's Reporter, Tait wrote to Poilievre last September to dismiss a Conservative "fundraising ploy" to defund the state broadcaster.

According to a Conservative release, Poilievre and the party raised $8,306,535 during the first quarter of 2023, promising to “remove the gatekeepers” and “cut wasteful spending.”

Cutting the CBC's $1.3 billion annual parliamentary grant would have "implications to this country," she wrote in a letter disclosed through an access-to-information request.

On September 16, Tait asked to meet Poilievre to "make the case to you directly for the value of the public broadcaster in a time of greater polarization in our country."

Tait sent Poilievre a follow-up letter last November 29 — when she did not receive a response — to condemn his partisan fundraising efforts.

"During your leadership campaign, you publicly promised to 'defund the CBC.' I would have hoped that spending some time [understanding] the organization would be useful," wrote the state broadcaster's president.

"Your party continues to run email blasts and Twitter and Facebook ads falsely accusing CBC journalists of bias and using the 'defund' promise to try and generate money for your party."

Poilievre pushed back against Tait, calling the crown corporation a "mouthpiece for Justin Trudeau."

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 the CBC president, Poilievre said, "She launched a partisan attack against me, proving my claim that the $1.2-billion corporation is a mouthpiece for Justin Trudeau." In February, 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.'" 

In the interview, she rebuked the Tory leader's persistent calls to defund the CBC. She called it a ploy to solicit donations.

"These fundraising efforts do not acknowledge the scope or value that CBC/Radio-Canada delivers to Canadians or the implications to this country and its economy were it to be 'defunded,'" Tait wrote in a letter to Poilievre. 

"As head of the public broadcaster and as leader of the Opposition, I think Canadians can rightly expect that the two of us have a responsibility to discuss the implications of your promise."

In a 2021 campaign document titled Canada's Recovery Plan, the Conservatives proposed "refocusing the [broadcaster's] services on a public interest model like that of PBS in the United States" to prevent competition with privately-owned media. Direct federal funding for all newsrooms "undermines press freedom and trust in [the] media," wrote the party.

On April 13, Poilievre called the CBC "biased propaganda" that "negatively affects all media." 

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

A Canadian Press reporter asked him if he would change the Broadcasting Act to defund the English-language CBC. He pivoted, calling them the state broadcaster's "biggest client." 

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

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